Friday, August 15, 2008

Friday 15th August

It was a beautiful morning today. A warm sun shining in a cloudless sky with hardly any wind at all.

4 Nuthatch were heard calling, 3 Great Spotted Woodpeckers were heard, 6 Coal Tits were singing and calling - 2 along Laurel Walk, and 4 in the group of Larch on the Park's eastern boundary, 2 Treecreeper were heard, a Kingfisher was perched on the branch of a willow by the mouth of the River Len, a Grey Wagtail called as it flew up the River Len, a Lesser Black-backed Gull flew north, a stunning male Bullfinch was seen in a Cherry tree on Jenner's Bank, a Pied Wagtail was hunting insects on the playing fields, 4 Green Woodpecker were heard, and 6 Chiff Chaff were noted.

On the Lake were 2 Great Crested Grebes, 2 Mute Swans, a Cormorant, and the countless Mallards, Moorhens, and Coots. There were 6 Black-headed Gulls feeding on bread being thrown out for the wildfowl, and 2 Grey Herons were seen.

Butterflies seen were Gatekeeper, Meadow Brown, Small White, Large White, Comma, Speckled Wood, Holly Blue, Common Blue, and Peacock. Southern Hawkers were in excellent numbers, 2 Brown Hawkers were seen, 4 Common Darters were noted, and lots of Banded Demoiselles could be frequently seen along the River Len.

Also seen were 2 Chub in the River Len, and a Stoat, which ran across a track in front of me.

The highlight of my walk, however, was discovering an unbelievable 12 CROSSBILLS. The first Crossbill to be spotted was a lone bird, located after hearing its call, flying around the tops of the Larch trees along the eastern boundary of the Park - between the Old Bothy and the Downswood entrance. Another lone bird was perched 'invisible' at the top of an Oak next to the Douglas Firs which line the Willington Street boundary down from the Park & Ride. It called almost constantly, and even gave a short burst of song!! Then came what must be one of my most memorable experiences of visiting Mote Park. After walking up from the Weir, in the direction of Mote House, I paused briefly to raise my binoculars at a Chiff Chaff that was catching insects in the Hawthorn hedge that runs along the Lakes eastern boundary. Suddenly, a few loud calls from Crossbills were heard from above my head, and upon looking skywards I realised a flock of 10 Crossbills were flying over, making a bee-line for the line of Pine trees that separate the top from the lower playing fields. (I like to think the Chiff Chaff shared the same joy I experienced!!) The Crossbills flew into these pines, and began to use their special bill to open up the cones. To say I was elated would be putting it lightly!


Adam said...

Excellent news - they're definetly floating around the area. I wonder if they'll linger?


Warren Baker said...

Bloody hell Simon,
Elated would not be the word I'd use. more like a strong expletive!!
Well done you, excellent patch tick.

Greenie said...

Simon ,
I'd be happy with one Crossbill - twelve is absolutly brilliant .
Well done .

Steve said...

Fantastic Simon....10 flew over New Hythe in the week (of course I didn't see them grrrr) Keep up the good work.

cpev said...

Brilliant - I once tried to string a female crossbill in Mote Park while on a cross-country run. In retrospect, it was blatantly a greenfinch.

Do you ever get out towards Kingswood? During the last major Crossbill irruption I remember (summer 1996) there was a huge number in the pines there (well over 100 I think). It attracted a lot of birders, hoping there was a Two-barred in amongst them. Don't know if anyone covers that patch at the moment, but I'm sure it would be worth a look.

The best spot was the road running between Langley Heath and Ulcombe - Gravelly Bottom road? But they were all over the place.

Next Event - TBA