Saturday, 20 April 2013

Saturday 20th. April 2013

Don't usually go far at the weekend , but with little wind and the promise of sunshine , I made a wish list of 5 ( Wood Lark , Com.Redstart , Tree Pipit , Raven and Cuckoo ) , and headed off to Old Lodge Reserve on Ashdown Forest . The first part of the journey was in thick fog , but halfway there , it almost lifted , but as I drove onto the Forest , the thick stuff came back again . Willow Warbler welcomed me to the car park , which only had one other car parked . A walk along the top path was eerily quiet , apart from the usual numerous Chaffinches . As I approached the gulley that runs downhill , Common Redstart was heard but not seen , unsurprising in the conditions . The only bird
found along the top fence line was a Willow Warbler , looking for it's breakfast in the gloom and calling occasionally . Still couldn't find the Redstart , but noticed a bird fly up from the ground and land in the top of a Pine . Before I got in position to get a shot , it called , and my first wish was
granted , Tree Pipit , seemingly unfazed by the fog . With little else about , I just enjoyed the song , which stopped when it dropped down onto the ground to feed . I watched it land , but when I got the binoculars on the area , could only find a male Chaffinch , but eventually found the well camouflaged
bird fossicking amongst the cones and needles . I decide not to drop down to the stream because of the fog , so took the path down beside the gully to the dead trees , much liked by the Cuckoo , but it wasn't to be today . Ten ponies were at the bottom of the path , trying to warm up in the milky sunshine that was starting to burn off the fog . Along the back path under the wires , I listened for the
Ravens but no luck there , but that luck changed with a male Com. Redstart alighting on the Pines on the right , spotlighted by the increasing sunshine , two down , three to go . Another Tree Pipit was heard as I turned right to head down to the stream from the other side , then found another male Redstart near the gate , which I followed to the right , back towards the ponies . This bird stayed at a
good distance , and only when it landed on top of  a dead tree to call , did it offer a photo opportunity . Reaching the ponies , I walked back up the gulley path as by now the fog had cleared completely . At the top , a male and female Redstart were flitting about the trees , possibly the one I had heard earlier . While up the top of the reserve , I could hear Ravens 'cronking' , but right over the other side where I had been earlier , and later two birders I passed said that they were seeing off a Buzzard . I walked to the house at the end of the top track again , finding little . I then walked left under the wires that run diagonally across the site , hoping for the Cuckoo that often frequents them , but again it wasn't to be , just another Tree Pipit at the far end near the ponies . Nearby , an unusual call , just a few low notes . I just had time to fire off a couple of shots , which when
enlarged ,  turned out to be number three on my list , a distant Woodlark . I decided to try again for the Ravens , so set up in a gap in the Pines and waited . Three quarters of an hour went by without a single 'cronk'. I decided to move on , and a couple of minutes later there were a couple of calls . I made my way to where the call seemed to come from , and when I looked up over the towering Pines , seven Common Buzzards were drifted over , much higher than the Pines . But that didn't matter to the Ravens , they set off to repel the invaders . Trouble was , I could hear the Ravens calling , but couldn't see them through the Pines . I changed position again and finally got them in the
viewfinder . Each Raven took on a separate Com. Buzzard , and having driven them far enough off ,
came back to deal with another one . Having dealt with all but one Buzzard , the pair joined forces
and drove the final intruder away , by which time all the birds were very high . Four down , one to go . With lunchtime coming on , and things always seem to get very quiet on the reserve then , I decided to head back to the car park , surprisingly still to see a Stonechat on the visit . After I had my lunch , I decided to look in on a reptile site , where a fellow enthusiast had eleven Adders during the week . On the way , I stopped to see if there were any Early Purple Orchids showing at the usual road junction . Not even a leaf , but on the other side of the road I found my first Ladies Smock/Cuckoo Flower/Milk Maids - Cardamine pratensis , a member of the Cabbage family , of the year , but no sign of any Orange Tip butterflies unfortunately . Just a thought , no , I can't count that as number five .
It was very pleasant on the South facing slope looking for Adders , but an hour and a quarter's looking produced absolutely nothing . Insect-wise did better , with a minimum of ten Brimstones , all
but one testosterone charge males , including this one refuelling on Violets , six Peacocks , not so
manic , but still in need of refuelling , and four Commas . The only other interest found were a couple
of Bee-flies - Bombylius major . Once the fog cleared , a most enjoyable day out , in at last some reasonable weather .


Warren Baker said...

Another exciting wildlife encounter Greenie, you'll have to write a book!

alan woodcock said...

Hi,nice day out.One of my favourite places.

Mike H said...

Greenie, 4 out of 5 is a success in my book. Will probably pay a visit again but had thought it a tad early. Clearly spring catch up has happened.

ShySongbird said...

It sounded and looked like a very enjoyable visit Greenie. How thrilled I would be to see your wished for birds here although I have seen and heard Raven on my own patch which was vey rewarding. Lovely to see the butterfies brightening things up and you saw a nice amount of them too.

Alan Pavey said...

I keep promising myself a trip to Old lodge, it looks and sounds great. :-)

Rodney Compton said...

Invaluable records - well done..