Friday December 18th
It was an incredibly a mild December morning when Jedi Birder Tom Forward, of the order Gatwick Greenspace Partnership, swooped in for our early winter bird survey.
The North West Zone, located in the Outer Rim Territories of Gatwick
Straight away we felt a strong presence in the force, scooping up a brand new species for our surveys landside at Gatwick... A Coot!
It's a little odd that we haven't picked up Coot on previous surveys, but I have checked the ancient iRecord archive scrolls, dating back a whole 3 years and true it is confirmed to be.
Other thrush species picked up here were Redwing, Song Thrush, Blackbird and Mistle Thrush. An excitedly singing Dunnock also made its presence known from a nearby hedgerow.
At the end of the canalised section of river, where the Mole begins to meander, we saw a dark shape nip into the reed bed... could it be?
The Water Rail victory dance
The calls of Water Rail are pretty unmistakable (and bizarre), sounding more like a squealing piglet than a wetland bird. Reed Bunting, Song Thrush and Wren also sounded off, hidden from view in the reeds, while a flock of Long-tailed Tits moved through the trees.
Reeds along the River Mole
Elder (Sambucus nigra) coming into leaf
Out of the woods and into a busy section of floodplain, with Fieldfare flying overhead and mixed flocks of Blue Tits, Great Tits and Goldcrests foraged in the tree tops. As we rounded a bend in the river, the landscape was contrastingly tranquil, with softly calling Song Thrush and a lonely-sounding Bullfinch.
Then again, all Bullfinches sound lonely... Maybe if they lightened up a little they would have more friends.
Along the next section of river, the ground up from the boggy floodplain is on a rather steep incline and whippy Alder scrub makes the going tougher.
More Redwing zipped back and forth, busily foraging in the dense scrub and a Green Woodpecker spooked us with a loud yaffle, erupting up out of the grass.
A final word of advice: before beginning your linear transect of 3km over difficult terrain, do check you have your car keys with you and they are not locked in the car all the way t'other end.
Fieldfare departs LGW
Species total: 32
- Blue Tit
- Carrion Crow
- Common Buzzard
- Great Spotted Woodpecker
- Great Tit
- Green Woodpecker
- Herring Gull
- Long-tailed Tit
- Meadow Pipit
- Mistle Thrush
- Pied Wagtail
- Reed Bunting
- Song Thrush
- Water Rail
- Wood Pigeon