Horsell Common 13 January 2022

Thirteen members gathered at the Heather Farm Centre on a bright but icy morning. Starting at the reedbed we noted mallards, moorhens and a mute swan when suddenly a kingfisher perched briefly in the reeds and then darted towards us giving very unexpected but superb views. A couple of redwings were seen as we headed to the pig farm where numerous woodpigeons browsed on the frozen ground. The next surprise came as we saw three ravens flying in front of us, a very unusual species at the location. Around us many passerines were singing especially robins, blue tits, great tits, a chaffinch and finally in dulcet tones a mistle thrush. One of the meadows by the Bourne held a flock of greylag geese. By the bridge to the Island a common gull flew away but the meadows there were quiet. Along the north path larger flocks of greylag and Canada geese were feeding on the farmland and we heard for the first time the call of a green woodpecker, a bird that proceeded to stalk us for the rest of the morning. We crossed McLarens meadows via the hill and flushed two meadow pipits but noted little apart from corvids and black-headed gulls. We then entered the heath from the northeast corner and began scanning for Dartford warblers; initially some individuals were able to catch glimpses of this elusive target but by the end of the walk we had seen at least nine, everyone enjoying fine views of birds perching in the warming sun. Other good sightings included a great spotted woodpecker in brilliant light at the top of a conifer and stonechats in the gorse; late additions of nuthatches and a treecreeper finalised a high quality species list at an impressive total of forty.