Thursday, 4 April 2013

Dawn Chorus Walk - Hilly Fields/Brockley and Ladywell Cemeteries

This years dawn chorus walk will take place on Thursday April 11 starting at 6am. This is an hour later than usual (by public demand), but should still be close to dawn as the clocks went forward last weekend. We will meet outside the cafe on Hilly Fields, walk around the park and then go on to Brockley and Ladywell Cemeteries which together are listed as a Grade 1 Site of Borough Importance for nature conservation purposes.

Birds we can expect to hear on Hilly Fields include Blackbird, Robin, Wren and probably one of the Dunnocks which have been vocalising frequently in the last few weeks. In addition, we should hear Magpies chattering, Crows crowing, Blue Tits/Long-tailed Tits tseeping and, almost certainly, that 'Johnny Two Note' - the Great Tit. If we're lucky, we may hear a Mistle Thrush singing (seen but not heard so far this year) or a Great Spotted Woodpecker drumming its bill against a tree trunk.

Mistle Thrush in one of the Eastern Road hawthorns, 24 March
In the Brockley and Ladywell Cemeteries, we may hear a Song Thrush (as we did last year) and see/hear a Green Woodpecker and Britain's smallest bird, the Goldcrest. We may also catch a glimpse of one of the Sparrowhawks which have nested there in recent years. If a 6.00 am start is too horrific to contemplate, we will be entering the cemeteries at 7.00 am via the side gates on Brockley Grove which are opposite house no. 212 and between Amyruth and Henryson Roads. You are welcome to join us there. Please bring binoculars if you can. The walk will finish by 8.00 am but you can drop out at any stage.

Just time for a brief mention of the March bird survey which Terry and I carried out on the 28th of last month. The birds were a little quieter than usual but by the end of our walkabout, we had seen or heard 18 species. It was good to see a small flock of Redwing in the south field, to hear a pair of Dunnocks serenading each other and to see Chaffinches, Long-tailed Tits and Mistle Thrushes. The north field held a flock of about 60 gulls with Common Gulls again living up to their name and outnumbering the Black-headed Gulls by 2:1. However, the Black-headed Gulls are also living up to their name and have developed their 'black' heads (actually a dark chocolate colour) which makes it dead easy to tell the two different types apart. This is their breeding plumage and they will soon be off elsewhere to look for nest sites and partners.

Black-headed Gulls, Hilly Fields, 18 March
In addition to the above, we also saw and/or heard Wrens, Magpies, Blue Tits, Great Tits, Wood Pigeons, Robins (all over the place), Crows, House Sparrows, Greenfinches, a Great Spotted Woodpecker and, last but least, a lone Parakeet.

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