Results of RSPB Bird Watch

Big bird watch on the 18th January 2023 in Forster memorial park with James Newton RSPB. 18 bird species viewed.

Whilst the group joined together, we showed a (thoroughly cleaned) fox’s skull and observed the nasal passage structure, eye sockets and remaining teeth along the jaw line. (Image T.Webb 2019)

James gives us an introduction.

The 2 main reasons for the timing of the RSPB Bird watch survey, which takes place at the end of winter, are:

  1. Visibility; during the winter months most of the woodland trees are deciduous and bare, without foliage or blossoms to obscure any bird sightings. Sightings are made far easier when on the bare limbs and trunks. However, many species initially appear to perform a camouflage act against the tree bark!
  2. The birds born last spring and summer will now have grown their adult plumage (full colour feathers) some species look similar when they’re still young.

A total of 21 Adults and children walked around the woodland paths, with binoculars to look up in to the skies and trees.

This whole area was previously Downham farmland. Much nature is still present as we explore the woodland perimeter which surrounds the park.

A robin red breast, our first sighting, sat up in the area behind the cafe. It took flight, although we were treated to several more along the way.

We watched as a woodpecker glided across the sky, with a particular dart-like appearance; a taste of what was to come.

A blue tit (yellow and blue…) skulked in the shrubbery.

Turning left into the wood chipping yard, beside the remaining discarded evergreen Christmas trees, we see a magpie (distinctive black and white) and a Stock dove (similar to a pigeon with shimmering green and purple feathers)

Wood pigeons (larger, grey birds frequently seen amongst the leaf litter searching for grubs) eating hawthorn berries and rose hips.

Then, continuing along a muddy entrance into the meadow to the right; the apple tree orchard.

A Greater Spotted woodpecker makes an appearance, hopping on a trunk. James tells us that their numbers are doing well across the country. We hear their ‘drumming’ as they bore holes into trunks with their long beak.

Black headed gulls fly overhead and a Blackbird sits in a tree.

We watch where we walk, as clusters of daffodils emerge amongst the grass, towards the path .

An orchestra of birdsong follows us as we head through to the north kent wood oaks for further sightings: Red wings (similar to a thrush with a reddish underwing.

There are 2 main species of Thrush:

The taller, graceful Mistle thrush (with a clicking call)

The smaller Song Thrush (which has a darker back and speckles)

The Parakeets (a vibrant green, non native, relative of parrot ) squawk overhead around us. They roost in tall narrow Poplar trees in the crematorium and at the Grove Park Nature reserve, alongside Greenfinches.

Parakeets on feeders

It’s common to feed them in urban back gardens and rather than having a detrimental affect, they can actually protect smaller, native birds, as when predators approach, they squawk loudly and fly off quickly. Theories aren’t clear on the origins of their increasing population although it’s unlikely that they’ve descended from a pair released by Jimi Hendrix in 1960s!

James points out several large wooden Owl boxes, fixed to the old tree trunks. He hears them hooting regularly between December and February. Although these have yet to be witnessed in the park.

We study several Nuthatches feeding in the trees. ID: Nuthatches climb up trees. Whereas Tree creepers display the opposite behaviour and creep sideways and downwards.

James shares additional news that Ravens have been observed around the East coast and Ashdown forest. Other more local sightings include a Sparrow Hawk and a Red Kite (with a forked tail).

We conclude our bird species sightings: 18 within a single hour.

Until next year!