Tuesday 02 October – East Harptree Leader Geoff Harris

The sunny autumn weather appeared to have deserted the 15 members gathering for this walk and the strong
breeze in the trees initially made identification by sound difficult for all but the very sharp of hearing. However,
Wren, Blue Tit, Coal Tit and Great Spotted Woodpecker were soon on the list and then Goldfinches were spotted
feeding on cones in one of the tall conifers by the track – and not just tens or twenties but an estimated 150 flying
in and out as we watched. Five Pied Wagtail also flew over. The wood was fairly quiet after we turned off on the path to Smitham Chimney, though Goldcrest and Stock Dove were added. The next really active spot was a
wonderful hedge – the sort that every field should have, with hawthorn, elder, holly, hazel and many other species.
This, and the path beside it, was alive with birds including House Sparrow, Robin, a couple of dozen Chaffinches
and an elusive Bullfinch which kept calling but remained invisible in the thick hedge. The descent into Harptree
Combe didn’t yield many extra species and the going needed care with many fallen branches or whole trees.
Later Green Woodpecker, Mallard and Pheasant were all seen and a single Swallow. Then a few Meadow Pipits
heads bobbing above furrows revealed themselves to be a flock of over 90. Our total number of species was 30.
This walk has been done in most seasons and is always rewarding – it needs to be with the number of hills en
route, especially at the end! Thanks to Geoff for leading and keeping us climbing. Nancy Barrett