Sunday, 20 June 2021

Crookham and Greenham Common :: 19 June 2021

After a 4.00am alarm call I was off to Crookham and Greenham Commons with Kevin Heath - we still travelled in separate cars to protect against transmission (to him from my wife's school and/or in the other direction), although we are all double vaccinated. Hopefully someday soon we will get back to a state where we can all share cars again.

We made for the edge of Crookham Common where I have previously seen nightingales and where Nick Truby had been in late April and confirmed their continued presence. We set out along the stretch I had seen them previously but couldn't heard any calls - we stopped to enjoy chiffchaff, blackcap and a vocal jay.

We then crossed the road to where Nick had indicated was the best spot - perhaps we should have done that from the off. We listened but didn't hear any calls but did have great-spotted woodpecker, nuthatch, families of blackcap and robin, goldcrest and various tit species.

I looked back down the track and spotted a couple of birds on the ground next to a large bush - one was a dunnock but the other was a nightingale. I alerted Kev but he didn't get on it before if departed - it didn't take too long before we heard calling over in a far hedge and then saw one flying across the track. We moved a bit closer but left space so as not to crowd the bush where from time to time it seemed to land. Ocassionally we heard calls from both sides of the track and also a couple of nice views, but failed on each opportunity for a photo. After and hour or so of listening and watching a bird was flitting about the foot of a nearby tree, eventually hopping onto a low branch. I set off a volley of shots and was rewarded with a few in focus as a nightingale paused briefly and turned to move on.


We'd managed to connect with one of our target species and so decided to relocate and park at the Greenham Common Control Tower and try our luck at some more.

Greenham Common Control Tower

As we entered to Common we spotted willow warbler and various corvids, then set off along the gravel path watching the gorse and scrub for any signs of birds. We spotted a stonechat, then another, before Kev located a Dartford warbler - it had dropped out of sight before I got on it. We were at some distance from the spot and so moved a little closer spotting a juvenile Dartford warbler in the base of a bush. Another target bird ticked.

Darford warbler

We pushed on along the track where the runway had been, continuing to see large numbers of stonechat and a common heath moth. A meadow pipit showed atop the scrub and we had a little ringed plover over.

Common heath moth
Meadow pipit

From inside an area of gorse we could hear Dartford warbler and waiting eventually one flew out and passed us - it forgot to land in view - we waited to see if it would reappear, but no dice. We had another similar encounter but this time the bird flew further from us and again out of sight. We were nearing the end of the site when we heard a brief call and another Dartford warbler flew past us but this time stopping briefly in view before returning back. This was our best view and I had managed to shoot off two bursts.

Dartford warbler
Dartford warbler

Three flocks of birds ahead of us rotated in balls across the sky - resembling a small murmuration, occasionally joining up. We couldn't make out what they were, and I had to wait until I got home to see what they were. They appeared to be a species of pigeon, but it was behaviour I have never seen before - I've seen larger flocks but not his communal gathering and staying in roughly the same spot for more than 5 minutes.

Pigeon flock?

We moved on deciding to skirt the edge of the tree-lined perimeter and stopped at the very far end on the gravel path. We scanned the area and after a few minutes Kev announced he had woodlark in his sights. I established where he was looking and raised my bins - this turned out to be an error but a happy natural reaction. I confirmed the ID but some movement on the track to the right sent two birds into the air - I followed them round while Kev said that there was still one on the ground. Before I got on it, it was off too - damn and blast, I'd missed a record photo but was still overjoyed to see it as it was a life tick for both of us. I was particularly happy as they'd discussed woodlark on Springwatch recently and so was better informed than I might have been.

I had promised to be back home for lunch and so we reluctantly had to pull stumps and head back - I had a call from 'her indoors' as we made our way back to the car.

No comments:

Post a Comment