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Nightingales at Burghfield – 30 April 2019

John Lerpiniere led a walk at the Searles Farm gravel pit complex near Burghfield on the evening of Tuesday 30 April. While the group were assembling, Lesser Whitethroat and Garden Warbler were heard. John pointed out that the tangle of bramble and scrub around the gravel pits was ideal Nightingale habitat, and a singing bird was soon heard from the dense undergrowth beside the lane. The group waited for several minutes, listening to the varied song, with its characteristic repeated whistles and phrases. The walk continued along a footpath between two lakes, where Blackcaps were the most numerous warblers. Three male Red-crested Pochards, with bright red beaks, were seen on the lake to the south of the path, while there were a number of Great Crested Grebes on the lake to the north. A party of Long-tailed Tits passed through the willows beside the path and a pair of Canada Geese escorted their young family into the water. A distant Nightingale was heard, then another bird started singing close to the path, but ceased singing as the group approached. John led the party a little way up Cottage Lane, but no new birds were heard. At the start of the walk back, another distant Garden Warbler was heard. Highlight of the evening was when two Nightingales, one on each side of the path, started singing in competition, joined briefly by an explosively loud Cettiā€™s Warbler. A strange creaking call turned out to be Grey Herons in the heronry amongst the willows on the far bank of the gravel pit to the north. Above the trees at one point were a number of swirling black columns of flying insects. When the group walked back past the spot where the first Nightingale of the evening had been heard, it was no longer singing.