Breckland Birder

Breckland Birder
Crossbill in Breckland, Norfolk Photo by Paul Newport

Thursday, 31 July 2014

Hockham and Stow Bedon, Norfolk

Hockham Fen
The first bird I noticed at the Fen was an adult Grey Heron, and as it happens, this bird remained perched in a Sallow on the edge of dense woodland throughout my hour long stay.  The Heron preened at this perch, however, I had to smile when the bird stood erect facing the sun and holding its wings open so to gather the early warmth, this posture reminded me of a 'spiv' holding his coat open displaying rows of blackmarket watches.
I am sure there was much more on the Fen than what I saw during my stay, however, a party of 5 Stock Doves passed over, also, a few Swallows were seen flying in over the trees from the south and then seen sweeping low over reedbeds for insect prey.
A single Common Buzzard passed close by but the expected Hobby was not seen on this occasion.
A number of calling Green Woodpeckers were heard, also 2 birds seen to fly up into a tall tree on the fen.  Great Spotted Woodpecker was also heard.
In the nearby woodland Blackcap was heard giving its agitated 'tak' call and later, on the walk back to the car, Chiffchaffs, Goldcrests, Chaffinches and Nuthatch were heard or seen.

Stow Bedon (Mere Road)
This time of year I am always attracted to this location as it has always been reliable for passage waders.  Starting off from the church I walked east along the road to the given location where 2 Buzzards were seen at height.  Initially the large area of standing water appeared quiet, however, after a little searching, a single Green Sandpiper flew up from the edge of stagnant water to relocate a little further along the lane.  This is a very distinctive wader in flight with its all dark upperwing and highly contrasting snowy white rump.
In addition to the wader, a flock of 4 Stock Doves dropped in to drink, these birds plus others, along with Wood Pigeons, were later seen feeding in nearby stubble.
Whilst overviewing this area a QUAIL was heard calling occasionally.  The wide expanses of rolling arable here has previously held Quail. 
Finally, walking back along the lane, a couple of fine looking Whitethroats were seen in thick Bramble and hedgerow habitat.

Whitethroat (photographed Sept. 2011)
Tomorrow is the first day of August, it is from then through until November which holds special interest for me as these months sees migration in full swing.  There will be early movement in August, however, September and October are arguably the two best months in the bird migration calender.
Watch for Whitethroats and other Warbler species and see how their diet changes to fruits such as Blackberries and Elder in order to build energy reserves for migration.


  1. Hello Paul! I have just come across your very helpful and informative blog. I am not far away in Rocklands, so a lot of the sites you cover are familiar to me. I often stop off at Stow Bedon Mere. I will now be listening out for Quail, thank you. Keep up the good work! Chris

  2. Hi Chris, firstly, thank you for following the blog and for your lovely comments. I love the countryside around the Stow Bedon area with the vast rolling fields and feeling os isolation (especially in winter). I have heard Quail in two previous summers in the area. I am sure you will know the area that attracts passage waders, however, if not, please give me your mobile/e-mail address so that I can keep you informed if you wish. Kindest regards.