In spite of rather dismal grey overcast and drizzly weather first thing, 10 members and guests joined Andy Jayne for a foray onto Walmore Common on Sunday 15th January; the rain had ceased by the start of the meeting, it remained rather grey, though brightened up as the morning went on.
Walking down the lane from the main road the first few birds began to appear, various tits and winter thrushes in the form of Fieldfare (Turdus pilaris) and Redwings (Turdus iliacus) in the tops of the Poplar trees and overhead.
From the gate onto the common the party walked along parallel to the bottom of the slope at the eastern edge of the common; more winter thrushes appeared as did a Mistle Thrush (Turdus viscivorous) and a solitary male Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus). Andy explained the layout and makeup of the common, the seasonal changes and the means by which water levels can be controlled at the drainage outfall close to the Severn Bore pub on the A48. He also commented on the breeding birds of the common which are, as might be expected, very different from the wintering birds.
As a consequence of the relatively dry winter there had been no appreciable flooding during the autumn and winter so that there were no obvious waterfowl apart from the resident pair of Mute Swans (Cygnus olor). The flash pool was flat clam with no birds present. At the top of the slope close to the A48 Meadow Pipits (Anthus trivialis) were first heard, then seen, a small flock of 19 birds which were unusual for this time of year.
Moving out onto the central area of the common the remains of feathers from an immature Mute Swan were found alongside the Rhyne; venturing further produced sightings of three Brown Hares (Lepus lepus), approx. 10 Teal (Anas crecca) and in the rougher ground at the far edge of the common, three Stonechat (Saxicola torquata) and a single Jack Snipe (Lymnocryptes minimus).
The party them met up with a group of RSPB members on a similar walk led by Gavin Black before heading back to the east side of the common and returning to the cars parked by Walmore Hill School.
Other birds seen were Bullfinch (Pyrrhula pyrrhula), a single Moorhen (Galinula chloropus), a few corvids, Wrens (Troglodytes troglodytes) and Dunnock (Prunella modularis) with a small group of Long Tailed Tits (Aegithalus caudatus) as the party returned to the access gate.
The meeting had not produced the hoped-for waterfowl due entirely to the lack of wet weather and accumulations of water on the common, but it was never the less interesting to visit and take a close look at an area that is not exactly over-run with visiting naturalists and is occasionally inaccessible as a result of too much water!
Many thanks to Andy for leading the walk and to all those who took part.