As tomorrow is another , and hopefully , the last day clearing up at the coppicing site with the Surrey Hedgelaying Group , I decided to head off to Ashdown Forest , with the intention of finding some migrants there . Although there was plenty of sunshine , on arrival I wondered if I had made a good decision , as the Sussex Wildlife Trust Reserve is at one of the highest points of the Forest , or Heathland as it is now , and that cold wind was catching it full on . It sounded more like an Autumnal storm than a sunny Spring day . Anyway , wrapped up in a thick fleece again , I headed off , and almost immediately found the first of a hat full of Willow Warblers , calling all over the Reserve . Along the top path I only found a flock of 15/20 Linnets and the odd Corvid and Tit calling . As I started to descend the slope , Nuthatch and Song Thrush were heard , and on getting to the woodland edge , with the slope down to the small stream in front of me , I spotted two large birds of prey at a good distance , but they were immediately mobbed by several Crows , and driven down . One did eventually fly closer , and I managed several shots of a very light Common Buzzard . Unfortunately , as it came towards me , it picked up a thermal , and was soon out of sight . On the slope where I got shots of male and female Stonechat on my last visit , I must have entered the territory of a very vocal Wren , that sat up high and scolded me for my trespass . Things went very quiet from then on for quite a while , but I did come across a massive Wood Ant's nest , measuring a good 2mtrs. across , and almost a metre high . Some damage had been done to the pile , probably by Green Woodpecker , but the colony were all pulling together to put things right .
I met a couple of chaps doing fence maintenance , who informed me that they had heard a Wood Lark singing , and also that there had been several sightings of Raven over the recent past . Their news spurred me on , and although I didn't find the Wood Lark , as I passed a stand of Scots Pines , just off the Reserve , I heard the call of two Ravens . I waited for some time , then caught a glimpse of a Corvid flying behind the trees . Fortunately for me , it turned and flew over the cables about 100 mtrs. further up the track , the thick , heavy bill and the wedge shaped tail confirming the ID . Things went quiet again until I heard the call of a Tree Pipit , and managed to track it down in the top of a tree , not easy in that wind . Shortly after taking this shot , it flew up and did it's 'parachute' decent with it's descending trill ringing out as it did so .
I must admit that I was starting to think that a Common Redstart was not going to be seen or heard again on this visit , but then I heard a male singing at a distance in the top of a Silver Birch . I was chuffed with that , but as I came up the next slope , through thick woodland , a second male started singing . I had a real job trying to find him amongst the branches , but eventually did so , and managed to get a few shots , before he disappeared again . If only he had been in the sunshine , to show off those superb colours , perhaps next time . I did hear a third male singing , but did not manage to see that one . Almost back to the car , I again found a male and female Stonechat , but the other side of the Reserve from the pair seen last visit . I managed , somehow , to get a shot of the male perched on Gorse that was swaying to and fro in the wind . Before leaving , I checked an area where I have had Dartford Warbler in past years , but unfortunately , no song or sighting .
On my way home , I stopped again at the junction where Early Purple Orchids flower on the roadside verge , and the rosettes that I found last visit , are now sporting flower spikes , and they are just starting to colour up , and they should be in full flower , perhaps by the weekend , if the weather stays fair . On the opposite verge , Cuckoo Flower or Ladies Smock , a member of the Cabbage family , and along with Jack-by-the-Hedge , the food plant of the Orange Tip butterfly , is in full flower , so hopefully the butterflies will be seen soon .
18 hours ago