We list wildlife sightings on these pages to enable people to learn about and enjoy Bedgebury’s wonderful array of fauna. It is vital that the habitat and habits of our wildlife are not disrupted by inconsiderate human activity. Please help us to ensure that Bedgebury's wildlife is protected for everyone to enjoy.
Whenever possible we will report sightings of wildlife here when 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.
9 January 2019
A birding enthusiast reported seeing a hawfinch in 'the usual place' today. Four siskin, 2 redpoll and 'quite a few' brambling were also reported.
29th December 2018
Chris George took part in some festive bird-ringing over Christmas! Here she reports back on what she saw:
"It was a little breezier than expected but reasonably warm and we had a very pleasant morning's ringing with a regular supply of birds. Great tits dominated the session. However these birds are ideal for explaining and seeing the differences between males and females and young and older birds in a species that all often look identical when viewed in your own garden. Progressing from the differences in the feathers leads onto talking about how birds moult (change their feathers) at different ages. Goldcrests are always popular and catching two was an added treat. They are a revelation to people. It is astounding how birds so tiny and that weigh less than a 20p piece can fly over the North Sea."
Birds recorded were: 5 blackbird (seen/heard) 7 blue tit (captured and released), 7 carrion crow, (seen/heard), 4 coal tit (captured and released), 1 dunnock, (captured and released), 2 goldcrest (captured and released), 20 goldfinch (flock seen), 2 great spotted woodpecker, (seen/heard), 12 great tit (captured and released), 1 green woodpecker (seen/heard), 1 jay (seen/heard), 1 magpie (seen/heard), 7 mallard (seen/heard), 1 marsh tit (captured and released), 1 nuthatch (seen/heard), 3 raven (seen/heard), 2 robin (seen/heard), 1 sparrowhawk (seen/heard), 3 tawny owl (heard), woodpigeon (present - flying over).
5th December 2018
Bird-ringer Chris George reported on the ringing session: "The weather was beautiful for our ringing session yesterday, yes a little cool at dawn but then sunny with very little wind. Goldcrest were again present in large numbers with 8 birds being trapped and released. A firecrest amongst them was a delightful addition.
About the same size as a goldcrest they are a much rarer cousin and can be characterised by their white eye-stripe, greener back and fierce expression. On the whole they are doing well in the south east both as a breeding and wintering bird. Numbers are supplemented in winter with birds from the continent and at this time of year they can be easier to locate. Their high frequency contact calls are a little louder, more staccato and definite than those of the goldcrest. They are reportedly partial to holly and Ivy and finding one of these tiny birds will brighten any winter day."
Other birds ringed, spotted or heard were: 12 blackbird, 4 blue tit, 2 carrion crow, 3 chaffinch, 1 coal tit, 4 dunnock, 1 firecrest, 8 goldcrest, 2 goldfinch, 1 great spotted woodpecker, 3 great tit, 9 mallard, 2 marsh tit, 1 nuthatch, 1 pheasant, 2 raven, 14 redwing, 3 robin, siskin (present), 1 sparrowhawk, woodpigeon (present).
30th November 2018
Some great photos here of chaffinch and crossbill thanks to our volunteers Eric, Liz and Lynn. They also spotted:
Mallard, buzzard, coot, moorhen, woodpigeon, green woodpecker, robin, blackbird, goldcrest, great tit, blue tit, marsh tit, long-tailed tit, nuthatch, magpie, jay, carrion crow, raven, chaffinch, goldfinch, and siskin.
24th November 2018
Chris, bird-ringer at Bedgebury, reported on today's ringing session:
"Today's bird-ringing session yielded a slow but steady supply of birds, giving sufficient time for the ringers to explain aspects of bird ageing and moult that cannot normally be seen during 'general' birdwatching. The highlights of this session have to be 5 goldcrest and 2 marsh tit.
Goldcrest are very common, but difficult to see well at Bedgebury. They are exceptionally tiny active birds that are normally seen flitting amongst conifers or on small branches. The smallest bird in the UK they only weigh about 5g, the same as a 20p piece! Seeing these birds in the hand is a chance to see them really well and provides the opportunity to look at differences between males, females and young and older birds. Although so tiny, they can migrate long distances over sea and it is likely some of the birds that make Bedgebury their winter home may well have been born in Scandinavia. Some years ago in my garden in East Sussex I caught a goldcrest that had been ringed about 4 weeks previous in Norway. As I released it I wished it well on its travels.
It was lovely to see 2 marsh tit included amongst the 19 birds caught. These birds are on the 'Red List' of Birds of Conservation concern compiled by the British Trust for Ornithology, meaning there have been serious declines in their population in the last few years. Admirably Bedgebury appears to be one of their remaining strongholds in Kent. Interestingly when I was looking at data a few years ago, despite consistently ringing fewer than 1% of the Kent total of birds in Kent, in 2015 I ringed 36% of the total of marsh tit ringed during that year and in 2016 this rose to a staggering 50% of the total - all at Bedgebury!"
All the birds sighted or heard during the session today: 4 blackbird, 6 blue tit, 2 carrion crow, 1 coal tit, 2 dunnock, 7 goldcrest, 2 great tit, herring gull (present), jay, 1 long-tailed tit, 1 magpie, mallard, 2 marsh tit, 2 pheasant, 1 raven, 3 robin, 1 song thrush, 2 tawny owl, woodpigeon (present) and 1 wren.
14th November 2018
From her walk in the Pinetum that incorporated the Glory Hole and Thuja Collection bird-ringer Chris reported seeing the following 29 species:
1 black-headed gull, 40+ blackbird, 10+ blue tit, carrion crow (present), 100+ chaffinch, 4 common crossbill, 1 coal tit, 2 coot, 1 fieldfare, 6 goldcrest, 6 goldfinch, 2 greater spotted woodpecker, 1 great tit, 1 grey heron, jackdaw (present), 1 jay, 12 lesser redpoll, 4 magpie, 7 mallard, 3 mistle thrush, 3 moorhen, 1 nuthatch, 1 pheasant, 1 pied wagtail, 2 raven, 6 robin, 20+ siskin, woodpigeon (present) and 2 wren.
