We paid Sussex Wildlife Trust’s Old Lodge Nature Reserve on the Ashdown Forest in East Sussex a visit today, as Paul want to catch up on a few species missing from his year list.
Common Redstarts were plentiful, with two males and four females seen, but all were very flighty and mainly evaded our attempts to digiscope them, but Paul managed to get one shot.
Male COMMON REDSTART (Paul)
Two Cuckoos were heard, with one glimpsed briefly on top of a tree near the brook whilst nearby a Tree Pipit was perched on top of a conifer (only one other was heard).
Two male Stonechats and one female were in close company and Paul noticed a bird with a white rump flying away from us and perching in a distant dead tree - a male Wheatear.
Shortly after, another male Wheatear joined the first one in the same tree.
Male WHEATEAR (Graham)
Further round the reserve, we heard the cronking call of a Raven and the bird appeared nearly overhead before flying off across the MOD land, its wedge shaped tail very obvious as it circled in the distance.
Good numbers of Common Whitethroats were heard and seen but only two Willow Warblers and two Chiffchaffs were noted. A Coal Tit was seen and many more were heard but we failed to see of hear any Goldcrests, possibly casualties of the hard winter like the Dartford Warblers, which we have yet to locate on the Ashdown Forest this year.
On the way back to the car park, two Woodlarks gave good views perched on the wires and allowed us to get some close shots. The length of their hind-claws is quite amazing and I wonder why they have evolved this feature as, from the photos, it would appear that this doesn’t add to their ability to perch.
WOODLARK (Top photo: Graham; Bottom photo: Paul)
(VIDEO) WOODLARK (Paul)
Many wary Fallow Deer were also seen at several areas of the reserve.
FALLOW DEER (Graham)
Although the number of species of birds to be seen on the reserve is limited, as on all heathlands, this is compensated for by the quality of the species present and this reserve is well worth a visit from now until late autumn.
Paul & Graham