'Species Spotted' aims to record sightings of Bedgebury's wonderful array of wildlife, with contributions welcomed from members, visitors and staff.
Whenever possible we will report sightings of wildlife here exactly as they are reported to us. Please note that these sightings are posted in good faith but are often unverified by experts. We reserve the right to withhold the location of any vulnerable species on site if we feel there is a risk to their habitat.
1st December 2020
Birdringer, Chris George reported the following birds in the Pinetum: blackbird (27), blue tit (4), buzzard (2), carrion crow (6), chaffinch (9), coal tit (3), common crossbill (2), coot (3), cormorant (2), fieldfare (1), goldcrest (15), goldfinch (1), great tit (1), herring gull (2), jackdaw (2), jay (3), lesser redpoll (15), little grebe (2), long-tailed tit (11), magpie (6), mallard (2), moorhen (3), redwing (3), robin (11), sparrowhawk (1), stock dove (1), treecreeper (1), woodpigeon (15), wren (2).
She commented: 'A couple of crossbill up on the hill above the lake were great to see and I noticed a lot of the feeding male blackbird appeared to have a dark bill which may well indicate they are migrants from the continent. Goldcrest were everywhere and although I recorded circa 15, there were probably more.'
26th November 2020
Liz and Cedric found the following birds on their visit today: cormorant, grey heron, mallard, tufted duck(m), buzzard, pheasant, moorhen, coot, woodpigeon, green woodpecker(h), great spotted woodpecker, wren, robin, song thrush, mistle thrush, redwing (lots), blackbirds (lots), goldcrests (lots), blue tit, great tit, coal tit, long tailed tit, marsh tit, nuthatch, treecreeper(1), magpie, raven, crow, chaffinch(h), goldfinch, siskin (small flock), crossbill (scots pine on higher level, western side of Pinetum). Thanks to Cedric Clemerson for the images of the male and female crossbill.
18th November 2020
Regular visitors, Liz and Cedric reported the following birds on their visit to the Pinetum today: little grebe (2), mallard, buzzard (middle tail feathers missing), moorhen, coot, wood pigeon, green woodpecker, great spotted woodpecker, robin, redwing, mistle thrush (h), blackbird, goldcrest, great tit, blue tit, coal tit, nuthatch, magpie, jay (h), raven (1), crow, chaffinch (1), redpoll (a flock of 100+ were seen in the birch trees in the plots), goldfinch, siskin (several small flocks), crossbill (a flock of 12 were seen in area 23 near the 'Gruffalo mouse' sculpture). Images below are of redpoll feeding and a siskin.
Again, it is really good to see reports of crossbill in the Pinetum. Images with thanks to Cedric Clemerson.
14th November 2020
Mark Vidler captured this amazing photograph of a male common crossbill close to Churchill Wood in the Pinetum. Sadly, we're told that it is likely that this bird has a disease called 'trichomoniasis', to which finches are particularly susceptible. Birds with this disease become rather fluffed up and lethargic, so although this bird looks quite plump, it was probably very thin under its feathers as the disease makes the bird's throat swell making swallowing difficult.
13th November 2020
Shared with us through Instagram, Chris Lacey managed to film an albino squirrel in Bedgebury forest. Rarely seen, let alone photographed amongst the trees, this short video clip is a real treat! Click here to view it.
4th November 2020
Regular visitor Liz reported the following birds in the Pinetum saying:
Little grebe (2), cormorant & grey heron (flyovers), moorhen, coot, mallard, magpie, jay, crow, raven (2 seen several times, very noisy!), black-headed gull, wood pigeons (lots flying over), green woodpecker (heard), great spotted woodpecker, nuthatch, goldcrest (lots, but sadly didn't find a firecrest), wren, robin, pied wagtail, blackbird, mistle thrush, great tit, coal tit, blue tit, long-tailed tit, chaffinch, goldfinch, siskin, crossbill (wonderful views, about 10 feeding on pine cones, same elevation as 'mouse' but direction of Visitor Centre).
It's great to know that there are good numbers of crossbill in the Pinetum!
1st October 2020
Goldcrest, treecreeper and dunnock were among today's sightings for Cedric Clemerson.
21st September 2020
Although now turning, the weather is still warm enough to see a few dragonflies and butterflies in the Pinetum. Here are some lovely images captured by Dominique Huxley of the common darter, the ruddy darter, copper butterfly and a couple of wonderful images of Bedgebury's, hard to photograph, resident carp!
11th September 2020
We love this long-distance shot of a sparrow hawk taken by Cedric Clemerson at Bedgebury today. And the rather spring-like image of rabbits causing mischief in the Pinetum!
7th September 2020
The cormorants are back again this year! Thank you to Cedric Clemerson for this lovely photo.
4th September 2020
Spotted flycatcher (below left), crossbill - both male and female (below right), coal tit and carrion crow were among today's sightings for Cedric Clemerson.
1st September 2020
Volunteer and keen nature enthusiast Cedric Clemerson's sightings today included;
Dragonflies: migrant hawker and several common and ruddy darters.
Butterflies: small white and large white, red admirals, small copper and speckled wood.
Birds: chiff-chaff, great tit and numerous goldfinches feeding on scabious.
21st August 2020
Although it was rather too windy for butterflies and dragonflies, volunteer and keen nature enthusiast Cedric Clemerson's sightings included; a marsh tit, mistle thrush and pellucid hoverfly.
11th August 2020
Volunteer and keen nature enthusiast Cedric Clemerson, was again thrilled to see the quick flash of a kingfisher today, this time at Marshal's Lake. His sightings also included; a green woodpecker, and migrant hawker, southern hawker and golden-ringed dragonflies.
6th August 2020
30th July 2020
The highlight of today's sightings by volunteer and keen nature enthusiast Cedric Clemerson, was a kingfisher leaving Black Pond. His sightings also included; a turtle dove, brilliant emerald dragonfly, brown hawker and migrant hawker dragonflies. Also seen and photographed were; a red admiral butterfly, brimstone butterfly, silver-washed fritillary butterfly and common blue butterfly.
20th July 2020
Today's sightings from volunteer and keen nature enthusiast Cedric Clemerson included; the elusive turtle dove (photographed at Louisa Lake), a grey heron, emperor dragonfly in flight and gatekeeper butterfly.
18th July 2020
Some stunning odonata images here from a selection of beautiful flora and fauna photographs taken in the Pinetum today by John Gordon. Identification to be confirmed, but these are believed to be a black-tailed skimmer and four-spotted chaser.
Elsewhere in the Pinetum, the following birds were heard calling: raven, kestrel, siskin and crossbill. A delightful common shrew was also caught on film.
17th July 2020
A wonderful variety of wildflowers and insects spotted by volunteer and keen photographer Dominique Huxley on a recent visit to Bedgebury. Species include: lady's bedstraw, selfheal, purple loosestrife, red campion, tormentil, centaury, ringlet and meadow brown butterflies and a soldier beetle.
15th July 2020
Amanda Kemp photographed this lovely grass snake crossing the path in the Pinetum shortly after she finished her Pilates session today.
13th July 2020
Today's sightings from volunteer and keen naturalist Cedric Clemerson, included a holly blue butterfly, and a crossbill. Although the crossbill image is a little grainy, you can clearly see how the bird gets its name
10th July 2020
A further report of a turtle dove! Nikki, a keen birder who also works for the RSPB told us that she heard a turtle dove on three separate occasions during her visit to Bedgebury Pinetum today: twice by Marshal's Lake and once from the viewpoint overlooking Dallimore Valley.
3rd July 2020
Here is a list from two nature enthusiasts from their walk today:
Butterflies - several large skipper and Essex skipper, white admiral, silver-washed fritillary, red admiral, speckled wood (pictured), ringlet, peacock and numerous meadow brown.
Dragonflies and damselflies spotted mainly at Black Pond - emperor, southern hawker, four-spotted-chaser, brilliant emerald, ruddy darter and common blue.
Also seen were numerous cinnabar moth caterpillars on ragwort (pictured).
Also photographed by one of Bedgebury's Tree Team whilst working in the plots area of the Pinetum - this stunning emperor dragonfly bejewelled with raindrops, plus a blue-tailed damselfly and white-legged damselfly.
2nd July 2020
Today's sightings from volunteer and keen naturalist Cedric Clemerson, included a barred grass snake, and a male emperor dragonfly. Also sighted was the very special and elusive turtle dove, which was heard and photographed near Reflection Lake and Marshal's Lake.
1st July 2020
The fine weather is bringing out a wide variety of insects! Thank you to volunteer and keen naturalist Cedric Clemerson for sending through a list of his sightings over recent weeks, together with some lovely images. They included: a palmate newt, speckled wood, large skipper, small skipper and ringlet butterflies, silver Y moth, azure damselfly, common blue damselfly, red-eyed damselfly, blue-tailed damselfly, emerald damselfly, white-legged damselfly, large red damselfly, golden-ringed dragonfly, downy emerald, four-spotted chaser, black-tailed skimmer, brilliant emerald, ruddy darter and common darter.
