Old Lodge NR, Ashdown Forest, East Sussex ... 20th May 2011

Three and a quarter very enjoyable hours spent at Old Lodge Nature Reserve produced a few decent birds.

The White Park Cattle on the reserve are very approachable.

Nine Common Redstarts, including five males, were spread around the reserve but proved elusive to digiscope, never keeping still for more than a few seconds.

Quite a few warblers were about with at least six Chiffchaffs, six Willow Warblers and five Common Whitethroats making their presence known.

Only three Tree Pipits seemed to be on the reserve, one of them causing me to look twice as it fed on the ground. Its behaviour and stance seemed very un-Tree Pipit like, but I am sure that is what it was.

As we descended the slope to Keeches Bridge, Sue noticed two RAVENS flying just above the tree line and a bit further on we found three WOODLARKS hiding in the grass. A Cuckoo was heard calling during our entire circuit of the reserve, but never came close enough to see.

Four Common Buzzards were in the air together, one drifted off to the west whilst the others indulged in display flight. The only other raptor noted was a male Kestrel over the MOD land.

Five Stonechats around the reserve gave plenty of photo opportunities.

Other birds noted included a Nuthatch, a Great Spotted Woodpecker feeding young at a nest hole in a dead tree, one Green Woodpecker, just one Lesser Redpoll, several Coal Tits, one Skylark and three male Pheasants. Several Goldcrests were singing but remained out of sight.

Graham & Sue James

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