It has been a while since I posted anything about my local patch walks, mainly around Epsom Common Ponds and the surrounding woodlands, so here is an update including images of some of the regular winter species.
The woodland area around the car park has so far produced Robin, Wren, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush, Jay, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Jackdaw, Chaffinch, Dunnock, Collared Dove, Rose-ringed Parakeet, Starling, Nuthatch, Treecreeper, Goldcrest, Lesser Redpoll, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Coal Tit plus one sighting of a Marsh Tit. On 16 February I was very fortunate to find a single Firecrest (a patch tick) but no sightings of Lesser Spotted Woodpecker so far this year.
Long-tailed Tit (Aegithalos caudatus) taking a brief rest from feeding.
Long-tailed Tit enjoying the sunshine.
Treecreeper (Certhia familiaris) starting its upward climb.
The other main inhabitants around the woodland edge during the winter are the visiting thrushes, Redwing and Fieldfare. Throughout January the numbers for each species were around 50 - 80 but in the last two weeks the numbers have fallen dramatically as they have stripped the berries from the ivy and probably moved on to a better feeding area.
Fieldfare (Turdus pilaris) keeping a watchful eye out for predators
During the last month Woodpigeon numbers have increased dramatically and I estimate a minimum of 250 in and around the woodland. They are pretty skittish and fly into the air at the slightest disturbance and are providing a welcome daily meal for the resident Sparrowhawks which regularly glide over the treetops. The Crows get their daily exercise by mobbing the local Common Buzzards or chasing off a hunting Kestrel.
The main inhabitants of the small Stew Pond are the Mallard and Moorhens.
One of the resident Grey Herons (Ardea cinerea) can be found at one of their favourite fishing locations and usually tease me by allowing me to just get within range of the lens before flying over to the other side!
You will know from previous posts that I can usually find a Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carboresting on the Great Pond. This individual is an older adult in courtship plumage (evidenced by a white thigh patch ... hidden by its wing in this shot and the extensive white on the head and neck).
Or occasionally flying overhead.
Canada Geese numbers fluctuate throughout the year but at least two or three pairs will probably stay to breed. I like the way that one adult always stands on guard while its companion is feeding or takes a rest. A male Tufted Duck made an appearance in early January but hasn't stayed. (A pair did stop and breed last year so maybe they will return now that the water is unfrozen.)
On 31 January, 15 male Mandarin Ducks (Aix galericulata) circled the pond and briefly dropped into an unfrozen area before flying away again. The following week I counted 5 males and 1 female but last week I could only spot one pair lurking in the shade of the main island. Hopefully they will stay to breed as in previous years.
Another infrequent winter visitor to the Great Pond is the Northern Shoveler (Anus clypeata). Two males and a female turned up on 23 February but I don't anticipate that they will stay much longer. Other species seen are Stock Doves, Goldfinch, House Sparrow, Green Woodpecker and Black-headed Gull plus on the 28 February I located 13 Lapwing on the fields at Rushett Farm (Last year for the same week the count was 14!).
During the last two weeks as I skirted the farm fields I have listened to the beautiful song of the Skylarks (Alauda arvensis) that have returned to breed. This photo is one from the archives. FAB.