She said: "We had a lovely views of four crossbill calling, perching and munching cones in the Thuja Collection. At least 20 siskin (probably many more) and over 100 chaffinch were in the area congregating before going to roost in dense trees. I didn't see for definite any brambling but it's likely there were some mixed in. A party of at least 12 lesser redpoll were feeding on another tree and around 30 blackbirds were in the trees above the Visitor Centre before flying off in the direction of the Thujas. Three mistle thrush were also in the vicinity. There were a number of tits disappearing into the trees in that area as the light faded. An excellent end to the afternoon! No hawfinch today, but you can't have everything in one go!"
10th November 2018
Our Fungi Identification course run by fungi expert Bryan Bullen was a great success - 39 species were spotted in the Pinetum during the walk! Here is a comprehensive list and photos of the amazing magpie inkcap:
|SCIENTIFIC NAME||COMMON NAME|
|Amanita citrina||False Death Cap|
|Amanita citrina var alba||False Death Cap (white variety)|
|Amanita muscaria||Fly Agaric|
|Amanita rubescens||The Blusher|
|Boletus edulis||Penny Bun|
|Chlorophyllum rhacodes||Shaggy Parasol|
|Clavulina rugosa||Wrinkled Club|
|Clitocybe phyllophila||Frosty Funnel|
|Collybia butyracea||Butter Cap|
|Coprinopsis picaceus||Magpie Inkcap|
|Hebeloma crustuliniforme||Poison Pie|
|Hygrophoropsis auarantiaca||False Chanterelle|
|Hypholoma fasciculare||Sulphur Tuft|
|Hypholoma lateritium||Brick Tuft|
|Inocybe spp.||various unidentified Fibrecaps|
|Laccaria laccata||The Deceiver|
|Lactarius chrysorrheus||Yellowdrop Milkcap|
|Lactarius tabidus||Birch Milkcap|
|Lepista flaccida||Tawny Funnel|
|Lycoperdon excipuliformis||Pestle Puffball|
|Mycena rosea||Rosy Bonnet|
|Mycena spp.||Various unidentified Bonnets|
|Paxillus involutus||Brown Rollrim|
|Psathyrella piluliformis||Common Stump Brittlestem|
|Psilocybe cyanescens||Blueleg Brownie|
|Russula atropurpurea||Purple Brittlegill|
|Russula badia||Burning Brittlegill|
|Russula betularum||Birch Brittlegill|
|Russula caerulea||Humpback Brittlegill|
|Russula exalbicans||Bleached Brittlegill|
|Russula fragilis||Fragile Brittlegill|
|Russula nigricans||Blackening Brittlegill|
|Russula ochroleuca||Ochre Brittlegill|
|Russula sardonia||Primrose Brittlegill|
|Stereum hirsutum||Hairy Curtain Crust|
|Suillus luteus||Slippery Jack|
4th November 2018
The hawfinch have arrived! Thank you to keen birder James for coming into the Visitor Centre to report his sightings and for emailing across some record shots of the pair of hawfinch which he saw at 3.45pm on the south side of the Thuja Collection in the Pinetum. James also spotted: 2 raven, 1 marsh tit, 40 siskin, 15 lesser redpoll, 30 redwing, 1 buzzard.
2nd November 2018
What a glorious sunny and still day, perfect for a walk around the Pinetum to take in the autumn colour. David, one of Bedgebury's volunteers, kindly reported back hearing and seeing goldcrest and 4 crossbill (two pairs) in the tall larch trees just before dropping down the sunken path. However, this he says was not the first time he's seen crossbill this year - his last sighting was in early October when he saw a mixed flock of around 10 birds. Also, close to the Visitor Centre along the new path, were half a dozen mistle thrush squabbling while moving from tree to tree! It sounds like the last of the dragonflies are hanging on for this season too; David saw a couple of male common darter sunning themselves on the trunk of a tree surrounding Reflection Lake.
Let us know if you hear or see any birds - especially migrants at this time of year including hawfinch - and we can share your sightings here.
31st October 2018
This wonderful photo of a mistle thrush was captured hanging out at the top of a silver birch in the Pinetum. Spotted by Liz, Lynn and Eric, they also reported seeing: blue tit, black-headed gull, buzzard, carrion crow, chaffinch, coot, great tit, goldfinch, grey heron, jay, long-tailed tit, magpie, mallard, moorhen, pied wagtail, redpoll, robin, siskin and woodpigeon. Insect wise, they saw 2 red admiral and a common darter.
24th October 2018
We are continuing to see pollinating insects such as bees and butterflies in the Pinetum as the warm sunshine continues. Thank you Eric and Fiona for the photos.
20th October 2018
Thank you to Rachel and her daughter for sending in these fantastic photos of the most iconic fungus at this time of year - the poisonous fly agaric (Amanita muscaria). These three photos show this species at its different stages of growth. And as you can see by the last picture, those white 'spots' on the cap can get washed off in the rain. Fungi are an important indicator of tree health so please do not pick them or forage.
19th October 2018
Many birds were seen or heard today at the far end of the Pinetum close to Park Lane while bird ringing was taking place. And the onset of autumn has brought in the first set of migrants such as redwing! Here's what was recorded: 8 blackbird, black-headed gull (seen flying over), 6 blue tit, 12 Canada goose, 5 carrion crow, 5 chaffinch, 6 coal tit, 1 goldcrest, 10 goldfinch, 2 great spotted woodpecker, 2 great tit, herring gull (seen flying over), 2 jay, 3 long-tailed tit, 2 magpie, 9 mallard, 1 mistle thrush, 1 moorhen, 2 nuthatch, 2 pheasant, 1 raven, 20 redwing, 5 robin, 2 tawny owl, woodpigeon (seen flying over), 1 wren.