28th June 2020
A couple of lovely images of the common lizard basking in the recent sunshine. Thank you, Hannah Lomax, for the images.
24th June 2020
The sunshine and warmth is bringing out the butterflies and the dragon and damseflies in the Pinetum. Here is a list of what one nature lover ticked off on his walk today. He said:
Apart from common or garden species I saw/heard:
Birds - buzzard, tree creeper, chiff chaff, blackcap, great-spotted woodpecker.
Butterflies - large white, meadow brown, small skipper, large skipper, and ringlet butterfly.
Dragon and damselflies - emperor, brown hawker, four-spotted chaser, black-tailed skimmer, downy? emerald, white-legged damselfly, azure damselfly, blue-tailed damselfly, large red damselfly and common darter (photograph below).
Also, this beautiful emerald damselfly was spotted in the Pinetum - thank you to Mark Vidler for sharing this stunning image with us via Instagram.
21st June 2020
20th June 2020
This beautiful wren was spotted singing on top of a conifer in the Pinetum - thank you to Gavin Joseph McKay for sharing this lovely image with us via Instagram.
18th June 2020
The continuing warm weather has ensured regular sightings of butterflies and insects. These stunning images were sent in by Dominique Huxley, a returning regular Pinetum visitor (and regular volunteer under normal circumstances): a small argent and sable moth, a ringlet and a comma.
She also sent in these lovely images of the bee orchid and variants of the common spotted orchid, all of which are currently in bloom in the Pinetum.
We are happy to report that the clutch of goslings hatched several weeks ago is doing well.
Four spotted chaser dragonflies were also photographed.
17th June 2020
Found by the viewpoint, this grass snake skin is evidence that Bedgebury's grass snakes are all over the Pinetum. The best chance of seeing them is actually on the lakes where they like to swim on hot summer days!
16th June 2020
A hedgehog was found near the Visitor Centre and taken to the Folly Wildlife Rescue Centre. The Friends makes donations to the centre to support them, as rescues from Bedgebury are sadly not uncommon!
15th June 2020
A kingfisher was reported circling around at Marshal's Lake. There were also reports of the purring of turtle doves in two different locations in the Pinetum; the first was heard around Marshal's Lake and the second emanated from the Plots. Listed as being on the conservation red list, they are in rapid decline globally and their numbers have reduced in the UK by 93% since 1994, so the possibility of at least 2 nests in the Pinetum is hugely exciting.
The brilliant and downy emerald dragonflies have also been seen around Marshal's Lake.
12th June 2020
Hundreds of tiny, newly transformed toadlets have been seen crossing the paths near the Visitor Centre on their way to the Lake. This is a wonderful spectacle and they are very special. Although named the common toad, they are not so common these days; their numbers are in decline due to loss of habitat. Click here to see a short video clip.
25th May 2020
A deer taking advantage of the peace of the Pinetum.
14th May 2020
A slow worm basking in the sunshine by the dwarf conifer collection. Slow worms are actually legless lizards and are commonly found in gardens where they can help reduce pests.
21st March 2020
Thank you to a visiting family for reporting the sighting of two grass snakes to a Friends' staff member whilst out walking in the Pinetum today. The grass snakes were spotted swimming on Marshal's Lake in the glorious sunshine.
16th March 2020
It was a lovely day for birdringing. Ringer, Christine George, reported:
‘What a glorious morning it was weather-wise, and the birds were pretty good too! Quality not quantity today. A young male firecrest was an exciting find. Siskin and goldfinch were also lovely to see. At this time of year, natural seed is starting to run low so these small, seed-eating birds are more likely to be found coming to seed feeders. There was a noticeable lack of blue tits today, probably as a result of the urge to claim breeding territories now that spring is here.
We probably use the names goldcrest and firecrest without stopping to think about the fact that these birds really do have crests! Most of the time the crests are flattened against the head, and all we see when the bird flits by is a small brightly-coloured crown stripe. These are true crests though and can be erected at will - usually in a territorial dispute or during courtship. Female goldcrests have yellow crests and the male's crest is largely orange. Firecrests differ from goldcrests in that both the male and the female have orange crests, however, in the female there is a noticeable yellow border and in the male the yellow border is minimal."
All birds seen, heard or captured and released: blackbird - 2 (seen or heard), blue tit - 4 (1 captured & released), buzzard - 1 (seen or heard), Canada geese (seen or heard), carrion crow (seen or heard), chaffinch - 2 (seen or heard), chiffchaff - 1 (seen or heard), coal tit - 4 (captured & released), collared dove - 3 (seen or heard), firecrest - 1 (captured & released), goldcrest – 1 (seen or heard), goldfinch – 10 (captured & released), great-spotted woodpecker - 2 (seen or heard), great tit - 1 (seen or heard), green woodpecker - 1 (seen or heard), magpie – 3 (seen or heard), mandarin duck - 2 (seen or heard), marsh tit - 1 (seen or heard), moorhen -1 (seen or heard), pheasant – 2 (seen or heard), raven – 2 (seen or heard), robin - 3 (1 captured & released), siskin – 3 (captured & released), song thrush 1 (seen or heard), woodpigeon - 5 (seen or heard) and wren - 1 (seen or heard).
5th March 2020
It was a very wet day indeed for a bird walk with volunteer, Chris George, but a few keen birders persevered and were rewarded with the following sightings (and a hot drink in the Cafe on their return!):
Species recorded 26: blackbird (11), blue tit (8), carrion crow (5), chaffinch (5), coal tit (1), coot (4), cormorant (1), dunnock (8), goldcrest (1), goldfinch (2), great spotted woodpecker (3), great tit (2), grey heron (2), herring gull (1), little grebe (1), long-tailed tit (2), magpie (3), mallard (7), mistle thrush (1), moorhen (4), pheasant (1), robin (9), song thrush (1), treecreeper (7), woodpigeon (6), wren (5).
3rd March 2020
Report from bird ringer, Christine George: "We had beautiful weather for the ringing session today, which was attended by Bedgebury’s new 'conservation volunteers'. I think many birds may have been inspired by the weather to start finding territories, and with the sunshine glinting on the mist nets, whilst lovely for us, they were very visible to the birds, hence the lower than usual numbers.
Three goldfinches were lovely to see, two females and a male. Although pictures in books often show marked differences in the number of red feathers on the face of the male and female, these birds are not always easy to tell apart until the female starts to develop a brood patch later in the spring. When seen closely, other differences include the colour of the nasal hairs (usually black in the male and grey/brown/black in the female) and females often have a few more brown-edged feathers in the shoulder area. Females tend to be slightly smaller than males too. When seen in a tree though, song will be a give-away as only the male of this species will sing."
Blackbird - 3 (seen or heard), blue tit - 7 (captured & released), buzzard - 2 (seen or heard), Canada goose (seen or heard), carrion crow (seen or heard), coal tit - 3 (captured & released), goldfinch - 3 (captured & released), great-spotted woodpecker - 2 (1 captured & released), great tit - 2 (captured & released), green woodpecker - 1 (seen or heard), marsh tit - 1 (seen or heard), mistle thrush - 1 (seen or heard), pheasant - 2 (seen or heard), raven - 1 (seen or heard), robin - 3 (1 captured & released), rook - 2 (seen or heard), siskin - 1 (captured & released), woodpigeon (seen or heard).
26th February 2020
What a welcome change to have a dry, albeit chilly day, for the bird ringing session today. Bird ringer, Christine George, reported:
“It was lovely to see a marsh tit again. Today's marsh tit was a re-trap, having been ringed in November last year as a bird born earlier in the year. Good to know it is still alive and a good weight. New blue tits continue to keep coming, with another 20 new birds ringed this morning, mainly young birds born last year. This species really does appear to have had bred exceptionally well last year.
We looked for brood patches on birds that can breed early in the year like robin and dunnock, however no sign as yet on any of the birds that we examined today. The blackbird we caught was a male, and in that species, males do not develop brood patches.
Hormones released around the time a bird is starting to build a nest result in a de-feathering on the belly (underside of the bird) in most females and in some species the male also. Initially this is just a patch of bare skin, but once eggs start to be laid there is an obvious increase in blood vessels in the area. Eventually the whole area is swollen and engorged with blood once the bird is incubating eggs. This allows the parent to keep the eggs and the newly hatched young nice and warm. Once the young are starting to develop feathers the patch on the parent gradually shrinks back, the engorgement goes and it will eventually start to feather over again. Feathers are such good insulators that, if the underside of the incubating bird remained fully feathered, very little heat would reach the eggs or chicks and they would fail to develop. Brood patches are a definite indicator of breeding and ringers score the brood patch on a scale of 0-5.
Whilst ringing, we periodically heard the drumming of woodpeckers. Unfortunately we could not see the birds, however, on occasion the drumming had some of the characteristics of a lesser-spotted woodpecker.”
