A diary of my birding activity covering highlights and photos from my birding adventures. Mainly Norfolk (UK), occasionally beyond. I might mention the odd thing that isn't avian, but for moth and other insect news check out my mothing diary.

Saturday, 23 January 2016

Game cover and birds - positive benefits of shooting?

I headed over to Flitcham early, though not quite early enough as I arrived about a minute or two after the Pallid Harrier left its roost.  Had a good look round the area without scoring, but saw Barn Owl, at least 5 Tree Sparrows and 20+ Bramblings.  I then headed round to have a mooch around the area to the south of the A148.  Have never really explore the Massingham Heath, Grimston Heath, Congham Heath area before so decided to make a start.  Couldn't possibly cover the whole area today but started off with the area closest to Flitcham, walking a fair old distance round the farmland around Congham Heath Wood, Belmont Ring and Stonepit Hills. 

Good to see lots of game cover here and no doubt we can thank the people who like shooting things for the fact that Tree Sparrows remain in this part of the county.  I saw at least 12 Tree Sparrows in one maize strip, which I'm sure would have been birdless arable crop if there wasn't an economic benefit in keeping the gamebirds well fed.  Lots of other small birds around too, like flocks of Reed Buntings and I was constantly seranaded by Skylarks.  A female Hen Harrier flew past the south end of Belmont Ring.

Hen Harrier, Belmont Ring, 23rd January

You get a good view across the valley from the footpath just south-east of Belmont Ring and can see the favoured field where the Pallid Harrier is most often seen at Flitcham as well as a good deal of land to the east of there where it may spend much of its time when its not in view at Flitcham.  It's all a bit distant from here of course, but it should be possible to pick up the Pallid Harrier fairly easily with a 'scope if its flying around that area.  Having said that, I didn't pick it up, though it was seen back at Flitcham a bit later on.

A pair of Marsh Tits were among the other small birds seen on my walk.

 Marsh Tit, Congham Heath, 23rd January

After this I had a quick look at Ashwicken (Grey Wagtail, 89 Wigeon, but nothing of real note), Pentney (nothing of any note) and Blackborough End where I scoped the gull flock in the field between the tip and the A47.  Not easy to see the birds as the flock was dense and unsettled, at least that's my excuse for failing to find any decent gulls.

The Serin at Downham Market wasn't playing but a drake Goosander kept flying up and down the river and 2 Red Kites flew past (viewed distantly across the town).

Had a quick gander round some Fenland/Breckland locations on the way home, but with the light failing didn't have time to have a proper look anywhere.  I did see the Reeves's Pheasant x tenebrosus Pheasant hybrid at Threxton Hill though, albeit in the near-dark by then.

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