Birds of Runnymede

Ed Tebbs, Runnymede Explored project volunteer Ed Tebbs Runnymede Explored project volunteer
Red Kite

Away from the hum of modern life, thick in the meadows of Runnymede, a Kingfisher darts and lands on a mound besides Langham pond. Pausing in the sun he seems scaly, before a ripple of wind turns his feathers. He hops onto a slightly swaying reed and, pointed beak at the ready, observes the pond before him.

Away from the hum of modern life, thick in the meadows of Runnymede, a Kingfisher darts and lands on a mound besides Langham pond. Pausing in the sun he seems scaly, before a ripple of wind turns his feathers. He hops onto a slightly swaying reed and, pointed beak at the ready, observes the pond before him.

He becomes one with his surroundings. Silently and scrupulously surveying the water’s surface. Taking flight, he dives committedly, stabs through and rises again. The remnants of a tadpole disappearing between his beak. Returning to his perch, he seems to be pondering his meal. A strange orange orb besides the dusty brown buds. A few moments later, the same dive is performed, the same dinner sampled.

Beyond the pond and higher up, a Great Spotted Woodpecker is keeping watch. He admires the Kingfisher’s patience and resolve. How he waits for the right moment to strike, barely disturbing the pond yet never failing to catch his prey. Hopping between branches with delicate precision, the Woodpecker settles on that of a peeling birch.

Inspecting the wood with his beak, scabs of dried bark are dispatched and sent falling to the soil and mud below. Through this disturbance, mites and woodlice have started to rummage restlessly. Finding the sweet spot, the Woodpecker starts drilling.

Sensing the vibrations coming from the wood, the Kingfisher spots the Woodpecker. He is drawn to the methodical drumming. The Woodpecker must pride himself on his piercing beak. How assertively he rattles the branch to get to the sustenance within. It must be nice to draw your food out rather than passively wait for the right morsel to present itself… But the Kingfisher darts away from the pond as a Grey Squirrel comes bounding across the heath.

His movements erratic yet swift, leaving a trail of flattened daisies and grass blades behind him. Pausing once or twice to twitch his whiskers, he leaves the open meadow in favor of the rich woodland. Scrabbling and reaching with outstretched claws, the Squirrel has no issue traversing the base of an innocent birch tree. Clambering up to the canopy, he sits on the perch where the Woodpecker was hard at work mere seconds ago...

Be sure to catch them before they’re gone! We have plenty of places available for our Springtime Bird of Prey trails happening throughout February. We also have a unique bird display on Saturday 22nd Feb. Perfect for a fun family day out. Don’t forget your binoculars!