Monday, 14 June 2021

MEMBERS enjoyed an illustrated talk on the Picos de Europa at our October meeting. The speaker, Gordon Small, travelled from the New Forest to give his debut talk to our group.

The audience was soon entranced with stunning photography of that mountainous area of northern Spain with shots of panoramic views, enormous vultures and colourful butterflies and moths.

There were photos of many plants, particularly orchids, some of which were endemic to the region.

Gordon is a naturalist and photographer who has travelled the world extensively and is certain to be asked to speak to the group again.

A few days later members gathered in a heavy downpour at the Look Out in Bracknell.

Luckily, a nearby café offered shelter until the rain had passed, giving way to sunshine and a fine morning for our walk round Swinley Forest.

The first port of call was Caesar’s Camp, an old iron-age hill fort with a large area of heather, which provides a very different habitat from the pine woods of the forest.

It was not long before a pair of stonechat were spotted, sitting on the top of the heather and often calling, which made them easier to find.

Another bird was seen following them but was keeping much more to cover. Eventually it came into range, this being a real heathland specialist, the dartford warbler.

The group then proceeded through the pine forest and all the time those with the keenest ears could hear goldcrest and coal tits calling from the treetops but these remained difficult to see.

Small groups of redwing, recently arrived for the winter, also flew over and were once accompanied by a dozen or so fieldfare.

Later crossbills were heard calling from above but they were impossible to pick out in the pine canopy where a lone siskin hovered.

There were the usual woodland of tits, lots of robins, treecreeper, nuthatch and also some meadow pipits in a cleared area.

A good display of fly agaric mushrooms was also found.

The next meeting takes place at Pangbourne village hall on Tuesday (November 8) at 8pm with an illustrated talk by Andy Warren entitled “Birding West Africa — Cameroon”.

Visitors are always warmly welcomed. For more information, visit www.reading

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