Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Wednesday 21st . March 2012 ( Part 1 )

With sightings of Cuckoo , Swallow , Sand Martin and Wheatear down on the coast , I headed off to Old Lodge Reserve on Ashdown Forest this morning . As usual , as the site is high up , a cool breeze was blowing on my arrival . A singing Chiffchaff welcomed me at the car park , and a singing Blackcap saw me off the reserve later , but that was it as regards Summer migrants I'm sad to say , but it certainly wasn't a wasted visit . Along the top path , two birds flew into the reserve some
distance in front of me . On reaching the area , I could only find one , but it was a Wood Lark . It didn't let me get too close , and when it flew off , the other one appeared from nowhere , and flew off too . A bit further on , a call I didn't recognise was coming from the top of a Pine . It sounded like a soft , shortened Dunnock call , and turned out to be a male Stonechat . Had he been making the usual
 'chak-chak' call it would have made things easier , but hopefully I'll remember next time . Also heard were the nasal calls of Redpolls . I found them all over the Reserve , but in one spot there were 25+
birds milling about , never settling for any length of time . Whilst watching and photographing the Redpolls , I started hearing another unusual call , a 'jip-jip' , and after a short time , found the caller ,
a male Crossbill , in a tree with some other Redpolls . I eased my way over towards the bird , hoping and praying that it didn't fly off , as this was my first ever opportunity to get Crossbill shots .
Thankfully the bird stayed put for a short time , and I managed about a dozen shots . It then flew off with all the Redpolls and although I heard it calling again , I couldn't find the bird .Whilst looking for
it , I put up a small number of Fallow Deer , quickly disappearing from view , but I managed one quick shot before that happened . On the track at the back of the Reserve , under the pylons , the

Wood Ants are busy working on their nest heaps , the heaps heaving with what must be many thousands of insects . I watched one individual , as it struggled to drag a single piece of material ,
backwards , through the ground vegetation , to add to the massive pile . Also along this track , a noisy pair of Carrion Crows seemed to be arguing over nesting material , I thought they would have
finished all that by now . It was past eleven o'clock before I saw the first raptor , surprising given the weather , a single Common Buzzard in the distance , being chased off by another Corvid . By the
time I got into the valley of the stream , three others were riding the thermals , again at distance . Several Nuthatches were heard climbing back up to the top path , but not much else , until I got back to the gully , when I heard a few fluty notes of a Woodlark in half-hearted song . He took a bit of
finding , but I managed a shot just before he flew off . The same happened just before the gate out of
the Reserve , but this time , it was a male Wren , and he was in full song . I made a couple of stops on the way home , but as Blogger has been playing up again tonight , I'll post them tomorrow night , after the last work party of the Winter up on the Common .


alan woodcock said...

Hi,nice report on Ashdown.I will have to give it a visit in the near future,probably next month.

Marc Heath said...

A great read and some nice shots of the visit. If only Woodlark was more common down in East Kent.

ShySongbird said...

What a great visit Greenie!! I have never seen Wood Lark, Stonechat or Crossbill so am very envious! I would have been in birdie heaven, I suspect you rather enjoyed yourself too :-) The Stonechat photo is my favourite but I like them all.

Anonymous said...

Hello its a male lapwing by the way selecting a nest site usually prior to mating with the female regards chris

Anonymous said...

Hello its a male lapwing by the way selecting a nest site usually prior to mating with the female regards chris gibbard