NWT Weeting Heath

We headed to Lakenheath, had a quick stop off to watch a load of F15, Strike Eagles, take off from the RAF base before bypassing RSPB Lakenheath and heading further out to a reserve we had not visited previously – the Norfolk Wildlife Trust’s Weeting Heath site.

Wren and caterpillar

Weeting Heath (Grid ref: TL 758 884) is right in the middle of The Brecks and one of the lookout hides looks out over arable land while the other has a small pond and lots of well-stocked feeders frequented by woodland birds including the usual array of Goldfinches, Chaffinches, Robins, Dunnocks, Collared Doves, Wrens etc as well Bramblings and Yellowhammers.

Male Brambling

Cross the speedy road and there is a larger woodland patch with a circular walking route through the pines (although Forestry Commission and NWT were felling trees during our visit so some paths were closed off. Anyway, saw the usual array of woodland birds here but also heard Woodlark, which staff had mentioned as having been showing well that week. Back at the main site, I snapped the last of the Bramblings, several Yellowhammers, a Wren eating a caterpillar, and numerous Goldfinches.

Male Yellowhammer

There had been reports of Stone Curlew (Burhinus oedicnemus), and I caught sight of one of the five or so that had been showing. There was also a Kestrel in a lone tree and a solitary Lapwing on the same patch as the Stone Curlew.

Stone Curlew, not a great shot, but first time seen one of these.

Then, I dashed back to the main road when Mrs Sciencebase alerted me to a sighting of a winter buzzard that was in the area, a Rough-legged Buzzard, specifically. Unlike the more common Common Buzzard, the Rough-leg only over-winters occasionally in the UK. Second time she’s spotted one of these ahead of the crowd and we had seen one at Cley in North Norfolk in November 2018. I wasn’t back from the hide quickly enough to get a view of it low down but managed to snap it just before it disappeared into low cloud. Other birders arrived minutes later and never caught a glimpse.

Rough-legged Buzzard