Monday, 4 April 2016

The Brecks

Having been rather busy the last couple of days I've only just got round to sorting out my photos from the weekend.
Since I had commitments on Sunday, I phoned Colin and arranged a trip for Saturday. The weather looked nice, and there was a reasonable assortment of things to go for, migrants were coming in, butterflies were out in number (not that I had seen any yet this year) so it was merely a case of choosing somewhere. As happens so often this time of year we went to Thetford Forest and the Brecks rather than travel a long way and hopefully avoid any Easter holiday traffic.
A quick call in at Foxhole Heath did not produce a great deal apart from a flock of Linnets and Yellowhammers, and singing Skylarks. The road was rather busy so it was not possible to linger long.
Our first real port of call was Grimes Graves, even though it wasn't open. Walking down the entrance track, being serenaded by Mistle Thrush, Siskin, Nuthatch, Goldcrests and Chiffchaffs was a good start, though it would have been nice to get some Crossbills. We met up with a couple of guys who had been there some time and soon the rather distant Great Grey Shrike appeared. Apparently it had been a lot closer earlier-typical. I managed to get some video footage on the phone, though with the distance and heat haze I don't think its all that great. I might post a clip on my Youtube channel later.
We then went to Lyndford arboretum. The south car park, by the paddocks appears to be shut so we had to go to the main one in the arboretum. My first Blackcap was singing as I got out of the car, and there were more Nuthatches and Siskins around. The feeding station only had a few Great and Blue Tits so we carried on to the paddocks stopping off for a nice male Siskin and a Treecreeper.

At the paddocks I got my first butterflies-Brimstone and Peacock. The Hawfinches had been down earlier and we had to wait a while before tow or three flew back in. Nice views of a male bird high in the tree in the scope but as soon as I hooked the phone up it dropped down into the back of the tree and was then lost to view. I had a hunch they were feeding on the ground and sure enough through the scope I could see at least one now and then though the vegetation made things very difficult.
The Muntjac proved a bit easier to see.

After an unsuccessful  drive round some of the roads in the area checking for Goshawk and Woodlarks we called in at Weeting Heath and spent a while in the west hide. Two Buzzards were on the deck on the ridge and their presence meant that birds were scarce apart from Lapwing. Eventually crows drove the Buzzards off and two Stone Curlews appeared and seemed to perform a rather subdued display, and with tails cocked we thought they might mate until they settled down.
For various reasons, we wanted to finish rather early in the day so made Lakenheath our last destination. As expected there was a large crowd waiting outside at the feeder hoping the Willow Tit would appear, though chatting to one of them some had been there a long time. Since it's just about the only available bird in East Anglia now that they are virtually extinct in southern England its not surprising it's a popular draw. The only birds we saw round the feeders were some rather smart Reed Buntings.

Colin and I decided to have a look at Hockwold Washes as three Garganey have been present for a couple of days. Lots of duck, with some lingering Teal and Wigeon, several pairs of Shelduck and one Kingfisher flying through. A Marsh Harrier put in a brief appearance. We started to head west along the public footpath when I heard a tit with a rather buzzing call. It took a few seconds before it dawned on me that the Willow Tit was nearby. A frantic scan of the sallows behind me resulted in a rather too brief view of the bird in the top of one of the bushes before it flew-apparently towards the visitors centre and the feeders. We rushed down to where I had seen it last letting a couple of others know, but despite waiting some time there was no further sign. The smart looking Redpolls were nice though.
Before getting home we stopped off on the Eyeworth-Aswell-Newnham roads and the manure heaps as Mike Illett had reported Wheaters earlier in the day. Unfortunately none were seen, though he found more on Sunday-along with White and Yellow Wagtails.

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