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Visit of the RSPB Bromley Local Group to Darrick and Newstead Woods by Trevor Morgan

On September 3rd Richard Pearce and I spent three hours guiding The Bromley Local Group of the RSPB around our reserve. We took them on the exact route that we use for the survey. Usually the route takes just over an hour but this time we topped frequently not just to enjoy the birds, but the insects, flowers and mammal life too. We also had plenty of time to share experiences and general knowledge.

At the start of the walk I was concerned that we would not see any show piece species. No offence to Woodpigeons, Crows and Magpies but these are everyday fare, and as we headed around Darrick Wood these were the only species we were seeing.

Luckily, our visit to Newstead Woods was more profitable: one of our bird watchers identified the call of the Nuthatch. Then we all saw a pair flying from tree to tree. These handsome birds have bright yellowish-brown breasts and blue wings. They appeared rather iridescent in the bright sunshine.  The nuthatch feeds on insects, seeds and nuts whilst foraging on tree trunks and branches, they are capable of climbing and descending trees. They often visit bird tables in gardens that border woodlands. We know that Nuthatches are resident in our reserve, but we don’t often see them.

We also heard and saw a Great Spotted Woodpecker. Curiously this bird was tapping very slowly on a tree trunk something which none of us had heard before.

Finally, one of our eagle-eyed visitors spotted a Tree Bee nest. Richard and I thought that these communal bees had disappeared from the reserve. Originally, they were living in Darrick Wood. They appeared to be surviving well living much higher up in their tree in Newstead Woods – but perhaps they were a different colony.

For me the discovery of a new Tree Bee nest was the ecological highlight of the visit. It often pays to have many more attentive eyes. The visit was a real success.

The Bromley RSPB programme for 2019 to 2020 is attached below:

RSPB PROGRAMME001 

RSPB PROGRAMME002

Bird Survey as of 22 October 2019

We have been conducting a bird survey, mostly weekly, since 19th April 2018. We have been counting the number of birds of the species that we have seen. Three areas have been surveyed – Darrick Wood and Meadow, Newstead Wood and Meadow and Darrick Wood Hornbeam area/Broadwater Wood.

It should be noted that this is not a scientific survey and bird numbers cannot be accurate as birds are very mobile. We have only recorded species which we can positively identify by sight. But in the case of the Tawny Owl we are identifying it by the sound of its call.

We recently saw six feral pigeons which are the same species as domesticated pigeons and rock doves. It has taken a long time to see the feral pigeon sub-species in our reserve, when you consider how numerous they are in towns and stations etc.

We have now recorded more than 40 species.

A list of bird species seen or heard and recorded is shown below (40+ Species):

Carrion Crow

Magpie

Jackdaw

Jay

Wood pigeon

Great Spotted Woodpecker

Song thrush

Blackbird

Robin

Great Tit

Blue Tit

Long Tailed Tit

Marsh Tit

Starling

House/ Tree Sparrow (difficult to distinguish between the two species from a distance)

Swift

Wren

Ring Necked Parakeet

Stock Dove

Treecreeper

Nuthatch

Dunnock

Common Redstart (06 November)

A Warbler species not a Blackcap (06 November) possibly a Chiffchaff

Goldcrest (20 November 2018)

Collared Dove (20 November 2018)

Common Gull (26 November 2018)

Domestic Pigeon (26 November 2018) pure white): this is the same species as the feral pigeon.

Feral Pigeon (same species as the domestic pigeon)

Chaffinch (26 November 2018)

Greenfinch

Green Woodpecker

Black Headed Gull

Redwing

Pied Wagtail

Fieldfare

Tawny Owl (heard only)

Goldfinch (15 Feb 2019 )

Coal Tit (20 Feb 2019)

Garden Warbler

Grey heron

Hedgehogs in Darrick Wood by Trevor Morgan

We have not seen any hedgehog in Darrick and Newstead Woods even though we have put “camera traps” alongside the borders of the woods and human habitation and gardens. I was of the opinion that there were no hedgehogs in the area , so imagine my surprise when I saw a hedgehog waddling along the pavement near to our house in Northlands Avenue which is just a stone’s throw from the woods.

