Trip reports

RSPB Bexley Group Walk - Foots Cray Meadows.

Male green woodpecker feeding on ground

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

RSPB Bexley Group Walk - Foots Cray Meadows
Tuesday 6th December 2016 - 9.30-12.30
With fog forecast we were delighted to see 17 members (including four or five newcomers to our walks) arrive at the car park for this winter walk. As it happened the murk soon disappeared and we enjoyed some lovely sunshine for the three hour walk.

Beginning in the old stable block car park gave us a chance to venture into parts of the meadows not visited on recent walks. After a brief introduction to the history of the meadows, the Friends' Group visitor/information centre, the possible origins of ring-necked parakeets and the development of the stable block into the luxury home it now is we wandered off towards the old Scout camp field. A nuthatch was just heard above the racket of dozens of parakeets and half a dozen jackdaws also made themselves heard. This corner of the meadows is the original stronghold of both species in the Borough. Other than the occasional robin and a flock of long-tailed tits not much was evident though the walk itself was very relaxed. We stood on the site of the former Foots Cray Place and observed the avenue of lime trees. Continuing along the edge to North Cray Wood more robins along with blackbirds, song thrush, blue and great tits and two or three jays were observed.
Making our way towards the River Cray and Five Arches we detoured via the "new" ponds in the hope of something (teal/snipe) skulking around the edges. Sadly no luck but it was good to introduce members to these man-made habitats within the meadows where in summer dragon/damselflies abound.
Making our way along the Cray, more long-tailed tits, robins plus dunnock and wren were noted. A group of 12 moorhen were feeding on the grass away from the lake and there was much activity amongst the crows and black-headed gulls. Now the sun was shining and the reflections on the water at Five Arches made for some great photographic opportunities.

As we stood transfixed by the earth movement of a mole we also had the chance to catch up with a greenfinch perched at the top of the willow, the pair of mute swans, more moorhens, coots, a couple of gadwall and a little grebe. Two pairs and three individuals of the latter two species were seen further along. Sadly Mr (or Mrs) Mole failed to put its snout above the surface despite the mound of earth being left and the adjoining grass being tunnelled.
Continuing westward a little egret showed well, as did a fly by grey heron. A cormorant flew over and a great spotted woodpecker was noted atop a distant tree. Sadly as had been the experience all morning, as soon as the telescope was positioned anywhere near said species it decided to fly away. Lesson to be learnt - don't use the telescope.

At Penny Farthing Bridge a grey wagtail was seen by some, the little egret landed briefly and not one but two kingfishers made a very brief appearance as they flew down river.
The final leg of the walk was across the meadows to the old pond in the corner by Rectory Lane but there was nothing to be seen on it though the pause in the walk did allow some to see a green woodpecker until it was pushed off by a carrion crow.
So, the walk came to an end, having enjoyed some good weather, good company and some interesting birds. It was also an opportunity for many participants to find out aspects of the meadows that were previously unknown to them which is one of the main reasons for continuing the programme of local walks. Thank you all for turning out and look forward to seeing you again.
Ralph and Brenda Todd
6th December 2017.
Birds seen: Little grebe, cormorant, grey heron, little egret, mallard, gadwall, mute swan, moorhen, coot, black-headed gull, wood pigeon, kingfisher, green woodpecker, great spotted woodpecker, carrion crow, jackdaw, jay, great tit, blue tit, long-tailed tit, nuthatch, wren, song thrush, blackbird, robin, dunnock, greenfinch, goldfinch. A total of 28 species.