Thursday, 24 May 2012

Thursday 24th. May 2012

I don't know what it is with Ashdown Forest and myself , but after being promised early sunshine , as I pulled into Old Lodge car park just after 0800 , it was nearly as foggy as it was on my last visit , and not a sign of the sun . Regardless , I got my stuff together and started left through the gate , heading down to the three dead trees that the Cuckoo uses , sometimes . As I approached the trees , a Cuckoo called , right over the other side of the reserve . I then came up the gully towards the top path hoping for Wood Lark and Common Redstart , neither of which were seen or heard . But , near the top , six birds flew out of one Pine and into another , so I took up position as close as I could get . I could see the birds moving amongst the branches and the 'jip-jip' call of Crossbill was heard , but
no clear sighting of any bird . Then , out of the gloom a couple of birds showed better , feeding on the cones , both females . The male was still calling and moving , but not showing . I managed to get 12 shots of the two females , before a Carrion Crow flew closely over the tree and the six birds , after one loop , headed over towards the far reaches of the forest . Moving on , a strange occurrence , that I didn't notice till I got home . A Tree Pipit was singing , half-heartedly , on top of another Pine , and
thinking it might be my only chance , got some shots of him . He must have flown off and come back a couple of times , because while still focused on the Pine , I have shots of a male Stonechat on
exactly the same place . After having a look further along the top path , without success , I headed back down the gully , getting a fly past of two Wood Larks , which landed in the gloom unfortunately . The call of a Raven alerted me to two Common Buzzards soaring over their nesting
area , so at least the fog must have lifted in other areas . I was then drawn to another Tree Pipit that
was singing his head off , and then using the three dead trees alternately as landing platforms after doing his parachute display . I tried to catch him in full display , but the combination of the light and
the speed of descent made getting a decent shot difficult . Heading along the track under the cables at the back of the reserve , I spotted a Fallow Deer buck prancing out of the woodland , a good
distance in front of me . Having crossed the track , he then tackled the stock proof fencing with
ultimate ease , and needless to say , by the time I got to the point there was no sign of him . As I got to the furthest point from the car park , a Cuckoo called , moved , and called again , but after chasing one around the reserve last visit , I decided that if he came and sat for a shot that's fine , but I wasn't chasing especially as the sun was shining now and it was getting very muggy . I met another birder who had done the circuit the other way round , and like me had not seen or heard a Common Redstart , adding that he had been here last week and had several . We went our ways , and as I
started to descend to the stream I just happened to look at a distant dead tree , and there sitting quietly was the only specimen I found or heard all visit . Up the hill the other side of the stream ,
finding two more Tree Pipits and on reaching the top path , a Raven sitting on a fencepost . I felt at the time that it was a juvenile , but couldn't be sure . I met a couple near the car park looking for Spotted Flycatchers that they had been told were about , but they nor I , managed to locate them . As I reached the car park , a Garden Warbler was singing from somewhere within a Holly tree . I looked
for some time before spotting him and just about got a sort of shot before he moved again . Added to Blackcap , Chiffchaff , Common Whitethroat and Willow Warbler , it made a good list of songsters seen / heard . Other interest found on the visit were ,
Tormentil / Potentilla erecta ,
one of many Common Heath moths found , this a female ,
a very fresh Small Copper , other species seen were Holly Blue , Brimstone and Large and Small White ,
Dwarf Gorse / Ulex minor , growing amongst the heather ,
a new hoverfly for me , assuming of course that it is Sericomyia lappona ,
no mature damselflies were seen , but several immatures like this female Large Red did show up .


Warren Baker said...

Some of my favourite birds there Geenie, I do like heathland birds :-)

Foggy here too this morning, nice and calm though :-)

alan woodcock said...

Hi,see you found Crossbill,Stonechat and Tree Pipit,all birds that I missed on my recent visit.

Mike H said...

Hi Greenie,

Seems like you had a similar experience to me when I visited Old Lodge 2 weeks ago. Saw very few Redstarts only 3 all day and only one Stonechat pair at around 4.oopm when leaving. I think this spring has just been very slow due to the wet.

ShySongbird said...

My goodness, you saw an excellent array of species there Greenie! A really impressive list of birds, any of which I would have been thrilled with. Well done with the photos. Great captures of the fleeing deer also!