Breckland Birder

Breckland Birder
Crossbill in Breckland, Norfolk Photo by Paul Newport

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

'Nettle Creeper' back on the patch.

Great Cressingham (early morning)
A slight overnight frost was followed by another fine, sunny morning with a light south-easterly wind.  Although the wind had a slight chill to it, there was plenty of warm sunshine in sheltered areas.
This morning I visited the area of Great Cressingham from Chalk Hill to Southwater.  There are some fine old hedgerows, damp woodland, scrub habitat, and a mature belt of Scots Pines in this rolling landscape.
Driving along Chalk Hill a pair of Bullfinches flew in and out of the hedgerows ahead of me along the lane in their typical bounding flight before darting sharply into cover and showing their highly distinctive white rump.
The walk down the hill between the hedgerows seemed fairly quiet, however, once close to the are known as Southwater, I looked back and saw a Red Kite drifting slowly east beofre turning to fly towards me and then off south along the valley.
Whitethroat (male) Gt Cressingham 16/04/14
Having just watched the Red Kite pass overhead I then heard the distinctive scratchy warble of a Whitethroat (my predicted bird for the day).  This was my first Whitethroat of the year and is a typical arrival date for the species.
A short search soon revealed the Whitethroat in some scrub close to the path.  Whilst at this site the Whitethroat ranged quite widely from where I initially found the bird, to other typical habitats including bramble scrub, light damp woodland, and a thick patch of scrub on the Watton Brook valley.
The Whitethroat is also known in the UK as 'Nettle Creeper' due to its habit of creeping through nettles, brambles, and umbellifers, within which it nests and also searches for food.
Whitethroats return to the UK from their African wintering grounds mid-April (my earliest Record is 12th April), however, the main migration/arrivals occurs in the second half of April.
The wintering grounds for Whitethroat is along the Sahel region of Africa.  The Sahel is a 600 mile wide (North to South) belt south of the Sahara Desert and stretches from the east coat to the west coast of Africa.
Back to Great Cressingham, also seen/heard in the area of Southwater was at least 3 singing Blackcaps, Chiffchaff, Goldcrest, Coal Tit, and Chaffinch.
Having been entertained by the beautiful Whitethroat, I returned towards Chalk Hill along the corridor of hedgerows where once again a pair of Bullfinches flew in and out of cover ahead of me  showing off their conspicuous white rumps......a good end to this visit.   


  1. "The Whitethroat is also known in the UK as 'Nettle Creeper' due to its habit of creeping...."
    I'd never heard it called that before... but it fits superbly!!
    Ours do that in the bramble patch we look at from the kitchen and bedroom windows...
    so, from now on, it'll be "Nettle Creeper"!!
    Or, as there is a bigamous Mallard sitting in there....
    perhaps "Brothel Creeper" might be more apt.
    The Blackcaps have also been taking a look!!

    That's a 'text book' shot, too...
    all salient points covered in one pic... very nice!!

    1. Hi Tim, once again many thanks for your comments, also, may I thank you for the comments on the Whitethroat photograph....very kind of you.
      I agree Tim, the colloquial name for Whitethroat..."Nettle Creeper" describes the birds behaviour very well.
      I actually love to find out about British Folk names for birds, or local names for birds in Norfolk......I might start using them in my blog.
      Another local name for Whitethroat is "Whittie Beard", this being due to its white-throat fluffing up when it sings......I still prefer "Nettle Creeper" though Tim.
      Once again Tim, thank you for your lovely comments.

    2. "Nettle Creeper" sounds much more Norfolk...
      try saying it with a strong Swarfham accent!!
      "Whittie Beard" sounds as though it should be said with a sing-song Suffolk accent.

  2. "Hev yew sin Nettle Creeper bor"