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.

Sunday, 27 March 2016

A day in the Brecks and Fens

Yesterday morning Redwings were still calling overhead at first light, as they had been when I went to bed.  I headed down to the Brecks for some Good Friday birding, this being the best day weather-wise for birding all weekend.  At least the nicest day, though with winds turning to a more southerly direction (and strengthening and bringing rain) there might be more in the way of migrants later on I suppose.

Barn Owl and Reeves's Pheasant got the day off to a start at Great Cressingham and the original Reeves's Pheasant x Common Pheasant hybrid at Threxton Hill was still present and displaying.  Didn't see the darker bird this time.

Reeves's Pheasant x Common Pheasant hybrid, Threxton Hill, 25th March

Pheasant, Great Cressingham, 25th March

A Red Kite at Bodney was the only bird of note before I hit Lynford Arboretum.  I'd seen a brown-bristled Marsh Tit last year - brown nasal bristles are supposed to be a feature of Willow Tit but this wasn't a Willow Tit.  With Willow Tits disappearing it's plausible that the odd hybrid should be appearing and, though I wouldn't go as far as to say that brown-bristled bird was a hybrid, I was conscious of this and determined to study all Marsh Tits carefully to see if I could find any evidence of hybridisation.  I found at least 5 different Marsh Tits but none that I could suspect of being hybrids.  One silent bird with a relatively bull-necked appearance and a bit more pale on the wings had me wondering for a while but it appeared so briefly I didn't get a good enough look and after studying the photos I think it was a pretty normal Marsh Tit.

Marsh Tits, Lynford, 25th March

Always nice to see Nuthatches, of which there were plenty, and only 1 Treecreeper.  A displaying male Firecrest appeared briefly, in a place I'd not seen them before and a Grey Wagtail dropped down in front of me.  Lots of Siskin flying around but no sign of Hawfinches or Crossbills.

Grey Wagtail, Lynford, 25th March

Mute Swan, Lynford, 25th March

I was planning to visit Welney later but with a need to find some clean facilities fairly urgently I decided to head there next!  I headed out to Reedbed Hide first (I think that's what it's called - the one left of the observatory).  Saw one of at least 4 Cetti's Warblers on the way down and a Fieldfare, and flushed a Water Rail from literally under my feet (it was under the boardwalk).  A Stoat showed from the Observatory but I didn't see so much up the other end, and no sign of the Great White Egret at Lady Fen.

Reed Bunting, Welney, 25th March

As I weaved my way back through the Fens I heard a Chiffchaff singing at Blackdyke.  Decided to drive down Cowle's Drove at Hockwold Fen, just north of Lakenheath (but in Norfolk).  Got as far as I wanted without seeing much of note but as I headed back through the muddy track one scan revealed a Great White Egret standing in a field.  Hadn't been expecting to see that, although it was presumably one of the two that have been frequenting Lakenheath (indeed they had been seen that morning).  I think they had been seen the Norfolk side of the river, on Hockwold Wash, but so far as I know not reported from this site.  Even so, Lakenheath is literally a stone's throw away, so I'm not treating it as a 'self-found' bird!

Great White Egret, Hockwold Fen, 25th March

I tweeted news out, looked back up and the egret was gone.  Hadn't seen it fly, but couldn't now see it anywhere.  A car that I'd seen parked up by the next field (separated by a strip of wood) but not realised were birders came past me as I headed down, and stopped to tell me that a Great White Egret had just dropped in there.  The same bird presumably?  Better just check my field again just in case, seeing as there are two around... no, there's still a Great White Egret here, so must be a different bird.  But this bird was now largely hidden deep in an area of thick rushes - hence not seeing it there before - and when I checked my photos later I realised this area was some distance from my first sighting.  So it probably hadn't walked there so either way I'd missed seeing it fly when I was busy tweeting.  In hindsight I think it's most likely that the bird the couple had seen was my original bird and the bird in the rushes was the second bird.  But definitely two birds between us anyway.

While this was going on a Green Sandpiper flew along the dyke and a large tanker lorry was heading towards me along the track.  I waited for it to pass before heading to the next field, but with a tanker passing I imagined any Great White Egret there would have been flushed, and whether it was or not I couldn't find it.  The tanker must have decided not to proceed down the very muddy rutted track and attempted to turn round, apparently failing to do so and getting stuck.  Glad I wasn't the other side of it as might have been there for some time!

I checked various other sites without much success, followed by visits to Cranwich Heath and Cranwich Camp.  These were more for invertebrates than birds, but a fine male Brambling flew over the camp, Green Woodpecker on the heath and Siskins everywhere.

Red-legged Partridge, Fowl Mere, 25th March

Another look for Pheasants in the evening only turned up the same Reeves's Pheasant x Common Pheasant hybrid, still in the same place at Threxton Hill.

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