Breckland Birder

Breckland Birder
Crossbill in Breckland, Norfolk Photo by Paul Newport

Monday, 9 February 2015

Cranberry Rough, Norfolk

About Cranberry Rough
Cranberry Rough is a small Breckland reserve which is owned and managed by the Norfolk Wildlife Trust.  The reserve lies within the parish of Hockham.  Access is not advised due to the very swampy nature of the reserve, however, the former rail-line which ran through the reserve is now a footpath and offers superb views of this habitat.  When in use, the rail line had to be significantly raised due to frequent flooding.
This area was once the site of a large lake, left by the retreating glaciers of the last Ice Age 10 -12,000 years ago.
For the neolithic hunters, 10,000 years ago, to the people of the medieval Manor of Hockham, the lake would have been a vital source of fish and fowl. There are records of a ‘fish house’ here in 1380.
In Tudor times there was still a large lake, of around 280 acres, called Hockham Mere, but it gradually silted up and by 1737 it was simply a swamp.
Notable Bird Species
Cranberry Rough is an important reserve for many common species including breeding Tits and Warblers, it is also a reliable location for watching Siskins and Redpolls which are attracted to the Alders for feeding.
Notable species which I have seen at Cranberry Rough includes the now very scarce Willow Tit, also, it is a reliable site for Lesser Spotted Woodpecker.
Cranberry Rough 09/02/15
Cranberry Rough 09/02/15
For this mornings visit I walked the former rail line through Cranberry Rough.  The swampy woodland was dull in the early morning light with a little mist to add to the atmosphere.
Birds heard were 2 Song Thrushes (singing males), singing Nuthatch, several Treecreepers, Marsh, Blue, and Great Tits.
A number of Siskins passed overhead and I eventually located these lovely little Finches feeding high in the canopy of tall Alders.
At least 2 Redpolls passed over the wood calling.  Redpolls often associate themselves with Siskins high in Alders, so check tree canopies for something different where Siskins are feeding.


  1. Just been reading your Cranberry Rough account and catching up on the latest blogs. Cranberry Rough sounds like a birders paradise; any difference between winter and summer visits? And what about that gorgeous photo of the Water Rail, wonderful! All the talk of Siskins, Redpolls and Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers reminds me that they are not seen down here in Andalucia. Off to the Charca de Suarez reserve in Motril tomorrow morning and hoping that both the Water Rail and Little Bittern will be about and, maybe, even the resident Red Avadavats. Makes me forget about the resident Red-knobbed Coot and Purple Swamphen that we seem to take for granted.
    Good to see you getting out and about and hope that the new home is very much to your liking. Lots of love and best wishes to all the family
    Cousin Bob

  2. Hi Bob. Many thanks for your lovely comments. The main difference between winter and summer visits to Cranberry Rough, is the summer infestation of Mosquito's. Willow Tits occur at Cranberry, I have previously seen birds at a nest site, I am sure this still happens, which is excellent given their scarcity now. Thank you also Bob for your very much appreciated comment regarding the Wtaer Rail photograph, did you manage to see this and Little Bittern at Charca de Suarez. Red Avadavats...what a beauty...did you catch up with these birds Bob?
    The home is coming on nicely thank you Bob. I planted a hedge in the back garden in October last year, I am now eagerly awaiting signs of buds on the Hawthorn and Blackthorn plants, the Dog Roses are budding as are my Elders
    Once again Bob, thank you for lovely comments, and of course I must mention that my blog would have not been possible if not for your help with setting up etc.
    Love to you and Jenny.