Breckland Birder

Breckland Birder
Crossbill in Breckland, Norfolk Photo by Paul Newport

Friday, 30 June 2017

Tree Pipits near Bodney, Norfolk

This morning I visited an area of Pine Forest close to Bodney where compartments of varying ages of trees are commercially grown.  Two particular compartments are quite young, around 4 years of age, and it was here this morning that I located 4 singing Tree Pipits, one at one site, and 3 singing males at another.  Tall stands of mature Pines and deciduous species surround the younger compartments.
Two Tree Pipits were seen well whilst two further birds were heard only.
Tree Pipit (male) photographed at Thompson, Norfolk May 2016.
My observations this morning initially saw one male Tree Pipit singing high in tall trees around the periphery of its territory, whilst another male sang from lower perches within its range.  Both Tree Pipits performed their conspicuous 'parachute' display flight, descending slowly to a lower perch where singing continued.  Within these younger Pine plantations long grass provides good breeding habitat.
Management of cleared woodland within the Pine forest sees the retention of a taller tree, such as an old Birch bole, these provide song-posts for both Tree Pipits and Woodlarks
Tree Pipits are localised and scarce breeding species in Breckland, mostly occurring within young Pine compartments and heathland.  Their stronghold in Britain are the uplands of Britain.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

East Wretham Heath, Norfolk

This morning I visited East Wretham Heath to check for signs of Wader passage.  On my way to this wonderful Breckland site I stopped off to meet a very good friend, Leigh Gallant, who has been watching a pair of Spotted Flycatchers throughout their breeding process.
Spotted Flycatcher 21st June

I met up with Leigh at 0600 and straight away was rewarded by 2 Spotted Flycatchers collecting food for their young in a nest located in a climbing Rose.  I remained for a couple of hours  and was entertained throughout by these delightful birds as they tended to their young.
Food items collected by the Spotted Flycatchers was a variety of winged insects, these included Moth species, Craneflies, Hoverflies, and other unidentified species.  Often several insects were held in the bill for each visit to the nest.  Insects were hunted with the Flycatchers performing a highly agile, acrobatic flight, food was caught and the bird returned to the same or nearby perch.
Although initially wary of my presence, these birds soon appeared to accept me and carry on with feeding their young.  Alarm calls were given as a sharp "zee-tzuc-tzuc"
Thanks go to my friend Leigh for sharing these Spotted Flycatchers with me.

East Wretham Heath
A check of Langmere for passage Wader species produced 2 Green Sandpipers wading in the shallows of these highly fluctuating bodies of water.  One bird seen quite well was up to its belly in water as it searched for prey items, whilst a more distant bird was best seen when being chased in flight by a Lapwing, the highly distinctive upperparts was seen as the bird twisted and turned in flight, revealing a dark, unmarked upperwing, dark tail, and stunning snow-white rump.
Also present was a pair of Ringed Plovers, about 30 Lapwings, a pair of Egyptian Geese, Mallard, and Coot with small black young.
The woodland and fine stands of old Hawthorn held several singing Blackcaps, 2 Garden Warblers, and Chiffchaff.
Juvenile Woodlark at East Wretham Heath 21st June (Note the pale fringed brown feathers gives a scaly appearance)
Heathland habitat held 2 Woodlarks, at least one of these birds was a juvenile, thus indicating local breeding success.  These birds were quite flighty, however, I eventually was able to track down a juvenile bird.  This Woodlark was easily aged by its somewhat scalloped, or scaly appearance, this feature highlighted by pale fringing to the brown upper feathers, these appear more streaked in the adult birds.  Other typical features of these Woodlarks was the obvious short-tailed appearance in flight, and on the ground, the bold pale supercillium, and the black and white marking on the closed wing.

Friday, 9 June 2017

Watton Brook Whitethroats

My previous post related to a pair of Whitethroats in the Watton Brook Valley in Little Cressingham, well, today I revisited this location for the first time since 29th May to see how they are progressing.
I get so much pleasure from experiencing intimate observations of birds by spending time to watch their behaviour, their coming and goings.
Upon my arrival at this locality I was subjected to alarm and agitation calls from these beautiful Warblers, however, in time, they appeared to accept me as I sat and watched.
Whitethroat at Little Cressingham 9th June.  (One of a pair feeding young)
I am pleased to report that young Whitethroats were seen today in their natal area of a Bramble patch by the brook, and the adult birds were feeding them.  A young Whitethroat was seen flying upstream along the brook to visit rank vegetation where there would be a good food source for them.  Clearly, I think these young Whitethroats are able to feed themselves as well as receiving support from the parent birds.
There is nothing like knowing your birds, their habits, habitats, and behaviour, and having intimate insights into their daily routines.