Sunday, 7 September 2014

Heading Towards Autumn

It was still fairly quiet on the avian front when Sue and I did our monthly bird survey of Hilly Fields on 29th August. In the aftermath of the breeding season, there are quite a few juvenile birds about and we were welcomed at the lower Vicars Hill gate by a pair of young Blackbirds perched on a tree. As we worked our way along the green border towards the little wood, we saw or heard Great Tits, Blue Tits, a Wren or two and plenty of Robins which are starting to sing again after their annual moult.

Juvenile Blackbird at Hilly Fields
On Upper Eastern Road, we were pleased to see a Great Spotted Woodpecker digging for insects in the bark of a dead tree. We heard a Chiffchaff calling from the little wood ('hui') and also glimpsed a Long-tailed Tit in this area. Later on near the Bothy we heard a Coal Tit calling, which is quite unusual for the park, but it was well hidden. A few House Sparrows could be seen in the usual hedge on the Cliffview border. As always, Crows, Magpies and Wood Pigeons were about on the grassland which is covered in some areas with the small dandelion-like flower Autumn Hawkbit.

Magpie amidst the Autumn Hawkbit
A flock of 10 or more Goldfinches was seen and the dulcet squawks of Ring-necked Parakeets were heard from time to time. Finally, as we sipped coffee at the cafe, a lone Feral Pigeon waddled into view raising the total of species seen to 16 which is respectable for the time of year. We also noticed much fruit on the bushes and trees, a sign that we are heading towards autumn. The blackberries ripened early and have nearly all been picked, but the red haws are plentiful on the hawthorns, the hips are out on the dog roses and elderberries and sloes can be found in the Veda Road border.

Grey Squirrel sampling the haws