22 December 2016 Blackwater and Poundhill Heath area

Twelve of us met up in the Blackwater car park on a bright sunny morning after heavy overnight rain. There was a Nuthatch in the trees above us, the first of several seen during the walk that took us eastwards along the track towards Poundhill Heath. Beneath the beech trees a number of Blackbirds were sifting through fallen leaves for food as last night’s rain still sparkled on the branches and twigs above them.

Usnea florida
Maureen and Pam pointed out several species of lichen growing on a hawthorn by a gateway including Usnea florida. The walk had been relatively quiet until we reached the heath where in low hawthorns and birches we found a flock of some 30-40 Reed Buntings that eventually drifted away in small groups across towards an area of burnt gorse. Some lucky people also saw a female Yellowhammer, surely the best bird of the morning. As we walked along the edge of Poundhill Inclosure a female Roe Deer in the bracken chose to retreat into denser cover as a loose flock of Redwings flew out across the heath from the conifers of the inclosure.

Reed Bunting
Before we took the hoggin track through the inclosure back to the car park Mike served the biscuits whilst Brian, wearing a suitably seasonal hat, handed round chocolates. They must have done some good for a up in the trees a few hundred yards along the track a Firecrest was glimpsed along with a Coal Tit. We waited and watched for it to reappear, but to no avail. Sheila however had more patience, and by staying behind was thrilled with excellent views when it re-appeared and stayed in sight for several minutes.
Back at the car park we wished one another a Merry Christmas and looked forward to more enjoyable walks in 2017.