Breckland Birder

Breckland Birder
Crossbill in Breckland, Norfolk Photo by Paul Newport

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Yellow Wagtail at Deopham Green, Norfolk

An early start for me today in the market town of Wymondham where I was working.  I decided to get up a little earlier to drive via Deopham Green to check for Yellow Wagtail.
The morning was cooler than recently, it was grey, and light was poor.  I arrived at the muck heap at about 0610 and searched the standing water and heaps of muck.  After waiting for about five minutes the Yellow Wagtail popped up on top of a heap and then flew above me to another heap where views were better.
I watched this stunning male Yellow Wagtail as it searched for and found small invertebrates to eat, the gorgeous yellows of this bird very conspicuous against the muck.
This particular Yellow Wagtail is a passage bird which has stopped off to feed before continuing its journey to its breeding grounds, either a damp meadow such as those in the Norfolk Broads or the North Norfolk Coast, or perhaps it has a further location to make for.
Yellow Wagtail at Deopham Green 18th May (A bird on passage)
Yellow Wagtails have declined significantly in recent decades, presumably due to the drainage of their breeding habitat.  This species requires damp meadows to breed on.  They are usually found around livestock where they pick off midges and other invertebrates disturbed by the animals.
I was born and brought up in Beccles, Suffolk, and I spent my early years of birding on Beccles Common and the marshes.  It was in the 1960's when I found my first Yellow Wagtail nest with young on land adjacent to Common Lane.  This land has now been developed for recreational purposes.


  1. Hi Paul... still reading your blog!
    This year has been the first for three that I have been able to work in the meadow before the breeding season starts... so I have been planting trees, pollarding others, etcetera, etcetera. This w/e is the first time I have sat down properly!
    Following a terrible flood in the valley in late May of last year, we've had a crash in vole numbers... the Barn Owls have visited the nest box a few times.... but with no voles in the meadow, no chance of breeding.

    I have done a lot of habitat creation, tho'... rather than burning the lop and top from the pollarding.... or building piles of brash, I have been creating "dead hedges"... they look nice, give me something to drive past when mowing the paths... and will provide nesting opportunities next year.
    Love this picture of the Yellow.... nearest we get is the Grey... not quite as striking, but pretty nonetheless!
    Yesssss... loss of habitat is the worst aspect of modern life... especially when done for pure speculation on floodplains!!
    We are now... more and more.... an island in a sea of agriculture... corridors are felled weekly... even in the breeding season... just to squeeze that extra few centimes out of the land.
    Keep well, keep bloggin'...'tis always a good read!

  2. Hi Tim

    Great to get your comments again. You have clearly been very busy with your habitat creation, so positive for habitat creation which is refreshingly great to read...well done.
    Although probably too late now I am thinking of putting up a Swift tower for next year, literature tells me this has to be at least 5 meters tall with the communal box on top of the tower. I expect I will need to approach the planning people about this, I am prepared in argument for this as I feel I will be putting something back which has clearly been lost through the unprecedented housing we see around us, I think my Swift tower would be somewhat more attractive than some of the monstrosities for human habitation we see.
    Your meadow sounds wonderful, it sounds like good Wagtail habitat. So are Yellow Wagtails just passage birds with you Tim.
    You also keep well, and thanks once again for your lovely comments regarding the blog.