Riverside Park 1 January 2023

The sixteen members who attended the New Year walk in the middle of a very inclement spell of weather were delighted by a mild and dry morning. Immediately blue and great tits were seen flitting through the car park bushes while robins were in fine voice. A hovering kestrel came into view while a red kite soared around. The towpath was initially quiet with just a few mallards on the water. Then a few rusty singing voices were heard, first a wren and then a rather hesitant song thrush that was perhaps out of practice. Towards the lock a fine cock pheasant bellowed loudly and a grey wagtail sped away. Then in an alder a flock of about twenty siskins were spotted feeding, a sight enjoyed for several minutes. The pond beyond the lock held just seven shovelers and dozens of black-headed gulls with a single common gull among them. On the wires was a pied wagtail and high up on the pylons two cormorants. Along the river swam the only Canada goose of the walk plus two mute swans. A jay appeared near the boardwalks towards the lake and a Cetti’s warbler was heard. The lake itself offered few new species, tufted ducks, a great crested grebe, a lesser black-backed gull and a few herring gulls. From the high point back towards the car park a scan of a distant pool identified a few real and a couple of wigeon. A brief visit to Bowers lock followed. A great spotted woodpecker could be heard pipping and eventually it offered excellent views atop a dead tree. Three red kites were circling. A small flock of goldfinches fed in alders while a mistle thrush joined them. A productive and enjoyable walk resulted in a species list of 39.

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