Saturday 3rd May 2014
Our “Winter Bird walk” back in February had been enjoyable so I set about organising a second walk, again as a guided tour around Southampton Common. It was a relatively early start, but well worth it, and once again it was a bright and sunny Saturday (and very chilly…)!
In similar fashion to last time, we started in the car park where we could hear Wrens, Robins, a Green Woodpecker and a Great Spotted Woodpecker drumming in a near by tree. A short while after, we caught a brief glimpse of the first summer migrant of the day – a male Blackcap.
We then moved on and headed towards the Ornamental Lake, in search of more summer migrants, pausing to look at the Boating Lake on route. The Boating Lake is apparently a good site for Great Crested Newts, but we weren’t lucky enough to find any today. Instead there were a few pairs of Tufted Duck, some Mallards and a couple of Black-headed Gulls. There were more Blackcaps singing and showing well as we continued along the path, as well as a Blackbird and a Song Thrush.
The area around the Ornamental Lake was full of bird song and we soon picked out Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers. Both species looks very similar, but thankfully their songs are distinctive, and after a bit of searching we got some good views of both species. There were also more Blackcaps here as well as singing Goldcrests, Long-tailed Tits, Blue Tits and Great Tits.
The old cemetery was our next destination, and as we headed towards it, we spotted a Jay a Nuthatch, and a Mistle Thrush close to the path. Passing Cemetery Lake, we noticed a single Mute Swan, more Tufted Ducks, Mallards and Black-headed Gulls and also some Coots and Moorhens. I was amazed at how quiet the Black-headed Gulls seemed after remembering the last visit to my patch. I suppose one difference was the huge contrast in number of birds – there must’ve been at least 800 Black-headed Gulls on my patch last week, and that resulted in it being extremely noisy especially by the Scrapes!
Close to the entrance of the cemetery, a Goldcrest appeared in the tree right in front of us. This was the first Goldcrest we’d seen today so stayed to watch it for a bit before it disappeared. While walking around the cemetery we were lucky enough to hear and see several more Goldcrests, as well as numerous Greenfinches, a few Goldfinches and a Dunnock. I’m also convinced there were Firecrests singing, but we didn’t see any!
In terms of the University Birdwatch Challenge itself, we’ve added Swift, Starling and Tawny Owl to the list, which brings us up to a total 47 – still a long way behind Bangor Uni who are on 105!