Trip reports

Frensham Little Pond

Frensham Little Pond
Photo of a damp Kestrel, by Neil Bew

Sunday, 31 May 2015

Mick, Diane and Gill joined me on this moderately damp morning for a leisurely and enjoyable stroll around the mix of habitats that makes up Frensham Little Pond. That mix comprises the open water of the pond itself, the reeds edging the pond which then give way to largely coniferous woodland and open heath.

Whilst waiting for my audience to turn up, I settled down for a cup of tea and spent a little time just listening to the morning birdsong and then noticed a flash of movement. After a short while, I found a rather damp looking kestrel snuggled up against a pine trunk. Did I mention the weather? Definitely wet sometimes but worth remembering that the birds, particularly in spring, are still active and still singing even in damp conditions.

The pond itself gave us perhaps my favourite passage of the morning, watching a common tern, resplendently white against the green backdrop of the woodland on the far side, patrolling the pond, occasionally plunging into the water; a sea swallow as someone said. We had a few 'proper' swallows as well, hawking low over the water.

The first part of the walk is largely mixed woodland, including a 250 year old oak complete with a great tit nest. The woodland also boasted a good mix of species such as chiffchaff, willow warbler and goldcrest seemingly everywhere. Just next to our ancient oak tree is an area of scrub and young oaks which revealed a garden warbler. It is said that the only distinguishing feature of garden warbler is that they have no distinguishing features, a slightly unfair piece of commentary on what I consider to be a rather handsome little bird.

One of the birds we hoped to see was woodlark and as we moved towards the heathland, we could hear one but had some trouble actually tracking it down. Personally, I blame Mick's 'lucky hat', if you have seen it you will understand! However, we persevered, quickly adding tree pipit, appropriately singing from a treetop but also allowing us to witness its splendid display flight. Skylark were also in good voice and a flock of linnet bounded by, including one handsome male that chose a perch right in front of us for a bit of a sing, useful for the group member that hadn't actually brought any binoculars! We then made it to the top of Kings Ridge for a distant look over the Great Pond before again hearing woodlark. Fate ignored Mick' s hat and we all had good views of the woodlark singing from a dead looking tree before the same bird took to the skies for the full display flight; beautiful sight and song.

Through the morning, we also had both expected woodpeckers, green and great spotted, all the thrushes we could reasonably expect with blackbirds, song and mistle thrushes and a lone redstart, initially picked up by Diane, albeit that one only gave us tantalising glimpses.

Something of a damp morning, but a very pleasant one in beautiful surroundings and much enjoyed.

Neil Bew