Elsewhere in the Pinetum, the following were sighted: little grebe, mallard, tufted duck, buzzard, kestrel, pheasant, coot, moorhen, black headed gull, woodpigeon, green woodpecker, wren, robin, mistle thrush, blackbird, blue tit, coal tit, nuthatch, magpie, jay, carrion crow, raven, chaffinch, goldfinch, siskin. Thanks to Liz, Lynn and Eric for these sightings.
17th October 2018
"Walter" the wood pigeon was keeping an eye on our staff this morning from his lofty position in a Montezuma Pine in the Pinetum! Walter is undoubtedly a juvenile as he is still to get his full colouring - another give away is that he doesn't have all his feathers yet at the base of his beak.
12th October 2018
Thank you to Kathy for capturing this amazing image of Canada geese flying in a V formation over the Visitor Centre lake. As Canada geese in the UK don't migrate these are likely to be ones coming in from Scandinavia for the winter that often mix in flocks with barnacle geese.
11th October 2018
Regular Instagram follower @cnPickett shared this image with us today and said: "One of the albino squirrels at the end of Helter Skelter on the red cycle trail."
7th October 2018
Spotted by members of the Bedgebury Forest Cycle Club, not one, but two albino squirrels at Cardiac on the red single track cycle trail - nicknamed Trevor and Tracy!
5th October 2018
The warm autumn sunshine today gave the perfect conditions for insects. Across from the Visitor Centre lake, along the tree-lined bank was (quite literally!) a hotspot for butterflies. In the space of half an hour along a 100m route we saw: a speckled wood, 3 small copper, (one pictured) 1 brimstone, 1 peacock and 1 comma. There were many southern hawker dragonflies on the prowl too!
27th September 2018
What a glorious autumn day to go for a stroll around the Pinetum! Some visitors followed the Hidden Secrets of the Pinetum walking trail and reported seeing many butterflies including: 7 brimstone around the large Monterey pine at point 19 on the walk, still plenty of speckled wood, small copper and red admiral. They also saw a goldcrest by the owl sculpture in the Glory Hole, pheasants and a green woodpecker in the Forest Plots. Round by the Visitor Centre in the willow trees again today a male chiffchaff has been heard and seen calling - 'weep, weep, weep' and flitting about within the branches.
16th September 2018
While opening the site at 8am, Visitor Services Officer Helen was greeted by this female adult slow-worm on the walkway leading down to the cafe, which slithered off into the neighbouring conifer beds. Contrary to belief, slow-worms aren't related to snakes at all; they are in fact a legless lizard...with a forked tongue!
14th September 2018
Another hawkmoth caterpillar has appeared on the move - but this time on the blue family cycle trail! We think this one might turn into an elephant hawkmoth.
13th September 2018
We have a new regular visitor to the lake outside the cafe, captured on camera by John. This regal heron enjoys a watch tower perch halfway up the tallest conifer by the lakeside. He or she may be eyeing up the fish which have made this lake their home! Also across the same lake today we spotted at least 100 housemartins and swallows feeding - a spectacular sight.
7th September 2018
Avid photographer Jason Moule was on a dragonfly hunt and captured these amazing shots below. From left to right: Golden-ringed dragonfly, migrant hawker (female), southern hawker (male), mating pair of ruddy darters, ruddy darter (female) and willow emerald damselfly. Thanks Jason!
6th September 2018
The late summer sunshine today has brought out lots of dragonflies, including southern hawkers and common darters. Indeed, over 30 hawkers were reportedly seen flying around the memorial bench to Lorna Elizabeth Drury at the end of Hills Avenue in the Pinetum. Thanks to Mark for that sighting.
22nd August 2018
Birds sighted in the Pinetum: little grebe, mallard, tufted duck, pheasant, coot, moorhen, stock dove, woodpigeon, green woodpecker, greater spotted woodpecker, swallow, house martin, wren, robin, blackbird, blackcap, chiffchaff, firecrest, blue tit, coal tit, nuthatch, treecreeper, carrion crow, magpie, raven, chaffinch, siskin.
Wherever there is sunshine there are butterflies at present, such as this beautiful small copper.
Thank you Liz and Eric.
15th August 2018
Thanks to Liz who emailed us this lovely bird sighting report, as she was in the right place at the right time!
"On 15th August I arrived early for my Wednesday Wild Crew volunteering. I had about 20 minutes to spare so I went to check out the Pinetum. As I crossed the meadow in front of the walled garden a flock of 9 mistle thrushes were feeding on the grass. As I approached the mouse on the Gruffalo sculpture trail I heard contact calls of small birds and I found a mixed flock. After many small birds have finished breeding they often team up with other species to look for food. Being part of a bigger flock also means more eyes to watch out for predators. They will stay in mixed flocks through the winter months. The first bird I saw through my binoculars was a firecrest, but I also saw goldcrests, great tits, lots of coal tits and a nuthatch all actively feeding. However my star bird was a spotted flycatcher. I was lucky to come across this mixed flock. I went back to eat my lunch in the same clearing by the mouse and hardly a bird to be seen or heard, just a wren, a pair of great tits and some woodpigeons."
14th August 2018
It was a day of caterpillars! A large hawk-moth caterpillar, possibly a convolvulus hawk-moth was seen on the path around the Visitor Centre and moved to a safer spot - that's a 10p coin next to it so you can see how big they are! We also had a hitchhiker in the office which turned out to be a buff-tip moth caterpillar. They like to eat leaves from deciduous trees such as birch and oak.
2nd August 2018
On lovely summer days you may be lucky to spot a basking common lizard. They particularly like sunning themselves on places such as rocks, bare earth and on benches which makes them rather photogenic! This male common lizard was seen right outside the visitor centre doors on the decking.
28th July 2018
During our evening bat walk the following species were seen and heard (via bat detectors): noctules, common and soprano pipistrelles and Daubentons. Daubentons enjoy swooping low over the visitor centre lake from dusk onwards to catch flying insects.
19th July 2018
As the hot weather continues, grab a camera and make the most of the opportunity to capture Bedgebury's insects at their very best! Friend's member Nigel Witham has done exactly that; here's a selection of his amazing photos from left to right: white admiral, female common hawker, female common darter, male emerald damselfly and an amazing close-up of one of the many species of hoverfly we have here.
