The second guided walk for the year took place yesterday. Unfortunately, conditions were far from ideal, with a heavy mist greatly reducing visibility and it seemed bird activity too. I quickly went out before meeting up with the group to see if anything was about. I could see absolutely nothing on the reservoire because of the mist and the cricket scrub was quiet. I did however hear a Yellow Wagtail flying over.
What with the weather conditions I expected maybe a dozen people to tun up, however, on reaching the Grove car park I was confronted by a crowd of 45! We started off in the Grove and saw virtually nothing. All I could say to the group was you should have been hear a week and a half ago for the two Pied Flycatchers etc. We then wandered across the lower slopes, past the Pitch and Putt course and on to the Cricket Scrub area. The only sightings of any significance were a flock of Longtailed and Blue Tits and a fly-over Great Spotted Woodpecker. desperate times, trying to think of things to say and keep the crowd, which by this time had grown to around 50, interested and entertained.
Some good news by the time we reached the Cricket Scrub area, the mist had lift; the bad news, the rain started! As with the last walk, back in May, Gerry Rawcliffe had set up a mist net and gave a ringing demonstration (many thanks to him). He had netted Great Tit, Wren and Song Thrush for us and proceded to measure, weigh and log the birds.
Alas, the rain got worse and quite a few people started to drift off. By the time we left the scrub we were down to less than 20. As we walked across the cricket field a Pipit flew over; alas it remained silent and headed off towards the lower slopes (a while later I received a call from Bob Watts to say he had had a Tree Pipit, near to where our bird had headed to!).
Down at the reservoir a little bit of luck as a Shoveller flew in and landed not too far from us. Alas, this was the high-point, species wise, on our walk! We continued through the Conservation Area, where I told the remaining group members about Jays doing very good imitations of Tawny Owls and right on cue the Jay we were watching obliged. After this we made our way up the slope and across the road, past the Blandford Hall site and on to the Boating Pond, which is where the walk finished, with about a dozen people staying to the bitter end.
If it had taken place the day before, we would have had nice conditions, plus the chance to see Winchat, Wheatear and Spotted Flycatcher; or even today, Monday, more nice conditions and again the chance to see Wheatear and Spotted Flycatcher. Never mind. Let's hope we have better luck with the next walk! I must thank Bob Watts, Gareth Richards and Alan Gibson for helping out on the day with various bits and pieces.