Sunday, 25 March 2012

Saturday 24th March Field trip

Saturday, 24th March 2012
Luckington-Sherston-Sopworth, North Wiltshire.
Leaders: Phillip & Lucy Delve

In fine weather, that was to last throughout the day, 11of us set out on a triangular walk to encompass three attractive Cotswold villages. From Luckington Court we followed a tributary to its confluence with the Sherston Avon, passing through Grove Wood on our way to Sherston. This small wood on a steep slope is managed by village volunteers and has benefited from good woodland management to encourage wildlife. Here we found Nuthatch and Great-spotted Woodpecker. Primroses, Wood Anemone and Sweet violets decked the woodland floor, along with a few clumps of Bluebells. From Sherston we walked a lane westward to Stan Bridge and then over fields under blue sky to Sopworth. The main wildlife interest along this stretch is concentrated in the old hedgerows, parkland trees, dew-ponds and The River Avon (here a small stream). Pond Skaters, Water Boatmen and unidentified small fish, all took our attention as we stood at the water’s edge. Leaving the tall stand of Wellingtonia Trees Sequoiadendron giganteum, which dominate Sopworth, we headed south along a lane and then across fields towards our cars back in Luckington. Everywhere we walked today there were dotted, along field and roadside edges, the golden heads of Celandines. Bright sunshine and warmth brought butterflies out of hibernation and other insects were evident in sheltered places, including some Bee Flies that tempted our photographers.  Brimstone, Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell and Comma butterflies were all seen.

During the meeting Lucy Delve stressed the importance of listening, as well as looking, in bird identification. Apart from the pleasure of hearing several Mistle Thrushes declare their territory by song, this approach was effective in finding an impressive 42 species of bird on the day. Throughout the walk, there were the distinctive sounds of Greenfinch, Chaffinch, Robin, Chiffchaff, Great Tit and Dunnocks. In suitable habitat we heard Yellowhammers, Skylarks and the occasional Wren. It was an alarm call that alerted me to a flock of Fieldfares, startled from cover by a Sparrowhawk. One surprise was the lack of Blackcaps, which are now singing in the Bath area. Although the early flowering of plants and unseasonable weather gave today the feel of late April, I should not have been surprised by the late presence of Fieldfares and lack of hirundines, a reminder that we were still in March.

Phillip Delve

List of Bird species identified on the walk.
From sight or sounds by at least one member of our party. The approximate numbers of each species is a given where appropriate. “W” indicates widespread species. “H” follows the six  species which were heard but not necessarily seen.

Mallard x 2, Red-legged Partridges x 4, Pheasant H, Grey Heron x 1, Buzzard circa 12,
Sparrowhawk x 1, Moorhen x 1, Common Gulls circa 70, Stock Doves x 2, Wood Pigeons W, Collared doves x 4, Great-spotted Woodpeckers x 2, Green Woodpecker H, Skylarks H,
Meadow Pipits x 3, Pied Wagtail x 1, Dunnocks W, Robins W, Song Thrush x 2, Mistle Thrush circa 6, Fieldfares circa 60, Blackbirds circa10, Chiffchaffs circa 8, Goldcrest H, Wrens W, Great Tits W, Blue Tits W, Coal Tit x 1, Long-tailed Tits x 4, Nuthatch x1, Magpie cica 4, Jackdaws W, Rooks (large rookery), Carrion Crows W, Starlings a few, House Sparrows W,
Chaffinch W, Linnet H, Goldfinches a few, Greenfinches W, Bullfinch H,
Yellowhammers circa 15.

Total 42 Species.

Trip photos

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