18th July 2018
Liz, one of our volunteers, saw a spotted flycatcher by the Juniper Collection in the Pinetum close to the bench overlooking Leaky Lake. A great spot!
16th July 2018
Thank you to Friend's member Nigel for popping in to the Visitor Centre to let us know he's been butterfly hunting and spotted white admiral (at least three different ones in the forest on the blue family trail between waymarkers 32 and 36) plus comma, small and large skipper, small copper, silver-washed fritillary and lots of brown butterflies! It's the perfect weather to come to Bedgebury to look for these beautiful insects.
14th July 2018
Our Dragons and Damsels walk led by Bryan Bullen was a great success with 13 species sighted and identified! Here is the list of what was seen:
Emerald damselfly (Lestes sponsa)
White-legged damselfly (Platycnemis pennipes)
Large red damselfly (Pyrrhosoma nymphula)
Banded demoiselle damselfly (Calopteryx splendens)
Brown hawker dragonfly (Aeshna grandis)
Blue-tailed damselfly (Ischnura elegans)
Emperor dragonfly (Anax imperator)
Golden-ringed dragonfly (Cordulegaster boltonii)
Downy emerald (Cordulia aenea)
Black-tailed skimmer (Orthetrum cancellatum)
Common darter (Sympetrum striolatum)
Ruddy darter (Sympetrum sanguineum)
Common blue damselfly (Enallagma cyathigerum)
12th July 2018
A Friend's member reported seeing silver-washed fritillaries, gatekeepers, ringlets and lots of meadow brown butterflies flying around. Many thanks for these sightings - let us know if you see any too!
11th July 2018
Thank you to one of our Wednesday Wild Crew volunteers Fiona Hooper for sending in these amazing photographs of some of the insects in the Play Area! The team was clearing back the shrubbery from the boardwalk next to the Pirate Ship when she spotted the following from left to right: honey bee, cinnabar moth caterpillar and a common red soldier beetle.
3rd July 2018
A mid-afternoon stroll around the Pinetum for our butterfly transect today saw the following species: 2 small skipper, 3 large skipper, 2 large white, 2 small white, 1 silver-washed fritillary, 2 gatekeeper, 143 meadow brown, 9 ringlet. This is the first sighting of gatekeepers and ringlets this year.
2nd July 2018
The sunshine is bringing a lot more sightings of all sorts of creatures. Today a visitor reported seeing two common lizards, one adder and two grass snakes.
In a separate incident a grass snake was spotted (and photographed) in the Visitor Centre Lake. Although grass snakes are often found trying to keep cool in lakes and waterways on hot sunny days, it’s not often that they venture into the Visitor Centre Lake! This one got entangled in the reeds and weeds and was helped out of its predicament when Forestry Commission staff removed the plants blocking its path to allow it to escape back into a quiet corner.
Remember that for your own safety and that of the animal you should avoid handling wild animals - if you spot something in trouble, let the staff know in the Visitor Centre.
1st July 2018
This golden ringed dragonfly flew straight into the Visitor Centre and stopped long enough for a photograph (Thank you, Ann). There are currently a huge number of dragonflies and damselflies to be seen in the Pinetum.
29th June 2018
This hot sunny weather is proving great for Odonata spotting. The following were recorded on site today (Thank you, Bryan Bullen):
Beautiful demoiselle, emerald damselfly, white-legged damselfly, large red damselfly, red–eyed damselfly, azure damselfly, blue-tailed damselfly, emperor dragonfly, golden-ringed dragonfly, downy emerald (unverified), black-tailed skimmer, common darter. Photograph from left to right: beautiful demoiselle, common darter, white-legged damselfly (seen earlier in the week).
Butterflies are also enjoying the warmth and the following were reported: small skipper, Essex skipper, silver-washed fritillary (6 sightings), brimstone, ringlet, meadow brown.
28th June 2018
Adult toads and baby toadlets are popping up all over the Pinetum right now. This image came via Instagram (thank you for posting - @kittenjenkiins25).
20th June 2018
A good spot by Mina - there are many beautiful demoiselle damselflies emerging right now - they are stunning metallic blue/green and the male has almost black wings - see the photograph here. Also seen and harder to spot are white-legged damselfly, but the white stripe down their legs can be seen if you look very closely - or through binoculars.
19th June 2018
If you go down to Leaky Lake you'll see lots of emerald damselfly emerging right now! The males and females look rather similar, but both like to fly straight up like a helicopter and then land with their wings spread out. The picture here is of a female emerald damselfly.
15th June 2018
Now's the perfect time to see dragonflies and damselflies. Down by the visitor centre lake today there were several pairs of common blue damselflies flying in tandem. The male is a striking blue colour and the female is usually a dull green. There is another damselfly that is also blue which is often mistaken for the common blue and that's the azure, but this has slightly more black on the thorax. Also seen flying across the lake was an emperor - the largest dragonfly we have in the UK - which is a vivid green and blue colour, plus a black-tailed skimmer (pictured). Just up past the lake on the zigzag path flying around the conifers was a four-spotted chaser too.
12th June 2018
Deer can often be spotted in the Pinetum, if you are lucky and very quiet. Thank you, Simon, for this lovely image of a female roe deer with a fawn.
9th June 2018
A lovely spot by Forestry Commission colleagues: a painted lady butterfly basking in the sun in the service road. This amazing butterfly is a migrant which flies all the way from Africa!
8th June 2018
We have all sorts of visitors here, even a pale tussock moth was trying to work out how to use the touchscreen pay machines this morning! And some good news: the turtle dove was heard 'purring' again early today - and this time in the Pinetum. Listen out for his distinctive song. It was also a gorgeous day for butterfly spotting! Today a walk along our butterfly transect in the Pinetum found: 4 meadow brown, 1 speckled wood, 2 common blue, 1 small heath. En route we noticed many swathes of common spotted orchid - they are in their prime at the moment so a great time to capture them in a photograph.
