Riverside Park 1 January 2022

Ideal conditions greeted the twenty one members who assembled at Riverside Park for the first New Year Day walk in two years. Robins were in full voice and blue tits buzzed around the car park. A red kite swooped low overhead displaying its resplendent plumage. From a vantage point we could see across the river that small flocks of teal and lapwings were swimming on the flood. Blackbirds were active in the bushes as we made our way towards the lake. There the water was high and initially only gulls and tufted ducks could be seen. Closer to the island mallards and cormorants appeared and a pair of great crested grebes roosted on the water. Our approach to the marsh pool was interrupted by the sudden appearance of a buzzard being mobbed by crows; we were to have subsequent views of the bird perched close to us. On the marsh were some Canada geese and two Egyptian geese in the company of several shovelers. A kestrel hovered briefly as we crossed the reedbed on the boardwalk and back at the lake several common gulls had joined the flock. After an uneventful return to our starting point we paid a quick visit to Bower Lock and spotted a few long-tailed tits, a nuthatch and a pair of mute swans. An enjoyable walk produced a species list of 31.

Stoke Meadows – Riverside Park

Despite a cold and gloomy morning 28 members marked the New Year with a walk around Riverside Park in Guildford.

The towpath resounded with the song of birds responding to the lengthening of the day. The robins and great tits were in fine voice while a couple of song thrushes were asserting their territories. Blue tits were abundant while the odd wren or dunnock was glimpsed. The water meadows initially appeared empty but eventually a handful of teal and wigeons were spotted through thick vegetation. Cormorants regularly hurried by while a grey heron gave a flypast. A kestrel and buzzard allowed decent views of their perches, the latter causing a jay considerable agitation. Finches were in very short supply being represented only by a few chaffinches and goldfinches.

By Stoke Lock there was a greater variety of birds including chiffchaffs, goldcrests, pied wagtails and a single meadow pipit. At the end of the circuit a small flock of long-tailed tit entertained for a while. The lake was covered in gulls. Conservatively black-headed numbered 150 but among them were a few herring gulls and singles of common and lesser black-backed. A dozen tufted ducks and one pochard were present. A great crested grebe was close while three little grebes were tucked into a distant corner. The final sighting was a great spotted woodpecker.

The species list totalled 44.