2019 / 10
13:00 – 14:30
Very mild 8°C and little breeze. A bright spell during an otherwise overcast sky
It is very wet in here at the moment, and today especially there are deep troughs of water along the side of the track as well as countless puddles in the footprints and tyre ruts. Which makes it all very slippery on the main circuit.
I have come down the Upper Quarter of the wayleave, watching a busy party of mixed tits feeding in the scrub by the top stream before the bridge. There is a lot of birdsong, and already between here and the entrance I have had three each singing Robin and Goldcrest, as well as Great Tit, Blue Tit and Song Thrush. It’s a bit quieter in this immediate area. I can hear a Dunnock calling.
Long-taild Tits especially, probably a dozen flitting here and there.
Someone lets off a Blackbird in the trees beside me, and there is a Woodpecker knock-knocking about. But not drumming. I have still yet to hear drumming in the Wood this season. Surely anytime now – there were two drumming all afternoon in Swanmore yesterday and it is forecast to be warm for a few days.
Approaching the end of Q1 it is indeed ‘quite warm’ and the sun is doing a good job of making it feel like early spring. Still too, virtually no air movement and, with what little breeze there is coming from the northwest, the Wood is unconcerned with traffic noise.
I have met two other birders, sitting on logs at the edge of the east clearing enjoying a peaceful lunch!! They have come by bus, seeking Crossbills…
Nothing much to tell them about today and they had lessto report after an hour on the Track, but were delighted with great views of confiding Goldcrests and a couple of Treecreepers. Probably not the best time of year to explore a woodland you are not familiar with, but they seemed impressed enough to want to come back. Made me think that it really is not an easy place to come birding unless you ‘know’ your birds quite well? Calls can be difficult, and most things are hard to see well unless you have time, patience and a degree of experience.
We spoke of Ravens, and were not five minutes parted when the first of two came over.
In fact, more ‘through’ than over, as it passed below tree height along the track, heading east. No call, but the bird’s passing caused a fuss among the smaller birds present, and it was escorted by a volley of alarm calls and fluster. I hope the others saw it, but I couldn’t see them by the time the Raven was out of sight.
Just a moment later, I pick up a second calling over Crossbill corner, and it shows very well circling low over Q2. Calling too, so there’s a good chance they will have seen at least one. The second bird, I presume the male, stays in view for some time, gently circling and calling and then it too slowly drifts away.
At the Bottom, there are Bullfinches calling, Great Tits singing and an irritated Jay. I have a Firecrest too, right on the corner at Velmore. I hope my description of the call made sense – it’s very hard to describe exactly how it differs from Goldcrest. To my attuned ear, they are completely different sounds, but I would do well to remember that others – especially those unfamiliar with Firecrests and excited about the possibility of seeing one – find them impossible to tell apart. It’s a richer call, with more depth. Not as ‘thin’ and ‘zitty’…?
Beyond the stream, and visible only as silhouettes from trackside opposite Q3, there are 30 or more jangling, buzzing finches in the top of two alders. Charming. Among them, Siskins (four more flying in to join the group), and as they explode from the tree the distinct trilling call of Lesser Redpoll trickles back downwards like dispersed seed. First ones this year – there aren’t many around.
Something ove ron the farmland has put everything up. Several dozen corvids, agitated Jackdaws. A clatter of Woodpigeons and one gull. A young Herring I think, but it’s distant and heading SW with everything else.
Walking back, on the gravelled surface of the top track.
Both Ravens together, low and conversing.
Heading home. They approach the tree from the West, low and swoop upwards. A stealthy approach. Thus they arrive unseen by most observers. Together, hidden in the highest Scots Pine. We have ‘at least’ 3 pairs around the city now.
What a delight they should choose to return here. Alternate years perhaps?
It’s nice just standing here, and I wish to stay longer, but duty calls like the persistent Crows and errands tug at my coat like bramble. Cloud cover returns. Dirty shades of grey, smudge-filter applied.
Lesser Redpoll = 41 (2019)