Thursday, 5 March 2015

Thursday 5th. March 2015

A sunny visit n Monday to Old Lodge Reserve on Ashdown Forest , in the faint hope of finding the Little Bunting with a small flock of Reed Bunting , was fated from the start with a very strong wind blowing across the site . To keep warm as much as for anything , I criss-crossed the reserve , finding very little , and after 3 hours , the only sighting of interest was the back end of a Raven , heading
towards the usual breeding area . In an attempt to salvage something from the day , I headed for RSPB Broadwater Warren , a reserve that I have never visited before . A previous conifer plantation , still in the process of being cleared , and revealing heathland habitat as a consequence . Fortunately maps were available at the car park , and with one in the pocket , set off along one of the tracks . The site with surrounding woodland was more sheltered than Old Lodge , and in the sun it was pleasant , but very few birds around . Halfway across a cleared area , a male Stonechat was my first sighting , closely followed by the melodious bubble of Woodlark , and the sight of the backend of two birds flying away and disappearing in the distance . At a junction , the map showed a pond to the right and that's where I headed . Still in it's early stages , but given time I can see it becoming a very productive Odonata habitat . On a sunny bank were some refugia , felts and tins , which needless to say were
turned over , producing my first amphibian of the year , a Toad under one of them . A bit further along the track I met the only other birder there , and fortunately he was a local , who had been told that the Larch area on the side of the quarry held good numbers of Siskin and was out looking for them . I tagged on and we slowly climbed to the far side of the reserve , with the wind increasing with every step . By the time we reached the quarry , the wind was as strong as at Old Lodge and the tops of the Larches were swaying in it . But even so , above the wind , the constant chattering of Siskin , a sound I have missed this Winter , could be heard , and with strained necks , we started seeing them in
the tree tops . Every now and again , the odd one or two dropped down a bit lower , like this pair . Impossible to get an exact figure , but my estimate was 50+ . Other species were also seen or heard including at least 3 Lesser Redpoll , my first of the Winter , Marsh , Coal , Great and Blue Tit and even Nuthatch . My fellow birder could only stay a short while , but I stayed on enjoying the sights and sounds . Eventually I started back to the car , and must admit was glad to get out of the worst of the doing so . When I reached the junction where I saw the Stonechat and the Woodlark , I turned off the main track , and before long re-found the Stonechat ,
which turned out to be a pair . They were very flighty , but eventually I managed to get each into the
viewfinder . Feeling well pleased I retraced my steps , when within seconds I heard again the bubbling song of Woodlark , and searching , found a bird just 10 metres away , looking for food , and blending in very well with the heathland habitat . I had it in front of me for just a few seconds , before
the second bird appeared and the two flew off . What could well have been an almost bird-less visit had turned into a very enjoyable one , thanks in a large part to that fellow birder .
On Wednesday , I did the Down House Bird Survey , which produced a very good total for the site of
24 species , which included Common Buzzard , for only the second time , Sparrowhawk , Fieldfare  Redwing , and at least two Goldcrest . Once I finished the survey , I went back to the area where I had seen the Goldcrests , and spent a very pleasant half an hour attempting to photograph this difficult species , which don't know how to keep still , constantly on the move looking for food . Once home and looking through the shots taken , a large proportion went straight in the bin being
blurred , rear ends or headless specimens , but the odd few were worth keeping , thank goodness for
digital photography . With the weather remaining reasonably mild , I made my first visit of the year up onto the Greensand Ridge to see if any reptiles had emerged yet . After an hour of searching ,
three males were found , enjoying the warmth of the sun . If the weekend proves to be as warm as
predicted , many more animals should emerge from their underground hibernation and start showing
across the site . Also noticed was a pair of Long-tailed Tits , busily going about the construction of
their nest , somewhere amongst the Gorse .
Today , whilst working up on the Common I saw my third species of butterfly this year . After Red Admiral in January and Small Tortoiseshell in February , a male Brimstone .


Spock said...

We only have a 4 weeks before the butterfly transect season starts on 1st April.

Hopefully the spring butterflies will be out in good numbers.

Ken. said...

Nice read. good to see some early adder pics. Great count of Siskins.