A dozen of us met at Godden Green on Sunday for our outdoor meeting to Knole Park with Malcolm and Sally at the helm.
First birds on the list were a pair of noisy Ring-necked Parakeets flying over our heads as we gathered, with a further five within the park itself. We found Greater Celandine along the footpath leading to the park and an excellent cottage garden which has bird feeders and a wild flower area in the lawn which had been left uncut. An excellent example of what can be achieved in a modest garden. Malcolm was impressed by the examples of Plaintain there.
We had some ground to cover as our entrance to the park was some way from an area where our leaders wished to look for Common Redstart. We took a line towards the house which led us along the Duchess Walk. Skylark were singing well over the rough grassland, several Yellowhammer called and with some patience were seen well by all.
Fallow and Sika Deer were moving around in large groups, making a picturesque scene. Malcolm showed us how to identify Sika by the presence of a scent gland on the left hind leg – seen well with the use of Alan’s telescope.
Several Wren, which are obviously far more interested in protecting their territories than their identities at this time of year sang from the top of bushes or felled trees and gave us all great views.
As we continued Stock Dove flew overhead, Swallow were feeding low to the ground swooping between the trees. A Pied Wagtail juvenile fed with a watchful parent close by.
Mistle Thrush were seen close to where we had found them on one of our walks a couple of weeks ago and Blackcap sang well all day. We did hear a few Whitethroat (but only saw one), and also saw Greenfinch and a Great Spotted Woodpecker nest.
We were aiming at a spot beyond the Golf Course where we hoped to find a Common Redstart. With our ears peeled we stood patiently waiting, after a short while we heard the distinctive sound of this beautiful bird. It took some time before the male was spotted hidden from the view of most under the protective canopy of a nearby tree. We moved slowly and quietly to the other side of the copse of trees. The bird continued to call and eventually moved close enough for us to catch up with it. For a while we all stood by and watched as it called from the top of a tree, again enhanced by Alan’s telescope. Congratulations all around, we moved off, leaving the bird in peace to get on with the busy job of nesting and bringing up the next generation.
Some of us had a picnic lunch and then wandered back towards the house, inspecting the Turkey Oak tree for galls along the way. We met two more members of our group and decided to try to show them the Redstart – and so began our second circuit. We were not quite so lucky on the second attempt and although we could hear the bird, it did not show itself again.
At the nearby pond several juvenile Moorhen fed along the edges and a trio of bachelor Mallard enjoyed some preening in the afternoon sun.
A great day out – we all felt exhausted but happy at the end of the day – thanks to Malcolm and Sally for their excellent leading, as always.