Long time no posts. Anyway, there was a guided birdwatching walk in the Park today. The turnout was 25 people, which was a good manageable number, made all the more manageable by the help of a number of local birders.
The walk began in the Grove, however, there was not much about there. Off to the Cricket Scrub, where Gerry Rawcliffe gave a ringing demonstration. Two birds were rung/recorded; a Robin and Song Thrush. During our stay at the scrub we got very good views of a male Kestrel sitting in a tree. Two Hobbies also performed for the group as well as a Sparrowhawk.
Earlier on I received a text message to say that a Wheatear had landed on the cricket pitches. Alas, this had departed by the time we had arrived at the Scrub area (which is immidiately adjacent to the pitches). However, as we were departing the Scrub I noticed a bird fly in; a Wheatear, which gave good views, after it had relocated to a TV aerial nearby.
From there it was off to the filter beds where a Common Sandpiper had been seen earlier. Luckily, it was still present, although a little distant and at time obscured from view. We then moved down by the Reservoir, which held nothing of interest. The New River though, had a nesting Little Grebe to see, as well as a couple of young Great Crested Grebes.
From there it was off up hill to the deer enclosures. By this point quite a few of the group had departed. However, for the few that remained there were some goodies in store to round off the walk. A juv Cuckoo had been seen on a number occasions over the past week or so. After a search in the general area there was no sign, so we went on to the Boating Pond where we saw some young Little Grebes. The first to be successfully hatched in the study area. After that I decided to back-track and check the animal deer enclosures for the Cuckoo. After a short while one of the group spotted a bird sitting in a tree. It was the Cuckoo, providing quite nice views. A good reward for the nine people who had stuck it out.
On the way back to the Grove car park I noticed a rapter over the main Palace building; a Common Buzzard. This was followed quickly by a second very pale Buzzard. Both provided good views and ended a successful, if a little long walk. All in all the walk lasted nearly four hours.
Many thanks to the local birders who helped out with the walk, Gareth, James, Stuart, Alan, Bob and most especially Gerry for providing the ringing demonstration.