Ebernoe Common

Our first walk following the relaxation of the winter Covid restrictions took place at the lovely reserve of Ebernoe Common NNR – albeit in socially distanced groups of six, each separately led. Birds were singing all around the car park of the picturesque church with robins and blackcaps especially prominent. We set off first for Furnace Meadow, with its beautiful hillside habitat of gorse and blackthorn. Immediately we could hear skylarks performing above but the cold wind and constant passage of cloud in front of the sun seemed to be subduing other birds. So for a while we had to content ourselves with corvids and a green woodpecker yaffling in the distance plus some odd flypasts from mallards and pairs of Canada and Egyptian geese. Soon though a single nightingale began to sing but with uncharacteristic hesitancy. As we progressed a second joined in with a little more confidence but still intermittently. It was delightful though to hear the first nightingales of spring. We then proceeded into the woods where an eagle-eyed member spotted a marsh tit foraging in the foliage. On the ground an array of woodland flowers was appearing including the beginnings of numerous bluebells. Birdsong began to pick up and we heard song thrushes, wrens and stock doves. Early warblers too were in good voice though they stubbornly refused to show themselves. After inspection of the old brick kilns we found an open area where chiffchaffs and a treecreeper put in brief appearances. Then we had glimpses of a pair of bullfinches at the top of a tree. Finally at Furnace Lake we encountered nuthatches. 28 species were identified during a pleasantly spent morning.