Birds seen, heard or ringed were as follows: blackbird – 2 (1 captured & released), blue tit – 21 (captured & released), buzzard – 2 (seen or heard), Canada geese 3 (seen or heard), carrion crow 4 (seen or heard), coal tit – 11 (6 captured & released), dunnock - 3 (captured & released), goldfinch 7 (seen or heard), great-spotted woodpecker 4 (seen or heard), great tit – 5 (4 captured & released), green woodpecker -1 (seen or heard), long-tailed tit -1 (seen or heard), magpie 2 (seen or heard), mallard – 2 (seen or heard), marsh tit – 1 (captured & released), moorhen – 2 (seen or heard), nuthatch – 1 (seen or heard), pheasant – 1 (seen or heard), raven – 1 (seen or heard), robin – 2 (1 captured & released), siskin -3 (seen or heard), tawny owl -1 (seen or heard) and woodpigeon 3 (seen or heard).
14th February 2020
The weather was fantastic for the bird-ringing today.... a nice day amongst the poor ones we have had recently. Bird-ringer, Christine George reported:
"The highlight of the morning has to be the three siskin - all males. These small, bright yellow finches can start breeding as early as February, if seeds are abundant, though more often it will be mid-March, or in some years they may delay breeding until as late as April or May. Catching 3 males may be a coincidence, or it could be that some of the females are already sitting on eggs as it is likely that some birds are breeding at Bedgebury. Many siskin are likely to be migrants however, and will return to northern Britain or even Scandinavia to breed.
As little as forty years ago, these birds were confined to the highlands of Scotland and Wales, however an increase in commercial forestry has allowed these birds to expand their breeding range. In addition, they are taking advantage of garden feeders in the winter and are currently doing very well as a species.
Male siskins claiming local territories will be starting to sing now, so listen out for their sweet, fast, twittering song, usually delivered from the top of a tree."
Other birds seen or heard: coal tit – 13 (captured & released), cormorant - 3 (seen/heard), dunnock - 2 (1 captured & released), goldfinch 1 (seen/heard), great-spotted woodpecker - 2 (seen/heard), great tit – 2 (captured & released), green woodpecker -1 (seen/heard), mallard – 2 (seen/heard), marsh tit – 1 (seen/heard), mistle thrush - 1 (seen/heard), nuthatch – 2 (seen/heard), pheasant – 2 (seen/heard), raven – 2 (seen/heard), robin – 2 (1 captured & released), siskin - 3 (captured & released), tawny owl -1 (seen/heard), woodpigeon 1 (captured & released), wren -1 (seen/heard).
29th January 2020
Regulars Liz and Eric reported the following birds and got this lovely image of a blackbird:
Cormorant, mallard, buzzard, pheasant, coot, moorhen, woodpigeon, green woodpecker, pied wagtail, wren, robin, blackbird, blue tit, great tit, coal tit, magpie, carrion crow, raven and chaffinch.
28th January 2020
It was a sunny but cold and breezy day for today's bird walk. The highlight of the walk was the sight of about 60 chaffinch coming to perch on the bare branches of the trees just before roosting time. Other birds seen were: 2 blackbird, a carrion crow, 4 coal tit, 2 coot, 2 goldcrest, 8 goldfinch, 9 mallard, 1 pied wagtail, 2 robin and 5 woodpigeon.
25th January 2020
Thank you to keen bird enthusiasts for reporting to the Visitor Centre after a short bird-watching session today. They saw a great spotted woodpecker, a buzzard, a sparrowhawk, a pied wagtail and numerous goldcrests and coal tits.
21st January 2020
Here are the results of Christine George’s bird-ringing session from today.
"What beautiful weather it was for the ringing session this morning. Our oldest bird today was a coal tit which had been ringed on 16/02/18 as a bird born in 2017. Although by no means a record, it is still a good age for such a tiny bird. As the winter goes on we tend to get proportionally fewer new resident birds and more retraps. Both new and retraps are valuable for data, but retraps are particularly valuable for movement, survival and longevity data. Tits tend not to move far, so Bedgebury has had little movement data from them, however the survival and longevity data they provide is useful to the British Trust for Ornithology as well as being of interest to us. Three new dunnocks was a little unusual. These birds are not uncommon, but they tend to skulk around under bushes and feed on the ground. They have a cryptic but beautiful plumage of buffs, browns and greys and are renowned for their lack of fidelity to partners! Their old name was hedge sparrow, however they are not related to sparrows and their nearest relative is the alpine accentor which lives high up in mountain ranges in Southern Europe and Asia. An interesting sight for everyone today was a sparrowhawk close by in flight as it flew into the net and then immediately out of it! Being a larger bird they are not easily caught in the mist nets, so unfortunately we were not able to ring this bird."
The species below were noted whilst ringing was taking place:
blackbird – 3 (1 seen/heard), blue tit – 12 (captured & released), coal tit – 11 (captured & released), dunnock - 3 (captured & released), fieldfare - c30 (seen/heard), goldcrest -1 (captured & released), great tit – 2 (captured & released), greenfinch - 1 (seen/heard), magpie – 1 (seen/heard), nuthatch – 1 (seen/heard), pheasant – 2 (seen/heard), raven – 1 (seen/ heard), robin – 3 (2 captured & released), sparrowhawk – 1 (seen/heard), wren -1 (seen/heard).
17th January 2020
Thank you to keen bird enthusiasts for reporting to the Visitor Centre after a short bird-watching session this afternoon. They saw 3 brambling, a mistle thrush lots of chaffinch.
7th January 2020
On their arrival at work this morning, Friends' and Forestry England team members spotted the following birds on the Visitor Centre Lake: 2 cormorants, 1 grey heron, 1 tufted duck, plus several coots and moorhens.
30th December 2019
Here are the results of Christine George’s bird-ringing session from today.
“What a lovely winter's morning it was for today's ringing session. A little chilly, but calm and eventually sunny. Probably as a result of the good weather, many birds took advantage and were foraging in the woodland, so general sightings were limited, however, blue tits and coal tits at the feeders kept us busy. As with the last session, the marked predominance of young birds of both these species implies they had a great breeding season at Bedgebury. As most birds of these species can be aged accurately in 'the hand' this produces valuable data for the British Trust for Ornithology as to productivity and survival. Our most notable re-trap today was a coal tit. This bird had been ringed in January this year having been born in 2018 or earlier. Coal tits on average live for two years once they have reached breeding age, however the oldest known bird from ringing data reached the grand old age of nine years and two months.”
The species below were noted whilst ringing was taking place;
Blackbird – 2 (seen/heard), blue tit – 24 (captured & released), carrion crow – (seen/heard), coal tit – 20 (captured & released), dunnock – 1 (captured & released), great spotted woodpecker – 1 (captured & released), great tit – 3 (captured & released), long-tailed tit - 3 (seen/heard), marsh tit - 1 (seen/heard), mistle thrush - 1 (seen/heard), nuthatch – 1 (captured & released), pheasant – 1 (seen/heard), raven – 1 (seen/heard), robin – 3 (1 captured & released), song thrush -1 (seen/heard), woodpigeon – (seen/heard)
Here are the results of Christine George’s bird-ringing session from today.
“One of the things that stands out clearly to me from Bedgebury's ringing data is how successful the breeding of coal and blue tits has been this year. Compared to previous years there appear to be many more of these species coming to the food provided and a high percentage (subjectively, more than in previous years) are birds that were born earlier this year. For example, today, 78% of the 23 coal tits and 75% of the 28 blue tits ringed or re-trapped had been born this year. On average at Bedgebury I believe this figure to be around 60% - 70%. In the very poor 'washout' year of 2016, when heavy rain caused many broods to fail, a comparison of the December data revealed that of the very meagre 15 blue tits ringed or re-trapped, only 2 (13%) had been born earlier that year. Coal tits had not fared much better, 7 were ringed or re-trapped in Dec '16 and only 3 (43%) had been born that year. The strategy of these birds to have large broods pays off in that, even if they have a poor breeding season when many young don't survive, a good breeding season with ample food for the fledged youngsters will see numbers bounce back very quickly.
Aside from the tits, a treecreeper was lovely to see and the blackbird ringed looked as though it may have been a continental migrant.“
The species below were noted whilst ringing was taking place;
Blackbird – 4 (1 captured & released), blue tit – 28 (captured & released), carrion crow – 2 (seen/heard), chaffinch – 2 (seen/heard), coal tit – 23 (captured & released), dunnock – 3 (1 captured & released), great spotted woodpecker – 2 (seen/heard), great tit – 8 (captured & released), kestrel – 1 (seen/heard), marsh tit – 1 (seen/heard), mistle thrush 1 (seen/heard), nuthatch – 2 (1 captured & released), pheasant – 4 (seen/heard), raven – 1 (seen/heard), robin – 2 (seen/heard), woodpigeon – 2 (seen/heard)
Thanks to Liz and Eric, labelling volunteers, who sent us this record of their time on site today.
