Despite the mild weather, early Saturday morning felt chilly at Holywell Pond – autumn is definitely here. A fall of migrant Mistle Thrushes, Blackbirds and Starlings bustled about in the large Sycamore tree on the way to the reserve. The rustling was incredibly noisy, as if every possible branch was occupied, and now and again a few Blackbirds or Thrushes would dart out of the tree chasing one another.
There also seemed to be many Robins both in the Sycamore and in all the hedgerows nearby. No doubt many of these are migrant birds, if not from Scandinavia then at least from other parts.
The pond itself was busy with the usual flock of Greylag geese, Canada geese, many Teal and Lapwing and a sizeable group of Common and Black Headed Gulls. They were joined by a small party of Wigeon as well as good numbers of Mallard, a single Grey Heron and three Snipe, which I thought were more conspicuous than they normally are. There were plenty of Tufted Ducks further out on the water too, as well as Little Grebes and Coots.
Past the pond a pair of Jays flew over the bridle path a number of times and seemed to be harassing a charm of thirty or forty Goldfinch at one point. As I walked along the track I flushed what I think was a Sparrowhawk that had been perched in the burnt out patch of Gorse – d’oh!
This juvenile Reed Bunting was less bothered by my presence though and continued to feed on the track right in front of me. Its plumage is incredibly striking considering it is made up mainly of brown and beige.
In the reserve I managed to get an overhead view of another cracking bird – a lovely pair of Bullfinch. The male was more forthcoming and stopped for something to eat right above me. Although the females are less colourful, they are no less beautiful – what a sublime bird this is.
A bracket fungus growing on a Birch tree also caught my eye. It is a Birch Polypore or Razor Strop fungus (piptoporus betulinus) and it takes its name from the fact that it was once used by barbers to sharpen their cut throat razor blades. Early man used it for an entirely different purpose however – as a means to transport fire. The fungus was dried and could then smoulder for hours whilst its bearer moved about.