Puttenham Common 28 September 2023

Fourteen members assembled in the Middle car park on a dull but mild day that was perfect for walking. As usual Cutt Mill was the initial target but abundant foliage severely restricted views of the pond. Four Mandarins could nevertheless be seen on the far edge while around two dozen Shovelers were scattered around. A few Mallards and two Tufted Ducks completed the count of waterfowl. A noisy Heron flew by a couple of times while five Cormorants engaged in some synchronised diving as they sought their breakfasts. Songbirds apart from tuneful Robins had been lacking to this point but en route to the first Tarn a Goldcrest was heard, the first of several encountered that all seemed determined to stay out of sight, while a Buzzard was glimpsed ahead of the group. The only new bird on the Tarn itself was a Great Crested Grebe but from the dam at the end Coots, Moorhens and an overflying Black-headed Gull boosted the list. As the group began to move on a Kingfisher was spotted but seen only by the fortunate laggards. The woods were initially quiet but judicious use of the Merlin app picked out Blue, Great and Coal Tits as well as a Wren, more Goldcrests and a Treecreeper. A Great Spotted Woodpecker was also glimpsed among the trees. After the exercise of a climb to the upper heath a pleasant surprise was the delightful song of a Woodlark that continued for some minutes but frustratingly only from a hidden perch. A Red Kite soared overhead while two Green Woodpeckers then flew across the path and a further Great Spotted Woodpecker was heard pipping. In quick succession two pairs of Stonechats were sighted among the bracken and then briefly a Dartford Warbler. That proved to be very much the cherry on the cake of an enjoyable and productive walk with 37 species identified.

Puttenham Common 19 November 2022

An initially damp and gloomy morning greeted the nine members who attended this local walk. Cutt Mill Pond was the first destination. It held a good selection of ducks with five drake mandarins really catching the eye with their extravagant plumages while a couple of females lurked in the fringes. Close by were a pair of goosanders, the first of the autumn for most. the complement of ducks was completed by handfuls of shovelers and mallards. One each of great crested and little grebes were spotted as was a grey heron perched high in the bordering trees. A visit to the far end of the pond paid off when a kingfisher flashed by in a blur of blue. Next stop was the tarns which added tufted ducks, coots and black-headed gulls to the day list but they were otherwise quiet. A stroll through the woods followed as did a considerable improvement in the weather. Sadly bird numbers grew in inverse proportion to the emerging sun. On the walk to the bronze age camp only a red kite was seen and the call of a nuthatch heard. The views from the top of the ridge were stunning but the dearth of birds continued through the heathland area until finally a solitary stonechat was seen in the distance, followed by the glimpse of a buzzard and the call of a green woodpecker. A couple of tits, blue and long-tailed completed the tally. A final list of 27 species was well below the norm for the location, leading to the reflection that the unseasonably mild weather was having a major effect on bird numbers.

Puttenham Common 20 November 2021

Eleven members met at Puttenham Common on
Saturday 20th November under overcast skies. After a short walk, we
arrived at Cuttmill Pond where three male Goosanders (IOC name Common
Merganser) were seen through the trees at the edge of the pond.
Approaching carefully, we soon had a very good view. Some of
the Group were able to see the serrated bill through the telescope which
gives rise to the name, “sawbill”.

Several male Mandarin Ducks weaved their way through the overhanging
bushes at the edge of the Pond. Through the telescope, we could see the
very different plumage of the female Mandarin Duck. Other ducks present
were Mallard, Tufted Duck and a colourful Shoveler. A
Kingfisher flew arrow straight across the Pond just in front us,
perching on the opposite side of the Pond where part of the Group were
able to get close up views through the telescope.

After this excellent start to the walk, we made our way to The Tarn,
another large lake where a Grey Heron sat high up at the top of a tall
tree. Two Great Crested Grebes were feeding on the lake.  Walking across
a causeway between two lakes we noted Long-tailed Tit and
Nuthatch.

We climbed steeply to Hillbury, the top of Puttenham Common, reaching
360 feet (109 metres).  A few members heard the call of Dartford Warbler
near the top.  We paused for a well-earned coffee break with a panoramic
view.  A Northern Raven cronked in the distance. On our way back down to
the start point, we came across a wandering flock of Goldcrests,
Blue Tits and Great Tits and heard a Bullfinch.

In 2.5 hours, we covered 2.4 miles, saw twenty two species and heard a further six.