Trip reports

RSPB Bexley Group Field Trip Danson Park 20th October 2015

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Twenty one members (including two new members) joined Brenda and I for the latest Bexley RSPB local walk. The first port of call was the Old English Garden, now being carefully restored by Friends of the Shuttle (volunteers welcome) and just wren and blue tit showed themselves. Out into the park, to the woodland behind the children's play area - an obliging nuthatch perched on a dead branch replaced a few minutes later by a pair of chaffinches. Jays were collecting acorns, carrion crows were being, well, just crows - very noisy, but a couple of white winged specimens were of interest. A small flock of seven fieldfares flew over. Continuing down through the woodland not much birdlife showed itself so we proceeded to the Bog Garden/Local Nature Reserve and lake.

A grey heron posed nicely in the river running into the lake - its reflection giving it away as it stood motionless in pursuit of one of the many roach/perch found there. The stream running from the Rock Garden through the LNR into the lake, viewable from the bridge and a once favoured feeding site for water rail is now so overgrown nothing can be seen. We therefore decided to take the northerly (clockwise) route around the lake and the wild, overgrown area of the lake proved very productive with goldfinches and greenfinches perching in the trees (a small flock of lesser redpoll went over). Gadwall were seen along with the usual coot, mallard and moorhen. A kingfisher occasionally teased us with speeding fly pasts. Whilst supping her coffee Brenda noticed a water rail, sitting out in the open preening - this was admired by everyone through binoculars or telescope and I'll never hear the last of it!

Continuing along the lake edge, evidence of the roosting parakeets was pointed out in the poplars. By now the overcast conditions were giving way to warming sunshine and blue skies which made the light perfect for the southern side of the lake where we enjoyed fabulous views of a variety of gulls: black-headed, herring, lesser black-backed (adults and immature), common gull. Thanks to Ian Stewart's keen eyes (we benefited from these and his keen ears throughout the walk) we managed to get everyone on to a near adult yellow-legged gull. The Egyptian geese were in evidence - two, perhaps a pair, standing on a nest which, courtesy of images by Richard Spink (see for these and other images) seemed to hold two eggs? Up to five great crested grebes were in winter plumage now as were the two or three little grebes. Ian located the pair of teal skulking behind the reed bed but most of us only managed good views of the female.

We continued our walk enjoying the gorgeous autumn leaf colours, back to the car park where the three hour walk came to a close. As always, the walk proved what great places there are in the Borough for wildlife but also how enjoyable they are from a social point of view with everyone enjoying each other's company and sharing a common interest.

Species seen: Little grebe, great crested grebe, cormorant, grey heron, mute swan, greylag goose, Canada goose, Egyptian goose, gadwall, teal, mallard, water rail, moorhen, coot, black-headed gull, common gull, lesser black-backed gull, herring gull, yellow-legged gull, woodpigeon, ring-necked parakeet, kingfisher, green woodpecker*, great spotted woodpecker, grey wagtail, pied wagtail, wren, dunnock, robin, blackbird, fieldfare (flying over), chiffchaff, goldcrest*, long-tailed tit, blue tit, great tit, nuthatch, jay, magpie, jackdaw, carrion crow, starling, chaffinch, greenfinch, goldfinch, lesser redpoll (flying over). 46 species were seen. *heard only Ralph Todd
I am grateful to attendee Martin Watts for the link to a c1935 short film about Danson Park which might be of interest to readers - I was pleased to see a pair of mute swans present and surprised at what appeared to be an Aylesbury duck in attendance - even all those years ago.