Bird Spotting : Sunday 26th September
Twelve of us gathered this morning, welcoming some new faces, as well as familiar regulars too. We set off, all hoping for an improved tally list compared to a quieter August walk. This time, our leader – Julia Holland – decided to lead us from Blackheath Gate towards Chesterfield Gate’s dell and round into the flower garden. What a great decision this was. Our first official spotting was a pair of goldfinches and it was clearly evident from then on, that many jays were present in the park this morning. At one point seeing 8 of them in two oak trees near Queen Elizabeth Oak, clearly grabbing as many acorns as possible. Blue tits were apparent, as well as quite a few great tits. In the distance, the green ring-necked parakeets were busy telling everybody we were on the look-out, plus robins galore were extremely chirpy throughout our whole 2:30 hours – we didn’t think it was the same pair following us from start to finish, but they were certainly plentiful in sightings. Magpies were flying about and greedy wood pigeons were also feeding hard. Julia was very quick to spot a goldcrest beside Queen Caroline’s bath and our admirable young Brodie, said there were two. Not too far away from us, we all heard a green woodpecker – only for Brodie to turn around and of course he spotted it in the tree behind us – with possibly a second one too. A wren was heard and crows were seen – and all this before we had made it into the rose garden! A late autumnal Skipper (butterfly) had got up early this Sunday morning, fluttering through the rose garden (with a second being seen later), and a pair of grey squirrels were playing tag around the large beech tree trunk. We walked up to Crooms Hill Gate and turned right to find a murder of crows foraging on the ground for the fallen sweet chestnuts, with squawking parakeets in the trees above. Starlings also flew above us and as we walked past the Pavilion Café, a single (of the many types of) seagull was high up in the sky, followed by a pair of lower altitude mallards. Heading towards Queen Elizabeth Oak, we spotted more blue and great tits amongst plentiful hawthorn berries, jackdaws high up in a sweet chestnut tree and noted the various pigeons – feral, stock and a pair of rock doves in the flower garden. We reckoned we disturbed Mr Blackbird feeding on some red berries; more chirping red robins were present and Brodie who was keen to see the deer before he had to leave, led us to the deer look-out in the woods. “Henry” – present yesterday after our Wildlife Event – the Red Deer stag (a Royal Stag, because he has six points (tines) on each side of his magnificent set of antlers) was in the distance. He had been sitting down upon our arrival, but got up and started bellowing – the rutting season is upon us. Upon Brodie’s departure from here, due to other commitments, he kindly came running back to tell us families of blue, great as well as long tail tits were in the woodland. Spoilt for choice to watch ‘Henry’ seeing off a younger threat, or spot the long tails – and we all concluded today’s walk had been exceptionally busy and fulfilled, culminating with a good sized flock (12 – 15?) of probably (silhouetted) gold finches, as we arrived back at Blackheath Gate.
Our next Bird Spotting will be on the last Sunday of October – 31st. Not only is that date Halloween, it will also be when we change our clocks – BACK one hour. We will meet again inside Blackheath Gate at 08:30am (though the birds will find us an hour late!)