Happy Easter!

As the weather was ok and there was no rain on the forecast yesterday I spent a couple of hours at the Old Lodge, a Sussex Wildife Trust nature reserve in Ashdown Forest.

Having been there before I decided to visit again and I wasn't disappointed! From the car park we walked a big circuit around the reserve. Bird song was at its peak with chiffchaff heard all across the reserve. As we walked along the top, past many bright yellow gorse bushes, we reached a wooded area. As I scanned around I noticed a flick of bright orange and as I looked closer I realised it was a beautiful male redstart, my first of the year!

Male redstart record shot
Walking further along my attention was caught by a brown streaky bird which was perched on a tree alongside the path, as it moved into view I could see that the bird was a Tree Pipit. Also around were 2 or 3 treecreeper which moved from one trunk to another, coming quite close to me at one point. A chaffinch also was perched up on a tree as it called quite loudly.

tree pipit record shot
Around halfway around the reserve we sat under some trees to have some lunch. Whilst I was doing so a familiar but surprising call echoed around the reserve, this was in fact a Cuckoo! This wasn't something I was expecting as I have never heard or seen a Cuckoo at Ashdown Forest even though they are around. Also calling were a few more Tree Pipits as well as more Chaffinch. Towards the end of the walk I saw a medium-sized bird fly up to the wire that was to the side of me. Looking through my binoculars I could see it had the striking, streaky plumage of a woodlark! This was my first ever good view of one!

There were plenty of stonechat, male and female, around. However they were proving particularly difficult to photograph because they kept on moving from one gorse bush to another!

Female stonechat
As the sun started to appear from beneath the clouds two kestrel soared down the hill. One hovered, dived down to catch something and flew off carrying what looked like a lizard or newt!

Finally I would just like to wish everyone a happy Easter!


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