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Report from Stapleford Bird Club - 7th March 2009

Once again, the car park at the Trust land proved to be a good source of ‘ticks’ at the start of the bird walk on Saturday March 7th. Ten birders assembled on an overcast but mild morning with only a gentle breeze. Before we set off, we had two goldfinch in a silver birch, plus magpie and chaffinch. The star turn however was a male yellowhammer which settled on a bank very close to us. He allowed ample time to note the brilliant yellow head with a few dark markings on the crown and sides. We heard one singing later on the walk “a little bit of bread and NO cheeeese”.

As we walked along, the chaffinch (12) could be heard and seen singing from the treetops, only this week they had competition from the great tit (6) and from skylarks (9). It was good to hear the skylarks again, some of them singing from such a height that we were unable to see them. Passing Magog Wood, we had three green woodpeckers and wondered if they were the same birds we saw last month.

Scanning the set-aside land by Jane’s Piece, we saw no birds at all and were about to move on, when a flock of about 100 fieldfare swept in, having been feeding on the ploughed land across Haverhill Road. These will soon leave for northern climes but a few will remain to breed in the wilder parts of Wales, northern England and Scotland.

At the halfway mark of the walk, there were 300+ woodpigeon feeding on the oil-seed rape – so much for shooting to reduce numbers!! The remainder of the walk yielded small numbers of other species such as blackbird (6), jackdaw (2), robin (3) and long-tailed tit (3). By the end, the weather had become fine and sunny and the yellowhammer was still singing.