Tuesday, 14 June 2011


Carol and I headed off to Old Lodge reserve in Ashdown Forest today. I visited the reserve some weeks ago with Greenie of Greenie in the Wild and was really impressed, especially with the amount of Redstarts and Stonechats on the site. Well i'm pleased to say nothing's changed on that front, we saw plenty of both species but many more Redstarts, including some juveniles. The best sight of the day for me was watching a stunning male Redstart in all his summer finest and brilliantly illuminated by the sun, as he hovered to catch a fly before returning to his perch in an old dead tree. My only disappointment was not being able to get a picture. A close approach was out of the question, but unusually the Jay pictured above was more obliging for a change.

There weren't too many dragons and damsels around, I tried for some time to get a picture of an Emperor dragonfly in flight but failed miserably. Consolation came in the shape of the Broad-bodied Chaser above, which despite it's name was being chased itself, by the Emperor.

There were lots of very small day flying moths in amongst the heather in the open moorland areas. But my eye was drawn to a bigger specimen which I eventually caught up with (I must get myself a net) and pictured above. It's a male Clouded Buff, often seen flying during the day although the females tend to fly at night I believe. Makes you wonder how they manage to get together doesn't it.

We reached a grassy sunlit area and watched as a Green Woodpecker flew into the trees close by and was then surprised to see a female Gt Spotted Woodpecker happily feeding on the ground in front of us. It just seemed like a bit of role reversal really.

As we walked through a small area of woodland we saw this Fallow Deer heading away from us. It stopped, as they often seem to, and had another look at us before moving rapidly away with it's young fawn, which was too small to show up in the quick picture I managed to get.

Very few butterflies today despite the warm sunny conditions. Apart from a couple of very mobile Meadow Browns the only other one seen was this Small Heath above, my first of the year in fact. At the other end of the spectrum but equally under represented were birds of prey. Disappointingly, just one Buzzard and a distant Hobby were all that showed their talons today, or maybe I just spent too much time looking down.

We took a circuitous route around a stand of trees which were being used by the resident ponies as shade and were very pleased that we did. As we crested a small brow, about five birds flew up from just in front of us and immediately came down in the undergrowth just a few yards further on. Woodlarks. Now i've never seen a Woodlark but i'm sure that's what they are, if they're not, well, i'll fall on my sword, in the metaphorical sense of course. Three pictures below.

Soon after this we saw our second Fallow Deer of the day, again with a fawn, this time I managed to snatch a quick picture before they bounded away. The small fawn can just be seen to the right of the mother if you look really hard. It's not my fault, they're meant to be hard to spot aren't they?!

Here they are, bounding away.

It was nice to hear the purring of a Turtle Dove just as we neared the end of the walk but try as we might we couldn't see it. We had been searching the dense tree tops for some time before we chanced upon another couple who had found it, sitting out in the open for all to see, except us it seemed.


Chris said...

Beautiful set of pictures and my favs are the two deers pictures. Really cool to get such a sighting!

Mike H said...


Having visited Old Lodge last week on a rainy overcast day really envious of you going round in the sunny weather. Great photos especially sighting of deer and the woodlark which were both missing on my trip. Must go back in the sunshine.!!

Graham James said...

Hi Phil,
Good to meet Carol and yourself today when we were watching the Turtle Dove. I just wished I had realised who you were at the time.

Graham & Sue James

ShySongbird said...

I haven't seen a Jay for ages and never photographed one. I've never seen a Woodlark either :(

Lovely photos Phil, I especially like the deer and Woodlarks.

Alan Pavey said...

Really nice post Phil, I still haven't got there yet, reading this sounds like I'm really missing out, nice Clouded Buff, not sure if I've ever seen one.

Greenie said...

Phil ,
Really pleased your return to the Forest was a good one , especially the Woodlarks and the Deer .
Well done too with the Clouded Buff male , I had one last visit too .
Great post with great pictures .