Having returned from a 3 day trip to Poznan, Poland, where I spent one day birding, see http://www.birdforum.net/showthread.php?t=107459 for report, I was out on my south east walk today. The usual finches, tits and corvids were all noted before I passed Field House. A particularly noisy song thrush attracted my attention as did some fly over black headed gulls and a lone jay. Once on the ridge towards Bush Wood I heard golden plover calling. A quick scan of the field with field beans just breaking through gave up great views of 11 of this super bird. They circled the field for 5 minutes, giving a glorious fly past where I could hear their wingbeats, before they gained height and headed off in a westerly direction. I suspect migrating birds, but may also be part of the flock of 250+ that have over wintered on the old aerodrome between Allens Green and Trimms Green. Further along, in not great light, I heard the first of three green woodpeckers. A kestrel came from Bush Wood (top photo shows the pond in this small coppice) as I sat on the bench for my picnic of olives and French cider. If a small olive grove appears here in years to come, you'll know why! Two hares trotted across the field as I watched more black headed gulls laze their way north.
Dog's Mercury (Mercurialis perennis) covered the floor of Bush Wood, with its small green flowers. A poisonous plant that spreads by having creeping underground stems. The name implies that it is a worthless version of the Annual Mercury which has medicinal uses.
As I dropped down to the River Ash, a grey heron rose from its banks. A new species and 50th for the year. The return walk up to Bridgefoot Farm added 3 moorhens, a party (charm) of goldfinches a great spotted woodpecker and a selection of familiar winter thrushes.