Ten members took part in a stroll from Ripley Green to the weir and then along the towpath past John Donne’s summerhouse, now appropriately the haunt of house sparrows. A lovely Grey Wagtail appeared on the floating vegetation near the weir. Sadly though the sky was fairly overcast, turning many of the birds into dark silhouettes lacking colour and detail. Nevertheless the challenge was met with the identification of 35 species, the most numerous being Redwings. A fair number of tiny Goldcrests searching restlessly for food among the bare branches were also seen. The long-awaited restoration of the bridge across the river to the Wisley golf club encouraged a diversion from the customary route and allowed a viewing of a few somewhat unexpected waterbirds on the edge of the golf course, including Tufted Ducks, Cormorants and Egyptian Geese. The return past Ockham Mill concluded a most enjoyable walk, the sighting of a handsome singing Mistle Thrush in fine voice crowning the morning.
Ten members assembled at Ripley Green in overcast and unseasonably windy conditions and enjoyed a surprisingly good morning’s birding. The walk to the river was relatively quiet with the songs of blackcaps and a mistle thrush predominant. In the paddock both a song thrush and a mistle thrush were feeding with a mixed flock of geese behind them. A whitethroat also showed while the first of the few chiffchaffs that we encountered sang. At the lock the work in progress on the eel passage was so extensive that it seemed to have inhibited the local grey wagtails and after checking for them we decided to proceed clockwise for a change. Along the river blackcaps were very numerous and the count of them reached seventeen for the morning. We also watched nesting nuthatches and as we left the river heard goldcrests in a patch of conifers. The golf course lake held the usual waterfowl, mallards, tufted ducks ands swans. A couple of little grebes also kept popping up close to us. The residential road leading to the farm meadows was full of house sparrows while on the track onto which we emerged we were treated to the songs and sight of several skylarks. The most surprising find though was a pair of wheatears. Having rounded the church we surveyed the marshes by Newark Priory and found three lapwings. Swirling around them were at least thirty swifts accompanied by a handful of swallows and two house martins. The final stretch along the river yielded a few more species including long-tailed tits and a reed bunting. Species identified totalled an unexpected fifty.