Our aim is to support and encourage restoration of the historic features of the gardens
Our members Tom and Chris Howard-Jones wrote:
Sunday, January 29thWorth Park - RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch 2017Six of us (Jan and Irwin; Ian and Sue and Tom & Chris) did the count for the park. It was grey and drizzly and there was still ice on the lake. Nevertheless, we enjoyed the walk and the challenge of counting the birds on the water. We saw some 8 species. The highlights were: siskins, grey heron and the redwings. As is the way with these surveys we did not see some of our regular birds. Our results have been sent in to the RSPB and to BirdTrack.
RedwingPhoto source: Wikipedia Commons
Thursday, January 5thNew Bird to Start the New YearEven though the sky was blue and the sun was shining, most of the lake was still frozen at one thirty. All the water birds were gathered in the small open areas at the northern end. Among the usual ducks, geese, coot and moorhen there was one male Shoveler.This is a new bird for our park list. The winter seems to be a good time to find new species. We have found one on 3 of the last 4 walks. Other nice sightings were: a group of Siskin in the alder trees; several Long-tailed Tits and a Goldcrest.
Shoveler pairPhoto submitted by Tom Howard-Jones
Monday, February 20thA Little Egret was found on the lake by Ingrid Payne on 18th February 2017 and she took two lovely photographs. It was still present on the Pulham rock island making a very Japanese picture on Monday 20th February. It is showing the fine feathers of its breeding plumage which were in such demand for hats that their existence was threatened in Victorian times.The Black-headed Gulls are starting to get their black heads. Some have fully changed already. They are displaying and beginning to think about moving to their nesting sites.Photo: Tom Howard-Jones
Saturday, March 11thWe set off early hoping to catch the birds excited by the coming of spring. Sadly, it was very grey and misty so we were challenged to identify those that were up and about. We had another new bird for our park list. It was only Greylag Goose, there were three of them; but a new bird is always welcome. There were two Treecreepers diligently exploring the large limbless tree trunk by the tennis court. A pair of Great Crested Grebes are together and let us hope that they will nest again this year. Most of the Black-headed Gulls have gone - probably to breeding sites elsewhere. A passing dog walker told us that the Muscovy Duck is called Quackers and that it used to live in a garden nearby. Apparently, it will respond to its name (if you fancy calling). A pair of Dunnocks were displaying and singing in a blossom laden bush - lovely. We discovered that at least one of the Canada Geese will feed out of your hand. The flowers and the blooms on the shrubs and trees are looking great. As we were leaving the sun came out - we should have started later.
Sunday, April 2ndThe brood of 11 baby Egyptian Geese are all still present and correct. They were sticking very close together with their parents as they navigated among the aggressive Canada Geese. There were no gulls at all. They must be away at their breeding sites. There were no Great Crested Grebes either. That may be a temporary absence; but it does look like they might not be together and breeding this year. There are at least 2 Moorhen nests on the edges of the islands. A pair of Coot look like they are nesting under the overhanging branches on the main island where the Grebes usually nest. No spring migrants yet - but the warm weather will be bringing them soon we hope.
Monday, March 27thIt was a lovely sunny day for a walk around the park but we were a bit late starting to catch the best of the birds. Several regulars were noticeable by their absence. Appropriately there is a new Crow's nest at the top of an Alder tree on the bank of the lake. We only saw one gull, a Herring Gull, which flew in but did not stay long. We only saw one Great Crested Grebe. We hope the other half of the pair is still around. But it looks like some Coots are starting to nest in the Grebe's usual nest site. As we were about to leave the lake, the pair of Egyptian Geese appeared with their new brood of eleven goslings (see picture). The terrapins are starting to emerge and soak up the sun.
