Breckland Birder

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

Saturday, 18 January 2014

A gathering of Tits at Great Hockham, Norfolk.

With many birders obsessed with chasing rare birds it becomes easy to miss the commoner birds around us.  It is in my opinion just as interesting to watch the behaviour of more abundant species, in fact, I think it is important to observe familiar species as comparisons may be essential when one finds something more unusual, scarce, or rare.
Great Tit at Great Hockham, Norfolk 18/01/14
I visited Great Hockham mid-afternoon in bright sunshine. The locality visited is a regular and reliable site for watching Tit species feeding amongst leaf litter under a Beech tree.
Great Tits were present in double-figure numbers with smaller numbers of Coal Tits, a few Blue Tits, and a Marsh Tit.  All of these birds were seen searching for food amongst the leaf litter, they would have been after mast and possibly invertebrate species.  It was interesting to hear a single sharp "tsit" call which caused all birds to fly for cover, this behaviour clearly shows that feeding in numbers is beneficial to the groups safety as more eyes are watching for potential predators.
The Great Tit above is a female, this is evident by the narrow black stripe which runs down the centre of the birds underparts, on the male this stripe is solid along its length and noticeably broader.
Marsh Tit at Great Hockham 18/01/14
With Great Tits forming the majority of birds feeding amongst leaf litter, it was good to see this single Marsh Tit make an appearance under the Beech tree.
This relatively common Tit species is also a very noisy one with the bird announcing itself with a loud "pitchou" call.
A walk around some of the forest trails at Great Hockham produced further common species, most notably, a mixed flock of Long-tailed Tits, Coal Tits, Treecreeper, and Goldcrest.  This social gathering will see birds searching for food in the winter woodland, also, the greater numbers of birds increases the chances of an approaching predator being spotted, the alarm will be sounded therefore increasing chances of survival within the group.

2 comments:

  1. I couldn't agree more; always worth getting a good look at common birds through the bins (and the lens). One day something unusual will turn up amongst them. Some very nice photos.

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  2. Thank you for your very kind comments. I have seen a Firecrest nearby, hopefully, this little gem may put in an appearance here. Also, thank you for liking the photos...there was so many Great Tits to choose from...and they were often quick as they flew to the ground to feed.

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