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


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’:


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.


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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