Wildlife Blog 2016
The bird ringing session today turned up coal tits in great numbers, with 17 birds being aged, measured and weighed. These small black and white tits appear to do very well at Bedgebury as they are fond of conifers. Coal tits store food far more so than any other tit (except possibly marsh tit) They will often fly away from a feeder with a seed and 'cache' it rather than eat it. Saving it for a 'rainy day' or for when other food sources run out can pay off when it comes to surviving winter.
The season's first reported sighting of hawfinches... three were spotted today in the oaks above the Gruffalo.
The highlight of today's birdringing was a redwing - the first ever ringed at Bedgebury (as was the last session's Firecrest). Redwings are mainly winter visitors to Britain with approximately 650,000 birds present most winters. They often rove around in flocks looking for bushes full of berries. Once found they frequently spend several days stripping the bush before moving on to find more fruit. Once the fruit is gone they then turn their attention to fields, hunting for invertebrates. Sometimes they will move further south into western France, Spain or Portugal. From ringing recoveries the majority of Redwings we see in the South-east will be from Scandinavia, the Baltic states or Russia.
Redwings also breed in Iceland, but these birds tend to winter in western Scotland or further afield in Southern Europe.
A flock of about 20 pied wagtails was spotted. Although solitary in the summer, they are often seen in large flocks in the winter. The also roost in large numbers to conserve heat.
Also spotted, a heron and a little grebe.
The highlight of this week's birdringing session was the lovely little Firecrest. Although these birds are doing well in Britain (mainly the South-East) they still remain quite a rarity and are exciting to see. To put this into context, the latest estimate from the British Trust for Ornithology is 550 breeding territories in Britain. Compare this with their latest estimate of 520,000 breeding territories for Goldcrest and that equates to 1 Firecrest territory for every 945 Goldcrest territories. Firecrest is largely a resident bird that was first recorded breeding in Britain in 1962. Numbers in winter are increased a little by migrants from the continent escaping the cold weather.
The bird ringing session this week reported that Goldcrest numbers in the Pinetum are currently exceptionally high; they are possibly migrants from Europe.
A 6 year old Chaffinch was re-trapped. It was first ringed in 2011 - Chaffinches typically have a lifespan of about three years so this specimen is doing well.
A Mistle thrush was spotted near the forestry Area Office - a first in this part of the Pinetum although they have been seen near the Walled Garden in the past.
Bee wolf (Philanthus triangulum) hunts honey bees to store in underground nest chambers to feed its young.
Riponensia splendens - a tiny metallic hoverfly
One 'churring' Nightjar on Thursday's Nightjar Walk in the forest. Other birds of note included Woodcock, Bullfinch, Garden Warbler, Willow Warbler and a single Swift.
Turtle Doves were heard purring all weekend and the first Brilliant Emerald dragonflies were seen.
A Grizzled Skipper was seen by a member of staff last week. A visitor reported several Grass Snakes and emerging dragonflies. In the forest, a Woodcock with two young offspring were seen.
A fantastic dawn chorus walk by local expert Simmon Ginnaw (click here for Simon's website) with 46 species seen:
Pied Wagtail, Willow Warbler, Mallard, Coot, Moorhen, Woodpigeon, Greenfinch, Great-spotted Woodpecker, Blackbird, Carrion Crow, Tufted Duck, Wren, Pheasant, Blue Tit, Bullfinch, Goldcrest, Redpoll, Chaffinch, Sparrowhawk, Robin, Raven, Firecrest, Treecreeper, Song Thrush, Chiffchaff, Mistle Thrush, Coal Tit, Greylag Goose, Great Tit, Red-legged Partridge, Spotted Flycatcher, Collard Dove, Goldfinch, Siskin, Dunnock, Blackcap, Garden Warbler, Long-tailed Tit, Magpie, Canada Goose, Swallow, Buzzard, Nuthatch, Grey Heron, Grey Wagtail and Common Sandpiper.
Our first Spotted Flycatcher and Garden Warbler were seen on Saturday (thanks to Chris for the sightings). Today, several butterflies were noted, including Green Hairstreak and a few Common Lizards were seen.
A Lesser-spotted Woodpecker was heard drumming this morning. Numerous Firecrests were also singing and Ravens were heard 'cronking'.
The first Damselfly was seen today (Large Red) and the first Cuckoos were heard this week. Raven and Firecrest were both very vocal today.
Thanks to Nigel for this shot of a Bedgebury Firecrest, taken this morning.
On the Dawn Chorus walk today, led by Simon Ginnaw, the following species were noted:
Blue Tit, Great Tit, Firecrest, Little Grebe, Moorhen, Coot, Willow Warbler, Greenfinch, Carrion Crow, Blackbird, Coat Tit, Green Woodpecker, Treecreeper, Woodpigeon, Goldcrest, Great-spotted Woodpecker, Siskin, Raven, Redpoll, Song Thrush, Chiffchaff, Mallard, Wren, Pheasant, Robin, Collard Dove, Nuthatch, Magpie, Kestrel, Canada Goose, Mandarin duck, Tufted duck, Jackdaw, Bullfinch, Swallow and Pied Wagtail.
More signs of spring today in the form of three Swallows and four singing Willow Warblers.
This large Slow worm was found basking yesterday, as was one Common Lizard. Kestrels, Ravens and Buzzards were also very vocal and there was a lot of activity among the smaller birds like Chiffchaff and Goldcrest.
A visitor reported a Blackcap from Marshal's Lake this morning. Several Hoverflies, Bumblebees and Butterflies (mainly Brimstones) have also been seen today.
Rebecca Perkins shared this picture of a Green Tiger Beetle, found in the Pinetum, on the Bedgebury Twitter page.
Yet more Firecrests have started singing in the Pinetum with Ravens and Kestrels also becoming very vocal of late.
More Firecrests have started singing and a Raven was seen chasing a Buzzard in the Pinetum. A possible Lesser-spotted Woodpecker was heard. Many invertebrates are out now, with several hoverflies, bumblebees and solitary bees being seen over the last couple of days.
Right on cue, Firecrest started singing this weekend with several individuals being hear. Other notable birds included Siskin, Raven and Bullfinch. Many invertebrates were out in the sunshine, including a Brimstone butterfly, but the most unusual sighting was a Pipistrelle bat that was seen hunting in the Pinetum at 2pm in the glaring sunshine!
Recent bird sightings include Raven, Buzzard, Marsh Tit, Bullfinch, Greenfinch and Mistle Thrush. The first hoverfly (E. pertinax) was also seen.
Hawfinch x2, Bramblings x6, Repoll x4 and 50+ Siskin all seen today (thanks to Liz for this sightings list).
Thanks to Simon for the following sightings list:
Hawfinch x4, Brambling x10, Siskin x28, Redpoll x16, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldcrest, Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Nuthatch x2, Kestrel x1, Common Buzzard x1, Jay x4, Carrion Crow, Jackdaw, Redwing, Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush, Blackbird, Robin, Wren, Dunnock, Green Woodpecker x2, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Common Gull x1 and Black-headed Gull.
Birds of note included 4 Lesser Redpoll, 4 Siskin, 1 Hawfinch and 12 Brambling (thanks to Gavin for the sightings).
Very quiet other than one Hawfinch (digi-scoped image below) and a few Redpoll in the Pinetum.
Click here to see the Wildlife Blog for 2015.