“While we were labelling, in the finch roost area, we were listening for finches but hardly heard or saw any signs. About 5 redwings flew over. However, as we were heading back towards the Visitor Centre we came across lots of coal tits. It was difficult to quantify the flock size as it was so mobile and spread out, but I would guess there were at least 30 birds. Also, in the same area, there were great tits, blue tits and marsh tits feeding low down and at ground level. There were only a few of each but it was just wonderful to see them all feeding and oblivious to us. Plus, very near, we saw a goldcrest and a wren.”
From bird-ringer Christine George: What beautiful weather we had for the bird ringing session today. I think the birds were taking advantage of the day to search for natural food - which is as it should be - and as a result it was remarkably quiet bird-wise in the vicinity of the offices. We had a slow but steady supply of birds which gave us a chance to look at the birds in detail. Quieter periods also allowed for more discussion around the ringing process and how we age and record the birds.
Interestingly, amongst the re-trapped birds (birds already ringed in previous sessions) there were two blue tits who had been ringed only a few rings apart two years ago in November 2017. Both are possibly going around together in the same winter flock again. Another marsh tit was ringed that had been born this year – which was excellent. This red-listed bird does appear to have bred well at Bedgebury this year.
Image: Dunnock (library shot) courtesy of Nigel Witham.
Blackbird – 3 (seen / heard), blue tit – 11 (captured & released), carrion crow – (seen / heard), coal tit – 8 (captured & released), dunnock – 2 (1 captured & released), goldcrest - 1 (seen / heard), great spotted woodpecker - (2 captured & released), great tit – 4 (captured & released), green woodpecker - 1 (seen / heard), jay –1 (seen / heard), marsh tit – 2 (1 captured & released), nuthatch – 2 (1 captured & released), pheasant – 2 (seen / heard), raven – 1 (seen / heard), robin – 3 (1 captured & released), woodpigeon - (seen / heard), wren - (1 captured & released).
Stunning pictures of a black-headed gull and mistle thrush captured by Nigel Witham this weekend.
From bird-ringer Christine George: What a busy morning we had during the ringing session today! The feeders are certainly busy and intercepting two roving tit flocks ensured we had no time to be bored.
Marsh tits were notable again with three new birds, all born this year. Good news for Bedgebury. These birds nest fairly low down in holes in trees, - usually old or broken trees - and so the importance of this type of habitat being present can't be underestimated for marsh tits and many other birds.
Another treat today was a small flock of long-tailed tits. Although not an uncommon bird at Bedgebury, only two of this species have been ringed before. One in 2010 and one in 2018, so twelve today was exceptional. These birds go around in flocks, often family-orientated, throughout the winter, splitting up into breeding pairs during late January or February. The winter flocks constantly call to each other and will roost together for safety and to keep warm. When ringing, these birds are ringed as quickly as possible and then released all together as a flock. They then call to each other and join up with any remaining members of the flock who may still be in the vicinity.
Blackbird – 2 (seen/heard), blue tit – 40 (captured & released), chaffinch – (seen/heard), coal tit – 32 (captured & released), dunnock – (seen/heard), goldcrest - 8 (captured & released), goldfinch - 2 (1 captured & released), great spotted woodpecker - 4 (2 captured & released), great tit – 11 (captured & released), jay – (seen/heard), long-tailed tit – 12 (captured & released), mallard (seen/heard), marsh tit – 3 (captured & released), mistle thrush (seen/heard), nuthatch – 2 (1 captured & released), pheasant – (seen/heard), raven – 1 (seen/heard), robin – (seen/heard), woodpigeon - (seen/heard), wren – 1 (captured & released).
The cormorants continue to draw the interest of Bedgebury's visitors. Nigel Witham captured some amazing behaviours on his camera after the storm this weekend, and he has given them names too! Clive leads the way - see how his head appears to have been put on upside down! And Caroline seems to have no head at all. Christopher is setting the standard by flying beautifully!
Some stunning bird images from Nigel Witham this weekend: The Visitor Centre's grey heron and a young kestrel and spectacular images of moorhen and a young jay.
Thank you also to Paolo for sending us this picture of the extremely elusive but popular and unusual Bedgebury regular! Look carefully (although he does rather stand out!) for Trevor or Tracy (as named by Bedgebury's mountain bikers), one of Bedgebury's albino squirrels.
The ringing session this morning went well, and we saw a good variety of birds. The sparrowhawk was an interesting addition to the more usual small birds. Based on the plumage and eye colour - a deep orange with a black rim - this male sparrowhawk was a mature bird and in all likelihood more than five years old. One of the retrap great tits had been ringed in November 2017 as a bird born in 2016 or before. This bird had not been caught in the intervening period. Four goldcrests and another marsh tit were also excellent. Unfortunately, another interesting bird was taken out of the net after all the visitors had gone. A delightful tiny treecreeper. They have beautiful cryptic plumage and a thin curved bill to help them winkle tiny insects out of crevices in trees trunks and branches. Many thanks to all those who were present today.
Blackbird - 2 (1 captured & released), black-headed gull (seen / heard), blue tit – 14 (captured & released), buzzard - 1 (seen / heard), carrion crow (seen / heard), chaffinch (seen / heard), coal tit - 16 (captured & released), goldcrest - 4 (captured & released), great spotted woodpecker - 3 (2 captured & released), great tit - 8 (captured & released), jay (seen / heard), magpie (seen / heard), mallard (seen / heard), marsh tit - 2 (1 captured & released), mistle thrush (seen / heard), nuthatch - 2 (seen / heard), pheasant - 1 (seen / heard), raven - 1 (seen / heard), robin - 3 (1 captured & released), sparrowhawk - 1 (captured & released), starling (seen / heard), treecreeper - 1 (captured & released), woodpigeon (seen / heard), wren (seen / heard).
It is a week for receiving official flora and fauna records! Today we received the official list of fungi seen by Bryan Bullen on the recent Friends' fungi walk on 19th October, and his pre-walk recce on the 17th October. An astonishing 79 fungi species were recorded over the two sessions! The complete list can be found by clicking here. Image courtesy of Nigel Witham.
Today we received the official list of recorded odonata sightings at Bedgebury by Gill and John Brook this year. An impressive 25 species have been confirmed. For a full list, click here. Image: Ruddy Darter courtesy of Nigel Witham.
A wet autumn walk for Nigel Witham this weekend, but still with some interesting sightings (cormorant, fly agaric, grebe, crow and firecrest) and stunning images captured!
It is proving to be a bumper year for fungi too. Today's fungi walk was a huge success with more than 50 species sighted. A full sighting list will follow as soon as all the identifications have been confirmed. As always, please remember to look and love, not pick or kick. Fungi are important indicators of tree health and therefore vital to the site in the management of the Pinetum tree collection.
Nigel Witham enjoyed an autumnal walk this weekend with plenty of fungi seen and photographed (despite the less good light) as well as a nut-gathering squirrel and our newly-arrived and positively prehistoric-looking cormorant flock who are enjoying the surplus of fish in the Visitor Centre lake.
Christine George ran her first bird-ringing session of the season this morning. Her report is as follows:
This morning’s bird-ringing was a little damp however it was warm, there was no wind and no birds suffered due to the damp conditions. The well-thought-out provision of a fishing brolly and a tarpaulin sheltered the birds and (largely) the people observing from the intermittent drizzle.
Conclusions from this session would have to be that blue tits appear to have bred amazingly well this year. The vast majority of those ringed had been born this spring. Four new marsh tits, all of which were young from this year, was also excellent, highlighting how good Bedgebury is for this red-listed species. A new wren was welcome as not many of this species are caught at Bedgebury. Although wrens are a common bird, they do not come to food and seem very good at avoiding or getting out of nets! As we were packing up, a substantial flock of long-tailed tits passed through the car park. They are such an endearing sight - a small bundle of fluff trailing a long tail!
Unfortunately, with visitors very interested in the ringing process, light rain and ringing under cover, it was not possible to compile a complete bird list. However, the species below were noted whilst ringing was taking place:
Blackbird (seen & heard), blue tit (captured & released), coal tit (captured & released), goldcrest (captured & released), goldfinch (small flock flying over), great spotted woodpecker (captured & released), great tit (captured & released), long–tailed tit (flock of approx. 15 flying over), marsh tit (captured & released), mistle thrush (seen & heard), nuthatch (seen & heard), pheasant (seen & heard), raven (seen & heard), robin (seen & heard), woodpigeon (seen & heard), wren (captured & released).
Another sighting, and a much better photograph of one of Bedgebury's elusive albino squirrels! Thank you Scott Pollard aka surfman for sharing!
Also reported by regular birders Eric, Liz and Lynne: black headed gull, blackbird, buzzard, carrion crow, cormorant, dunnock, great tit, house martin (30+), little grebe, magpie, mallard, mistle thrush, moorhen, nuthatch, pheasant, robin, woodpigeon. Thank you, Eric, for the lovely image of the cormorant.
A day forecast to be wet, turned out to be a rather lovely autumnal day with great light for photography. Nigel Witham captured the following: Juvenile pied wagtail, moorhen, crow, robin, greater spotted woodpecker and grey squirrel. And a stunning reminder of the season!
