The dawn had not broken when the 10 brave members of the group assembled at Magpie Bridge on the River Walkham. The moon was rising over the valley which was shrouded in mist but head torches were needed at the start. This was a new site for us so we waited with anticipation.
Ears at the ready the first song heard was Blackbird at 04:50. From then the variety and volume increased as we headed up away from the river. Robin was next with a few Pheasant leaving their roosts. A Cuckoo was heard repeatedly from above us on the Down and a Tawny Owl heard and then seen by some as it drifted through the woodland. Soon Song Thrush had taken over and seemed to be everywhere but nowhere to be seen despite it just becoming light enough to use binoculars. Eventually we all saw one perched on the highest part of an Oak tree in full voice. The drumming of Great Spotted Woodpecker was constant and the melodious song of the Blackcap accompanied us to the canopy viewed from Gem Bridge.
It was cold here and the mist dominant. We did manage to hear the call of Dipper before heading up to the Down and sunshine. Cuckoo was again calling and so were several Yellowhammers who obligingly, stayed in the same perch for long periods, so all had excellent views.
Returning to the cars Marsh Tit were seen and Green Woodpecker heard rounding off an excellent three and a half hours of birding. The breakfast at Drake’s Café was enjoyed by all.
Here is the full list of 31 species
Mallard, Pheasant, Herring Gull, Wood Pigeon, Cuckoo, Tawny Owl, Green Woodpecker, Greater Spotted Woodpecker, Dipper, Robin, Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush, Blackbird, Blackcap, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Goldcrest, Wren, Great Tit, Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Marsh Tit, Nuthatch, Magpie, Jay, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Yellowhammer
Phil Stevens, photos by Roy Harris