The first of our monthly bird walks was a definite success. Despite the unpromising weather, a hardy group of local people spotted a whopping 17 species! It was particularly gratifying to have good views of Redwings and Mistle Thrushes. Here is the full list:

Blue Tit
Great Tit
Long tailed Tit
Mistle Thrush
Collared Dove
Pied Wagtail

Thanks to all who turned up. A reminder that the walks are held on the third Sunday of each month, the next one will be on 15th February - more details soon. Tell your friends!

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Thanks for this walk, Des. It was good to have people turn up despite the very cold weather that threatened rain, though this never materialised in the end. It was a surprise to see (and get good views of) several Redwings using the park 'grasslands' to search for food. A male blackbird took exception to one of the Redwings and aggressively chased it off the patch it was itself using (and perhaps already establishing as blackbird territory).

The two Mistle Thrushes were probably a pair that are already searching out a possible nest site in the park. They are very dependent on fruit as a major part of their diet and tend to be sedentary in winter, defending (often as a pair) a local supply of berries such as holly and hawthorn on which they will feed throughout November to February. If successful in finding a nest site, they may well be laying eggs as early as the end of February. It will be interesting to watch out for these two birds to see if they stay on and breed successfully in or near the park this year. Let's hope the hawthorn trees we plan to plant in the park will, once established, help provide a useful source of winter food that will encourage future Mistle Thrushes to stay as breeding residents in our park.
An impressive list, indeed. My contribution to 'birds', is what Des told me last autumn.

"According to studies on Robin behaviour and population dynamics, it was shown that three out of every four Robins holding territory in autumn and winter are males, their mates having wisely decided to go south (to France in some cases) for the winter. So 'our' Robin is probably a male - but they look exactly the same as a female (except to other Robins!)"

Thanks Des,
Re Mistle Thrushes - the local status of this species is described in the Avon Bird Report 2007 as ' Uncommon breeding resident, passage migrant and probable winter visitor'. There has been a decline in the local breeding population of 35% in the last ten years, so let's hope this is indeed a breeding pair!

So I should more accurately have said, the ''Mistle Thrushes were possibly a pair that are already searching out a nest site...''

By the way, this 'discussion' seems to have rather strangely ended up under a 'Meetings/minutes/agenda' heading!


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