Christine George was onsite yesterday and saw the following:
Robin 30+, coal tit 20+, blue tit 20+, great tit 10+, marsh tit 2, long-tailed tit 15+, nuthatch 4, chiffchaff 5+, goldcrest 30+, dunnock 4, wren 3, goldfinch 12, chaffinch 1, pied wagtail 1, great spotted woodpecker 4, green woodpecker 1, blackbird 4, mistle thrush 8, starling 6, magpie 1, jay 1, crow 3, pheasant 1, buzzard 1, woodpigeon 9, moorhen 4, mallard 25, coot 3.
And some stunning shots from Nigel Witham of Bedgebury's very special fungi - an important indicator of tree health for the site - as well as a lovely picture of everyone's favourite coot, Colin, looking unusually handsome.
Spotted high up in one of the Pinetum's trees by @rosiescreative (and recorded on Instagram) today - a kestrel according to iNaturalist (confirmed by Christine George as a juvenile).
A small copper, a (chilly-looking!) kestrel, and a wren, as well as evidence of the start of this year's fungi season, as spotted and photographed by Nigel Witham today. Please remember that the presence of fungi is an indicator of tree heath, important in a botanic garden tree collection like Bedgebury's. Please don't kick it or pick it!
A walk this afternoon in glorious early autumn weather resulted in the following stunning sightings for Nigel Witham: a spider, little grebe, blackbird feigning broken wing (it flew away!), roe deer stag, ruddy hawker, black-headed gull, bumble bee, migrant hawker, little grebe and small heath. And a brilliant dragonfly shot!
A walk today by Nigel Witham yielded these images of a ruddy darter and a cormorant in a glorious blue sky over the Visitor Centre lake.
Check out these stunning images taken by Nigel Witham of hornets inside their nest!
A brief walk by a Friends' team member round the Pinetum today yielded the following sightings between Marshal's Lake and Black Pond: 3 golden-ringed dragonfly, several southern and migrant hawker, and this lovely ruddy darter. There are also some lovely fungi about already! (Please don't pick Bedgebury's fungi - it plays an important role in the management of the tree collection.)
A walk with volunteer dragonfly and damselfly recorders yielded the following sightings today: emperor, migrant hawker (plus mating pair), ruddy darter, common blue, brown hawker, emerald damselfly, southern hawker, common darter, white legged damselfly, willow emerald damselfly, downy emerald dragonfly, brilliant emerald dragonfly (nationally rare - endangered in the UK), blue tail damselfly and golden ring dragonfly. There were also lots of brimstone and gatekeeper butterflies, several common lizard, some Roesel’s bush cricket and a grass snake on Reflections Lake. Ravens and masses of goldcrest were heard too.
A magical day of photography for Nigel Witham with the following wildlife highlights: painted lady butterflies, a grass snake on black pond, a fledgling firecrest, brimstone butterfly, a southern or common hawker (ID TBC) and some amazing close-ups inside a hornet's nest...
An amazing day for small fauna for Nigel Witham! But the ubiquitous mallards make an appearance too! From left to right: Mallards at the Cafe after closing, a painted lady butterfly, a robberfly (enjoying the body fluids of another robberfly!) and a juvenile and adult common lizard.
A 13 mile walk for Nigel Witham today, with species recorded including the ladybird, the common blue butterfly and the toadlet pictured stunningly below.
A photograph of a migrant hawker as taken by Nigel Witham today.
This evening's bat walk was a huge success! Simon Ginnaw, who led the walk, identified the following bat species for the audience: noctule, common pipistrelle, brown long-eared, serotine, daubenton's and soprano pipistrelle. Friends' records have always referenced 6 species of bat sighted at Bedgebury (based on the 2016 BioBlitz) - with natterer's bats seen on that occasion. The serotine wasn't seen in the BioBlitz, so this evening's sighting adds to the list of Bedgebury species. Simon believes that leisler's and nathusius pipistrelle bats have also been seen in Bedgebury's past, making 9 species of bat recorded here at one time or another. We look forward to updated recordings of these species in future bat walks.
The group were also lucky enough this evening to see this slow worm cross their path, as well as roe deer, grey heron, mallards and coots. The finale was a male tawny owl heard overhead as attendees returned to their cars.
The quest for a second purple emperor sighting continues! No luck to date, but Nigel Witham captured some stunning insect images on his quest this weekend.
A purple emperor! Recorded on iNaturalist today. What a sighting!
A stunning picture of a grass snake spotted hiding under a bush behind the Visitor Centre today. Thank you to Visitor Centre team members Tim and Craig for the brilliant photograph!
Wildlife spotter and photographer, Jason Moule, sent us the following sightings made on site today:
Dragonflies and damselflies: 1 brilliant emerald dragonfly, 2 downy emerald, 6 emperor, 1 brown hawker, 2 golden-ringed, 3 four-spotted chaser, 3 southern hawker, 1 migrant hawker, 3 common darter, 21 ruddy darter, 30 + small red-eyed damselfly, 14 red-eyed, 9 blue-tailed, 4 common blue, 7 variable, 40 + azure, 13 white-legged, 1 large red, 1 emerald, 3 banded demoiselle.
Butterflies: 1 white admiral, 2 red admiral, 12 silver-washed fritillary, 7 large white, 35 small white, 2 green-veined white, 21 gatekeeper, 55 meadow brown, 5 ringlet, 3 small heath, 1 comma, 7 small skipper, 1 large skipper, 1 speckled wood, 1 brimstone, 3 painted lady, 2 peacock.
Birds: nuthatch, treecreeper, siskin, chaffinch, green finch, goldfinch, blackcap, chiffchaff, marsh tit, blue tit, great tit, long-tailed tit, wren, mistle thrush, song thrush, robin, blackbird.
Jason also sent us these wonderful pictures. In order: brilliant emerald (2 images), golden-ringed emerald (2 images), a ruddy darter and a silver-washed fritillary.
A warm afternoon after the damp start enabled Nigel Witham to capture the following super images today. From left to right: five spot burnett, male emporer dragonfly, white admiral, comma, juvenile cuckoo, white admiral, silver-washed fritillary, juvenile cuckoo, common carp, snake skeleton, red admiral and roe deer.
Some more stunning images from wildlife enthusiast and photographer, Nigel Witham. From the top, left to right: a young rabbit (pictured close to the Visitor Centre), ringlet, meadow brown, gatekeeper, funnel web spider (picture taken near Marshal's Lake), cinnabar moth caterpillars and a female mallard.
A stunning picture of a male emperor dragonfly as captured by Bedgebury employee Judi.
Red damselflies and grey squirrels, as spotted by Nigel Witham on an 8 mile walk at Bedgebury today! Also "an immature female of the blue-tailed damselfly (Ischnura elegans) in its initial colour form, known as rufescens. If the photo had been taken a week later, the damselfly would have matured into the yellowish-brown form, rufescens-obsoleta." Bryan Bullen, who identified the third species for us also added: "Females have 5 different colour forms!" On receiving confirmation of this tricky identification, Nigel said: "No wonder they’re called damselflies. I don’t know if I’ll be able to keep up with that many changes of outfit, it’s almost like a frantic Parisian catwalk in the springtime. Who’d have thought!"
Nigel also heard turtle doves on his walk today, possibly 3 separate individuals, but they are so elusive he has yet to capture an image for us. As they are classed as 'Vulnerable', and are almost extinct in the UK as a breeding bird, ours are very special indeed. Keep your eyes and ears open, and please do report them to us if you get lucky and see or hear one!
5th July 2019
How many of you have seen what looks like a fairy light in grasses and bushes during June and July and wondered what it was? It’s a glow worm and actually they are not a worm but a type of beetle. The female glows to attract a male and once she has mated the light fades; the glow also warns predators that she does not taste nice so not to bother hunting her. The glow (a type of bioluminescence) is produced by a hormone called luciferin, which reacts with oxygen to create the light. The glow worms are best seen in June and July and a good number were seen during the ecology walk.
Other creatures seen or heard included baby owls, woodcock, toads and toadlets of various sizes, bats and deer.
A very hot day, so where better for the Bedgebury wildlife to cool off...! Pictures taken by staff member Judi at Marshal's Lake.
A new friend for Fox, as seen by staff member Jo...
29th June 2019
On the hottest day of the year so far, photographer Nigel Witham captured the following wildlife images from Bedgebury. In order: Wood ants, silver-washed fritillary, spent damselfly, spawning roach and a ghost snake (shed snake skin).
22nd June 2019
The uncommon white-legged damselfly was seen by Nigel Witham today.
21st June 2019
The following species were seen by John Gordon today (from left to right down the page): speckled wood butterfly, catsear, ground beetle, funnel weaver spider, lesser stitchwort, heath speedwell, large red damselfly, bitter vetchling, scarlet pimpernel and field forget-me-not.
