Friday, 4 March 2016

Gearing Up

Sun with very little wind made ideal conditions for our monthly bird survey on 24 February. And the birds seemed to appreciate it too. There was a great deal of activity going on as they gear up for the breeding season with much calling, singing and flitting about, especially among the small birds - the Tits, Wrens and Robins. Dunnocks were heard singing in several areas and finally seen in the garden next to the bowling green where the photo below was taken. The Dunnock is a sparrow-like bird (it used to be called the Hedge Sparrow) with similar chestnut-brown streaks, but has more grey around the head and a thinner beak. Difficult to spot most of the year as it creeps around in the undergrowth, but in late winter/early spring. it will often sing from a tree branch with a sweet rhythmic warble.

A small group of Long-tailed Tits were seen on upper Eastern Road, one carrying a feather in its beak - obvious nesting material. We saw a pair of Mistle Thrushes on the grass in the East Field, a Jay which judging by its direction had flown over from the cemetery and a small flock of Starlings which moved around the park from tree to tree. It was good also to see our old friends Mr and Mrs Great Spotted Woodpecker in the little wood by Eastern Road. Both were perched on the tall bare tree by the green gates on Eastern Road, though the male flew out of the picture below just before I pressed the button/ The male has a red patch on the top of the head, the female doesn't. You can see where she's been pecking at the bark searching for insects.

Female Great Spotted Woodpecker

The grand total was 12 Wood Pigeons, 11 Robins, 10 Starlings, 8 House Sparrows, 5 each of Dunnocks and Wrens, 4 each of Crow and Long-tailed Tits, 3 each of Blackbird, Blue Tit, Great Tit and Parakeet, 2 each of Feral Pigeon, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Magpie and Mistle Thrush and 1 each of Black-headed Gull, Chaffinch, Collared Dove, Common Gull, Goldfinch and Jay - 22 species in all.

Puffed-up Woodpigeon basking in the sun
This is a good point to give you advance notice of our annual Dawn Chorus walk. This year it will be on Thursday 31 March, meeting at 6 am outside the cafe. As in previous years, we'll spend an hour walking around Hilly Fields listening to and looking at the birds. Then we'll go down the hill to the Brockley and Ladywell cemeteries to repeat the exercise there. If you only want to attend the cemeteries walk, be outside the double gates on Brockley Grove near the chapel at 7am.