In these surreal times with Covid-19, as residents of Froyle, we feel very fortunate to be able to walk out into the countryside and see nature moving forward as usual. This is a reassuring and positive experience during what is an anxious and, unfortunately for some, extremely sad time. We enjoyed hearing and seeing a variety of birds whilst walking around Lower and Upper Froyle this April 2020 morning, some common and some birds of conservation concern.
We heard the ‘Pee-wit’ call of the Lapwing, whilst watching its relaxed tumbling acrobatic display. One of the Lapwings was sitting in a shallow scrape on the ground, presumably nesting. With a significant decline in its numbers recently the Lapwing is now a red listed species under birds of Conservation Concern. The call of the Lapwings was intermingled with the Skylarks song above the same field, another red listed species.
Blackcaps, a common bird, have migrated back to Froyle after spending their Winter in the warmer climes of Iberia and North Africa. We heard the melodic song of several males on our walk – a rich and varied warble, usually starting with a chattering and finishing with a flourish of flute-like notes. The sound of two pebbles striking each other drew our attention to the fact that one of the Blackcaps was concerned about our presence, as this is their alarm call. Perhaps we were venturing close to their nest on our walk.
Further on the walk we saw a pair of male and female Yellowhammers perched on the bare branches of a bush. As it is the breeding season, the male was striking with very vibrant colouring – his red brown plumage streaked with black, supplemented by bright yellow on his head and belly. The female was duller in colour. The Yellowhammer is also red listed.
Having had heavy rain overnight prior to our walk, the Ryebridge Stream was in full flow. Wondering where this water would end up, on map investigation I was interested to see this stream feeds into the River Wey, which eventually then flows into the River Thames!
Wrens, the UK’s most common breeding bird were audible in many places, although rarely seen, as they forage in cover. Their tremendous trilling loud song belied the wren’s diminutive size. On completion of our walk, we were grateful to have been able to share the countryside with these, and many other, birds.
If you would like to explore the countryside around Froyle for your daily exercise, please see the link to footpaths.