At 5 a.m. a group of twelve stood expectantly in the car park at Hatchlands Park awaiting the arrival of a 5.30 dawn under an overcast sky. Even at this early hour the Blackbird and Robin had already started to announce their presence, very shortly followed by the 'ooo OOO, oo, ooo' of a Woodpigeon and in the distance the very intermitent 'hoooouh' of a Tawny Owl. As the sun arose, but hidden by grey clouds, we commenced our walk and the chorus was soon joined by more Blackbirds, the loud explosive Wrens, Great Tits, the first of many Blackcaps, a Chiffchaff and the repeated 'that's me..that's me..that's me' phrases of the Song Thrush interpersed with the usual squeaks etc.
Song Thrush (Shot last week on a sunny day!)
As we headed over the open parkland a distant Fox stopped then sat down and stared at this group of interlopers from its postion for several minutes before continuing its early morning stroll. The next sounds were the 'tui..tui..tui' call of a Nuthatch and the sharp 'kick..kick' of a Great Spotted Woodpecker who then commenced a short burst of drumming followed by the hoarse call of a cock Pheasant. A pair of Mallard flew over heading for Rookery Pond as the Dexter cattle headed up the slope towards us.
Entering one of the small woods our nostrils were filled with the gorgeous scent of Bluebells totally carpeting the floor around our feet as a well hidden Garden Warbler perched somewhere in the leafy canopy broke into its rapid rippling song. There was little activity at the bird feeders apart from a single Great Tit and a far off Cuckoo calling constantly as we watched a family of Grey Squirrels emerging from their overnight home.
While checking out the sheep in the pasture a Chaffinch was added to the list plus the ever present corvids; Carrion Crows, Rooks, Jackdaw and Magpie. On the homeward leg we heard squawking Parakeets, watched several Long-tailed Tits and a pair of Coal Tits close to their nest hole in one of the many Acacia trees. Just as I mentioned that we hadn't seen or heard a Whitethroat an individual promptly announced its presence with its fast scratchy verse but out of view on the other side of a hedge.
With 27 species logged (a few expected species not seen!) our morning stroll ended with very welcome cup of coffee plus a bacon butty and the forecasted rain had not yet appeared so we counted ourselves very lucky. It is likely that this walk will be repeated next year when hopefully advanced publication of the event will result in a higher attendance. My thanks to Dan and Sue at Hatchlands for organising this walk and inviting me to assist with this trial run. FAB.