7th June 2018
Thanks to the recent warm spell, we have seen some beautiful, rare bee orchids out in bloom in the area around Marshal's Lake. As the name suggests, bee orchids mimic the appearance of a female bee, attracting the attention of a male which climbs in and gets covered in the pollen. However, we don't have the right species of bee in the UK to pollinate the orchid, but luckily the bee orchid self-pollinates! This rare species is protected under Section 13 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act (1981).
6th June 2018
Thanks to Liz, Lyn and Eric for this list of birds spotted during the volunteers' picnic, and to Eric for this lovely picture of a juvenile pied wagtail: little grebe, Canada goose, cormorant (over), mallard, tufted duck, buzzard, pheasant, coot, moorhen, woodpigeon, swallow, green woodpecker, pied wagtail, wren, robin, blackbird, chiffchaff, goldcrest, long tailed tit, blue tit, coal tit, great tit, treecreeper, carrion crow, jackdaw, jay, magpie, goldfinch, chaffinch and greenfinch.
4th June 2018
Some areas at Bedgebury seem to be hot spots for strange and wonderful creatures. Take aphids for example. Several rare species have been recorded at Bedgebury. The expert who recorded it had the following to say:
'Another rather rare aphid.... This time it is Aphis acetosae - on Rumex acetosa (sorrel). Although common on the continent, it seems strangely rare here. When we found it there were fairly good sized colonies, in a tight 20 foot focus. Just three days later they had virtually disappeared - which was quick, even though many were fourth instar alatae.
Stroyan describes Aphis acetosae as "rare and local, and very little recorded in Britain."
3rd June 2018
Last night and early this morning a garden warbler was heard singing in the willow trees around the Visitor Centre lake. He may well have taken up residence in this spot, so keep an ear out for his wonderful call! Meanwhile, willow warblers are active and singing in the silver birch trees around the car park too.
2nd June 2018
It was a bumper day for butterfly spotting. Today we saw the first common blue butterflies to emerge - 7 in total - plus: 2 speckled wood, 3 small heath, 1 meadow brown (the earliest recorded at Bedgebury for this species!) 2 small skipper and 1 small copper.
24th May 2018
Today's butterfly transect was on a muggy, overcast day so we weren't expecting to see any butterflies! However, we saw a speckled wood in the long grass close to the walled garden and two small heath in Churchill Wood. Perhaps because of the damp conditions, there were many day flying moths about - we captured one on camera; a beautiful speckled yellow.
20th May 2018
We are so excited to report that a turtle dove has been heard and spotted near Louisa Lake. With their distinctive purr, these lovely birds are now very uncommon as they are shot in huge numbers during their migratory flight between Africa and Europe. Just as thrilling was the song of a nightingale coming from the shrubbery that lines the wide straight track from the junction of Gloomy Wood and post 92 on the Singletrack Red Trail.
18th May 2018
We heard a cuckoo in the Pinetum this morning... and two were also reported flying over the Forestry Area Office early on Wednesday morning too! It's fantastic that these now rare migrant birds are visiting. Keep an ear out for their distinctive, repetitive song. Over at Black Pond (which is stop 5 on the Spring Trail) six species of Odonata were seen: azure, common blue and large red damselfly, four-spotted chaser, downy emerald and hairy dragonfly. A great start for the season!
14th May 2018
Today's butterfly transect reported the following: a speckled wood, a brimstone, 3 small white and one dingy skipper (pictured left). While it is nice to see any butterflies, the dingy skipper is an exciting find since these are quite rare these days.
8th May 2018
The latest hot spell has encouraged dragonfly and damselflies to emerge; we had the first reported dragonfly today - a downy emerald - (pictured right) which was seen flying around Black Pond in the Pinetum. At the same sunny spot, we saw a male beautiful demoiselle and 2 large red damselfly in tandem. There is also the possibility of either a broad-bodied chaser or a four-spotted chaser flying around Lady Mildred's Drive in the Pinetum from a quick sighting, so keep your eyes peeled!
6th May 2018
Today was a scorcher - perfect weather for many insects, amphibians, reptiles and bird life at Bedgebury. As it was 21 degrees C at 10am, the butterfly count done by Sarah was started a bit earlier than usual. She was successful in seeing 1 small skipper, 3 orange tip, 2 large white, 2 speckled wood. Keep an eye out for butterflies during warm spells and let us know what you see! Two visitors reported seeing a grass snake swimming across Marshal's Lake - others have seen them basking in the sunshine on the paths (they slither off when disturbed!). Also, in a quieter part of the Pinetum, a stoat was seen bounding through the grass by the fallen log at the start of the sunken path.
22nd April 2018
Anna our resident butterfly expert spotted the following during the butterfly transect in the Pinetum today: 4 orange tip, 2 large white, 1 brimstone, 1 small white, 1 peacock.
20th April 2018
A couple of reports of the common lizard and this stunning photo (thank you, Liz). Now that the sun is out do keep a watch for Bedgebury's resident lizards and slow worms. Photos and sightings welcomed.
18th April 2018
More and more butterflies are being spotted in the Pinetum! Today's butterfly transect walk by Anna on a pleasant warm afternoon came up with the following sightings: 6 brimstone, 1 large white and 1 peacock.
13th April 2018
A brisk 2-mile circular walk around the Pinetum on a dull, but still day meant it was easy to hear many birds singing for a mate and their territory. Here's what was heard, seen or both: chiffchaff, blackbird, goldfinch, robin, coot, tufted duck, mallard, moorhen, wren, buzzard, chaffinch, raven, woodpigeon, pheasant, carrion crow, great tit, goldcrest, green woodpecker, song thrush, blue tit, willow warbler (in Churchill Wood), coal tit, siskin (many in the Lawson Cypress Collection), blackcap (singing in the trees around the Gruffalo owl).
Unfortunately today's butterfly count was zero. Hopefully the sun will be back out again soon!
9th April 2018
Some spring-time firsts today! The first willow warbler was heard singing in the Play Trail, a pair of house martins have spent the day swooping low over the Visitor Centre lake catching midges and several chiffchaffs have been heard in the Pinetum. How fantastic!