Egyptian Goose GoslingPhoto: Tom Howard-Jones
Friday, April 14thOn the spur of the moment we set off around the park at 08:30 on a glorious spring morning. There was bird song all around us - even I could hear it. The flock of Egyptian Geese goslings is still 10 strong. They have grown and only one has been lost so far. We found a small family of 3 very small Mallard ducklings trying to avoid the conflict as their mother was being harassed by 2 drakes. No sign of the Great Crested Grebes unfortunately. A Canada Goose is sitting on a nest on an island and Coots are on a nest where the Grebes used to be. We extended our walk into Grattons Park and through the tunnel beyond the spur road. At the fishing lake we found two Great Crested Grebes - one with a baby on its back. Maybe our birds have moved across the road? We also saw a Pied Wagtail; Great Spotted Woodpecker and Jay. Blackcaps were singing in a couple of locations but we did not see them. A Grey Heron and a Common Buzzard were circling over Worth Park. Pretty Speckled Wood butterflies were resting in the sunshine. The three hours flew by and we were very hungry by the time we got home. A great start to the Easter Weekend.
MoorhenPhoto: Tom Howard-Jones
Sunday, May 7th, 6 a.m.About 30 people braved the early start to enjoy the walk on InternationalDawn Chorus Dayled by Tom Forward. He is an excellent leader with superpower hearing, great identification skills, accurate bird impressions and an infectious sense of humour. When we started several Blackbirds and Woodpigeons were in full song. Tom found birds for us while entertaining and educating us with birding tips and stories. The highlights included: a family of Egyptian Geese with 10 growing goslings; a family of Canada Geese with 4 small goslings; a pair of Great Crested Grebes displaying; Blackcap; Goldcrest; Treecreeper; Wren; Long-tailed Tits and the star find a Firecrest. This is a new bird for our park list and an exciting discovery for anurban park. Tom heard the high-pitched call from some distance and then found the bird which came out to give us close views. After coffee and croissants to warm up, Tom showed us the insects from his moth trap that he had run the night before. The more attractive moths included: Brimstone; Clouded Border and Hebrew Character. There were several Cockchafers, or Maybugs, that woke up on volunteers’ hands before they extended their antennae and wings to lumber up over Ridley’s Court. As we left the park another Goldcrest flitted on a bush on the corner and gave us a lovely farewell show. A full list of the birds seen and heard is in the sightings table.
Great Crested GrebesPhoto: Ingrid Payne
Friday, June 2nd My visit started at midday. Not a good time for seeing birds; but it is interesting to see the results of a range of visit times. The weather was warm and sunny until a big black cloud moved in and the heavens opened. The Egyptian Goose family is still 12 strong. The youngsters are looking more and more like their parents in size and plumage. There were three broods of Canada Goslings with groups of 2 small; 4 medium and 5 large juveniles each with a pair of adults. Blue Tits are using a nest box on the bank of the lake. They are coming and going frequently and seem to be feeding babies. The pair of Great Crested Grebes are still together. They are displaying and working on a nest site in a very desultory manner. It looks like they are not going to build a nest any time soon - pity.
Canada GoslingsPhoto: Tom Howard-Jones
Saturday, May 20thIt was a lovely morning. The dark green cedar trees shone against the clear blue of the sky.Another birder has reported seeing a Firecrest in the park last year. Of course we looked again - but no luck.The young Egyptian Geese are still 10 in number and are already nearly as big as their parents. They are getting their first adult feathers and are looking more grown up - apart from their fluffy heads. They swam up to us looking to be fed. But they had the good sense to jump away from the out-of-control dog that chased them.A crèche of Canada Geese was gathered on the bank of the lake. Among the dozen adults were two groups of goslings. One group of 4 were smaller and more yellow. The other group of 5 were older, larger and greyer.There are now two Great Crested Grebes and they seem to be paired. They were displaying to each other and starting nest building. In the overhanging branches of the trees on the main island where the Grebes nested last year, there are now two occupied Coot nests. The Grebes look like they are trying to build a nest slightly away from the Coots on the tips of the hanging branches further out from the island. Let's hope they succeed.It was good to see Swifts for the first time this year. Two were catching insects over the park all the time we were there.The flowers in the raised beds at the Ridley's Court entrance to the gardens are looking very fine. We admired the weeding done by the gardening group. The irises in the formal bed and the Yellow Flags in the lake are lovely too. A full list of the birds seen is given in the latest "Bird Table" on our web site. The records have also been entered into the BirdTrack and the iRecord databases for national use. Tom Forward recommended, during our Dawn Chorus Walk, that we start using iRecord. It is easy to use and looks helpful.
