Saturday, 18 January 2020

THE Reading RSPB Group’s Christmas meeting featured short talks by various members about their exploits during 2019.

Pravin Chotai kicked off proceedings with an excellent account of his trip to Cambodia.

This was followed by some excellent photography taken by Terry Giles on his trip to Costa Rica.

Marjy Carden recited a couple of somewhat dubious poems littered with double entendre.

David Massie entertained all with a visual presentation of his visit to India, Tony Rayner spoke about the exploits of early ornithologists and Pete Spillett rounded off proceedings with a miscellany of slides taken during the group’s outdoor excursions of 2019.

By now the food was beckoning and the mulled wine started to flow, ensuring a good time was had by all.

A few days later it was a chilly but sunny morning as the group met at Fleet Pond in Surrey, which is actually a large freshwater lake.

The number of birds was somewhat disappointing but there were cormorants, Canada geese, great crested grebes, mute swans and a lone little grebe.

Ducks included mallards, gadwall and some shovelers, the latter in pairs circling each other to disturb the mud to find food.

There was a very good view of a kingfisher and two little egrets flew past on a circuit of the lake.

Some black-headed gulls, lesser black-backed gulls and a common gull were also present.

The lake is surrounded by woods, enabling some time to look for woodland birds.

Siskins normally appear in large flocks in the alders during winter months but none was present as the cold weather is somewhat late arriving this year.

There were small groups of goldfinches and many tits feeding. Other sightings included treecreepers, nuthatches and both great spotted and green woodpeckers.

A sudden alarm call emanated from the tit flock as a pair of sparrowhawks loomed overhead.

A handful of redwings and a solitary fieldfare confirmed winter was at least starting to make birds move south but by then it was late morning and time to leave.

The group’s next meeting of the RSPB group will take place at Pangbourne village hall on Tuesday, January 14 at 8pm when Lee Morgan will present an illustrated talk entitled “Wildlife of the Okanagan Valley”, a tour of Canada’s only desert.

Visitors are always very welcome.

For more information. visit www.reading-rspb.org

David Glover

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