3 November 2018

2018 / 76

08:00 – 09:45
Mild and sunny 11°C. Bright blue sky and high cloud, passing quickly in light S wind

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I am later than I would have liked this morning as I had to call into the office on the way over. This irritates me unnecessarily, and of course the Wood is a delight anytime. I was rather expecting it to be colder today and wanted to catch any early movement overhead. No need to have worried as there are plenty of birds around anyway – an encouraging 32 species once I added my notes up.

There is a lot of birdsong  at the west end – Robins, Blackbirds mostly, and a few small groups of tits. Exceptional views of a male Dunnock singing from low in a bush as I crossed the stream. Q1 smells deliciously damp and autumnal.
More tits in Q2, and it would seem Goldcrests have rediscovered their voices now too.Mixed with clicking Long-tailed Tits.

A flurry of activity as I stood watching this group at the Velmore crossing. A group of 8 Bullfinches went over calling mournfully and then I noticed a large flock of Woodpigeons going west overhead. 400 together- so presumably continental migrants. Altogether I counted over 800 in the next hour, in groups of up to 100, all going int he same direction. Moments later a Buzzard went low along the northern belt, shouted at by Crows, and a single adult Herring Gull came by, gleaming in the morning sunshine.

There’s a movement further on in Q3, where the grass is richest, and a female Muntjac steps out into the light, cautiously grazing. She is within 30m of me, but unaware and is in no hurry. She is closely followed by a calf- and i don’t think I have ever seen one before. I draw a sharp breath- what a privileged moment. Seconds later, a third appears, a male. Presumably young because he is much smaller than the female?
They don’t see me, and walk slowly across the Passage out of sight. I am blessed.

All the bird action follows then in the cleared area, where i am greeted by the familiar chack-chack call of a Fieldfare. First returning birds of the season and there are two or three groups of 4-5 birds spread around. In fact, there are 22 birds – and they all leave together on the stroke of 9am, flying right overhead as I sit at the watchpoint. From here also 60 – 80 Redwing and at least 10 Mistle Thrushes. Woodpigeons as mentioned, and a single Meadow Pipit headed east calling.

Two Sparrowhawks circle over, upsetting the 80-100 finches. More Chaffinch than I am used to – probably a dozen birds.
Next to my seat, the Orange Peel fungus is still beautiful, though now just passed its best with a few insect holes and torn ‘petals’:

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A few Hornets still on the wing too, and one grounds just a metre in front of me and proceeds to walk through the grass over my feet. Great to see so close.

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The wind has found its way into the Wood on this south side, and it is raining golden leaves. Ash, oak and beech all spinning down – the occasional yellow birch leaf gets caught in a whirl and drifts back upwards.

Two couples with two dogs this morning – all amiable and in good spirits.
Hard not to be in this place.

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