At 7am on a cold March Sunday morning I left the Village Hall for a “nobby no mates” walk around The Back Common. I was in search of our feathered friends who had no idea that Lockdown 3 had let me out, all alone, with a mug of tea and a set of Opticron binoculars. I was hoping to get a glimpse of some early nesting sites prior to full foliage arriving. A Blackbird in a hedge adjacent to the Village Hall and a Wren busying in the low vegetation were welcome sitings. With buds on the trees and snowdrops in the margins, all adding to the sense that Spring was upon us.
For our April trip I was joined by some enthusiastic new comers Emma and Dave Byrne who were soon being schooled in birdsong awareness by one of our most experienced birders, Mary Miller. That morning 26 different species were identified including an early Chiff Chaff and Blackcap. In the 5 years since Spring watch restarted these summer visitors have been the headline grabbers with their unique melodic songs. Dave and Emma were soon on the case with Mary pointing out other favourites such as the Dunnock and noisy Wren.
For our May jaunt we managed to get Miles out with us which proved invaluable. Not only did we have a willing list keeper but another set of eyes and ears. We managed to log up 28 different species which turned out to be our best day of the year. Song Thrushes in abundance continued to serenade on our walk and a solitary Swallow was seen passing over. Another new comer to our group is Francis, a man who delights in drawing birds. He gave us all some interesting insight as to bird sizes and that when observing Red Kites, which we all see frequently, try and spot the female, which is considerably larger than the male.
Our final Outing in June was an overcast and chilly day. For the third year running Greenfinch numbers were disappointingly low but Goldfinch was still in abundance. The Wren, Song Thrush, Blackbird, Robin and Pigeon all reined supreme with Blue Tit/Great Tit a close second. On the Pond was the usual flotilla of Mallard with several ducklings. A Moorhen with her brood busied around but no Coot was observed, a slight disappointment. The House Martins were back, swooping over the Front Common but did not appear to be at their usual nesting site at the First School, as yet.
A Spring watch survey on the Common was first conducted in 1965. 20 years later Local bird enthusiast Eric Britnell carried out another in 1985. 30 years later a group of local birding numpties resurrected the scheme and produced the attached list. This really is just a snapshot as to what was seen during our strolls but It is very noticeable that some species from Eric’s notes have not knowingly been seen or heard. The Linnet, Willow Tit and Garden Warbler, all feature in his notes. Not on our list this year and for the first time is Nuthatch. I’m sure this is just a blip as I have seen them in Common Wood but fingers crossed for next Spring and its return to The Common.