Al, Alan and Maureen, Shaun, Bob Pask, and Sue met at the Reserve on a lovely sunny morning. The birch trees near the car park were full of willow warblers and chiffchaffs, with a couple of long tailed tits and the odd chaffinch making up the numbers. Robin, wren and great spotted woodpecker (the first of several) were added, and a flock of greylag geese flew east over the valley. Coal tit and green woodpecker were heard – the latter, again, the first of several seen and heard. Richard joined us where we’d stopped to hear redstart calling – a juvenile was seen on the fence line adjoining Four Counties. He’d seen a song thrush on the way in. We found a couple of spotted flycatchers near the redstart, and heard swallows, and eventually saw a group of 13 flying over.
We strolled down the hill and stopped near the new ponds next to the horse paddock. On a dead tree on the paddock side, we saw first one, then two, then three spotted flycatchers – and an adult redstart, two willow warblers, a couple of chiffchaffs and a nuthatch. Everyone had a good look at the spotted flycatchers, Shaun and Alan having gallantly brought their ‘scopes. These enabled clear views of the dark stripe down the back of the adult – which none of us had observed before.
We moved onward, crossing the stream and hearing a distant buzzard calling. Our only other sightings of note were of a cruising sparrowhawk, a dashing hobby, and a kestrel, though we did locate another redstart in the little wood behind the cottages on Old Lodge drive.
Though we’d had to work really hard to find birds today, the ones we did find were very pleasing indeed. Bob took some photographs, which I hope we can add to this post in due course.