These stunning young Parrot Waxcaps were found today by Lawrence, a volunteer at Bedgebury. Fieldfare, Redwing, Redpoll and Firecrest have all been seen or heard in the last few days. Crossbills are not being seen at all which is not like last year when they appeared to be everywhere.
A Kingfisher was seen on Reflections lake last week, as well as several Kestrels in the Pinetum. A possible Firecrest refused to give itself up near the Dell. A Migrant Hawker was also seen. Click here for a list of the fungi found on this year's walk. Picking of mushrooms is not allowed - please report any picking to the information office.
A visitor reported a Raven 'cronking' overhead today and our Dendrologist reported a Lesser-spotted Woodpecker from the Pinetum. There are many different mushrooms to be seen in the Pinetum now and a guided walk/talk on our fungi will take place on the 13th October. Click here for more information on this event.
A single Firecrest was seen near to Marshal's lake, as were a family of Buzzards. The Devil's-bit Scabious grassland is teaming with various invertebrates at the moment and many Dragonfly species were noted today.
Spotted Flycatchers are back nesting in one of our Scots Pines! A Red Kite was also seen yesterday. Many dragonfly species, such as the Brilliant Emerald are out now, as are the Silver-washed Fritillaries. Many Grass Snakes and Common Lizards have also been spotted.
Invertebrates recently include this striking Rhogogaster Sawfly, lots of Speckled Yellow Moths and the first Brilliant Emerald Dragonflies. The best bird has to be a Raven over on Tuesday and many Lizards, Slow Worms and Grass Snakes have been seen.
Willow Warblers are now singing close to the visitor center and Blackcaps have been signing near to the children's play area. A Grass Snake was also seen swimming in Leaky lake. Lapwing over today and first Bat species of the year seen (larger than common Pip).
This Ground beetle (possibly Poecilus cupreus) was phographed on Sunday. The Pinetum is now brimming with Brimstones, Chiffchaff song is everywhere and Kestrels are nesting close to Marshal's lake. A Slow Worm was also found last week.
An exciting report of a Black Redstart in the forest on Saturday. A Red Kite drifted over the site on Sunday. Firecrest sightings will no longer be reported on here for a little while to limit disturbance over the breeding season.
The Pinetum is really starting to feel alive with activity. Invertebrates are increasing in number everyday and so is the bird song - both Firecrests and Goldcrests can be heard in the Pinetum. Little Grebes are back on the visitor centre lake and Buzzards are now 'mewing' daily above the visitor centre.
Whilst pruning Willows with our wonderful Sunday volunteers, Crossbill, Kestrel, Buzzard, Redpoll and Siskin were all seen. By midday, several Butterfly and Bombus species were seen and during the afternoon a Firecrest was singing away. Red Kite over today.
We had a fanstastic turn out yesterday for the Bedgebury Birding Group walk, and lovely weather! The birds were fairly quiet yesterday but we did rack up 27 species. Highlights included one Hawfinch, a few Crossbills (that gave us the run around) and several Siskins.
Lesser spotted Woodpeckers can be heard drumming away at Bedgebury most years. The amount of mature, standing dead wood between Bedgebury and Goudhurst is decent habitat for this species. In March 2012, I was fortunate enough to find a male Lesser spotted Woodpecker sorting out a nest hole and a female that would inspect it from time to time. Sadly, as nesting looked imminent, a pair of Great spotted Woodpeckers proceeded to harass the pair until they vanished. This was heart-breaking but I feel privileged to have witnessed such behaviour from this rare and elusive bird. I hope they had success elsewhere. Here is the female:
One Hawfinch today. I have failed to find more than one, possibly two, Hawfinch this winter which is not a good sign. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have had any higher counts this winter.
Parrot and Two-barred Crossbill have been reported at nearby Hempstead Forest. Quite a few Great Grey Shrikes have also been reported across the country. These are species that may visit Bedgebury over the winter so please report anything that you find. Our Fieldfares, Redwings and Bramblings should also be arriving soon!
