Today I decided to give my patch a break, and caught a bus to Damflask with the aim of walking a meandering route from there to Wyming Brook. I had two birding aims for myself today – to see green woodpecker, grey partridge and dipper (I’ll tell you from the start – I saw none of them!), and to get to 40 species on the walk.
It’s been a day where winter and spring have dramatically collided – at 8am, as I waited for the bus, it was absolutely freezing, with slippery frost on the ground and my face feeling like it was going to freeze solid before the 62 arrived. My day list started well as I waited, distracting me from the cold – song thrush, dunnock, robin, woodpigeon, jackdaw, carrion crow, blue tit, great tit, blackbird, chaffinch, greenfinch and magpie were all clocked up before I even started! Canada goose and pheasant were got from the bus window too.
At Damflask my face was freezing even more, and I was cursing myself for not wearing a hat. I immediately got mallard and black-headed gull, with cormorant, pied wagtail, goldcrest, tufted duck, long-tailed tit and coal tit not far behind. Great spotted woodpeckers could also be heard drumming, and a greylag had tagged along with some feral geese. Sadly, no sign of the little gull I saw here last week.
I walked up Oaks Lane, which was closed in parts, and therefore very quiet and full of birds. Mainly chaffinches, robins and the like, but also clocked up wren, stock dove, collared dove, mistle thrush, bullfinch, reed bunting and yellowhammer, plus jays shouting noisily in the distance.
At the start of the road I saw a brown hare – one of six that I saw at various parts of the walk. You forget what a large and impressive animal hares are, they’re truly spectacular as they run at high speeds and far more than just big rabbits.
Stopping for a breather on Corker Lane, I watched more mistle thrushes, who were joined by a small party of redwings. I then turned past Hall Broom Farm, and through the footpaths through the fields. Here I saw my only goldfinches of the day. The battle between winter and spring was most obvious here – the grass was a lush green where the now warm sun was hitting, but wherever a shadow caused by a wall fell, it was still covered in a thick frost. I wish I’d have had my camera on me!
I went down Game Lane, down Beeton Green, and down footpaths through fields that took me past Swinglee Farm. These fields held starlings, and an impressive flock of around 80 fieldfare. Then it was on to Wyming Brook and Rivelin Dams, where treecreepers and nuthatches could be heard (and dippers were dipped again!). On the way to the bus stop, I saw house sparrows (it’s a bad sign you can be walking for about 9 miles before you see one), and finally a rook on a television aerial through the bus window as it passed through Crosspool.
So I completely failed to see any of the species I set out to, but had a great walk, and at least made my 40 target day list!