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Dawn Chorus Walk

Tue 25 Apr 2017

DAWN CHORUS WALK – Saturday, 22nd APRIL 2017

At 6.15, on a calm but overcast ‘spring’ (?!) morning, eight of us set out with David Elcome to walk the course and to enjoy the local wildlife.  Perhaps because it was cool, with a light drizzle in the air, many of the birds preferred to remain in deep cover, but we heard plenty of their songs and calls.  In total thirty seven different bird species were seen/heard during the walk.  (See list below). 

A small flock of swallows tried hard to convince us that spring had actually arrived, while other summer-migrants helped to enhance the music of dawn-chorus choir and orchestra. These included blackcap, garden warbler, chiffchaff and willow warbler, all sopranos in the choir!  Whitethroats entertained us too, but in a slightly lower key with their rapid, scratchy warbles.

We particularly enjoyed close-up views of three little grebes (also known as dabchicks) swimming and diving on the pond between the 5th and 8th tees.  In the breeding season they make a curious, high-pitched whinnying trill, and this call confirms that at least one pair is nesting in the reeds growing along the pond’s margins.  As we walked towards this pond a magnificent display of flowering cowslips was to be seen growing in the rough area.

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the morning was a snipe that had been feeding at the edge of the pond adjacent to the 18th fairway.  As we approached, it whirred away on rapid wings in a low zig-zag flight before towering high over the tree-tops.

Unfortunately the cool, calm conditions were not very suitable for seeing birds of prey (we usually see kestrel, sparrow-hawk, buzzard and, occasionally, red kite).  Also, some of the usual summer visitors had not yet arrived – no cuckoo, sedge or reed warblers, house martin or lesser whitethroat for example.

After some two hours walking the course the drizzle had ceased, and we greatly appreciated an excellent cooked breakfast on our return to the clubhouse.  Our thanks to the kitchen staff!

List of bird species seen/heard (Listed in ‘field guide’ order):

Little grebe, cormorant, grey heron, Canada goose, mallard, pheasant, moorhen, coot, snipe, stock dove, woodpigeon, collared dove, green woodpecker, skylark, swallow, pied wagtail, wren, dunnock, robin, blackbird, song thrush, whitethroat, garden warbler, blackcap, chiffchaff, willow warbler, blue tit, great tit, magpie, jackdaw, rook, carrion crow, starling, chaffinch, greenfinch, goldfinch, reed bunting