Breckland Birder

Breckland Birder
Water Rail at Thompson Water, Norfolk Photo by Paul Newport

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Breeding Blackcaps and other Warblers

Today saw something resembling the weather we should be getting in May...blue skies and warm sunshine.  This is also the time of year when birds are feeding young upon the wealth of insect prey that is now becoming abundant.

HOUGHTON-on-the-HILL
Early morning, and I paid a visit to the beautiful church and churchyard of St Mary's at Houghton.  The churchyard here has a wide variety of flowering shrubs, flowers, and mature trees which attracts a host of insect species.  The dense peripheral habitat provides ideal breeding habitat for a number of small songbird species, and it was here that I paid most attention to on this visit.
It became evident to me, not unexpectedly, that Blackcaps were breeding in the churchyard, in fact I heard 2 singing males here this morning.  I concentrated on one pair along the southern boundary where I watched a very busy period of movement to and from the nest site.  Most observations saw the Blackcaps keeping within the churchyard to find insect prey, usually, this was in the mature Sycamores where bugs and insects were collected and taken back to the young in the nest.
Blackcap (female) approaching the nest with food at Houghton-on-the-Hill 26/05/13
Both male and female Blackcaps were very busy collecting for food for the young, although approaching the nest-site with caution, it appeared that these Warblers were comfortable with my presence as no alarm calls were given. 
Also in the churchyard was Goldfinch (pair), Great Tit (pair), Treecreeper (heard), Green Woodpecker (1), Chaffinch, and Blackbird.  

HOCKHAM FEN
A late afternoon dog walk along the path adjacent to the western boundary of the fen produced 2 singing Garden Warblers, singing Willow Warbler, Blackcap, and Chiffchaff, and a single Whitethroat actively moving about in a patch of scrub. A Treecreeper was also heard.
Little was seen on or over the fen other than a single Grey Heron.

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