Our weekly walk took us to Knole Park this week, and although it wasn’t the best of weather, it was a least a bit brighter than yesterday.
We wandered along a line of oak trees looking for Galls and did find Andricus quercus-ramuli – Cotton Wood Gall to you and I. This is a gall made by a Gall Wasp, and it literally looks as if a cotton wool ball is stuck to the branch of the oak tree. This was the highlight of Malcolm’s day as the Gall is quite hard to find.
We continued along the line of trees listening for any birds that may be singing. Skylark was the first “hearing”, then we saw a Blackbird carrying food, a group of around 35 Jackdaw called from the top of a tree where they were nesting. Knole has many old trees which are decaying and have plenty of holes and crevices for them to use. Magpie, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Green Woodpecker, and Mistle Thrush all appeared in quick succession.
As we moved along The Gallops we found Stock Dove, a group of four Ring-necked Parakeets, Wren, Chiffchaff and Woodpigeon were also present. A couple of Swallow were feeding around the house and at one stage they perched on top of one of the ornate chimney pots.
Robin, Willow Warbler and Song Thrush also sang as we continued along towards our lunch stop. We were in the area where Tree Pipit used to be found, but sadly, none were seen or heard today.
Kestrel hovered and Grey Heron leisurely flew across the parkland, and as we walked towards the small pond, Sally saw a small bird flitting around in a nearby tree. We watched and waited and eventually Malcolm spotted a Redstart. It flew to the ground then regained its former perch and it seemed as if it suddenly realised that we were there. The bird stayed on the end of an overhanging bough, appearing to watch us until it decided we were no threat and carried on with its circuit of territory.
We continued on, stopping at the pond to watch Mallard and Moorhen. Our next distraction was a buzzard spotted gaining height as it circled ahead of us. A second Redstart was heard as we approached the golf course, but we could not see the bird, although a Nuthatch fed in a tree in front of us.
Nearing the house I heard a Yellowhammer, it was in a bush just ahead of us, and after a few calls it decided to make a dash for it and shot out across the path and into the distance. Just far enough to feel safe from approaching people, but still close enough to be heard.
Pied Wagtail completed our Knole Bird list, but we did have a short distraction from Malcolm as we hunted for more galls – this time on a Turkey Oak. Apparently we have to go back later in the year!