At last, the sun came out and just in time for our first ever Spring walk. This was led by Daniel Greenwood from the London Wildlife Trust and Dave Clark, a local bird enthusiast. About fifteen folk turned up and there were quite a few new faces.
The walk began at 10am in Dog Kennel Hill Open Space. Daniel talked a bit about the plants he could see such as comfrey, green alkanet, white and red dead nettle, red clover and speedwell. All of these wild flowers are of great importance to insects, especially bees. We also saw a comma butterfly and a bug tailed bumble bee.
Then we walked around the park and wood whilst Dave helped us to identify the birds by their calls. It’s not always easy to see the birds in the park because the trees are so tall so knowing some of their songs is a good way to identify them. In Dog Kennel Hill Open Space we found:
- blue tit
- great tit
- black cap (the “mock nightingale”)
- herring gull
- wood pigeon
- long tailed tit
- song thrush
- mistle thrush
The great tit has a call made up of just two notes. Dave likened the sound to a squeaky bike wheel and he’s right! This two note call can be made up from forty different tones. The wren however has a very complex song that is made up of 110 notes.
Dave explained that the “natural area” (next to the adventure playground) is a very important habitat for food and nesting opportunities. He also told us that there had been four separate sightings of buzzards in the Sainsburys car park next door! (not whilst we were there unfortunately).
Then we squeezed through the gap near the wood and emerged blinking into the bright sunlight of the Greendale Fields. This was the first time that we had been able to hold an event here and we have Yasmine at Dulwich Hamlet football club to thank. Greendale really is a special place. It is covered in tussocks of grass that are home to several incredible yellow ants’ nests. Daniel was particularly excited about these as they may indicate an area of land that has never been ploughed i.e. an area of old, natural land.
The birds we found in the Greendale fields were quite different to the ones in the wood next door:
- house sparrows
- chiff chaff
- mistle thrush
- green woodpecker
In the coming weeks there should also be the arrival of whitethroat from sub sahara. This is a warbler and there are 2 or 3 territories on the Greendale as they love blackberries. There were also winter thrushes heard here a couple of weeks ago. The chiff chaff must have just arrived on its long migratory journey. Its song consists of 2 metallic notes that sound a bit like a car alarm!
We only spotted the green woodpecker as we were leaving. it was sat on the top of a grassy tussock with its beak stuffed into an ants nest. With its bright green body and red mohican it was a beautiful sight to end a fascinating day.
Many thanks to Daniel Greeenwood and Dave Clark for their knowledge and enthusiasm.