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Report from Stapleford Bird Club - 4th April 2009

The April bird walk usually marks the transition from winter visitors to summer migrants. Perhaps this added interest accounted for a near record number of thirteen birders setting off at 8am on a chilly, grey morning. Our attention was first taken by a male chaffinch (eight) singing loudly from a treetop in Youth Wood, but we were immediately distracted by three skylark (nine) almost hovering over the long grass on the North Down. The pale trailing edge of their wings and white outer tail feathers were clearly visible.

As we approached Magog Wood, a chiffchaff was singing its monotonous song - the first summer migrant of the year. In contrast at the far end of this wood, there was a small flock of fieldfare (fifteen) plus a lone redwing - these stragglers will probably not be around next month. Green woodpeckers (four) were again in evidence in Magog and Vestey Woods. As we walked south, we scanned the hedgerows for other summer migrants such as blackcap or whitethroat without success. Our only reward were some dunnock (three).

We met a lady who was running her dog, and she reported seeing green woodpecker, song thrush (two) and kestrel by Vestey Wood. The first two obliged but the kestrel was nowhere to be seen. On the return leg, great tit (four) were noted in Memorial Wood. Passing south of Magog Wood, a mistle thrush (one) emerged, and then we heard one the warblers we had been looking for - a blackcap. Maybe it was a migrant, but good numbers of this species overwinter here. Our last tick came as we entered the car park - two male yellowhammer engaged in a battle.

The total number of species recorded was 22. Numbers in parentheses are totals seen on the entire walk.