Bird Walk - Saturday, 9 April
I chose a different Part of the Acorn Trail for this second “birding walk”. Not unexpectedly, for this and one or two other reasons, our “encountered” bird species list was, refreshingly, different in several respects, though 20 of the 24 species found on our first walk were “the same”. However, this time another 8 different species were recorded making a total of 28 species on this foray.
We had good weather for our walk and there was much to see and enjoy. The summer inward migration is now well under way, and two more warbler species were encountered to add to the solitary chiff chaff seen and heard last time. These chaff chaffs are found all over the park. We even heard one as we parked our cars. Additionally black caps have arrived and though as we started our walk the first encountered, was not “in full song”, but later others were heard “properly”, a proper cheerful tuneful warble, much nicer than the simple “chiffing” of the chiffchaff
Near the Yew tree walk, I also heard several times the plaintive characteristic descending cadence of the willow warbler song, but I think I was the only “witness”, and because other birds were occupying our attention at the time and it did not sing for long, I could not point it out for everyone to hear (and try to remember!).
We had already seen and/or heard several other of our more commonly encountered species to good advantage, a male chaffinch and the ubiquitous great tits and chiff chaffs, but others namely dunnock, blue tit and song thrush were hardly noticeable on this outing. But early on we had also, nice if brief views of cole tits and a treecreeper in the upper branches of some youngish silver birches. This latter species though not on any “cause for concern “ list is not often seen and is easily overlooked. It does not sing or call much and spends most of its time crawling (mouse like) up a tree trunk and foraging for food; and then it flies straight down straight down to the bottom of the next tree, which is how one usually “cottons on” to what it is. Seeing this species always gives me special pleasure, and we were very lucky on this occasion.
We were also able to learn more about how to identify stock doves and wood pigeons. The latter is common, but the former less so, and on our Priority list, but on the evidence of our first two walks well established in this Park.
Mike Tyler’s sharp eyes alerted us to what I classify our “champagne moment”. He saw a male bullfinch some distance away perched at the top of a tall oak tree. With our field glasses we could see this spectacularly coloured bird very well, a sight to remember. This species is of particular concern to us conservationists, and one of the species that I wish to get up to date information about its breeding status in woodland areas such as this. But with regard to this bird’s behaviour, in most bird books, they refer to it as a “shy and retiring species” rarely seen. I have never seen a bullfinch, like this, perched for so long in such an exposed position in my whole life. I assume it was singing, which is how male birds proclaim “territory ownership”, but I have never heard a bullfinch singing either and it was too far away to hear anything so we do not know if this was so. Even books and field guides contain little or no information on what a bullfinch song sounds like or even if it sings! A Little later we were fortunate too to have a very good view of a female sparrowhawk traversing overhead in the same area; but on thinking about it, I felt concern that that bullfinch should be very wary about using that song post too often! A footnote to this event is that, a day or so later when I was revisiting the area, I had another look and saw a nuthatch perched in exactly the same place as had the bullfinch. It must just be a superb song post with fantastic all round visibility.
Another nice sighting was of some tiny long tailed tits foraging in some small trees close to the path, enabling us to see how they move around hanging on underneath the slender branches and stems. We could appreciate particularly exactly why they are so named.
A final treat which most of us enjoyed was the sighting of a buzzard, circling overhead in typical fashion against a clear blue sky. Seeing a buzzard in the outer London Boroughs is now a fairly regular event, and to be welcomed, I think, because it indicates a highly biodiverse ecosystem beneath. I am hoping that it is actually nesting in the Park.