6th April 2018
Here's a rarity for Bedgebury: a red kite was seen flying over the Visitor Centre lake! There have been reports of red kites soaring on the thermals over Kent recently so we're very happy to see that one or two have made it to Bedgebury. Also, a Forestry Commission member of staff saw two common snipe wandering about in the walled garden car park at 6pm, which makes a day of unusual sightings!
5th April 2018
It was a lovely spring morning and whilst ringing in the Forestry Commission Area Office car park, 32 different species of bird were either seen or heard. There may well have been more species in the vicinity that went unnoticed as a result of us concentrating on the ringing process.
Despite the spring weather and surrounding birdsong none of the birds examined in the hand had any sign of a brood patch. A brood patch is a hormonal de-feathering of the belly of the bird that occurs naturally in order for the bird (often just the female) to be able to incubate eggs and newly hatched youngsters. This de-feathering starts whilst the nest is being built and then becomes more prominent during incubation. It is still too early for many birds e.g siskin and goldfinch who are unlikely to have eggs before the end of April at the very earliest, however blackbirds, robins and dunnocks can all breed fairly early and none of those species caught at the ringing session had a brood patch. Both the robins were large birds and could well have been males, however one of the blackbirds was certainly a female and 2 out of the 3 dunnocks were quite possibly females. Perhaps a sign of a late spring?
The birds ringed and released today were:
1 blackbird, (+1 retrap) 2 blue tit, (+7 retraps) 6 coal tit, (+1 retrap) 1 dunnock, (+2 retraps) 1 goldfinch, 3 great tit, (+2 retraps) 1 mallard, 2 robin, 7 siskin. Also retrapped were: 1 nuthatch, 1 great spotted woodpecker.
Birds seen or heard whilst ringing was taking place were:
blackcap, buzzard, Canada goose, carrion crow, chaffinch, chiffchaff, collared dove, coot, goldcrest, green woodpecker, greenfinch, jay, kestrel, magpie, moorhen, pheasant, raven, red-legged partridge, woodpigeon, wren.
3rd April 2018
Today marked the official start of the butterfly count season. From now on a weekly basis, we will be walking a set transect route around the Pinetum to log any butterflies that we see. Although today we didn't spot any due to the dull, colder spring weather, we are confident that we will see many in the coming weeks and months, including the silver-washed fritillary, green hairstreak and possibly even a clouded yellow. Find out more about the butterflies you may be able to see at Bedgebury here.
23rd March 2018
A quiet and calm sunny day at Bedgebury today; here were the birds spotted or heard on a short lunchtime walk: raven (2x chasing each other across Leaky Lake), jay, carrion crow, buzzard, kestrel, blue tit, great tit, coal tit, nuthatch, robin, goldcrest, tufted duck, mallard, coot and moorhen.
21st March 2018
We're all on toad watch! This time of year the common toad emerges from its overwintering sites and migrates its way to ancestral breeding ponds and lakes to find a mate and continue their lifecycle. Here at Bedgebury we've had a number of sightings already recently, including today's male common toad which was merrily making its way across from the Visitor Centre lake where the path splits for the Pinetum and the cherry tree walk. Being well-camouflaged this little chap almost got trodden on! So keep an eye to the ground for toads; it's best not to pick them up as when they feel threatened they produce a toxin which they secrete through glands and this can irritate your skin.
17th March 2018
The elusive albino squirrel (last sighted on 13th January) showed up again around 2.30pm close to Cardiac Hill on the bike trails - Chris reports again:
"High excitement, had a closer encounter with one of the white squirrels. It was at the usual place, about 70 yards on from the top of Cardiac. It was within a couple of yards when I spotted it, close enough to confirm it has the red eyes of an albino rather than the dark eyes of the rarer variety.
Needless to say, by the time I got my phone out it was facing in the direction of away, hence another rubbish picture!"
Good to see at least one is still thriving. Maybe next time I will get a better pic..."
Thank you, Chris.
15th March 2018
The butterfly season has officially begun! With spring most definitely in the air, three acid yellow Brimstone butterflies were spotted at the far end of the Pinetum around Marshal's Lake. Others to look out for at this time of year which have come out of hibernation are red admiral, small tortoiseshell, comma and peacock. As we get ever closer to April keep an eye out for orange tip too.
11th March 2018
A beautiful tawny owl having a snooze was spotted in broad daylight in the Pinetum, on a busy Sunday lunchtime; there have been several reports and some amazing photographs. Thanks to Ann for these.
6th March 2018
What a beautiful early spring morning it was for today's ringing session. Great spotted woodpeckers were drumming and song and mistle thrush were singing loudly along with a variety of other birds including dunnock, nuthatch and robin.
The two male blackbirds ringed nicely showed the group present the differences between a male blackbird born last year and an older male. These differences also showed well in the tits ringed.
Capturing both a male and female siskin was also good for comparison. These lovely little birds may be a local breeding bird but equally they may have come from much further afield, possibly northern England, Scotland and even Scandinavia. Perhaps one of them will be recaptured at some point in the future and we will know where they have chosen to breed.
The birds ringed and released today were:
2 blackbird, 7 blue tit , 14 coal tit, 1 dunnock, 1 goldfinch 1 great spotted woodpecker, 3 great tit, 2 siskin.
Other birds seen or heard during the bird ringing session: Blackbird – 6 (2 captured and released), Blue Tit – 7 (captured and released), Buzzard – 1, Chaffinch - 4 (seen), Coal Tit – 14 (captured and released), Crow – 2 (flying over), Dunnock - 2 (1 captured and released), Goldcrest -1 (heard), Goldfinch – 1 (captured and released), Great Spot Woodpecker - 3 (1 captured and released), Great Tit – 3 (captured and released), Green Woodpecker – 1 (heard), Grey Heron -1 (seen), Grey Wagtail - 1 (seen), Herring Gull – 1 (flying over), Long-tailed Tit – 1 (seen), Magpie – 2 (seen), Mallard – 19 (seen), Marsh Tit – 2 (heard), Mistle Thrush – 1 (singing), Moorhen – 1 (seen), Nuthatch – 2 (singing), Pheasant – 1 (seen), Raven – 2 (heard), Robin – 4 (2 captured and released), Siskin – 2 (captured and released), Song Thrush – 2 (singing), Stock Dove – 1 (singing), Woodpigeon – present (flying over).
