Saturday, 7 May 2011

It's Good to Walk!

7th May. I was leading another walk this weekend, this time preceded by a presentation for beginner bird watchers. We had a good attendance which included five really keen questioning youngsters.

I walked to the Rising Sun Country Park and on the way sightings included Common Whitethroat, Bullfinch and once again, Swifts. Swift numbers had grown since yesterday. On the walk up to the centre more Common Whitethroat were found along with Long Tits and Goldfinch. I was hoping the Hobby reported yesterday would turn up, but unfortunately it never made an appearance.

It’s always difficult to judge ones own presentation, but it seemed to go down well enough. Throw in a few exciting facts about birds and nature in general and even the most dis-interested individual has to waken up. I’d timed the walk to take place over lunch time. I hadn’t realised how hungry I’d be, but made do with a bar of chocolate.:-) I’d once again underlined the need to make full use of the ears as well as the eyes. Chiffchaff was heard as soon as we left the building and if nothing else everyone went home at least knowing what a Chiffchaff sounds like. It’s surprising how many people don’t know! Willow Warblers and Whitethroats were soon heard too. Participants soon began to appreciate the song of Wren, Robin, Song Thrush and Blackbird.

Common Terns were seen flying over Swallow Pond and on the wooden island. The usual waterfowl was about which included a Goldeneye. The bird that caught the eye of many was a singing Reed Bunting. There still appears to be few Swallows about, but a small number did make an appearance. Swifts eventually appeared as well. I was told a Water Rail had been heard calling near the pond. Little Grebe was eventually found and the Canada Geese with goslings proved popular.

Someone started to talk about the donkey in the field. I thought nothing of it until someone pointed out that it was actually the Red Deer stag. I’ll have to brush up on my mammal identification skills.:-) This stag certainly does seem to have an individual identification problem of its own, as it seems to enjoy settling down with the horses.

We ended up seeing forty-four species of bird (forty-six if I include my individual sightings walking to and from the Rising Sun. I have to put in a good word for the staff at the park who are always very helpful. My only wish is that Swallow Pond could be managed a little better. I know in years gone by that it attracted some really good waders. I guess it isn’t easy managing a park with so many different demands made upon it.

By the end of the walk it was raining so I gave up any thought of taking a diversion to walk past the Little Owl haunt. Listening to and straining to get a sighting of the Common Whitethroats had taken up a bit of time. I’d almost forgotten what rain felt like. I eventually managed to have a bite to eat in the cafĂ© before walking home. The food there is excellent. The rain has stopped by then, but it remained damp a little misty. Once back on patch I enjoyed a little time winding down and alone listening to the birdsong and the alarm calls of Blackcap.

Always good to be be with people who find the commonest of birds exciting.


  1. Despite the numbers of wardens, i'm afraid the Rising Sun aint looked after too well. Dukes Pond, apparently doesn't belong to them and Swallow Pond would do well if some attention was paid to it. I stood for 5 minutes in front of the hide last week and the stench from the area in front was awful with all sorts of debris in amongst the reeds. I always feel sorry for the birds that hang around that area as it never seems to be cleaned up.
    A great pity as it is a decent place to visit if you can see past the litter.
    The Red Stag lost his antlers recently and he isn't quite as imposing without them.

  2. I agree about the state of the pond John. I would have thought it wouldn't take to much work to get the pond into shape.
    I fear the rest of the park would be more difficult to keep in order with so many people going through there, involved in so many different activities. Perhaps the friends of the R S should think of mobilising volunteers. Pity though, that the filth of some has to be cleaned up by those that actually give a damn. A participant commented yesterday about the amount of empty beer cans about the place. I assume there is much activity in there at night! I also saw the remains of a barbecue in the reserve area. The police had been investigating something.