Trip reports

Manor Park Country Park West Malling (Leader Warren Mann)

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Six of us met in the Manor Park Country Park car park for a walk on a lovely early summer morning. The trees were alive with bird song and before we actually got started we had heard or seen song thrush, great-spotted woodpecker, blackcap, chaffinch, collared dove, wren, robin, crow and jay. Nearly all of these we were to see and hear again on our walk round.

We made our way back along the entrance road to the little bridge over the stream feeding the lake. We could not find the hoped-for kingfisher and had to content ourselves with the sighting of a wren and hearing a chiffchaff. As we walked along the path by the lake we saw the first of the many blue tits, wood pigeons and mallards we would encounter. We soon added a moorhen and some coots (two adults and three rather large juveniles) to our list. We stopped a while to get excellent binocular and telescope views of a singing song thrush, which was putting on a really lovely show.

We then saw greenfinch and dunnock before getting a sighting of our only raptor of the day - a brief view through the leaf canopy of a circling common buzzard. Towards the further end of the lake there was a little grebe in breeding plumage. While admiring that we added, in quick succession, starling, swifts, magpie and black-headed gull to our list.

At the end of the lake we crossed another bridge and did a brief circuit of a woodland area known as Ice House Field. We heard several the birds seen previously, but besides blackbird and the inevitable blue tit, the only significant sighting was of a group of four juvenile chiffchaffs. We rejoined our path and moved into a large open area, variously called Abbey Field, Chestnut Paddock and Douce's Meadow, but all being the same parkland habitat of long grasses with some scrub and a good number of really fine mature trees. A very pleasant walk but birds were notable by their absence. However, we did see a speckled wood butterfly, which obligingly made a return stop so we could confirm our identification. We later saw a meadow brown and a small white. A little while after we heard a goldcrest, one was briefly seen flying between two pines. We heard a skylark and then we stopped to try and locate a whitethroat heard singing from some bushes. While most of us were still looking for the bird, Judith made the sighting of the day when she had a brief view of a hawfinch which quickly disappeared. The rest of us had to make do with our second really good look at a blackcap.

We decided to go back to the far end of the lake and as we made our way there the only new specie was a stock dove calling briefly. On reaching the lake we retraced our steps along its length. We heard a green woodpecker, saw a great tit, and had a good view of a smart grey wagtail, but no kingfisher. Still we did manage thirty-two species seen or heard during our three hour stroll through some very pleasant countryside and it was a really lovely way to spend a sunny summer's morning.

Warren Mann