Seven of us braved the rather chilly and misty early morning start this morning.  We were rewarded with immediate sounds of Cuckoo (which was also later seen briefly flying over a couple of times.)  There were also Whitethroat, Blackcap and Garden Warbler singing.  By the end of the morning we all had good views of Garden Warbler singing in the open.  As we walked further into the heath Willow Warblers seemed to be everywhere with their lovely descending song, joined by the occasional Chiffchaff.  A Song Thrush repeated its phrases from a vantage point.  Stonechats and Dartford Warblers joined in the chorus and throughout the walk we saw about three Dartford Warblers in all.

We were surprised to hear a bonus and very distinctive song-we managed to follow it and locate the originator and there it was – a Nightingale, giving some fleeting views to some as we stood nearby.

A large flock of around 25 birds were flying from pine tree to pine tree.  They turned out to be Crossbills and we all had good and prolonged views of them as they ripped pine cones off the trees and tore into them.  We thought this group was made up of family parties as some of the birds had juvenile plumage.

As the sun struggled through and the misty haze disappeared, we could hear Tree Pipits and Woodlarks start to sing.  Eventually we saw a couple of Tree Pipits and one Woodlark doing a display flight.  Some Goldfinches twittered nearby and a couple of Black Headed Gulls flew over.

We had a lovely view of a Mistle Thrush, and a lone Swallow flew by and landed on the path in front of us.  A Great Spotted Woodpecker put in an appearance.  Goldcrests were heard (but not seen) at times during the walk.  Nearing the cars again there was a sudden burst of bird activity with Garden Warblers, Whitethroats and Blackcaps all around us and a bonus Treecreeper and group of Long Tailed Tits.

All in all, worth the effort of an early start and along with common birds such as Woodpigeon, Wren, Dunnock, Robin, Blackbird, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Jay, Magpie and Carrion Crow 32 species were on the list in total, all before 9am!

Common Crossbill (C. Harrington)