Trip reports

Bexley RSPB Group Walk - Danson Park. Tuesday 24th February 9.30-12.00.

Bexley RSPB Group Walk - Danson Park. Tuesday 24th February 9.30-12.00.
Brenda Todd

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Bexley RSPB Group Walk - Danson Park. Tuesday 24th February 9.30-12.00.
It was a cold wind that blew across the Stables car park but it didn't deter the 15 members of RSPB Bexley Group accompanied by Friends of the Shuttle, Danson Park and Crossness. The sun was shining with blue sky so we were optimistic of a pleasant walk. We began in the shelter of the old rose garden, Brenda's keen ears picked up goldcrest but none of us saw it. Magpies, parakeets and a lone great tit out-shouted the tiny goldcrest. Moving north of the children's playground the ground became very wet and sticky (as was much of the park away from the formal paths). There was very little moving/calling in the woodland, only a couple of chaffinches, blackbirds and occasional blue and long-tailed tits. However a constant call was that of a nuthatch which was eventually glimpsed by most as it either flew between or moved in the tree tops. A green woodpecker was heard but not seen and a single redwing skulked/fed in an ivy-covered mid woodland tree and was again only briefly seen by some.
It was much the same story as we wandered through the woodland to the western side with more long-tailed and blue tits, a wren and a dunnock showing reasonably well. Then a single stock dove took up position on a high branch - viewable through the telescope. Some had a brief view of great spotted woodpecker as it flew high amongst the trees.
We continued to the Bog Garden where evidence of bird feeding was obvious and the presence of many brown rats (of various sizes) hurrying around picking up the scraps. Two robins and a wren were feeding by the stream alongside a moorhen but no sign of the elusive water rail. A couple of dozen mallard were also enjoying an extra feed. The pond in the Rock Garden provided one of the morning's highlights with four or five stock doves enjoying the morning sun showing off their beautiful, subtle plumage and the iridescent colouring on the neck. Two birds emerged from a gaping hole in the dead trunk so hopefully they will be able to nest without disturbance from the ever present parakeets and a large gathering of carrion crows - there must have been 30+ in this one area.
Along the south side of the lake we came across two single gulls on the grass very close - one a black-headed (without the black head) and a common gull (not very common in these parts outside the winter season). Everyone sorted them out and was able to sort through the larger flock nearby quickly noting a third species - a second winter herring gull. Our attention was drawn to the lake itself with a family feeding the ducks (which included a very odd pair of Indian runner duck) and a few Canada geese which were joined by a pair of Egyptian geese. Two mistle thrushes flew over. It was mostly black-headed gulls on the lake though a couple of cormorants flew between the island trees and feeding forays in the lake. Two grey heron, a single lesser black-backed gull (the fourth gull species of the morning) were pointed out as were up to six little grebes (these proved more difficult to spot as they continually dived for food) and two male tufted ducks drifted away from us. All was overshadowed when we saw our target species a beautiful pair of great crested grebes doing what we'd hope they might, courtship display. Head shaking at its best seen in the lovely sunlight of late morning was an added bonus. Eventually they chased each other across the lake to perform right in front of us. Wonderful!
Even the grebes couldn't disguise the fact that the wind was increasing and with it the cold and ominous black clouds so we decided to retrace our steps past the Bog Garden to the car park where a most enjoyable, if sticky walk ended at noon with a sometimes frustrating lack of small birds.
Birds seen/heard: Great crested grebe, little grebe, cormorant, grey heron, mallard, tufted duck, Egyptian goose, Canada goose, moorhen, coot, lesser black-backed gull, herring gull, common gull, black-headed gull, stock dove, woodpigeon, green woodpecker, great spotted woodpecker, carrion crow, magpie, great tit, blue tit, long-tailed tit, nuthatch, wren, mistle thrush, blackbird, robin, redwing, goldcrest, dunnock, starling, chaffinch. (33 species).
Ralph and Brenda Todd
24th February 2014