Old Lodge NR, Ashdown Forest, East Sussex ... 10th April 2011

A visit to Old Lodge Nature Reserve on the Ashdown Forest in East Sussex today proved well worth the effort. On arriving at the car park we were greeted with two singing WILLOW WARBLERS and counted eleven birds singing around the reserve. Only nine CHIFFCHAFFS were seen and heard but, surprisingly, no other warbler species were noted.

Two pairs of STONECHATS were present and two male COMMON REDSTARTS were a welcomed sight. Many CHAFFINCHES, COAL TITS and several GOLDFINCHES and LINNETS were scattered around the reserve and three male PHEASANTS were heard.

STONECHATS Male COMMON REDSTART

We hadn’t been long at the reserve when we heard a distant CUCKOO and eventually it appeared at the top of a dead tree some distance away. A TREE PIPIT was singing from high in a conifer but was the only one seen.

CUCKOO TREE PIPIT

A WOODLARK was calling from the MOD land to the west of Old Lodge and it took some time to spot it in the scrub, also, several LESSER REDPOLLS buzzed away overhead and a LAPWING flew high to the west. One SKYLARK was also in song-flight over the MOD land.

WOODLARK

The deep cronking call of a RAVEN had us looking skywards and soon we spotted one mobbing a COMMON BUZZARD. There was not much difference in size between the two species and the Raven continued to mob the raptor until it very high and drifting south.

RAVEN and COMMON BUZZARD

The only other notable incident was a hearing a LESSER SPOTTED WOODPECKER calling at the eastern side of the reserve. We had been told by a couple at the start of our walk that one had been seen on the reserve this morning but, despite our best efforts, we failed to see the bird.

A LESSER SPOTTED WOODPECKER was calling from this stand of pines.

Disappointingly, we failed to locate any Dartford Warblers, although a few have been seen on the forest since the cold snap ended.

Several of these magnificent beasts (I think they may be White Park Cattle) are now on the reserve.

Sue & Graham James

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