The dividends of just keeping quiet

There is much to be said for walking round The Common very quietly, if you want to give yourself the best chance of seeing wildlife. This afternoon, in glorious weather for March, I had a wonderful stroll round the site, taking the time to pause often. The sun was warm, with very little wind, encouraging almost every bird to sing. I find it difficult to birdwatch when there are noisy distractions, but today I was spared any intrusive sounds. The RAF was elsewhere, no helicopters clattered overhead, and no one was operating a chainsaw, lawnmowers or any other power tool within my earshot at least. Celebrating the spring sounds of the renewal of life as I was, I am certainly not going to complain at the sounds of childish fun emanating from the school playground, evidence that there is life in our community still.

Many visitors to The Common may be unaware of the existence of the part called School Meadow.

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This is found down a short spur leading from the main path through School Common. It is kitted out with tables and seats, and is the perfect spot to sit and think quietly for a few minutes, or in my case, just sit. Even before I had sat down, two gorgeous male Brimstone butterflies flew along, far too busy to stop for a portrait. A chaffinch was singing from inside a bush, but after a while of me staying still and quiet, he gradually moved to a more visible perch, and at last I was able to get this picture of him in a slightly unusual pose.

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As I sat there, I could hear a bullfinch calling softly behind me, and it eventually flew over my head and away.

I approached Scouts’ Pond slowly and quietly to avoid spooking the frogs spawning there. Numbers are picking up, and they are making a splendid noise when they are undisturbed.

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My final pause was on the bench half way across the main part of The Common. In the clear blue sky, two buzzards were circling each other. This being spring migration time, there are many of these birds on the move at the moment. Whilst looking at them through the binoculars, I picked up another raptor much higher, moving steadily, without the need to flap its wings. The shape of those wings made me wonder if it was a migrating osprey, but it was too high up to be sure. Sadly, osprey therefore remains absent from our list of bird sightings.