Breckland Birder

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

Saturday, 18 February 2017

Hoe Rough near Dereham, Norfolk

This morning I had to collect my car from a garage at North Elmham where it had been in for repair since somebody drove into it whilst parked.  On my way back to Dereham I decided to stop off at the beautiful Hoe Rough, a wonderful example of unimproved grassland in the River Whitewater valley.

Moorhen
1 Brambling
2 Marsh Tit (pair)
Great Tit 3+ singing males
Blue Tit
Long-tailed Tit
Blackbird
Siskin over

I spent about an hour (0945-1045) at this lovely site, wandering around grassland, scattered woodland, Gorse habitat, and a look along the Whitewater valley.
It was initially cloudy and cool, however, cloud began to break allowing sunny intervals as I prepared to leave.  It remained too cool however for any early Adders to make an appearance.
Long-tailed Tit seen in the Whitewater valley at Hoe Rough 18th Feb.
Hoe Rough is a great place to visit the strange grassy mounds scattered around the site, these mounds are the nests of the Yellow Meadow Ant.  These nests may be decades or centuries old and is a clear indication that land has been undisturbed thus allowing these nests to form.
Whilst wandering around an area of open woodland, a single Brambling was seen amongst upper branches, and was often concealed within this habitat.  It moved to another tree but I just managed to see it, its black-tipped straw coloured bill, black head, bright orangey breast, and bright orange scapular patch which confirmed this to be a male bird, a stunning individual.
The Long-tailed Tit pictured here was seen in thick, tangled habitat by the river Whitewater.  This delicate species will now be in the process of constructing its fantastic domed nests.  The nest is initially constructed in a typical cup shape, the top half is then built to form the dome with a small hole to exit and enter.  I have watched Long-tailed Tits build their nests and it is wonderful to see during the latter stages of construction how the birds knit fine fibres and hair to hold the nest together.  I have also seen the birds press themselves against the inner walls of the nest to in order to mould the nest to a nice fit.  Totally amazing master-builders.
Long-tailed Tit on its partially constructed nest at Hackford, Norfolk, March 2016
The above picture shows a Long-tailed Tit on its partially constructed nest.  Note the lovely cup shape, building would have continued until the dome is formed.  A wonderful construction.

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