Bird spotting walk - 29th October 2005
Royal Society for the Protection of Birds "Feed the birds day"
Early afternoon saw seven people walking the Flashetts Nature Trail and visiting Little Meadow, this as the last part of the Biodiversity Society's involvement in the RSPB Feed the Birds day.
A brisk southerly wind did not detract from the unseasonably high temperature, at least 15°C, though the heavy grey clouding and generally dull conditions made it feel more autumnal; the sun did show just briefly as the group left from the Community Centre.
Jackdaws were obvious about several chimney pots, a Blackbird perched high on dead boughs, before being chased off by another and both Rooks and yet more Jackdaws were vocal as they moved over the centre of the village. The latter two species causing confusion amongst some at the start of the proceedings, but not by the end of the walk!
Moving north up Station Road the gardens held Great Tit, Dunnock and singing Robins. Wood Pigeons joined the Jackdaws on the roofs and in roadside trees whilst Coot could be heard on the filtration pools and the first Redwings were noted moving overhead.
Right: Redwing Turdus iliacus. A widespread and common winter visitor with small numbers breeding in Scotland
On approaching Quidhampton Mill a Marsh Tit was heard amongst the mixed feeding flock of Tits and Goldcrests, at least one of the latter, the smallest British bird, being seen as it gleaned insect life from the Ivy. Three rattling Mistle Thrushes moved over, as did more Redwings, soon to be followed by six Lesser Black-backed Gulls. A Red admiral was a welcome burst of colour as it fluttered low over the road.
On entering the woodland by Flashetts a Great Spotted Woodpecker perched high on a decaying tree, Moorhens walked amongst the leaf litter, Pied Wagtails and Greenfinch moved over and Mallards could be heard on the filtration pools.
Left: Great Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos major. This being a male - note the red nape patch that the female does not have
Herb Robert was in flower here whilst many fungi burst out of the mouldering leaves and several fern species were still evident. Berries were particularly obvious with Spindle and Hawthorn glowing in the hedges; Old Man's Beard (Wild Clematis), Teasel, Rose hips and Bittersweet (Woody Nightshade) all adding to the colour to be found amongst the falling leaves. A Grey Squirrel was still active in the waterside willows and single Common Wasp and Caddis Fly almost shared a leaf.
Moving out onto Kingsclere Road and into Little Meadow both Meadow Pipit and Goldfinches were heard moving over. Fungi were again obvious in the latter site, especially on the logs and amongst the recently planted trees. The tree guards as well as doing their job played host to many spiders whilst Woodlice were on the border fencing and habitat pile.
Heading back towards the Community Centre a Seven-spot Ladybird was found on Stinging Nettles and at least three Brown Trout were in the river by Town Mill; further west the usual gaggle of 'dodgy ducks' could be seen near Bridge Street.
25 species of bird were recorded on this gentle walk around the trail, as well as many further species of animal, insect and plant. The autumnal feel was noticeable, both in the wildlife seen and the way it was acting, the weather and the trees now shedding their summer finery.
Right: Autumn colours on the river Test.Return to the list of reports
Peter E. Hutchins