Walk report: 05 December 2019 Bolderwood

Wood Ants' nest © Richard Coomber

On a bright, but chilly, morning a baker’s dozen of us set out from the Bolderwood car park for a walk looking for winter thrushes. We walked down the hill past the deer sanctuary, no deer, but we did see a song thrush, Blackbirds and lots of Robins! There was a Collared Dove on one of the trees and a pair of Stock Doves in another. We had brief views of Chaffinch and Blue Tit, and a Buzzard flapped lazily over the sanctuary. We passed two Southern Wood Ants’ nests, both soggy and seemingly devoid of life, but the queen and her court will be right down in the dry, and warm, centre of the nest. We cut across on a muddy green track to the next path going up through the Holly grove.
Redwing © Chris Robinson

Fieldfare © Chris Robinson
Then we kept seeing movement in the trees and on the ground and it soon became apparent (from the soft chuntering) that these were the Redwings and Fieldfares we had been hoping to see. I like to think that they ‘talk’ to each other, and we could hear this quite clearly. We got excellent views of both species as they foraged for the abundant Holly berries, (it is a very good year for most fruit). As we stood listening and watching a herd of Fallow Deer made a distant appearance, but it soon became apparent that there were hundreds of the thrushes! We watched in awe as the sheer number of birds criss-crossed the sky, going from tree to tree. Roosts this year in the area have been estimated at several hundred, and we must have seen a fair percentage of these.

Holly flowers in December! © Richard Coomber
In the Holly grove Brian spotted a Holly in flower! In December! This prompted a long discussion on holly, was it monoecious or dioecious? I got them back to front, as ever, and Pam got it right, as ever. Holly is dioecious (it has male and female plants) not monoecious (having both sexes on the one plant). So, this was a male tree, with the small, white flowers each with four anthers. Also on the tree we saw that Blue Tits had been extracting the leaf miners. Blue tits have a special technique for this, leaving a very distinctive, neat ‘v’ shaped mark on the surface. The mine was probably that of Holly Leaf-miner Phytomyza ilicis.
 (Diptera: Agromyzidae)

We continued up the hill back to the car park, all the time being surrounded by the thrushes flying around communicating with each other.

A short but eventful walk which makes one marvel at the birds who have come from Scandinavia and central Europe to share our winter with us. CR
Common Funnel © Chris Robinson
Pony damage to Beech tree © Richard Coomber