Also seen today by Luke Wallace, the long-horned mining bee Eucera longicornis, is distinctive because of its long antennae. First recorded at Bedgebury during the 2014 BioBlitz, this solitary mining bee was recorded again during the #BigForestFind of 2019. The photo was taken by a staff member at the Big Forest Find with the bee being carefully handled by insect specialist, Dr Ian Beavis of the Tunbridge Wells Museum. This species has undergone a rapid decline across Britain as a result of the loss of flower-rich grasslands and is therefore a 'Species of Principal Importance'. It is therefore a rare and special find at Bedgebury. The large areas of legume-rich habitat (unmown meadowland) in the Pinetum seem to be keeping it happy!
The large skipper butterflies are also emerging in the Pinetum, as seen by Nigel Witham.
18th June 2019
Thank you to regular volunteers, Liz and Eric, for the photos of the spotted flycatcher and great spotted woodpecker, They also reported the following birds in the Pinetum: little grebe, grey heron, canada goose, mallard, tufted duck, buzzard, pheasant, coot, woodpigeon, great spotted woodpecker, pied wagtail, wren, blackbird, blackcap, chiffchaff, spotted flycatcher, blue tit, coal tit, magpie, jay, carrion crow, chaffinch, goldfinch, greenfinch and siskin.
15th June 2019
Grass snake on the hunt - photo courtesy of Nigel Witham.
Nigel Witham said: "Today I saw shrews, snakes, lizards, a turtle dove, ravens, green tiger beetles, funnel-web spiders, grizzled skippers (and many other butterflies, goldcrests and firecrests."
9th June 2019
Luke Wallace, as part of a KOS survey, reported the following birds as seen in the Pinetum today: nightjar, woodcock, firecrest, lesser spotted woodpecker and raven.
Nigel Witham's early morning wander through the Pinetum yielded great results today: "It seems easier to focus the camera on insects early in the day before they warm up, and there appears to be a healthy population of grizzled skippers just above the little pond with the waterfall."
Common blues and red damsels are also abundant right now.
8th June 2019
Nigel Witham, a regular 'Species Spotted' contributor, captured these stunning images today. He said: “I’ve been trying to photograph the firecrests in the forest since 2015. They’re not easy. I had to learn their call, locate them and then wait, but they’re fidgety and they don’t stay still for long. It was years before I got my first clear picture. In five years I haven’t got more than a few crisp shots. Today I was sheltering from the rain under the bushes behind the little waterfall with my camera when two male firecrests started fighting right over my head. Then they dropped to the forest floor under the bushes almost by my feet and got really angry with one-another. I took a lot of shots, most of which aren’t in focus, but take a look at this one! The squirrel who lives there was just as shaken as me!"
Nigel also sent a lovely grizzled skipper image - another special Bedgebury species!
Bedgebury's beautiful bee orchids have been spotted again this year. Fewer than usual though, but in the same area at the Park Lane end of Marshal's Lake. If you see them, please leave them alone and don't pick them - they need to set seed and die back naturally to flourish.
1st June 2019
Some beautiful photos were sent in by wildlife-spotting regular Nigel Witham, today. He said: “I had a lovely long walk today and saw lots of wildlife: at least three different grizzled skippers, a dingy skipper, deer, small coppers, common lizards and several firecrests (but no flycatchers). There are lots of broad-bodied chasers by the ponds too and I saw this green tiger beetle in the forest.”
31st May 2019
This evening's bat walk delivered the usual sensory magic for everyone attending! It is always a spectacular event, gloriously enhanced by the beauty of the Pinetum experienced at night, and tonight was no exception. A full species list is still to follow, but as the video posted to our Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/bedgeburyfriends/) shows there were good numbers and a variety of species in evidence with pipistrelles, daubentons, noctules and brown long-earned bats amongst those seen.
30th May 2019
A fascinating morning at the ‘Butterflies, hoverflies and bees walk’ hosted by volunteer entomologist Ian Beavis of the Tunbridge Wells Museum. Highlights included several long-horned bees (rare and declining), a burying beetle and a brown argus butterfly! A full list of the species found and identified can be downloaded here. The delightful great spotted woodpecker youngsters, first sighted on the 28th, were also heard and seen again in their oak home!
29th May 2019
Today's Big Forest Find started with a small mammal discovery walk with Matt Parratt of Forestry England. Wood mice were the most common find, but a yellow-necked mouse also made an appearance! A wonderful experience for Bedgebury's youngest wildlife enthusiasts!
Next up today in the Big Forest Find were Bedgebury's butterflies and day moths - with a fascinating walk led by volunteer enthusiast Anna Picken of Forestry England. Although cloudy, the light was perfect for photographs and the Pinetum looked lush and rich under the scrutiny of today's butterfly-hunting families.
Species seen and recorded included: common blue butterfly, small heath butterfly, orange underwing moth, speckled yellow moth, white moth, mother shipton moth, common heath moth, barred straw moth, small copper butterfly, green hairstreak butterfly, grizzled skipper butterfly and cinnabar moth.
Some extra species were spotted whilst on one of the walks today. Identifications have still to be confirmed but we think we have a white legged damselfly and a chaser or king skimmer in the pictures below:
The final walk of the day was a fascinating journey into the world of wildflowers, their botany and folklore with volunteer wildflower enthusiast Sue Buckingham. Please click here to find the 60 wildflower species recorded during today's guided walk.
28th May 2019
Today's Big Forest Find kicked off with an early morning bird walk led by Christine George which proved to be a feast for the senses! The sun shone warmly, the fragrance of the fully blown flowers in the Glory Hole was heady and the sight and sound of the resident and migrant birds joyous. Of particular interest was a family of marsh tit with 3 to 4 fledgling flitting around the trees with a parent. The species is now sadly on the IUCN Red List but although its numbers are much declined in the south east, Bedgebury has a strong population. The full list of bird species sighted is:
Blackbird, blackcap, blue tit, bullfinch (1), buzzard, Canada goose (9), carrion crow, chaffinch, chiffchaff, coal tit, dunnock, goldcrest, goldfinch, great spotted woodpecker, great tit, greenfinch (2), herring gull, jay (2), little grebe (1), magpie, mallard, marsh tit (5), moorhen (1), pheasant, robin, song thrush, stock dove, swallow (2), treecreeper (1), tufted duck (2), willow warbler (2), woodpigeon, wren.
The next Big Forest Find event focussed on identifying the moths trapped overnight on site by volunteer expert, Claire Ward. There was an amazing array of these intriguing creatures, some of which are pictured below, and all of which were later safely released.
The final highlight of the day was witnessed by those attending the family bird walk with Christine George. A great spotted woodpecker and its young were seen feeding in the opening to their home in this magnificent oak. A total of 29 bird species were sighted on this second bird walk of the day. The full list of species sighted is:
Blackbird, blackcap, blue tit, buzzard, Canada goose, carrion crow, chaffinch, chiffchaff, coal tit, coot, dunnock, goldcrest, goldfinch, great spotted woodpecker, great tit, herring gull, kestrel (1), little grebe (1), magpie, mallard, moorhen (1), pheasant, pied wagtail (yarrellii) (1), robin, song thrush, tufted duck (2), woodpigeon, wren.
26th May 2019
What a wonderful birdsong walk we had here this morning lead by volunteer birding enthusiast, David Ware. It was beautiful to hear a chorus of birds and to see some of them too! The star of the show was definitely a spotted flycatcher! Species also seen and heard this morning included: blackbird, pied wagtail, mallard, coot, little grebe, goldcrest, coal tit, carrion crow, great spotted woodpecker, green woodpecker, siskin, chaffinch, chiffchaff, blackcap, wren, Canada goose, buzzard, mistle thrush, robin and greenfinch.
Also reported today was a sighting of a grizzled skipper by regular wildlife spotter, Nigel. As it is a UK BAP Priority Species, this is an amazing photo of an increasingly rare butterfly in this part of the world. Nigel even captured a stunning spotted flycatcher as heard by this mornings lucky birdsong walk attendees:
Regular birders Eric, Liz and Lynn were also in the Pinetum and their bird list is as follows: little grebe, mallard, buzzard, pheasant, coot, herring gull, woodpigeon, tawny owl (H), greater spotted woodpecker, house martin, pied wagtail, wren, robin, mistle thrush, blackbird, blackcap, willow warbler, chiffchaff, goldcrest, blue tit, tree creeper, magpie, jay, carrion crow, chaffinch, goldfinch.
They also saw a female scarce chaser along Hill's Avenue and a swarm of bees in Section 16.
25th May 2019
This week's Big Forest Find got off to a great start with a focus on Bedgebury's watercourses! A common frog was one of the first finds of the day!
24th May 2019
Thanks to regular birders Eric and Liz for their sightings from their walk today: little grebe, Canada goose, mallard, buzzard, pheasant, coot, moorhen, woodpigeon, greater spotted woodpecker, swallow, wren, dunnock, robin, mistle thrush, blackbird, blackcap, willow warbler, chiffchaff, goldcrest, great tit, blue tit, coal tit, long tailed tit, nuthatch, magpie, jay, carrion crow, chaffinch, goldfinch, greenfinch and crossbill. It's good to see the crossbill being reported more often.
