I've been waiting for a good picture of our lesser spotted- woodpecker, and now I've got one! Ray Valpier took this brilliant shot, so a very big thanks to him. The first cuckoo of the year was calling here this morning - exactly the same date as last year!
Spring migrants are certainly on the move now. We've seen two male ring ouzels on the slopes over at Sandy Heath Quarry today along with a cracking male wheatear, and as soon as you get out of your car at the reserve you'll hear willow warblers, chiffchaff and blackcaps in the scrubby areas surrounding the car-park. A few swallows have skimmed over in the blue sunny skies. Last year, the first cuckoo of the year at The Lodge was heard on the 15th- so what chance of one tomorrow?
A very small grass snake was on the path through to the 'loos today, so I carefully moved it to the nearby pond, where hopefully it will be safe. We've had a few reports of adult grass snakes on the trails this week- and a few common lizards are being seen out in the warm sun as well.
Although it can be a frustrating search for many - the lesser spotted woodpecker is still around and the lucky few ( including me this morning! ) have had views of it working through the birches, mainly in the area to the W of the pylons at the bottom of the Sandy Ridge trail. It seems to be best seen in the morning before 10am, although their have been reports at other times, but yesterday, after the early reports, no one saw it during the day. There are also a few bramblings in this area and several reported along the drive this morning. We also had a slightly belated record of a ring ouzel on the new heath yesterday.
The female mandarin and cinnamon teal/ mallard were joined by two male mandarins at the hide pools, but flew off yesterday and weren't there when I popped into fill the feeders this morning. I've had several pictures of these colorful exotic birds and the one below was taken by Malcolm Housden. Thank you for all of them, it's always good to have pictures of the actual birds on the reserve.
Lots of blackcaps and willow warblers are singing around the reserve, having arrived towards the end of last week and are proclaiming their territories in the lovely spring sunshine. Last year the first cuckoo at The Lodge was seen on the 15th April- so we'll be listening out for the welcome sound of this year's first bird which should arrive any day now!
Image credit; Malcolm Housden.