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.

Friday, 29 April 2016

Golden Pheasants, Arctic Terns and Redstart

On Saturday I headed into the Brecks again, starting off at Hockham Heath, an area where I used to see Golden Pheasants once upon a time.  Not seen them here for a good few years though, so not sure if there are any left.  No sign of any this time again, though plenty of common woodland birds like Treecreepers, Nuthatch, Blackcaps, Siskin, etc.

Next I wandered down the path to Cranberry Rough, a shallow wetland that looks like it ought to have Whiskered Terns bouncing around as Squacco Herons and Great White Egrets feed below.  A bit early for that maybe, though maybe not for the Egret.  Plenty of herons there and a variety of other species, but nothing remarkable this time.  Give it 2-3 weeks...

As I wandered up the track to Thompson Water I heard the distinctive call of a Golden Pheasant.  It's been a good while since I heard this species calling but I was quite sure.  So they are still here, I mused.  Now I just need to see it.  As I scanned the edge of the woodland beyond the paddock I was next to there was no sign.  It called again.  Still no sign.  There were lots of chicken coups in the paddock and as it called again, more loudly, my attention was drawn to one of the coups in which I could see not chickens, but a Golden Pheasant!  Doh!  There was a pair in there though the female remained hidden most of the time.  The male remained pretty vocal and I wondered whether this could be the source of some of the more recent reports of Golden Pheasant in this area.

captive Golden Pheasant, near Thompson Water, 23rd April

A few Swallows and the odd House Martin were at Thompson Water itself but apart from that the walk produced mainly the same kind of things as I'd already seen that morning - Nuthatches, Treecreeper, Blakcaps, etc.

Yellowhammer, near Thompson Water, 23rd April

Fowl Mere didn't have much to report - another Nuthatch calling here.

Couldn't find any Reeves's Pheasants in the Great Cressingham/Bodney area or around Cockley Cley where a female has been photographed recently, but at least one of the Reeves's Pheasant x Common Pheasant hybrids remains at Threxton Hill.

Reeves's Pheasant x Common Pheasant hybrid, Threxton Hill, 23rd April

On Sunday I eventually heard Dave's news that he'd found 5 Arctic Terns on the patch.  I've not seen Arctic Tern on the local patch before and these were only 5-10 minutes away so I headed down there hoping that the delay in me finding out about them wouldn't have cost me a good patch bird.  I rocked up to Poplar Lake (which isn't in Aylsham by the way - suspect that was someone reading Dave's tweet, googling for a Poplar Lake and jumping to a conclusion) and there were 4 Arctic Terns flying around.  Great to see locally, difficult to photograph with the background making it hard to get a focus on them.

Arctic Terns, Bittering, 24th April

Not much else on the patch other than Avocets and Little Ringed Plovers.

Heard an Oystercatcher over the house on Monday - don't get them here very often.

On Wednesday lunch time I finally found my first Whitethroat of the year, at Thornham.  On the way home from work I paused at the patch picking up Ringed Plover, another excellent local bird, 2 Dunlins and at least 7 Little Ringed Plovers at one site.

Yesterday lunch time I was heading back to work via Beacon Hill.  Driving up the hill from Burnham Market a couple of birds flew up from the verge and across the road in front of me.  Think one of them was a Great Tit but the other was a Redstart.  By this time I was already verging on being late back to work so I didn't have to stop and find it again but still great to see a spring migrant Redstart at an inland (just) location. 

Heard a Cuckoo calling at home this morning.  Last year there was one calling in the vicinity from early May through to mid June, always only early in the mornings.  Let's hope this one sticks around too.

Pheasant, north of Stanhoe, 27th April

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