Garden Birds Flock to Papercourt
The morning after Halloween was a cold one in Surrey. A thick mist hung over the fields, creating an almost eerie morning atmosphere. Perfect weather to go exploring wildlife! So we got winter clothes back out, wrapped up (moderately) warm, and set off to Papercourt to see what was around to greet us at the start of the new month.
November is the time of year when all the winter visitors either have or are going to return to our shores from their summer homes. Its an exiting time of year for most, so we headed off to see if anything interesting had made its home in the marshes.
Almost as soon as we had stepped foot in the reserve, we were greeted by a very friendly robin. It sat a few bushes down the path, and gradually came closer and closer. Soon it was sat within reach of me, posing for my camera. What a great way to start!
As we continued on round, we surprisingly didn't come across too much more inside the reserve itself. We saw flashes of pheasant and heard some birdsong but it was relatively quiet. But the moist air had revealed a maze of spider webs that would otherwise be almost invisible. Almost everywhere we walked there were numerous webs hanging from leaves, plants and branches. When you looked closer, they were incredibly complex and beautiful. The water droplets looked like little jewels hanging from a line. It was looking like it was definitely worth going out in the cold and the mist.
It was only when we returned to the edge of the reserve and the gate that more life reappeared. There were dozens of flocks of different garden birds. Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Robin, Blue Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Blackbird and more were all gathered together by the gate. This was presumably because of the feeding opportunities with the berries on the bushes and trees in this area. As we got closer, they kept on moving further away. We always seemed to be the same distance apart.
After getting some photos, we came up to the gate, where I saw some movement out of the corner of my eye. A Goldcrest. Britain's smallest bird. These birds commonly travel around with flocks of other small birds in autumn and winter, mainly for protection, which must have been what this individual was doing. I spent the next 5 or 10 minutes trying to grab a photo but it wouldn't sit still. When it finally settled down, it chose the top of a small tree, meaning I could only get a silhouette. If you look closely though, you can just about see the gold crest on the top of its head. A great addition to the trip.
Papercourt has yet again shown that, even on a relatively quiet day, it provides a great walk with some great views of a variety of different birds.