Chiffchaff 5/7/2017Photo: Tom Howard-Jones
Midges 5/7/2017Photo: Tom Howard-Jones
Wednesday, July 5thWe went round the park in the early morning to avoid the coming heat of the day. It is not often you can say that in England. The Grey Heronand the swarm of midges were welcoming the warmth of the rising sun. It turned out to be a "flying ant day" with mass emergences on the centre court at Wimbledon as well as on our back lawn.The meadows and the flower beds looked lovely - rich with luxurious growth. It seems that someone has removed litter from the edges of the lake. Thank you very much to whoever did that. The wild teasels are in flower. The grasses look pretty and the smell of the buddleia was everywhere. We wondered if the garden judge would have appreciated the wild beauty of our park.The two Great Crested Grebeswere still present. But they do not seem to be nesting. Maybe they have given it a miss this year. The different ages of Canada Goslingsare growing; the oldest ones now have their adult plumage and fuzzy versions of their parents colouring. There were young Cootsand Mallard Ducks; several juvenile Blue and Great Titsand a family of Pied Wagtails.A Chiffchaff was calling from the top of a tree. Swifts were hunting over the lake.Our reward for starting early was our first sighting of a Kingfisherfor many months. It flew across the lake and around the largest island. Sadly we could not find it again.We did not see the family of Egyptian Geese or the Muscovy Duck.Nevertheless it was a great start to the day.
Thursday, August 3rd, 08:30 to 10:30Having read the reports of: toxins in the lake; birds being taken into care and birds dying - we were not looking forward to what we might find. It was not promising weather for finding small birds. Yesterday had been very wet and stormy. This morning there was a brisk breeze with threats of more rain.The lake was the most deserted we had ever seen it. Only a hand full of Canada Geese and no young ones. After a lot of searching we only found one Mallard and two Moorhen. No Coots at all.The two Great Crested Grebesare together and at long last one of them is sitting on a nest. Let us hope that any babies have enough time to get ready for the winter and that they are not affected by the problems in the lake. Their nest is close to one of the platforms; so if they hatch young we should have a great vantage point.A young Grey Heron flew in pursued noisily by a Herring Gull. It stood morosely in the shallows by the biggest island.For a while it seemed that we were going to record the lowest ever count for the Park. But as the time passed we started to see a few more birds.There were several Goldcrests flitting about together. Always great to see but not often so easily.A Treecreeper was working its way up two large trees close to the path around the lake.As we were moving away from the south end of the lake at the end of our circuit, a Kingfisher whistled and flew through the trees just above our heads. We tracked him as we went back along the eastern path and finally had good views as he sat on one of the fishing platforms at the north end.Large carp were feeding in the shallow water and jumping with loud splashes.Let us hope that fresh rain water and the winter will see a recovery in the conditions and a return of our missing birds.
KingfisherPhoto source: mullbirds.com
Monday, September 4th, 14:30 to 16:30We made a very slow progress through the park and around the lake during the afternoon. There were a few more birds on the water, including: about 20 Canada Geese; 6 Mallard; 2 Moorhens and a Black-headed Gull. The water level is still very low. But hopefully the quality is improving. The pair of Great Crested Grebes were together. But they have abandoned their nest and there is no sign of any young ones. To support the idea that "you never know what you might see"; two men threw a model speed boat into the lake and proceeded to race it around in impressive manoeuvres. We were delighted when it got stuck in the lily pads. Sadly they managed to wriggle it free. After a few more fast laps they left. We saw a Grey Wagtail(the one with the yellow belly). This is a new addition for our park list - though it has been seen by others before. Mixed flocks of small birds are forming and one we watched contained: Goldcrest; Great Tit; Blue Tit and Nuthatch. A flock of Starlings is using the tall trees and the roof of the flats - maybe we will get our own murmuration? A list of the birds we saw is included in the Bird Table. The Bat Event on Monday evening was brilliant. The views of the Daubenton's Bats flying low over the water in the lake were great and a first for us. On our way back to the centre we found another one hunting over the water in the fountain - you never know what you might see.