One of our early Nature Heroes highlighted the work of Lynn Beun, leader of RSPB Brighton & Hove District Local Group. Lynn has been kind enough to write a few blog posts of her own to share with us. In this second post, Lynn takes us on her daily walk.
I am lucky enough to live near Dyke Road Park, which is opposite the Booth Museum, so have enjoyed my daily walk there either early in the morning, or in the evening just before sunset. We hear a lot about the Dawn chorus but dusk is a wonderful time to hear the birds singing too. So, I will take you for a walk around Dyke Road Park and tell you what I have seen one evening, just before sunset.
I arrived from the BHASVIC playing field end, and was delighted to see that the hedgerow planted by council volunteers last year was growing well and the hawthorn May blossom was in full bloom. Sparrows were chirping there and it also provides a home for all kinds of wildlife to hide in.
As I walked round the corner, I could hear the song thrush singing its complex and loud song from a branch high up in the tree. The song thrush in Dyke Road park has a particularly lovely song, to my mind, with rich and varied phrases. Sometimes it sings what sounds like a totally different tune, which has made me stop to check in case it was a different bird. It is hard to describe birdsong on paper but Adrian Thomas in the RSPB guide to birdsong describes it thus:
“Can you see me? Up here, up here, high, high, high, high, I’m very high indeed, in the tree”. I always think it is saying at the end of its tune “Look at me! Look at me!”. But that is just my own fancy.
Lockdown measures remain in place, so although delighted by the song thrush, I had of course to keep moving for my exercise. However, when I reached the Brighton Open Air Theatre area I noticed some colourful Greenfinches hopping about on the grass and amongst the dandelion clocks. They were feeding on the dandelion seeds, which had grown because the area is not being used at the moment. Greenfinches are now recovering in numbers. In 2005 there was a 24% decline in the Greenfinch population due to an outbreak of an infectious disease called trichomoniasis, so it was heartening to see a group of them. They are often visitors to garden bird feeders as well as parks, so a gardening task is to make sure you keep your bird feeders and water dishes clean.
A charm of goldfinches (the collective name) flew past me and gathered at the top of a pine tree, chattering away. They are colourful birds with a bubbling, rapid song.
I entered the yew hedge maze area and was pleased to see several little Dunnocks hopping about. These pretty little hedge sparrows (that is their other name) are ground feeding birds and often look like little brown mice scurrying in the leaf litter. They are sometimes mistaken for the house sparrow but Dunnocks have a thinner more pointed beak and a blue-grey head and chest.
In the background a chaffinch and blackbird were singing, distracting my attention from the walk. As I made my way back to the playing field area I walked past a busy group of starlings, feeding on the ground on insects and grubs. A runner passed me and a jay flew off from a tree nearby, its colourful blue panel flashing on its wing
The sun slowly set over Hove as I decided to head back home, happy with my walk and sightings. The great thing about looking at the natural world is that you never know what you will see and sometimes get a surprise. In my own street a robin and blackbird were competing to be the last bird signing before sunset.
At the end of every nature walk I often think “What was my favourite bird of the day?” This was a tricky one to pick out. Eventually I decided that despite the delightful song thrush I would choose the Greenfinches that I saw eating dandelion seeds.
Games and Activities
There are lots of games and activities for children all about the natural world on the RSPB website. There are also things suitable for rainy days and lockdown time including this greenfinch colouring sheet. Why not try the Indoor Scavenger hunt, for example? Or what about an online quiz about animal poo (yes, really!).
Read more posts by Lynn Beun
Read more about our Nature Heroes
Explore more of our Nature at Home series
Lynn Beun, Leader, RSPB Brighton & District Local Group