Merton Park is a large area of deciduous woodland, arable, and blocks of Pine woodland owned by the De Grey (Lord Walsingham) family. The Peddars Way footpath follows the periphery of this park and abuts the large STANTA (Stanford Training Area) army training area. It was the current Lord Walsingham who some years ago, allowed the Peddars Way to traverse his land. Previously, walkers would have to have left the Peddars Way path at Thompson and walk around the Merton estate and meet up with the path again in Merton village. It is to Lord Walsingham that I offer my thanks for allowing the path to cross his land where walkers and birders can see some very fine examples of both conifer and deciduous trees, including a huge Copper Beech, one of the largest I have seen. A small section of this Peddars Way has a stand of massive Giant Hogweed, warning signs alert the walker to these incredible plants which can cause severe irritation if touched.
This mornings walk around the Merton estate follows a similar theme to my recent local walks in that not a single summer migrant was heard. As I have previously written, the persistent easterly winds are blocking the progress of species of Warblers which would have been expected to have been present in good numbers by this date in usual years. I am sure that some birds have made it through, however, the vast majority will arrive in force once warmer conditions and southerly winds allow passage.
Common species seen and heard this morning included a number of singing and calling Marsh Tits, this noisy Tit announces itself either with its loud "pitchou" call or its rapidly repeated "chip chip chip chip" song.
Also heard was a number of singing Coal Tits (our smallest Tit species) and Great Tits, along with calling and singing Treecreepers. Several Nuthatches were also heard and Goldcrest was singing. Several Great Spotted Woodpeckers were 'drumming' and Green Woodpecker was heard giving its familiar 'yaffle' call.
The only raptor seen this morning wa a single Common Buzzard.
At the end of my walk at Merton village hall, at least 30 Tree Sparrows were again present. This beautiful Sparrow is a reliable species at this locality.
With April almost upon us, efforts will be made over the forthcoming Easter weekend to find a Warbler species. Let's hope they arrive safely in these unseasonal temperatures.