A good turnout of 16 members was greeted by an exceptionally sunny and clear day, ideal for the leisurely walk along the former rail track from Shide to Blackwater. A varied list of species was observed and noted, along with a hopeful wish to view a small number of Siskins recently seen in the area, the latter wish which remained unfulfilled. Otherwise, whilst discounting an increasing flock of the human species gathering around hundreds of Christmas Trees at the Shide end and start point for the walk along the old rail track, around ‘Shide Trees’ were found Wood Pigeons, Rooks, Robins, Blackbirds, two Song Thrushes in song.
The field immediately south of ‘Shide Trees’ produced four male and three female Pheasants, three Mistle Thrushes, six Magpies together in the same tree, with further Magpies along the route. Feeding in Alder trees were numerous Blue Tits, Long-tailed Tits, Goldfinches, at least four Goldcrests and two lively Tree-creepers, the latter of which everyone saw at least one.
At the Blackwater end on the track members spotted one Grey Heron and one Little Egret in the hen enclosure, whilst one Grey Wagtail was observed by the nearby man-made pond alongside the track, one Pied Wagtail at the Blackwater Station house, several House Sparrows by the cottages on Sandy Lane. Other species noted included Great Tits, Dunnock, Starlings, Wrens, one Jay, one Buzzard, male and female Chaffinches, one Coal Tit, and one Green Woodpecker heard calling.
Overhead during the morning flew Herring Gulls, Black-headed Gulls, Carrion Crows, four Mallard (Christmas quackers), bringing a total of 33 species observed and noted to conclude what, in essence, was a very enjoyable and beautiful day. Roger H. Blackwell.