Eventually our street, once the last line of houses before vast agricultural land, became surrounded, although one area in particular still remained free. This area was the new bungalow development, North of Sainsbury's, which is now Red House Farm. I can remember as a kid, following older kids (without permission from my mother) to catch frogs in its small pond, from then on the small woods of the area became my home, with the pond being at its centre. I knew every tree, every rock, every nook and cranny, and every bit wildlife intimately. Countless hours were spent, in what seemed to be a huge woodland, it was my wood.
As I began to get more involved in Bird Watching it became my first 'Patch' and its threw up some interesting things over the years. One of the earliest I can remember is a Red-Crested Pochard on the pond, if you've ever visited the pond you wouldn't believe this to be possible. In later years a female Kingfisher wintered for a couple of years on and off, and my photograph made Brian's article in the Newcastle RSPB Newsletter. Other birds of the sites interest included a steady increase in Great Spotted Woodpecker sightings, as well as Warbler activity, winter visits from Tawny Owls, and in these recent winters the addition of Woodcocks to the patch.
But today, a species which I had never dreamed of seeing so close to home, as I followed the small footpath along the side of the pond I heard a call, a call which my head told me I shouldn't be hearing, and sure enough my eyes confirmed it, there was at least 8 Tree Sparrows in the Hawthorn. There is nothing better than finding a new species on the patch.
On the pond there was over 30 Mallard, presumably from the frozen Holywell Pond, and also a large number of Woodpigeon were building in the woods, over 200 coming in to roost.