30 enthusiastic participants joined Clifford for a walk at this popular venue. Although it was cold and overcast, there were blue tits and blackbirds singing to get us on our way. In view of the numbers we decided to split into two groups and Malcolm agreed to head up the second group, we would then be able to stagger our arrival at the various hides.
As we headed off around the trail a pair of great spotted woodpeckers gave good flying displays. During the day we saw them several times and hopefully they are looking to nest in the area. Both teams had great views of a sparrowhawk as it flew over several times, hunting above the trails. Blue and great tits took our attention on several occasions but eventually we spotted a pair of goldcrest, as they were in a bare tree the whole group were able to see them well.
Jays, magpie, treecreeper, robin, wood pigeon, long-tailed tit, dunnock and chaffinch were all to be found along the edge of the wood and siskin and redpoll were also seen and/or heard by some.
Over on the lakes there were huge numbers of tufted duck, gadwall, black-headed and common gull, along with one female ruddy duck (which sparked a debate on the rights and wrongs of culling), a few little grebes and a couple of mute swan. A few people were quick enough to spot a distant mandarin duck, which made off into the reeds not to be seen again.
On the field at the end of the first trail there were 79 canada geese and one greylag, a few crows strutted about, and as we watched another 30 or so greylag flew overhead towards the main lake. At this stage the two groups had merged and were comparing notes. Having made sure everyone had seen a pair of ring-necked parakeet the two teams again split and completed their respective circuits back to the car park for lunch. By now everyone had caught up with most species to be seen and the lists were virtually identical.
Lunch was taken in the picnic area and after several of us had been fortified with steaming mugs of tea from the tea bar we joined forces for an afternoon trip around the main lake. Closer views of the ducks, gulls, coot and moorhen helped everyone sort out the species, a pair of egyptian geese (yet another alien species) were also present. At the end of our walk, some stayed for another mug of warming tea and saw bullfinch.
Although cold we had a good day and in addition to the birds there were several different fungi species – one identified by Steven as scarlet elf cup – is pictured and was widespread.
When the sun came out it was great to see as many of the trees and bushes were starting to bud when the sun came out it really did feel like spring is on its way.
Thanks to Clifford and Malcolm for leading the walk and we hope you are feeling better soon Joan.
Alien species seen – 5 – much to Malcolm’s annoyance
Total species seen today – 46
YTD total species seen – 95