18th May 2019
This morning, over the melodious cacophony that is the dawn chorus was the clear and beautiful sound of a cuckoo calling close to the Visitor Centre. Cuckoos are summer visitors to Britain and their recent decline has made them a Red List species.
Bedgebury regular, John Smythers, has been following this year's Canada goose and mallard youngsters, as well as Bedgebury's wildlife in general. The first two images are from 9th May, the second two from 24th May. Thank you John for sharing your wonderful Bedgebury photographs with us.
2nd May 2019
Spring has sprung! Thank you John Smythers for this gorgeous spring image!
20th April 2019
The weather was perfect for today's dawn chorus walk. In the still dark dawn, the robin started its song and was joined by other species, one by one, including the beautiful and haunting call of at least three different tawny owls. Bird species heard and/or seen included: great tit, coal tit, long tailed tit, blue tit, tawny owl, Canada goose, great spotted woodpecker, chaffinch, green woodpecker, tawny owl, buzzard, heron, mandarin duck, raven, crow, treecreeper, nuthatch, chiffchaff, robin, blackbird, wren, pheasant, goldcrest, firecrest, mallard, dunnock and siskin.
12th April 2019
Today's family birdwalk enjoyed pleasant and dry weather, if a bit on the cold side. The highlight of today's walk had to be the female crossbill seen near the Visitor Centre. One of the the attendees on the walk also managed to get this lovely image of it. Other species spotted were:
Blackbird, blackcap, blue tit, buzzard, canada goose, carrion crow, chaffinch, chiffchaff, coal tit, common crossbill, coot, goldcrest, goldfinch, great spotted woodpecker (heard only), great tit, green woodpecker, greenfinch, herring gull, house martin, little grebe, magpie, mallard, moorhen, nuthatch (heard only), pheasant, pied wagtail (yarrellii), robin, siskin, song thrush, swallow, tufted duck, woodpigeon, and wren.
5th April 2019
Bedgebury bird-ringer, Christine George and a friend enjoyed a walk at Bedgebury today; to prepare for the Friends’ event Chris is leading next week, and in the hope that an elusive lesser spotter woodpecker would make an appearance. They were unlucky with the latter, but did see a good selection of birds, the highlight being a pair of firecrests in the Pinetum.
Grey heron 1, swallow 1, song thrush 3, robin 10+, blackcap 4, chiffchaff 5+, coot 2, carrion crow, blackbird 10+, tufted duck 2, blue tit 10+, coal tit 5+, great tit 2, wren 10+, moorhen 4, stock dove 1, wood pigeon, siskin 5+, greenfinch 2, chaffinch 3, goldfinch 8+, herring gull, nuthatch 4, canada goose 2, mallard 5, goldcrest 2+, firecrest 2, green woodpecker 2, raven 2, mistle thrush 2, pied wagtail 1, little grebe 1 and a least a couple of drumming great spotted woodpeckers.
3rd April 2019
A lovely wildlife encounter for one of the Bedgebury team early this morning - a young roe deer near the Walled Garden!
A regular visitor also popped in to tell us that they'd seen their first swallow of the season near the Visitor Centre. This sighting was corroborated by regular birdwatchers, Eric, Lynne and Liz, who managed to get a lovely photograph. They also reported: Canada goose, mallard, teal, buzzard, pheasant, coot, moorhen, stock dove, woodpigeon, green woodpecker, pied wagtail, dunnock, robin, mistle thrush, song thrush, blackbird, chiffchaff, goldcrest, firecrest, great tit, blue tit, coal tit, long tailed tit, nuthatch, carrion crow, raven, chaffinch, goldfinch and siskin. Thank you Eric for the photos of the swallow and the female teal.
30th March 2019
A glorious sunny bird-ringing session this morning closed the ringing season. Christine George, Bedgebury's ringer said:
"Spring was definitely in the air for the ringing session this morning, superb weather made ringing very pleasant indeed.
There were obvious signs of breeding all around us. Great spotted woodpeckers were drumming, and a lovely chorus was heard from birds such as chiffchaff, goldfinch, robin, blackbird, nuthatch and blackcap to name just a few. Both the female siskin we trapped had well-developed brood patches showing that Bedgebury is a favoured site for their breeding.
After many finches moult (replacing all their feathers, mainly in late summer in the UK), they have dull tips to some of their feathers, particularly those found on their heads. These dull tips gradually wear off over the winter so that by spring the birds are at their brightest. This was very obvious on the chaffinch we ringed.
The oldest bird we re-trapped today was a dunnock which had been ringed on 03/12/15. the average lifespan for a dunnock is 2 years, however the maximum age noted from ringing recoveries is a bird that reached the grand old age of 11 years 3 months, perhaps this dunnock will exceed that, only time will tell.2
Below is today's summary of ringing and sighting totals.
Blackbird – 4 (2 captured / released), blackcap – 1 (seen / heard), blue tit – 9 (2 captured / released), buzzard -1 (seen / heard), carrion crow – 3 (seen / heard), chaffinch – 2 (1 captured / released), chiffchaff – 3 (seen / heard), coal tit – 2 (seen / heard), dunnock - 1 (captured / released), goldfinch – 5 (seen / heard), great spotted woodpecker - 4 (1 captured / released), great tit – 5 (captured / released), green woodpecker -1 (seen / heard), mallard – 5 (seen / heard), marsh tit – 1 (seen / heard), nuthatch – 1 (seen / heard), pheasant – 3 (seen / heard), raven – 1 (seen / heard), robin – 2 (seen / heard), siskin – 4 (3 captured / released), woodpigeon - 3 (seen / heard), wren (seen / heard).
30th March 2019
Thank you to Rachel who hopped off her bike to follow her 'slithery friend into the trees to get a pic. Not the best pic, but he was pretty fast!'. And he's also well camouflaged! She said: 'I seem to spot them in the same place, on the path near the top of the car park.' A lovely sighting of one of Bedgebury's grass snakes.
20th March 2019
There is lots of bird activity in the Pinetum at present as evidenced by yesterday's birdringing report and also by bird sightings from regular watchers, Eric and Liz. Today they sighted 36 species including four firecrest and two treecreeper.
Their complete list was as follows: little grebe, canada goose, mallard, buzzard, pheasant, coot, moorhen, stock dove, woodpigeon, green woodpecker, great spotted woodpecker, pied wagtail, wren, dunnock, robin, song thrush, blackbird, chiffchaff, goldcrest, firecrest, great tit, blue tit, coal tit, long tailed tit, nuthatch, creeper, magpie, jay, carrion crow, jackdaw, raven, chaffinch, lesser redpoll, goldfinch, greenfinch and siskin.
Oh... and lots of rabbits too!
19th March 2019
Christine George was bird-ringing on site today and said of the session:
"What beautiful weather we had for the ringing session this morning. The session was fairly quiet bird-wise as it is likely that birds were taking advantage of today's good weather to claim breeding territories. Winter may have loosened its grip, but a spell of cold weather could still send birds flocking back to the feeders.
The dunnock we caught today was not showing any signs of breeding as yet, however it won't be long. Dunnocks are starting to have breeding on their minds, chasing each other around with males singing their beautiful sweet warbling song from many a dense hedge or shrub. In dunnock-land anything goes and courtship behaviour is much in evidence for a prolonged period. Females will normally build the nest and then bring up the young by herself.
We also caught a male and female great spotted woodpecker today. They are much more faithful to each other and will soon be busy excavating a hole together. In many bird species only the female will incubate, however, with great spotted woodpeckers, the male and female take turns. Often the female will do the day shift and the male the night shift. Once the young hatch, both will feed the young at first but once the young fledge the nest the male may well find himself bringing up the 'teenagers' by himself.
Our bird sightings were higher than usual today as you will see from the bird list. There is plenty of bird movement around at the moment and that will increase over the next few months."
Birds reported at today's session were: blackbird – 3 (seen/heard), blue tit – 2 (captured & released), buzzard -1 (seen / heard), carrion crow – (seen / heard), chaffinch - 2 (seen / heard), chiffchaff – 1 (seen/heard), coal tit – 3 (captured & released), common crossbill – (seen/heard), dunnock - 1 (captured & released), goldcrest -2 (seen/heard), goldfinch – (seen/heard), great spotted woodpecker - 3 (seen/heard), great tit – 2 (captured & released), green woodpecker -1 (seen/heard), herring gull - 2 (seen/heard), jay – 1 (seen /heard), lesser redpoll- 100+ (seen/heard), magpie – 1 (seen /heard), mallard – 6 (seen/heard), mandarin duck - 2 (seen/heard), marsh tit – 1 (seen/heard), mistle thrush – 1 (seen/heard), nuthatch – 1 (captured & released), pheasant – 1 (seen/ heard), pied wagtail -1 (seen/heard), raven – 1 (seen/heard), robin – 2 (seen/heard), siskin – 6 (1 captured & released), woodpigeon (seen/heard), wren (seen/heard).
