18 January 2011


I've been itching to get round the Park for quite a while. It wasn't possible at the weekend, and yesterday was rained off, so today was my chance. I started at ten, and did a solid five hours. No spectacular counts, unless you call 192 Coots spectacular, but a decent number of species seen.

I started in Reservoir Wood, home to about a trillion Great Tits, and then continued on to Shoulder of Mutton Pond which had small numbers of almost all  the Ducks, and four Mute Swans. Nothing too unusual, so after a bit of Swan photography, I headed on towards Heronry. Three pairs of Little Grebe, of which one was on the bank, flapping some feeble little wings- not sure I have ever seen one not swimming before.

There were four Cormorants on Perch, but no sign of the Kingfisher I was hoping for. Next stop the Dell for zero Siskins, so onwards to the Old Sewage Works, which was also pretty blank until I picked up a Kestrel, which then landed on the large pylon.

Big pylon, small bird.

Seeing as the sun was out and the sky was blue, I decided I would do a complete anti-clockwise circuit of the Ornamental Waters, and glad I did as almost the first bird I found was a Chiffchaff, giving itself away by soo-weeing a few times. My first for the year anywhere, and although by no means rare as a wintering bird these days, it's always nice to find one on the patch in January. I continued on until my attention was drawn to three Jays squawking at something. They were in the group of ivy-covered trunks on the south side of the OW, and in that ivy somewhere was almost certainly a Tawny Owl - I've seen one during the day here before. Try as I might this time though, I couldn't see it, so no sight and no sound goes down as no record!

Approaching the top of the Canal I was stunned to have 40+ Siskin fly in a tight flock over my head northbound. They appeared to drop into trees just the other side, so I hurried round the Canal but could not relocate them. The rest of the OW was pretty quiet, though did bring eight Shoveler, my first of the day. I headed up the Glade and through Chalet Wood, but all the birds had disappeared due to a rabid pack of five Shih-tzus, out for their daily waddle. I left the area and went back for a second crack at the Dell. Very glad I did as when I approached, a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker flew out, over my head and landed in a large oak about a third of the way back towards the Grotto. It was a smart male, but too distant to get a photo. Good to know that they remain in the area though. The Dell and surrounds is the best place in the Park to see them, and anytime from now until mid-March you're in with a decent chance. I checked the Dell itself for Siskins one last time, and was surprised to find at least twenty zipping about in the canopy. As I watched them, they all took off, including a group I hadn't spotted - I'd estimate about 40 birds, so likely the same flock that I had seen around the OW.

If you look at the map page here, you'll be able to see the rough route that I took round the Park, starting in Reservoir Wood which is on the western edge. My circuit took about five hours all told, but at least an hour of that was probably mucking about with the camera, and I was extra-diligent counting stuff like Woodpigeons. You could probably go round in half the time and miss very little.

Nick went round a couple of hours before me, and whilst he missed a few I saw, he did pick up a Bullfinch and a Grey Wag, neither of which I could find.

Full list:

6 Little Grebe, 6 Cormorant, 4 Grey Heron, 12 Mute Swan, 6 Canada Geese, 2 Egyptian Geese, 46 Gadwall, 3 Teal, 58 Mallard, 9 Shoveler, 23 Pochard, 63 Tutfed Duck, Kestrel, 11 Moorhen, 192 Coot, 118 Black-headed Gull, 10 Stock Dove, 2 Collared Dove, 10,234,219 Wood Pigeon, 10 Ring-necked Parakeet, 1 Lesser Spotted Woodpecker (male), 5 Great Spotted Woodpecker, 4 Green Woodpecker, 9 Wren, 2 Dunnock, 11 Robin, 5 Blackbird, 6 Song Thrush, 12 Redwing, Grey Wagtail, Chiffchaff, 4 Goldcrest, 34 Long-tailed Tit, 50+ Great and Blue Tit, 3 Chaffinch, 2 Greenfinch, 40+ Siskin, Bullfinch, 7 Goldfinch, 2 House Sparrow, 20+ Starling, 10 Jay, 15 Magpie, 8 Jackdaw, 40+ Crow.

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