Friday, 1 October 2021

Bucknell Wood :: 25 September 2021

I set out from my house following Kevin Heath with the intention of going somewhere a bit different - lately all our ventures out have been to bodies of water or marshes and so Bucknell Wood would be a nice change. Kevin had some fuel in his car but only for 90 miles including the reserve and had planned on dropping into the local Esso station on the way; however, as we departed around 15 cars queued along the Oxford Road waiting on the pumps, so we just drove by - the shortage of delivery drivers is becoming obvious. In Brackley I spotted that there were spaces at the pumps in one of the stations and we exited to fill up Kevin’s car.

We pulled up in the parking area at the entrance to the wood just after 7.00am and as we were putting on some walking boots another car pulled up - an early dog walker. We set out quickly to stay ahead but could soon hear the two gentlemen following behind. We saw a couple of deer in the trees and another that crossed the path before the dog walkers caught us up; a nuthatch called from our right and we could see goldcrests feeding in the canopy above. We stopped where we were and let the dog walkers get well ahead as the presence of the dogs could hinder our chances of catching sight of some of the birds. Another two nuthatch, a jay and a buzzard gave fleeting views as we waited.

We pressed on catching sight of mixed flocks mostly containing tits and a separate group of coal tits. Kevin spotted a treecreeper, but I wasn't fast enough to get on it before it departed and all I saw was a bird in flight, silhouetted against a grey sky. We could see an abundance of food on the trees and there were many squirrels taking advantage.

Grey squirrel

As we made our way along the path running parallel to the main road by the car park, we studied the tree canopy but couldn’t see anything other than the species we'd already encountered. Reaching the crossroads, we stopped to listen to the chattering tit flock ahead which was joined by the call of mistle thrushes. Movement ahead to our left at first appeared to be a blackcap but when stationary a pair of marsh tits could be seen. They stayed tantalisingly obscured in the bushes, occasionally crossing the path, but too soon disappeared back into the woods.

Marsh tit
Marsh tit

Walking on to see the mistle thrushes we could count at least 10 individuals. I took a photo but on review could see that there was also a juvenile song thrush amongst them; not something I can remember seeing before. They worked the top of the trees and despite being distant there were regular harsh rattling alarm calls. Another mixed flock of tits passed through too.

Song thrush

We took a path down through a denser area of trees but found fewer species on show. On exiting onto a wider path we found another mixed flock of tits with some chiffchaffs and a pair of nuthatches. As we watched the birds just kept coming with at least 50 passing through and then found another pair of marsh tits. Eventually we stopped back at the cars and had a chat as we drank some coffee. We still had time to make another pass, this time on the northern perimeter and still get back for lunchtime. No sooner had we set off than we heard nuthatches ahead. As we drew closer, we could count four having a barney. They worked at distance, but I took a record shot in any case. A treecreeper dropped into the tree to our left - quite a productive clearing.


Another marsh tit showed in the bushes behind, feeding on dioscorea communis berries. Soon we could hear a great spotted woodpecker which showed well as it climbed into view and along a sloped branch. As expected, it didn't stay long.

Great-spotted woodpecker

We watched a few hornets quartering the bushes beside our path before turning for the car once more - a jay appeared in the trees above but remained out of direct view until it paused briefly before flying off - no chance for a photo. It had been a great visit and all the better as it was a change from recent days out.

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