You may think that nothing interesting ever turns up in your local country park. You couldn't be more wrong. Towards the end of November, I was out one cold Saturday morning seeing what birds I could find in the Park. Having 'done' the southern part, I was nearing the Thornet Wood Car Park, and trying to decide whether to go home, or have a look in the area towards Petts Wood. Luckily I decided on the latter, and whilst walking along the path that parallels the railway towards the Petts Wood entrance, I heard a high-pitched call. I expected to find a Goldcrest, but when I located the little bird moving rapidly around the vegetation, I was delighted to find a Firecrest - a first for me, and I think, for the Park. and there was no one to share this exciting discovery with, not even a camera. I watched it for several mininutes as it fed, before it flew through the fence into the railway enclosure. I hurried through the gate and managed to locate it again briefly before it disappeared completely. A short but memorable encounter.
Other birds of note in the Park this winter, other than a large flock ofRedwing and a few Fieldfares, have been a small number of Redpoll. Initially seen feeding near St James' School before Christmas, I found them again in early February near the Southborough Lane Entrance, feeding in a tree together with at least five Bullfinches, three males and two females. As it was a beautiful sunny moming the male Bullfinches were stunning in the bright sunlight, and stayed around for several minutes. This rather unobtrusive finch can be difficult to spot, but I have seen them regularly in the bushes and trees lining the path between the paddocks and Blackbrook Lane, and also in the area near the Southborough Lane entrance. The Redpolls are not so easy to find. you have to look for active little streaky birds busy feeding in the trees or bushes, and if you are lucky you will catch a glimpse of the red patch on the top of their heads which gives them their name. So, when you go into the Park take your binoculars with you, keep your eyes open, and you never know what you will find.