16th February 2018
What a beautiful morning it was for the ringing session, with lots of birds in the vicinity of the Forestry Commission offices! 35 species of bird were seen or heard during the ringing session and our ringing totals reached 50 new birds and 20 retraps. It was nice to see some siskin and goldfinch at the feeders. These birds may show an increase at feeding stations for the next few weeks as their natural food of seeds becomes scarce.
Our known oldest bird of the session was a blue tit. This bird had been ringed in Jan 2012 as a bird born the previous year. It was retrapped in Jan 2013 and hadn't been recorded again until the session yesterday. Assuming the bird survives until May it will be 7 years old which is a very good age for a blue tit! Another blue tit had been ringed in Feb 2015 as a bird born in 2013 or earlier. This again is a good age.
Most of the birds ringed at the session probably spend most of their lives on or close to the Bedgebury site, however it is quite likely the siskin and goldfinch could breed much further north, possible Northern England or Scotland. We caught a single blackbird at the session and this bird showed characteristics of being a continental bird, perhaps a bird visiting us from Germany or Scandinavia to escape the colder winter, returning to its breeding area as spring arrives.
Total number of birds ringed and released (or were recaptures) were as follows: 1 blackbird, 26 blue tit, 11 coal tit, 4 dunnock, 3 goldfinch, 18 great tit, 3 nuthatch, 1 robin, 3 siskin.
During the bird ringing session birds also seen and/or heard included: 1 black-headed gull, 1 brambling, 1 bullfinch, 3 buzzard, 2 Canada goose, 2 chaffinch, 2 cormorant, 4 carrion crow, 1 goldcrest, 3 great spotted woodpecker, 2 green woodpecker, 1 grey heron, 6 herring gull, 1 jay, 1 long-tailed tit, 2 magpie, 18 mallard, 1 marsh tit, 1 mistle thrush, 1 moorhen, 1 pheasant, 1 raven, 2 song thrush, 2 stock dove, 4 woodpigeon, 1 wren.
Elsewhere, spotted around the far side of the visitor centre lake were 2 treecreepers, a raven was heard 'cronking' and seen flying overhead, and a goldcrest flitting about in the pine trees above Leaky Lake. Lots of passerines are now in full song advertising their ability as a great father! Indeed, during a lunchtime walk through the Pinetum song thrush, mistle thrush and great tit were all heard.
Keep an eye out currently for emerging queen bumblebees! Along the Winter Trail just up from the board walk are an array of winter flowering shrubs, including witch hazel and 'Winter Beauty' a lovely-sweet smelling winter flowering honeysuckle. It was on one of these honeysuckle bushes that a queen buff-tailed bumblebee was buzzing around, fresh from hibernation. Many honeybees were also seen.
15th February 2018
This week's finch roost survey reported the following: 5 goldfinch, 5 siskin, 17 redpoll, 56 hawfinch, 93 chaffinch, and 239 brambling.
11th February 2018
A buzzard and a sparrowhawk were sighted mobbing each other in the Pinetum this morning.
6th February 2018
Today's birdringing session was cold, but warmer than expected! Business was brisk with a total of 51 birds trapped, split equally between previously ringed and newly ringed. Although different varieties of tit dominated, there were appearances from a marsh tit, a great spotted woodpecker, a couple of nuthatch and a dunnock among others. Other birds heard or spotted while the birdringing was in progress included: Canada geese, cormorant, crow, goldfinch, green woodpecker, hawfinch, herring gull, jackdaw, long-tailed tit, magpie mallard, moorhen, pheasant, raven, robin, siskin, song thrush, sparrowhawk, tawny owl and woodpigeon.
5th February 2018
Birds reported into the Visitor Centre today: 1 goldcrest, 1 nuthatch, 15-20 coal-tit, 2 or 3 great spotted woodpecker, 1 raven and 2 buzzard and 15-20 hawfinch in the oak opposite the Gruffalo.
4th February 2018
Thanks to bird spotter James King who reported that he saw the following in the Pinetum between 2.30pm and 4pm: 25 hawfinch (10 began arriving at 3pm with more soon after until by 3.40pm 25 individuals scattered across the area), 80 brambling showing well in the sweet chestnut trees within the Thuja Collection (flying in at around 3.45pm) 20 siskin, 1 raven, 1 marsh tit and 1 little grebe on the visitor centre lake.
2nd February 2018
Lots of keen birders visited today. Those that were kind enough to pop back to the Visitor Centre reported seeing goldcrest, raven and buzzard before the golden hawfinch hour of 3-4pm! Keep those sightings coming in!
1st February 2018
Several reports of hawfinch today with as many as 20 in the usual roosting spot.
30th January 2018
The cold, bright start to the day was perfect for attracting a variety of birds to the feeders for the birdringing session today. A total of 36 birds were trapped and ringed; of these 10 were retraps. Most of the birds ringed today were a variety of tits (11 blue tit, 12 coal tit, 6 great tit) but the highlight had to the single marsh tit that turned up. These wonderful little birds have all but disappeared in Sussex and Kent although Bedgebury seems to have kept a small population. Other birds ringed today were: 1 blackbird, 4 nuthatch and 1 great spotted woodpecker.
Other birds seen or heard during the session: buzzard, chaffinch, crow, goldfinch, green woodpecker, long-tailed tit, raven, robin and wood pigeon.
29th January 2018
The following birds have been sighted in the Pinetum today: 19 hawfinch, 100+ brambling, 5 redpoll and 2 siskin.
28th January 2018
A couple of hawfinch sighted at the back of Bedgebury's nursery around 2.30pm. It's good to have sightings from different areas of the Pinetum.
