Leader Glen Maddison
On a dull, grey, though fairly mild winter morning, I was pleasantly surprised to be joined by ten others at the Swan pub in Kingsdown. Once we’d sorted our route, I led the group up towards the golf-course, where we were to check out the fields beyond the driving range.

On the way, we had some cracking views of a small covey of seven pretty close Red-legged Partridges feeding and preening in a ploughed field. A showy male Kestrel was eyeing us from the top of a telegraph pole as we wandered past.

Red-legged Partridges © David Hall

Kestrel © David Hall

The expected flocks of finches and thrushes just did not materialise behind the driving range, just a few Chaffinches, lots of Woodpigeons, a few Stock Doves and lots of Corvids.

A distant Peregrine showed through Peter’s scope, as usual, on top of a pylon!
We followed the main road down to the muddy track into the estate, where a small flock of Long-tailed Tits foraged through the tree line at the side of us, and a Goldcrest gave good views, as a Nuthatch called just beyond.

As we wandered back to the main route through Kingsdown and the Manor Farm Estate, a single Brown Hare raced across a field and disappeared into a hedgerow.

Finally we came across a decent number of Redwings, and though singles of Song and Mistle Thrush were seen, we did not find a single Fieldfare! The mild conditions seemed to have scattered the birds over a much larger range, and there were no congregations in known feeding areas today, that was for sure.

At the wood, our group snaked its way through the wet leaves and sticky mud, but again there was not much happening, just the calls of a few Chaffinch and Coal tits.

Trooping Funnel © David Hall

Redwing © David Hall

We found a few species of fungi on our walk, though nothing very special as the main fungi season was over. Trooping Funnel and Honey Fungus were at the base of a Hawthorn back on the golf-course, but we couldn’t find anything else.

After a bite to eat, we made our way back, where a pair of Bullfinches were flushed from the dew-pond between two fields. Though calling, they were quickly lost to view into the Spruce and Pine wood that bordered the path.

Walking back to the bus-stop, a very late Peacock butterfly flew strongly past us, showing how mild the conditions had been!

Though the walk did not live up to (my) expectations, everyone agreed that it had been a good excursion out, and was enjoyed by all.

Glen Maddison