Sunday 16 March 2014

Goshawks and Woodlarks in the Brecks

Not a bad day in the end. The best birding was in the first few hours from 7am to 10am when I managed to add two species to my rather paltry British list. Northern Goshawk and Woodlark.
We started at Santon Downham hoping for Lesser Spotted Woodpecker. We had a drumming GSW alright but its diminutive cousin alluded us. However along the bank of the Little Ouse river was the first singing Chiffchaff of the spring for me, some nice views of Brambling including one very smart male coming into breeding plumage with an almost complete black head. Plenty of Siskins in the area too, a Kingfisher and a pair of Grey Wagtails were present also.
As we headed to a spot for displaying Goshawk in the Brecks, we stopped and scanned some arable fields looking for Stone Curlews. Its possibly still a little too early for them (maybe?) but I did at least hear my first ever singing Woodlark. I couldn't pin the bird down but great to get my ear in on their song.
We reached the Goshawk spot a short while later. I had been here once before, on a dull, windy and cold day a few weeks ago and only had Common Buzzard. Today though, while it was still breezy, it was sunny and looking better for soaring raptors. After about thirty minutes we finally got onto a single Goshawk flying above the pines at the end of the field. I enjoyed prolonged scope views of the bird as it climbed and soared. In good light it was possible to make out the barring on the chest, the white under-tail coverts and the head pattern. Having only previously had brief glimpses of the species in Latvia, it was possible this time to observe the distinctive shape in flight. Before the bird began to soar, it held its tail feathers in, this gave it a 'long-tailed' look with the outer tail feathers appearing rounded at the tips. In addition, the inner wing looked quite wide, i.e. the arm looked wider than the hand. Overall, to me, it gave it an altogether quite distinctive look, not just that of a large Sparrowhawk.
Happy with the views we headed away from the area. The birds were too distant for any photos but as we drove way, one Goshawk glided low over the tops of the pines. I got a couple of very ropey record shots as it disappeared from view.

Goshawk, Norfolk - the ultimate record shot!
I should also add that in the same area I got scope views of a Woodlark perched in a tree. Tickable at least but I will hope for better views in time.
By now it was 10am, we weren't to know it, but that was as good as the day's birding got. We headed to Sheringham Park for Firecrest, we could hear 'crests but couldn't see any. We took a stroll around Kelling Heath for Dartford's but had no luck here either. By then the early start was catching up. We threw in the birding towel and headed back to Norwich.

1 comment:

  1. Graham- please heed- my ebook "The man who saw too many goshawks" available from The Best- Nelson Briefer- Anacortes, WA.