Trip reports

Valentines Park - Valentine's Day walk

Adult male siskin on feeder

Sunday, 14 February 2016

Many thanks to Nadine for the following report:-

"A small group of us met up by Valentines Mansion at 9.30 am on a crisp, dry sunny morning with little wind.

Mike, who was kindly leading the walk as it was his 'patch', took us initially in the direction of the Horse Pond and the Long Water. Many Canada Geese, some Greylag Geese and a few hybrids were immediately seen. I suspect they had come to check if we had any bread! The occasional Ring-necked Parakeet and Robin were seen as we moved into an area of mixed bushes and fir trees. The fir trees contained a couple of Goldcrest, Wren, Blue Tit and Great Tit plus, sitting on a bare branch at the top of a tall tree sunning itself, was a solitary Starling. We could hear a Song Thrush singing nearby, but couldn't locate it.

We next progressed to the Fish Pond which has a small Island. A willow tree, just before the Fish Pond, hanging in catkins was providing a rich source of food for about a dozen Siskin. The Siskins' yellow colour flashed brightly in the sunshine as they moved around the tree.

The Fish Pond had a range of gulls, mainly Black-headed which were just starting to get their summer plumage plus Herring and Common Gulls. There were also Shovelers and Tufted Ducks on the pond and the inevitable feral and Wood Pigeons eating with the ducks plus Carrion Crows and magpies nearby. A single Heron was clearly visible on the island and then we saw the first of our Egyptian Geese. Mike reported that single pair had had three broods last year and raised 27 chicks successfully. He said that no-one was sure of the implications of this success on the competition for nesting holes with other birds in the future.

As we made our way across some open ground towards the Cranbrook Cut, a Mistle Thrush was pecking on the grass - a welcome surprise!

The Cranbrook Cut had a Grey Wagtail going in and out of the infill pipe and a group of Chaffinch and Goldfinch in the trees. A little further on, we checked out an area on the edge of the park where there is a known group of House Sparrows. The line of hedges there and the closeness to gardens appear to make this a desirable place to live.

The winter garden had a pair of Long-tailed Tits and a Blackbird. On the Boating Lake were lots more gulls - no sign of the Mediterranean Gull Valentino! - plus Moorhens and Egyptian Geese. A Little Grebe was also seen on the lake. As we turned for home, three Stock Doves were spotted on the cricket pitch and we watched them fly away. At this point we headed for the Cafe and a well earned cup of coffee!"