Thursday, 1 December 2011

November Bird Survey

Sue and I did another bird survey on Hilly Fields yesterday. It was a fine, sunny morning and fairly calm after the heavy winds of the previous day. So calm, in fact, that we saw little at first, but patience is a necessity when bird watching and eventually our feathered friends started to reveal themselves.

 One of the best spots we found was the upper half of Eastern Road - the road which leads to  Prendergast School and the playground. During term time, this usually becomes an overflow car park for school staff, but thanks to the public sector strike, we had it to ourselves! Here - as well as Great Tits, Goldfinches and Chaffinches - we saw and/or heard:
  • Greenfinches (4) preening themselves in the sun in the hawthorn trees 
  • A "family" of four Blackbirds - mum, dad and two juveniles
  • A brief burst of song from a Wren - the first we've heard for months (although Sue heard one singing on 19th November)
  • The "chick chick chick" call of at least one Great Spotted Woodpecker, possibly two
We were also briefly distracted by a Red Admiral butterfly, flitting about and perching on the bushes. It's not uncommon to see them still flying in November, though this is quite a late appearance and possibly the last we'll see this year.

Elsewhere, we saw and/or heard:
  • Robins exchanging their warning calls and, along the back of Cliffview Road, two robins singing sweetly to each other. There were also four house sparrows in one of the hedges here
  • A number of Starlings - those that we had a clear view of were in their fresh autumn plumage (after the moulting season), though this will fade over the winter
  • Starling in fresh autumn plumage
  • A largish number of Feral Pigeons which seem to have replaced the usual Wood Pigeons for the time being
  • There was also the usual presence of Magpies and Crows, but still no sign of any Redwings
Finally, just as we were about to depart at the top gate on Vicars Hill, Sue spotted a Mistle Thrush which flew into the park and perched in a tree. A beautifully speckled bird, it sang for us after a while, albeit rather mournfully. It was a very pleasing end to our walk.

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