This tiny, entertaining bird is quite common in reeds and overgrown grasslands, locally thriving in tall Phalaris grass near water. The male becomes a brighter gold colour, and makes a distinctive insect-like ‘zzzt’ sound in the breeding season, from spring to early autumn. He calls while perched or while circling and weaving over the nesting area before dropping quickly down.
The tennis ball-sized nest, found within a metre of the ground in dense vegetation, is amazing – a dome with a small entrance near the top, with an inner downy lining, a middle grassy layer and living green leaves to encase it all. These are stitched together with threads of spider web, wool or grass.
Photo and Illustration: Mark Trinham.