The morning was ideal for listening to the Dawn Chorus as the group of 26 people gathered at the car park at 5pm. Not a breeze of wind or a drop of rain to be felt. Tom Gallagher and Kevin Collins led the group away from the din that the Rooks and Jackdaws were making up in the trees.
The first sound we heard was that of the Blackbird, telling us he was up and about. We saw the lone swan keeping guard near his partners nest as she nears hatching her brood. We headed into the wooded area where we heard the distinctive sound of the Song Thrush. Next was the chatter of the Blackcap, Chaffinch, the chirp of the Blue Tit and Great Tit. In the distance we could hear the repetitive sound of the Chiffchaff.
Tom spoke about the flowers and the trees in the Park. He explained how the big band wheel for the farmers cart was made. The centre or axle part was willow because it was hard wood, the spokes were made of oak as the timber was straight and the round part was ash because it was flexible. The outer part was a steel band that held it all together.
We left the Park for a short while to listen for the Willow Warbler. He must have slept in as we heard no sound, but we did hear the Sedge Warbler. In the distance a Cock Pheasant was crowing, a Reed Bunting was perched on a stake looking for a mate, a Bullfinch and a Greenfinch were trying to drown out each other with their wheezy calls.
Then Tom was off again when he saw the Furze bush (some call it Whims) on the side of the road. He explained that the Furze bush was used for feeding animals in earlier times. It was also used as hedging to mark out boundaries. It had medicinal qualities and was a cure for many ailments. It gave protection to birds and animals.
We returned to the Park to finish our tour and were treated to a lovely sight of the Treecreeper picking its way up a tree. We finished at the Lake where we were shown a nest box for owls. We all chatted for a short time about our experiences and were sad that it ended. The Park looked splendid in the early morning with grass cut and trees full of leaves. The new Sensory Garden can only add to the area when fully mature. We are so lucky to have people like Tom and Kevin who are so knowledgeable in their chosen hobbies and who imparted that knowledge with such ease to the rest of us.
A most enjoyable morning was had by all and we are already looking forward to next year.
By Michael O’Brien