Over the last week, there have been hundreds of House Martins passing through the Pinetum, favouring the visitor centre lake. There has also been a suspicious looking Phylloscopus warbler in the Willow near the lake. Elsewhere, a group of c.30 Crossbills were seen and a Sparrowhawk chasing a small passerine.
A family party of Firecrests were found in the Pinetum late Sunday evening and decent views of a young Buzzard were had. Crossbills were seen and heard. I also had a report of a large bird of prey with jessies attached, seen in the forest. Apparently, this 'escapee' has been seen before.
One, possibly two, Clouded Yellows C. Croceus flitting about the Knapweed by the Visitor Center lake this morning. Several sad-looking Broad-leaved Helleborine Orchids were found, as was an ovipositing Southern Hawker and a few Ruddy Darters. Crossbills were heard.
On the afternoon of January 16th 2011, whilst looking for Hawfinch, Will and I came across this Great Grey Shrike (poor record shot below). It was seen again a month later and is probably a returning bird as there have been sporadic records throughout the years. The habitat here does suit this over-wintering species so, hopefully, this wont be the last record...
Interesting news from one of our wildlife rangers who reported a Barn Owl hunting near to the entrance barriers, a Little Owl near the walled garden and a Tawny Owl in some redwoods. I have had sightings of Barn and Little Owls at many sites but never at Bedgebury. As the Pinetum is a very popular attraction for the public, it may well be that these species are a bit more elusive in the area. I also had my first Emerald Damselflies of the year at Leaky lake today.
A nice surprise this morning when a Kingfisher was seen darting about on the visitor centre lake. Yesterday, a magnificent Brown Hawker was seen on reflection lake and a Brilliant Emerald on Marshal's.
Swallows and House Martins continue to display above the visitor centre lake while the Little Grebes are showing well on the water below. Nearby, close to the boardwalk, a Tree Bumble Bee B. Hypnorum nest has been found in a Redwood. I also heard my first Crossbills of the year in the same area.
A Kestrel and a Buzzard were spotted near to the car park today (they are both regular breeders in the Pinetum) with Redpolls continuing to make a racket in the same area. Interestingly, a Hedgehog was found near the play area.
Two Spotted Flycatchers were found in Dalimore valley, along with one Firecrest and Bullfinch. Elsewhere, Sparrowhawk, Redpoll and Willow Warbler were seen or heard. An Emperor Dragonfly and lots of young Common Toads were also seen.
As you arrive in the car park, you may hear and see both Redpoll and Pied Wagtail as they are nesting close by. Both birds have distinctive calls so it worth becoming familiar with these. You may also be lucky enough to see a family group of Stoats which have been seen scampering through the car park recently and near to the area office.
As you wander through the Pinetum, you'll now see an array of colour in the form of wildflowers. The unimproved grassland supports a large diversity of flora and orchids such as Heath-spotted, Common-spotted and Twayblade are all out at the moment. This rich grassland supports many invertebrates, including a group pertinent to Bedgebury - Odonata (Dragonflies and Damselflies). Many species have been seen in the past week, such as Black-tailed Skimmer, Broad-boadied Chaser and the nationally important Brilliant Emerald. I even had Downy Emeralds copulating in front of me 2 days ago, something I have never witnessed before.
Bird life is also obvious and vibrant around the Pinetum and the star species is the beautiful Firecrest. Although one of Europe's smallest birds, this time of year it is given away by its song and as it turns out, there are many males holding territory at Bedgebury! Two other rarities that have been heard in the vicinity are Lesser-spotted Woodpecker and Turtle Dove - both species that are in serious decline. Nightjar and Woodcock are now evident in the forest with the latter doing well in terms of numbers. Sadly, no Tree Pipits have been seen in the forest this year and Spotted Flycatchers are proving very difficult to find. Still, despite it not being 'classic south-east countryside', Bedgebury has to be one of the best places in the high Weald to experience wildlife.