I have not seen a living hedgehog in Britain for over 40 years, and I had almost forgotten what they looked like. My wife and I saw ours at around 9 30 pm, a week ago, as it was beginning to get dark.  At first I thought it was a large rat and was confused by the shape until we got a little nearer. We were delighted to see this iconic animal alive and well near our garden.  I wasn’t quick witted enough to photograph it as it disappeared under a car.

When, I was a lad in Wales nearly everyone would see a hedgehog in their garden. We used to pick them up; they seemed to be unafraid of us as they were wrapped up tightly in defensive mode. Foxes could not harm them, neither could cats or dogs, but badgers could easily unravel them. Hedgehogs and badgers have, however, lived alongside each other for thousands of years. The demise of the hedgehog in Britain can surely be attributed to human beings not from picking them up but from habitat destruction.

Some human beings preyed on hedgehogs which would be wrapped in clay and then cooked on a fire so that the spikes could easily be removed. This country pursuit although cruel did not lead to the demise of our favourite insectivore. Hedgehogs were easily surviving the 1950’s and 1960’s; but they are now having difficulty surviving habitat destruction.

If you see a hedgehog then do not pick it up as it will have plenty of fleas and ticks living on its spiky skin: it should be left alone. You can help their cause by leaving gaps in your garden fence to allow them to roam freely. Also, why not dispense with the use of pesticides in your garden to give insects and other invertebrates  a chance – the hedgehogs feed on them.

Recording your sighting will help hedgehog researchers and you can input your observation here: https://bighedgehogmap.org/

For more information on hedgehogs see here: https://www.hedgehogstreet.org/

Bird survey as at 03 June 2019

Bird Survey as 03 June 2019

 

We have been conducting a bird survey, mostly weekly, since 19th April 2018. We have been counting the number of birds of the species that we have seen. Three areas have been surveyed – Darrick Wood and Meadow, Newstead Wood and Meadow and Darrick Wood Hornbeam area/Broadwater Wood.

 

It should be noted that this is not a scientific survey and bird numbers cannot be accurate as birds are very mobile. We have only recorded species which we can positively identify by sight. But in the case of the Tawny we are identifying by the sound of its call.

 

A list of bird species seen or heard and recorded is shown below (40+ Species):

Carrion Crow

Magpie

Jackdaw

Jay

Wood pigeon

Great Spotted Woodpecker

Song thrush

Blackbird

Robin

Great Tit

Blue Tit

Long Tailed Tit

Marsh Tit

Starling

House/ Tree Sparrow (difficult to distinguish between the two species from a distance)

Swift

Wren

Ring Necked Parakeet

Stock Dove

Treecreeper

Nuthatch

Dunnock

Common Redstart (06 November)

A Warbler species not a Blackcap (06 November) possibly a Chiffchaff

Goldcrest (20 November 2018)

Collared Dove (20 November 2018)

Common Gull (26 November 2018)

Domestic Pigeon (26 November 2018) pure white): this is the same species as the feral pigeon.

Chaffinch (26 November 2018)

Greenfinch

Green Woodpecker

Black Headed Gull

Redwing

Pied Wagtail

Fieldfare

Tawny Owl (heard only)

Goldfinch (15 Feb 2019 )

Coal Tit (20 Feb 2019)

Garden Warbler

Grey heron

Birds heard on survey but not positively identified by sight (2)

Black caps – can easily be confused by song with garden warbler.

Chiffchaff – warbler family

Other birds reported as seen or heard by members but not recorded on survey (11 Species).

NB, some members are better at identifying birds by call rather than sight. Also some bird species such as starlings and jackdaws are capable of mimicking other bird species to the confusion of humans and the mimicked species.

Sparrow Hawk

Buzzard – Photo Member’s article in News Letter

Black Caps – heard

Possible sighting of Black Cap on Darrick Wood meadow during survey – too fast for positive identification.

Tawny Owl – heard and seen

Bull Finch

Mallard

Mandarin Duck

Not seen on Bird Survey but expected (3 species)

Mistle Thrush

Pheasant,

Coot