Trip reports

Haysden Country Park (Leader Robin Smith)

Haysden Country Park (Leader Robin Smith)
Haysden Country Park [Robin Smith]

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Haysden Country Park in Tonbridge is a new venue for the group and promised to have all the ingredients with easy cheap parking, toilets and a café. On our arrival the first stop was to head to the loo but disaster loomed as there was a notice on the door saying 'out of order - nearest toilet at Tonbridge Station'. However, we did discover a disabled toilet that was working so problem was averted which was a relief to all of us!

Seven people turned up for the walk including two non-group members, Ros and Stephen, who had both picked it up from the website. We started the walk around the largest lake but had a difficult decision to know which route to take when seeing the sign illustrated. Those of you that know me well will appreciate my innate ability to get lost on the easiest of routes!!

Early migrants were in evidence with singing chiffchaffs and blackcaps as well as some vocal nuthatches. We soon had good views of the male blackcap whose jaunty song was a welcome reminder that spring was approaching.

Around the lake were the ever-present greylag and Canada geese and a pair of Egyptian geese already with a family of four young. Whilst carrying out a 'recce' of the site the week before Elaine and I saw a pair of long tailed tits with feathers in their bills and traced the site of a beautiful nest, adorned with green leaves that was absolutely pristine, only a metre or so from the path, so we were able to show the group this well-camouflaged marvel of nature which was a first sighting for some of them.

We then pushed on towards the Leigh Barrier with the underfoot conditions becoming increasingly muddy. The wild flowers seemed to appreciate the damp conditions however and we were treated to a wonderful display of lesser celandines, wood anemones and cuckoo flowers. Being a public park, it had the usual graffiti adorning the supports of the A21 flyover which goes over the flood plain behind the barrier. One bit of graffiti did have a bit of a natural history bias and we identified badger, mole and assorted birds (one member thought one of them was a penguin!).

During the walk we also picked up buzzard, treecreeper and great spotted woodpeckers and right at the end of the walk I had a fleeting glimpse of a hirundine flying away from me, my first of the season.

I think that this site has more to offer and is worthy of another visit in future programmes, possibly slightly later in the year.

Robin Smith