Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Tuesday 5th. March 2013

After spending yesterday in chainsaw gear , the third day running and with the weather taking a turn for the better , I couldn't wait to get out this morning , and headed for Old Lodge Reserve on Ashdown Forest . Too early for migrants yet , so I made my targets Crossbill and Wood Lark , with anything else being a bonus . A cold but bright start , but as I crossed from Kent into Sussex , that brightness had gone and I was in a veil of fog . I had visions of another foggy visit , like the ones I had last year , but fortunately , as I neared the reserve , the fog lifted and the blue skies returned . 8C was the reading on my arrival and that soon started to rise . Walking along the top track there was plenty of birdsong , but nearly all Chaffinch , with the odd Song Thrush and Wren . A pair of Coal Tits calling to each other in a pine and the odd Blue and Great Tit were also heard . As I approached a small water filled ditch , several small birds could be seen on the ground and flying into the surrounding trees . These turned out to be Reed Buntings , the males already adorned in their
breeding plumage . Things went quiet again , until I almost reached the corner to go downhill , when two birds flew over heading the way I had come . I watched them land in a favoured area of Wood
Lark , so made my way back there . Sure enough , the pair were feeding and I managed to get a few shots before they moved on again . As I headed downhill towards the little stream , one of the few
raptors seen during the visit , a Common Buzzard passed by over the tree line at the top of the reserve . No sign of any Stonechat in the valley of the stream , but having crossed the bridge and climbing the other side , a singing Wood Lark could be heard from the nearby MoD land , but I could not find it .Another scan from the top failed to find the singer , but it was a very pastoral scene with
several ponies grazing . Levelling out at the top , I could hear the 'cronk , cronk' of Raven , and headed in that direction . On the way , I came across a few female Fallow Deer , who posed nicely at

first , then showed the other side of their character , and then scampering off . I finally got the area where all the 'cronking' was coming from , and then spent an hour trying to get a decent sighting of the bird . I did get a couple of glimpses at a bird flew between trees , but that was all . I was about to pack up , when the sound of wings above my head , and a Raven flew from behind the trees , right over my head and away , calling a couple of times . I got a few rushed shots , this being the most
reasonable . The remainder of the visit was very quiet , often the way there with lunchtime approaching , and without any sign of Crossbill . I had my lunch in the car park , and decided to revisit the reserve where I had been working at the weekend , now that the sun was out . On the way between the two site , I saw three male Brimstone butterflies flying along the verges . When I arrived at the second site , the feeders were almost stripped , but there were still plenty of birds about . The sunshine really brought the Siskins to life , these two caught waiting their chance to get on the

feeders . I couldn't match the 11 Common Buzzards seen on Saturday , but there were five riding the
thermals overhead today , but I only managed to get four of them in the viewfinder at any one time . Also seen were three juvenile Great Crested Newts , out of hibernation and warming up under a piece
of felt . I didn't have my macro lens with me , so had to stand off with the zoom lens to get a shot of them . Walking around the rest of the reserve , a Comma butterfly feebly flew past as if it was still
half asleep , another first for the year . Last shot taken before leaving was another Common Buzzard . Back at the car , the temperature still 14C .


Warren Baker said...

That was a cracking spring day Greenie, I'm a bit worried today might prove to be the best March day we get!

Very envious of the Woodlarks you saw there, a favorite songster of mine :-)

John Phillips said...

Great Woodlark image Greenie and the Raven.. (John)

Mike H said...

Lovely woodlark Greenie. Think I will delay my visit till later in the year.

Alan Pavey said...

Nice lot of stuff there Greenie, you have reminded me I must go and try to find some Woodlark this spring :-)

ShySongbird said...

Hi Greenie, It sounded and looked like a very nice visit, well done with the Woodlarks and the lovely photo, we don't get them here at all so I've never seen one. The Siskin photos are beautiful too and look especially so when enlarged. I love the first, rather comical, one of the deer too. Well done also with the Brimstones, my husband saw one here yesterday :-)