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1. Jews Ear fungus






Daffodils at Rowdens House


Long Tailed tit


male Pheasant


Great Spotted woodpecker



Nature Observations: Eastcliff(Mules)Park – January 2020

by Catherine Locke

8th January

Overcast, but mild today. In the park I have seen several families of Crows, abundant Robins (at least 25), and 5 pairs of Blue tits. The Wood pidgeons have begun calling to each other, in the build up to Spring. Alexander plants are growing again prolifically on the banks. I heard and saw a lot of Great tits today, that familiar type pumping repeated call. I noticed over the winter the 


Great tits have quite a repertoire of different calls, but nearer the Spring they begin the 'tea-char, tea-char' calls to each other. The blackbirds are tossing fallen leaves about with their beaks in search of worms and beatles. In the meadow are families af chattering magpies and a flock of twittering Goldfinches in the trees at the edge. I heard a pair of Song thrushes calling with their varied repeated and very loud calls unmistakeable as they sing far up in the tall trees. Several families of Grey squirrels are foraging for nuts and seeds amongst the trees on the ground. So much bird song today as the weather is mild and Spring-like. Dunnocks hopping around in undergrowth near the peanut feeder in the Dell. Bright green heart-shaped leaves of Butterbur which is beginning to flower now, the pale pink flowers looking like sweets covered in dessicated coconut, as do the similar flowers of Winter Heliotrope. A cut down and sectional trunk of a dead Fan palm was covered in 'fur' the same orange/brown as that of an orangutan. The stream pouring under Trip-Trap bridge in the Dell was bubbling gently, flowing into the top pond. In the woods of Rowdens edge path I found Jews Ear fungus, like brown monks hoods, on a cut trunk of laural. It is an edible fungus, best used in soups and stews. Found all year round, mostly on the living or dead wood of Elder and other trees.


15th January

The wind had died down after yesterday's mad gale force winds from storm Brendan. In the park abundant Robins, and a lot of pairs of Blue tits. I also heard Dunnocks singing their Spring songs again, or calling with one short note followed by two short notes together. Their song is so sweet and cheerful, evolving the promise of Spring.


A commotion in a tall Sycamore at the edge of the park, by the boundary of Cliffden's grounds, showed 10 Magpies attempting to remove a pair of very stubborn crows from the tree. Obviously a territorial dispute, but the crows ignored the noisy magpies, which eventually dispersed in ones and twos. I was happy to spot a pair of Bullfinches in trees by Overdell Path. Near the peanut feeder above pond no.3 , I saw a pair of Robins, a family of Great tits, and a group of 6 Dunnocks. I heard the snorring whistles of a Bullfinch and the little stuttering calls of Long- tailed tits. I also heard the 'shwee' call of a male Greenfinch. The daffodils all along the edge of the neat garden of Rowdens House are actually in flower, their sunny bonnets nodding in the breeze. These are always first to flower as they are planted next to the sunny wall which keeps the bulbs nice and warm.


27th January

I took part in the RSPB Garden Birdwatch today. I did mine in the park as I have only a little garden, and with two cats next door, I don't get birds in it often. I went to the park quite late at around 4pm. Teignmouth had a sudden hail storm earlier and there were piled up areas of hailstones in the park. I was glad for dry weather and saw so many birds, which made me think 4pm is the best time of day for bird watching in the winter apart from early in the morning. I saw so many Blackbirds. They were everywhere, in pairs, alone, or in groups competing for the loudest 'pinking' calls (these were all males) . In all I counted 27 throughout the park. So many Robins too. I counted 25 of these. Other birds seen or heard were Wood pidgeons, Magpies, Crows, a family of Jays, a male Pheasaant, Great tits, a lot of Blue tits,  a couple of pairs of Coal tits, a couple of pairs of Long Tailed tits.

I saw two Bullfinches together, and then a male in his finery; black hood, sunset reddish pink underside, grey back, black wing tips and tail, bright white patch under the tail. A very handsome fellow.


At the top of the park, near the top meadow I saw a Great Spotted woodpecker flying over head towards the top of a tree. He made a 'chip' noise as he flew. I got a look at him in the tree through my binoculars. Then he was joined by a female and their juvenile youngster that hatched last summer. Great to see all three of them.

I heard a raucous family of Jays in the woods, but couldn't see them. At the very top of the park, as the light was beginning to fade I saw a group of noisy male Blackbirds, some chasing others away, or using sound to dominate. Amongst all the Blackbirds other birds had arrived to listen to their chorus; a pair of Chaffinches (seen rarily in the park), a pair of Long Tailed tits, and a Blue tit. Going down the

edge of the park by a hedgerow, I heard the sharp 'tack'of a male Blackcap and I watched a Song thrush as it sang it's clear, loud phrases of repeated notes. A Wren rattled in the undergrowth. Dunnocks sang their pretty warbling song as dusk approached. The last birds to be heard are always the Robin and the Blackbird, just as they are often the first.


Catherine Locke



Photo credits

1. url attribution Jerzy Strzelecki / CC BY-SA (

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