Twelve of us met at the sports ground to have our ears opened to the variety of birdsong by Tom. As ever, it wasn’t really at dawn, since the birds had been up for more than an hour, but at least the cacophony of birdsong had by now quietened down making it a bit easier to discern individuals.
Barely out of the car park and Tom pointed out a Willow Warbler off in the near distance, as well as the more familiar sounds of a Blackbird. Crossing the golf course the two notes of the Coal Tit could be heard and contrasted with the call of a Great Tit, though the latter certainly has a greater range of sounds.
The stunningly loud Wren next attracted our attention, along with the pattern-free burbling of a Robin. A Great-spotted Woodpecker was off in the distance, and Tom explained to us the difference in the drumming between it and the much rarer Lesser-spotted Woodpecker, the latter being slightly higher-pitched and lasting longer.
In the woods a Goldcrest could be heard with its high-pitched sibilant call, along with a Chaffinch, and the distinctive pattern of the song of the Blackcap. I guess we all knew the sound of a Wood Pigeon, but that of the Nuthatch and Green Woodpecker were rather less familiar.
Finally, heading back towards Tompsetts Bank, we heard a Blue Tit and a Chiffchaff, and, in a perfect example of saving the best till last, Tom led us to a spot where we could hear some Firecrests, which came particularly close so we could also get a good look at them. These were rarely seen in England fifty years ago, but have been steadily expanding their European range, and now routinely breed here, especially in the south.
And then home for breakfast, with the sound of a Collared Dove in the background….