Old Lodge NR, Ashdown Forest, East Sussex ... 26th Feb 2012

A long overdue return to Old Lodge Nature Reserve provided us with superb views of a RED KITE drifting off to the east. A shame that my camera settings were all wrong today!

A couple of Ravens were calling but remained unseen, as did a calling fly-over Crossbill.
Lesser Redpolls were in evidence with at least 30 birds seen.

Five Woodlarks were a nice sight, with one in song-flight. To me, the Woodlark has the most beautiful song of any bird in the UK, even better than the Nightingale.

Many Coal Tits and Goldcrests in the conifers and 3 Nuthatches, 2 Skylarks, a male Reed Bunting and a male Bullfinch made up the best of the rest.

At least 25 Fallow Deer were present around the reserve and over at nearby Pippingford Park.

Wood Ants are already extremely active with one huge nest crawling with thousands of the little blighters.

Graham & Sue James

Holmethorpe SPs, Surrey ... January 2012

The first-winter male GARGANEY was seen at the flooded area of The Moors NR at Holmethorpe on the 1st, 2nd, 4th and 6th but not after that date.


A redhead SMEW appeared at Mercers Lake on the 17th and was seen in the area on most dates throughout the month with two birds present on the 21st and 22nd.


A female GOLDENEYE was present on Mercers West Pit throughout the month with two females present on the 22nd. Initially identified as a drake Scaup, an Aythya Scaup-like hybrid was at Mercers West Pit on the 21st and 22nd. A Shelduck appeared on the 5th with two birds present on several dates and three birds on the 8th and 21st.

Single LITTLE EGRETS were seen on many dates throughout the month with two birds present on the 16th and 19th, up to three birds on the 1st and 11th an four birds on the 12th.


We always struggle to find scarcer species of gulls at Holmethorpe but large numbers present during the month produced an adult MEDITERRANEAN GULL over The Moors NR on the 1st.


A second-winter ICELAND GULL was at Mercers Lake on the 7th and probably a first-winter at Spynes Mere on the 8th. Presumably the same birdwas over The Moors NR and landed at the landfill site on the 8th. Another, probably a first-winter, was briefly at Spynes Mere on the 21st.

ICELAND GULL 2nd-winter

A huge number of Great Black-backed Gulls were present on the 1st with 206 counted on Mercers Lake.

PEREGRINES were seen on the 2nd, 21st and 22nd and single Common Buzzards seen on the 1st, 8th, 16th and 17th with two birds seen on the 2nd. A TAWNY OWL was calling on the 1st and another was heard on the 8th.

A SNOW BUNTING was seen near the railway line behind the Water Colour housing development on the 8th.

A WOODCOCK was at Mercers east on the 13th and a JACK SNIPE was seen on the 15th. Common Snipe numbers are down on previous recent winters with the highrest count of the month being 29 birds on the 1st. Single Green Sandpipers were seen on 16 dates throughout the month with two birds present on the 8th, 13th, 15th, 18th and 21st. Lapwing numbers peaked at 320 birds on the 10th.

Single WATER RAILS were noted on the 1st, 2nd, 10th, 11th, 12th and 28th with two birds seen on the 6th, 8th, 13th and 22nd.


were present on several dates with three birds seen on the 2nd.