Breckland Birder

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

Monday, 19 October 2015

Hockham Fen, Norfolk

I paid a fairly short visit this morning to Hockham as I needed to get back home for other commitments.  The fen appeared quiet at this time, however, I noticed a good passage of Redwings and Fieldfares overhead.  Flocks varied in size, the best counts being 100+ Redwings and 50+ Fieldfares, all were moving in a south-west to south heading.
Water Rail (photographed at nearby Thompson Water Jan. 2015)
Within the damp, dense habitat at Hockham Fen a Water Rail called on occasions.  The distinctive pig-like squeal was heard as was on one occasion the persistent "kip-kip-kip-kip-kip" song.
Water Rails have perfectly evolved to be suited to life within dense habitats such as reeds, their appearance head-on giving them a rather narrow carriage which allows them to weave in and out of reeds without giving their presence away.
The secretive nature of the Water Rail is such that it can be a challenge to see the bird.


A few Siskins were initially heard, then seen, in peripheral woodland, their distinctive "tsu" call gives their presence away.
The only raptor species seen this morning was a single Buzzard overflying the fen at dawn.
As is typical with pine forest at this time of year, mobile flocks of Long-tailed Tits was the most obvious feature of this woodland habitat.  Such flocks should be scrutinised for Tits, Goldcrests, and Firecrest, the latter which I have seen in this area, but also Warblers, and not only Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps.  Frustratingly on a recent previous visit to Hockham, I am sure I could hear Yellow-browed Warbler, sadly, I could not locate visually.

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