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 Ravens. Listening more carefully revealed that there were several Bramblings flying between trees with the Chaffinches, and that Lesser Redpolls and Siskins were scattered here and there. Several flocks of Redwings passed through, containing a few chattering Fieldfares.
On reaching a clearing and watching a pair of Stonechats, a small flock of Crossbills flew overhead, 'glipping' as they went. A Green Woodpecker burst out from the trees while two Kestrels hunted the open ground.
Tit flocks were a treasure trove for interesting tag-alongs, including Firecrests, Marsh Tits and 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 Woodpigeons errupted from all around - there could only be one culprit - sure enough a female Goshawk dashed through, only giving enough time to get a quick record shot!
A Mistle Thrush sang on the approach back to the car, and a couple more Marsh Tits and 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 Linnets duly obliged in signing off the morning at 50 species, including some real woodland showstoppers!