A private tour to the Brecks today and, despite mobility restrictions, we had an excellent day and managed to see almost all our targets.
We started with an early visit for Stone Curlew, before the heat haze got too bad. We were rewarded with good views of several birds – three adults and an already very well grown youngster. We also managed to catch up with Spotted Flycatcher, though very active hawking for insects amongst the trees it eventually sat long enough to see very well in the scope.
On to Lakenheath Fen, and we walked out to the sound of Cuckoos, numerous Reed Warblers and booming Bitterns. Just as we got into the hide, one of the Bitterns decided to go one long flight low over the reeds just in front of us, giving us great views. Always a real privelege to see. A particular target for the day was Hobby and we managed some distant views of several birds from the Joist Fen viewpoint, which we thought might be the best of it on such a warm day. However, we decided to rest there for a while (with yet another Bittern booming close by!), and our patience was eventually rewarded as a Hobby circled slowly towards us over the Fen catching insects and came right overhead – stunning!
Lakenheath also held lots of insects, with a good variety of dragonflies including amongst others Emperor (which landed right in front of us, rather than just flying past) and Hairy Dragonflies, Black-tailed Skimmers, Red-eyed Damselflies and Banded Demoiselles. Butterflies were also well represented, with the highlight being a good showing of Large Skippers.
Moving on, an excursion into the forest was rewarded with a singing Tree Pipit, flying up and repeatedly parachuting down into the tops of the trees, and a family party of Woodlarks among the tree stumps. We also found a pair of Stonechats, not such a common bird in recent years after the Breckland population was decimated by two cold winters. Our final stop was at Lynford Arboretum, for Firecrest. A short wait and we were rewarded with a singing male which moved around in the tops of the trees but remained frustratingly out of view, and we also had a tantalising view of a similarly uncooperative juvenile. A Hawfinch was the surprise end to the day, heard calling but it too remained similarly elusive.