On Sunday 21st December 2008, Peter Hutchins of the RSPB Basingstoke Local Group led a walk around the pond for seven members of the group, on their last outdoor meeting of the year.
The walk had two aspects, the Pond (earlier post) and the Woodland (this post).
The report by Peter Hutchins of the morning’s events is as follows:
In thinner birch woodland, east of the pond, we saw active mixed tit flocks immediately, these far more energetic than the Black-headed Gulls drifting in overhead from the north. Magpie and Woodpigeon fed out in the open, whilst Robin and Wren were more elusive, their calls attracting our attention as they skulked. A Great Spotted Woodpecker was also vocal, eventually showing itself to the group, though only as a silhouette before moving off with its characteristic undulating flight. Goldfinch and Cormorant were also on the move, the former often from tree to tree, the latter circling over the pond before dropping in to join others already fishing there.
At Boathouse Corner a Siskin appeared overhead, a single bird that was not to prepare us for later. Dunnock and Goldcrest called, as we headed south, past Chestnut Grove.
Brookly Wood, on the south-western edge of the pond, was busier. Increasing numbers of Siskin coming in to feed in alder attracted a scattering of Lesser Redpoll, a minimum of 150 of the former being seen as a Sparrowhawk encouraged them into the air, whereas less than a handful of the latter were noted at any time. A Kingfisher was vocal about the woodland streams and another Great Spotted Woodpecker proved equally vociferous, though at least this bird was good enough to allow viewing for some time before moving again out of sight. The tit flocks here included the first Long-tails of the day, acrobatic about the spindlier honeysuckle stems and collectively verbal as they gleaned for invertebrates.
Picture: Common Kingfisher
Dense scrub on the edge of Kenilworth Wood held the watchers for some time, finches, thrushes and tits all progressively appearing from within the mass of tangled vegetation. A Redwing, at first heard hissing, and then sat in the open. This single bird was perhaps another indicator of just how mild it currently is? Siskin and Lesser Redpoll streamed over the treetops in voluble parties, the mass of alder cones not enough to allow them to settle as alarm ran through the flock repeatedly
The party split, well one went walk-about, as we headed towards Sandy Bay. The lost soul picking up two Grey Wagtail, Nuthatch and Treecreeper as compensation for the absence of the Group!
Back in to the woodland and the final side of the pond was covered. Tits and Goldcrests appeared in the skeletal remains of Coldstream Wood, some, though not all, managing to hear the shrill piping of the crests as they explored the remnants of the foliage still clinging stubbornly to otherwise naked branches. Open grassland at the back of the Sandhills added another thrush, the one and only Mistle of the day, as it sat close in to the woodland edge.
This report is an edited version (kindly provided by Michelle Salter) of the complete version that appears in the RSPB Basingstoke Local Group January 2009 Newsletter.
Picture credits: Goldcrest (iStock, courtesy of Michelle Salter) and Common Kingfisher.
PS Apologies for the error in the original blog post that had the picture of the Common Kingfisher accidentally incorrectly titled and referenced. Thanks to Peter for pointing this out.