2018 / 50
Overcast with sunny bright spells. Cloud building from the west. Warm 17°C
07:30 – 09:45
There is less Willow Warbler song this morning, and apparently less bird activity on the east facing edge at the top. 15 minutes surveying this front indicate what was further evidenced later – an explosion of Coal Tits, Long-tailed Tits and Goldcrests in particular. The former today in especially high numbers and very active.
Three Willow Warblers here – one singing – and a handful of Chiffchaffs with one Blackcap nearby. Nice view of a Treecreeper. Three Swallows chattering overhead, and a couple of Mistle Thrushes.
Two Ravens went east to west, and then returned, gently calling to one another as I watched them go over from Upper Velmore.
It was when I returned to the path here and headed down towards the small bridge that I met the first of the Willow Warbler flocks – at least a dozen birds fluttering around in an ash tree. Lovely to watch as they spiral down, like leaves, then flit their way along in vegetation only a couple of feet from the ground. More Coal Tits higher up, with Goldcrests again. Nuthatches and Blue Tits also very noisy and noticeable. And among them, larger and relatively clumsy, brief views of the back of the season’s first Spotted Flycatcher. Always among my favourites, though this initial view was disappointing. Difficult in fact t get on most of the birds today, such was the frenzied feeding and general activity. Nothing sat still for more than a second.
Bullfinch calling, a Buzzard up behind me. Two Stock Doves and three incongruous Feral Pigeons, including one completely white bird.
There has been some bracken cutting in the first Quarter, and after heavy rain a lot of it is flattened. By 08:35 I have turned into Upper Velmore from the track, seeking out the sunny spot where this crosses the Passage. Speckled Wood butterflies here – probably at least 20 on the wing this morning – as well as Robins, Dunnock, Bullfinch and more tits. Long-tailed, Coal and Blue. Constant calling, whirring, flickering and whistles. Nuthatches tapping and calling all round too – very vocal today. Jay and Jackdaw calling too -first Jay for a while? There he is, moving towards me from up near the fallen oak.
And more Warblers – ten birds, mixed Chiff and Willow. Singing birds of both species. Up in an alder, out in the open – another Spotted Flycatcher! Much better, prolonged views this time of a relatively inactive bird. Looked heavy and tired, hunched on an exposed twig. Lost among the leaves, but not before I found a satisfying smile. Nice to watch this bird and an adjacent Treecreeper – a resident of the wood that is so secretive and generally hard to see. There’s a family of them here I think, that’s my best guess at the thin hissing call that I am not familiar with.
There is a heavy front of cloud approaching from the west, intensifying the crisp sunlight that now falls on the right hand side of the track just west of the crossing. I am aware of the work that has been done to open this up. A butterfly reminds me, and there are many more birds flitting around. Another flock of Blue Tits, Long-tails, Goldcrest and Nuthatch. Six or eight more Willow Warblers, chasing one another. It’s impossible to say whether the Spotted Flycatcher that went across right to left was one of the other two? Possibly, but I am going to count three just because… There’s a cacophony of calls, contacts and generally bird audio in a very small area – but the song of a male Firecrest at close range cuts through it all. he has a family, zitting and flickering. There he is again, surely right beside me. Ten steps back to the sunny side of the bush, and behold – great views. It’s like waving to a friend. the Wood is on fine form this morning…
I note that the Kestrels are not active on the clearing, but there are Greenfinch and Mistle Thrush here again. A ‘pinking’ Chaffinch. Shall I walk to scan the farmland? I am undecided. Two Pied Wagtails call to each other as they pass high over the cleared area. very unusual record. It is quite grey now, and the cloud is going opt be around for awhile – I will come in from Woodside later in the week and do the farmland then.
Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers. A couple more Swallows. And there’s a Kestrel, perched within the wood causing a disturbance to yet more tits and Goldcrests.
But that’s enough – it’s grey and dull now, so I head back.
At the top, about 9:20, I come upon the largest flock of Tits I think I have ever encountered in the wood. 30-40 birds and I am right among them. Blue Tits mostly, (lots of young) Great Tits, Long-tailed and Coal Tits. They are so busy and the light is poor so it’s impossible to get much on them. But there are Nuthatches and Warblers too.
I found a numbered Silver Birch beside the passage at the top of Q2. It’s the only one I have found so far adorned with a new tag:
There is a white-form Greater Willowherb coming into flower beside the track at the top, and some Violets are starting to appear on the track
And to conclude, a Lesser Black-backed Gull flies north overhead.
An excellent morning circuit. 350 birds of 35 species