Ten members assembled in the National Trust car park in surprisingly mild but windy conditions. Robins were immediately in good voice while a Great Spotted Woodpecker drummed close by and then flew into view. Wrens too rattled out their songs while couple of Greylag Geese sailed overhead. The water seemed to hold few birds but careful scanning revealed six Great Crested Grebes, two each of Mute Swan and Tufted Duck as well as a few Mallards, Coots and Black-headed Gulls. The woodlands around the lake revealed typical birds as much by sound as sight. Individual Blue and Great Tits flitted about and small flocks of Goldfinches and Long-tailed Tits foraged in the canopy. A Goldcrest bouncing in and out of view proved entertaining while a song thrush appeared on a perch. At the end of the lake the action picked up briefly as Coal Tits buzzed around in territorial disputes and a few Stock Doves moved among the conifers. At the start of the heath a pair of Stonechats was quickly identified, the first of three, while Skylarks ascended in melodious song and a Buzzard drifted in the distance. Along to the approach to Kings Ridge several Dunnocks burst into song and Dartford Warblers scratched out a note or two but disobligingly failed to offer any sort of view. A Grey Heron provided some amusement by behaving rather like a harrier, turning and banking over the heath. A pair of Red Kites proved to be the final sighting as activity on the descent was virtually zero. The walk was agreed to have offered a very welcome change from recent weather conditions with a respectable species list of 37.
Eight members met in initially unpromising weather with a chill in the air and some light drizzle. We were soon spotting mixed flocks of tits in the car park including blue, great, long-tailed and coal tits while a nuthatch was heard. By the cafe and Warden’s cottage there was much bird activity allowing the addition of great spotted woodpecker, chaffinch, stock dove and treecreeper to the list. We also spent some time trying to get a clear sighting of a possible spotted flycatcher but without luck. The reed beds around the pond were quiet, but out on the water common terns were fishing in the company of a pair of great crested grebes with an almost fully grown youngster. A brief moment of excitement came as a kingfisher flew low over the water while all around chiffchaffs were singing and at one point a lesser black-backed gull flew over. On the heathland areas were the first of a few stonechats. We were also soon enjoying the antics of a family group of six Dartford warblers as they flew in and out of the heather and gorse; in all we saw ten, an impressive number. Other sighting included linnet, goldfinch and whitethroat. Back at the pond we had extended views of a reed warbler which at one point was uncharacteristically sitting in the open in a pine. A group of six swallows flew over supplementing the occasional swifts on the wing in small numbers. By the end we had a list of 33 and the realisation that the conclusion of the walk was much warmer than the start.
On a fine sunny morning our first bird was a male Reed Bunting showing well and singing next to the café. Common Terns were flying gracefully over the water. We stopped to watch for Reed Warblers and with some patience managed to get reasonable if fleeting views. Swallows flew overhead from time to time. We could hear Chiffchaff, Blackcap and Willow Warbler singing but were not able to see them.
Emerging onto the heath a male Chaffinch was looking splendid in the sunshine from his vantage point. We then began to see Woodlarks and Stonechats as we walked through the heather towards Kings Ridge. A small party of Goldfinch and Linnet flew over and then perched for extended views. Most of the group saw a Dartford Warbler at this point as well. Up on the ridge things were fairly quiet but we paused to admire the views over towards the Great Pond as it was such a lovely day. A distant Buzzard circling high in the sky was a bonus bird.
We descended from the ridge back towards the pond and stopped to admire a beautiful male Dartford Warbler singing from a prominent perch and posing in the sunshine. As we did, we were also treated to a flypast from the Red Arrows – possibly a unique sighting for one of our walks.
Reaching the beach we were entertained by a Great Crested Grebe fishing in the shallow water close in and successfully catching one or two. A group of House Martins skimmed over the surface of the pond. Sadly we did not see any of the Redstarts or Spotted Flycatchers that used to be seen around the Warden’s house but with a total of 28 species seen and 6 heard it had been a very pleasant walk.