A walk in the woods

The autumn colours are just fantastic right now and Westdean Woods was the perfect place to enjoy them this morning. This is one place where you really can get away from it all and just immerse yourself in nature - I only saw two other people on my three-mile walk.


Even though few birds are singing now, the soundscape was blissful, led by the almost constant calls of Common Ravens. Listening more carefully revealed that there were several Bramblings flying between trees with the Common Chaffinches, and that Lesser Redpolls and Eurasian Siskins were scattered here and there. Several flocks of Redwings passed through, containing a few chattering Fieldfares.

All is quiet... but there are birds around!

On reaching a clearing and watching a pair of European Stonechats, a small flock of Common Crossbills flew overhead, 'glipping' as they went. A European Green Woodpecker burst out from the trees while two Common Kestrels hunted the open ground.

Tit flocks were a treasure trove for interesting tag-alongs, including Common Firecrests, Marsh Tits and Eurasian Treecreepers joining the feeding parties. These mixed flocks serve the dual purposes of safety in numbers and information exchange.

The final part of the walk was the most exciting, when a flock of at least 10 Hawfinches were encountered feeding on beechmast. Then a clatter of Common Woodpigeons errupted from all around - there could only be one culprit - sure enough a female Northern Goshawk dashed through, only giving enough time to get a quick record shot!

The Northern Goshawk was too quick for anything other than a record shot

A Mistle Thrush sang on the approach back to the car, and a couple more Marsh Tits and Common Firecrests were encountered. The species list for the three-hour visit was poised at 49 - just one more needed for that lovely round number... a flock of 30 Common Linnets duly obliged in signing off the morning at 50 species, including some real woodland showstoppers!