Trip reports

Lynford Arboretum 20th February 2016

Lynford Arboretum 20th February 2016
Chris Jackson

Sunday, 21 February 2016

Fourteen of us, including one guest, met on a cloudy but dry morning in the car park there. The woodland section to the south would be covered first, followed by the more open area with a lake to the north in the afternoon. The latter is the now landscaped remains of a sand/gravel quarry.
We set off across the access road and stopped by the hut to view some of the trees in the arboretum on the right. Sometimes these are alive with small birds but today was to prove relatively quiet - perhaps due to the windy conditions. A goldcrest was among the first birds seen, so not a bad start. Further on to our left is an area known as 'the tunnel' - a long narrow section of woodland holding some bird feeders. These appeared to be mostly empty, so again this area was rather quiet. On another day we would have expected numerous tits and finches, even the elusive hawfinch. Carrying on, a nuthatch was spotted, and eventually we reached the bridge crossing the small lake, which runs through the grounds of Lynford Hall (now an hotel). Bird food had been placed on the brick pillars at each corner of the bridge and this was attracting many birds, mostly tits and chaffinches.
Leaving the bridge behind, we came to 'the paddock', a rough field containing a few hornbeams, a favourite tree of the hawfinch. We stopped here for some time, scanning the hornbeams and also the row of trees beyond the far side. Eventually, a bird in one of those distant trees proved, with the aid of a telescope, to be a hawfinch. It stayed for a few minutes, and then a little later, it or another was found, This afforded better views, although equally distant. A kestrel was observed hunting in the paddock. We carried on around the paddock, back to the lake we had crossed earlier. En-route a marsh tit was seen and by the lake a pair of treecreepers were spotted. We stopped by the bridge again, watching the birds coming to the food. This time we had some nice close views of a nuthatch.
After lunch, by which time it was raining, albeit lightly, we made our way to the lake/gravel pit where there is a small hide. Here we saw a few 'tufties', some black-headed gulls and a couple of cormorants. There were no goosander or goldeneye, which had been here when I visited earlier in the week.
There are more trails besides the paths we used and together these would make for a full day's birding in winter. A cold but still, sunny day in February/March is a good time to visit, with the added incentive of goshawk. Crossbills however have been particularly elusive this winter and last.
Altogether, 36 bird species were seen and/or heard, quite a respectable tally in less than favourable conditions.
Species seen were: mute swan, Canada goose, gadwall, mallard, tufted duck, pheasant, little grebe, great crested grebe, cormorant, little egret, kestrel, moorhen, coot, black-headed gull, woodpigeon, green woodpecker, wren, dunnock, robin, blackbird, song thrush, goldcrest, long-tailed tit, marsh tit, coal tit, blue tit, great tit, nuthatch, treecreeper, jay, magpie, jackdaw, carrion crow, chaffinch, siskin and hawfinch.

Phil Jackson