15th March 2019
Volunteer David reported the following today: A chiff chaff singing its heart out near Marshal’s Lake and lots of goldcrest and the odd firecrest too. He also spotted some marsh marigold the other side of the Marshal’s Lake bridge.
9th March 2019
A huge thank you to Tom who visited again today from Stevenage with family and friends. He was able to spend some time with a fellow birder in the group often enough to record the following sightings and take the stunning picture of a redpoll shown here.
1 raven (a single bird seen overhead 3 times), 1+ firecrest (heard a bird singing briefly from a large holly near to where the Gruffalo statue was last year - after 10 minutes of trying, I got a brief view to be doubly sure of ID - and shortly thereafter caught a brief glimpse of two crest-sized birds flitting around same holly bush), 20+ mixed flock of siskin & lesser redpoll feeding together, 1 sparrowhawk, 2+ buzzards, 1 tufted duck & 1 little grebe (on the lake by the café).
5th March 2019
Thank you to Joel who reported the following sightings between 10.30am and 1.30pm today:
4 siskin, 3 bullfinch, 8 chaffinch, 4 longtail tits, 6 coal tits, 2 pheasant, 2 raven, 1 jay, 5 goldcrest, 3 robin, 5 buzzard, 20+ lesser redpoll.
1st March 2019 (Dydd Gwyl Dewi Sant - St David's Day)
A huge thank you to Dan and his family for these lovely photographs taken today. They were visiting from Wales and spent their St David's Day exploring the Pinetum. In just a couple of hours they spotted 27 species including a pair of kestrels, a couple of greater spotted woodpeckers and numerous goldcrests.
28th February 2019
A gentleman popped into the Visitor Centre today and reported seeing: 1 crossbill (near Reflection's Lake), 3 marsh tits (in the car park), 1 raven as well as chiff chaff, redpoll, siskin and nuthatch. A tawny owl was also heard.
27th February 2019
The following birds were sighted today by Liz, Lynn and Eric: mallard, red kite, buzzard, pheasant, coot, moorhen, stock dove, woodpigeon, green woodpecker, pied wagtail, wren, dunnock, robin, song thrush, blackbird, goldcrest, great tit, blue tit, long tailed tit, magpie, jay, carrion crow, jackdaw, raven, chaffinch, brambling, lesser redpoll, goldfinch, greenfinch, siskin, and crossbill.
Thank you to Bedgebury volunteer Eric, for getting in touch with his sightings and sending us these stunning pictures of a male and female crossbill in the unseasonal but rather glorious warm spring sunshine!
16th February 2019
A good mix of resident and visiting birds were spotted today - 34 species in total:
Grey heron, mallard, tufted duck, coot, moorhen, woodpigeon, black headed gull, green woodpecker, greater spotted woodpecker, pied wagtail, wren, dunnock, robin, redwing, song thrush, mistle thrush, blackbird, goldcrest, great tit, blue tit, long tailed tit, nuthatch, magpie, jay, carrion crow, raven, chaffinch, brambling, lesser redpoll, goldfinch, greenfinch, siskin, bullfinch, crossbill.
Birds reported by regular birders: Liz, Lynn and Eric. Thanks to Eric for the photos.
15th February 2019
More early sightings today of butterflies: We saw six individual male brimstone butterflies flying around the sunny bank alongside Park Lane where heather is in full bloom right now. David, a visitor experience volunteer also spotted 2x brimstone at Marshal's Lake and a red admiral flying around a rhododendron in flower.
14th February 2019
We've had our first butterfly sighting of 2019! The unseasonably spring-like warm weather today most likely contributed to a brimstone being seen flying around close to the bridge over the stream near the dwarf conifer collection. Bright yellow brimstone butterflies can overwinter as adults, so it's possible that this is one that has woken up from its winter slumber. Along with the red admiral, peacock, small tortoiseshell and speckled wood, they are one of the earliest emerging butterflies.
11th February 2019
Wow! A positive sighting of a barn owl! This picture (right) is a little grainy as it's been taken from a short video recorded by Bedgebury's Ranger Stuart Sutton at 7am. Stuart says he felt very privileged as the barn owl was hunting right in front of him and caught two small rodents in the long grass - probably field voles, their favourite meal. The last official barn owl sighting at Bedgebury was around 6 years ago, again just after dawn, when it flew over someone's head in the Pinetum!
9th February 2019
The windy weather wasn't ideal for bird-ringing today so the team lead by Chris George was extra vigilant at checking the mist nets regularly. Five species were captured during the morning: dunnock, (retrap), robin, (retrap), coal tit (5x new and 1 retrap), blue tit (7x new and 2 retraps), great tit (2x new and 2 retraps) making a total of 21 birds. Other birds seen or heard in the vicinity were: 6x blackbird, 1x buzzard, 1x carrion crow, chaffinch, 1x great spotted woodpecker, mallard, pheasant and raven.
8th February 2019
A visitor reported seeing a kingfisher at Marshal's Lake - a rare occurrence here as the usual place they are seen is Stone Hole, just north of Louisa Lake in the forest.
27th January 2019
Ecologist Simon Ginnaw and a colleague sighted the following birds at roosting time today. The weather was cold, wet and windy: 6 brambling, 6 raven (probably not 6 separate birds), 5 lesser redpoll, 10 siskin, goldcrest (lots), coal tit (lots), 1 common buzzard, 1 marsh tit, 1 nuthatch.
We also hosted a winter bird walk today, led by Christine George, the site's birdringer. The group sighted: 3 blackbird, 2 brambling, carrion crow, 10 coal tit, 10 fieldfare, 1 greenfinch, 1 lesser redpoll, 1 mistle thrush, 2 raven, woodpigeon, 2 blue tit, 1 buzzard, 100 chaffinch, 2 coot, goldcrest, herring gull, 21 mallard, 4 moorhen, 1 robin.
24th January 2019
Birdringer Chris George reported on the day's ringing session:
What a beautiful day it was for the ringing session today. Chilly yes, but no wind and a blue sky.
We arrived just as dawn was breaking and whilst putting up the nets, small flocks of finches were flying overhead. These birds were in all likelihood leaving their roost sites, presumably on the Bedgebury site somewhere and included thirteen common crossbill, twelve lesser redpoll, twenty siskin and a single hawfinch and a bullfinch.
We had five visitors to the ringing session today and all appeared to greatly enjoy the session. A steady supply of a good variety of birds provided opportunities to look at how we collect data and the interesting features of the birds before releasing them unharmed to continue with their daily task of finding food.
Blue tits and the conifer specialists, coal tits dominated the ringing session but each bird is slightly different close up and fascinating to see. It was good to see so many birds that had been born last year, implying a good breeding season for tits in 2018.
The bird list for the session was as follows: blackbird – 6 (1 captured & released), blue tit – 22 (captured & released), bullfinch – 1 (seen/heard), buzzard -1 (seen/heard), carrion crow – 1 (seen/heard), chaffinch - 6 (seen/heard), coal tit – 14 (captured & released), common crossbill - 13 (seen/heard), dunnock - 2 captured & released), goldcrest -2 (captured & released), great spotted woodpecker - 2 (capt & released), great tit – 6 (captured & released), green woodpecker -1 (seen/heard), greenfinch - 4 (seen/heard), hawfinch – 1 (seen/heard), herring gull - 4 (Seen / heard), jay – 1 (Seen / heard), lesser redpoll- 12 (Seen / heard), long-tailed tit – 4 (seen/heard), magpie – 1 (seen/heard), mallard – 5 (seen/heard), marsh tit – 1 (seen/heard), mistle thrush – 1 (seen/heard), nuthatch (see photo) – 3 (captured & released), pheasant – 1 (seen/heard), raven – 2 (seen/heard), robin – 1 (captured & released), siskin – 20 (seen/heard).
16th January 2019
IIt was a wet and cold day for the Friends' winter walk through the Pinetum with birdringer, Chris. The following birds were seen: 2 tufted duck, woodpigeon, blackbird, mallard, 100 chaffinch, goldcrest, 2 mistle thrush, 2 robin, 2 lesser redpoll, 15 coal tit, blue tit and 1 brambling.
14th January 2019
Birdringer, Christine George, walked around the Pinetum today at roosting time and reported the following birds: 11 blackbird, 4 brambling, carrion crow, 20 coal tit, 1 dunnock, 3 goldfinch, 1 green woodpecker, 20 lesser redpoll, 5 moorhen, 2 raven, about 40 siskin, 1 stock dove, wood pigeon, 10 blue tit, 3 buzzard, 100+ chaffinch, 1 coot, 2 goldcrest, 2 great tit, 2 jay, 10 mallard, 2 pheasant, 2 robin, 2 song thrush, 2 tufted duck.
9th January 2019
A birding enthusiast reported seeing a hawfinch in "the usual place" today. 4 siskin, 2 redpoll and quite a few brambling were also reported.