A forecast of rain all day and a dank, dismal morning limited the gathering at the Jolly Farmer to six foolhardy souls. It seemed though that the rain had passed through quicker than expected and we had to contend with no more than damp conditions. We ventured first behind the pub and saw an agitated great spotted woodpecker disturbed no doubt about our proximity to its nest. Moving rapidly on we checked the area with feeders to find they had been removed. As a result sightings were confined to a dunnock, robins, a jay and a collared dove. Moving on to the woods we encountered a group of newly fledged great tits and heard chiffchaffs singing. Along the boardwalk we noted how overgrown the heath was becoming. Soon though we heard the scratchy song of a Dartford warbler and then saw a second conveniently perched in a pine. A few linnets flew around and a single stonechat was silhouetted at the top of a tree. A noisy squawk then alerted us to a crow mobbing a kestrel. Crossing the railway bridge we heard a blackcap and a couple of assertive wrens while from the heather came the songs of two whitethroats. The return across the heath gave us further sightings of Dartford warblers, some of them recently fledged. The bird of the walk though was the great spotted woodpecker; over the morning we counted eight of them pipping away right across the reserve. In the conditions a species list of 27 was perhaps better than might have been expected.
Sixteen members attended this walk aimed at newcomers on a cloudy, unsettled conditions. We first visited the private feeders near the car park to the accompaniment of an invisible blackcap in full song. There we were treated to the sight of a juvenile great spotted woodpecker being fed by a parent. The woods were relatively quiet but keen eyes picked out a singing chiffchaff at the top of a tall tree. As we entered the heath a Dartford warbler flashed across the boardwalk in front of us a couple of times. In the middle of the heather we had our first sightings of linnets perched on the gorse while a distant stonechat put in an appearance. By this time rain had started and we hurried for shelter across the railway. There we found more linnets and a whitethroat while a song thrush sang in view. As conditions improved sightings became more frequent. In the distance four red kites, the only raptors of the morning, cruised in the air. Back at the start of the boardwalk we had a choice of very good views of stonechats and linnets perched on the gorse and of a Dartford warbler posing low in a silver birch.