25th January 2018
Today's birdwalk yielded a good number of sightings for such a short walk as the weather stayed mostly sunny. A total of 26 different species were sighted with the highlights being 30+ brambling and 15+ hawfinch. Other species were: blackbird, carrion crow, coot, great spotted woodpecker, little grebe, mallard, moorhen, pheasant, robin, song thrush, woodpigeon, blue Tit, bullfinch, chaffinch, goldcrest, great tit, herring gull, magpie, mistle thrush, nuthatch, pied wagtail (yarrellii), siskin, tufted duck and wren.
(Thanks to George R for the photos)
21st January 2018
Some of the usual suspects reported in the Pinetum today: raven, little grebe, coal tit, goldcrest, woodpecker and tree creeper.
18th January 2018
Around 30 hawfinch and 50 brambling have been reported near the Gruffalo Child sculpture this afternoon. Siskin and redpoll were also heard.
17th January 2018
"...had a good afternoon watching in the area near Gruffalo's child and the Thuja collection, and we were lucky with the sunny afternoon. The brambling were arriving in good sized flocks, up to 50 at a time to the two sweet chestnut trees and were also in good numbers at the top of the nearby larch trees, but difficult to know if we were double counting, as they were all moving about so much. We only saw 1 hawfinch at a time but it could have been different ones we kept seeing. One highlight was a flock of approx 45 lapwings which flew NW over the visitor centre lake about 1.30pm."
33 species were spotted in total:
Little grebe, mallard, tufted duck, buzzard, kestrel, pheasant (H), lapwing (over 45), coot, moorhen, black headed gull, woodpigeon, great spotted woodpecker, green woodpecker (H), pied wagtail, wren, robin, blackbird, mistle thrush, goldcrest (H), blue tit , coal tit, great tit, marsh tit, nuthatch, carrion crow, jay, magpie, raven, chaffinch, brambling (100+), goldfinch, siskin, hawfinch.
(Thanks to Liz and Eric for this report)
13th January 2018
Reports of albino squirrels continue to come in... Keep the sightings (and photographs) coming in please. Here is an excerpt from the latest email on the subject:
"I have mountain biked around Bedgebury for the past eight years or so. About three years ago, I used to regularly see a white squirrel at the top of Cardiac but then no sightings until late this summer when I saw a slightly ragged, half tailed white squirrel in about the same place. The same animal, but older?
Then, in November this year on the same ride, I spotted one white squirrel in the chestnut coppice at the end of Helter Skelter and then a few minutes later another at the top of Cardiac. Definitely different animals, unless squirrels have access to a helicopter! Perhaps they are the offspring of the half-tailed animal?
The (poor quality) picture (not reproduced here) is of one of the animals at the bottom of Helter Skelter and was taken on 4 December. They do seem particularly shy, hence the poor picture. I have seen them a couple of times since, but not for a couple of weeks."
(Thanks to Chris for this report)
13 January 2018
The monthly finch roost survey took place today across three locations in the Pinetum in order to get full coverage and avoid re-counting. Ecologist, Simon Ginnaw reported:
"The finch roost survey was interesting today as chaffinch were unexpectedly down, but hawfinch and brambling were absolutely astonishing!!!! The brambling were such a spectacle today, and we have never recorded so many hawfinch for years - definitely in the 22 years I have been birding. An unforgettable winter for us birdwatchers at the Pinetum!"
Also reported: 1 sparrowhawk, 3 raven, 1 firecrest and 1 tawny owl
10th January 2018
Thank you to the birdwatchers who visited Bedgebury today who reported seeing in the Pinetum: 40 coal tit, a goldcrest, a female bullfinch and 2 mistle thrush. More updates on the hawfinch later!
Between 3.00pm-3.30pm the winter migrant birds came in to roost. Today the best place to watch was close to the Gruffalo's Child statue, in particular at the top of the zigzag track there is a bench with a plaque 'to Sebastian 1970-2001'; from here walk in a straight line across the grass to a small clearing and dead ahead is an oak tree and another to the left-hand side. There was much activity at the top of both of these trees as the birds caught the last rays of winter sunshine. We counted approximately (but likely to be more): 12 brambling, 2 lesser redpoll, 5 hawfinch, 2 siskin, 5 chaffinch and we could hear a mistle thrush singing close-by. Further into the Thuja Collection we saw 8 coal tit, 2 pheasant, 1 blackbird, 1 goldcrest, 1 nuthatch and 1 kestrel (flying over). What a fantastic end to the day!
9th January 2018
The birdringing session was busy today with a total of 76 birds ringed! The majority were coal tits (36) and blue tits (26) but there were also others: 2 great spotted woodpecker, 1 dunnock, 1 blackbird, 4 great tit, 2 nuthatch, 1 robin and 3 marsh tit. This was split almost equally between new traps and re-traps.
24 different bird species were spotted or heard while the birdringing took place. All in all – a successful session. Below is an extract from a report by birdringer, Chris George, following the ringing session:
We had a very pleasant morning, not a great deal of variety in the birds caught, however there is a noticeable difference in the ages of the birds compared with last winter.
2016 was reported as a very poor breeding year for most Tits. It is thought that poor weather at a crucial time resulted in many broods failing. 2017 was much better and as a result the proportion of first year birds, compared with those from previous years, is much higher, back up to where it should be.
In January 2017 we only caught 7 blue tits, hardly representative, but that does reflect the poor numbers. Slightly more representative are the numbers from December 2016; but we still only caught 22 blue tits over three sessions. Of these 36% were young birds and 64% older birds. This concurs with the reported poor breeding in 2016.
In this first session of 2018, we caught 26 blue tits and fortunes are reversed. 65% were young birds born last year (2017) and 35% were birds born at least the year before. As most blue tits don't live very long, good productivity is quite important.
The highlights from the roost study later in the afternoon showed: 200+ brambling, 100+ chaffinch, 3 hawfinch, 2 goldfinch, 9 fieldfare, 1 siskin, 1 kestrel, 4 cormorants, 2 ravens and a variety of ducks and crows.
5th January 2018
Thank you to Graham who visited us today all the way from Surrey looking for hawfinch! He was successful at spotting 7 in the usual haunt - where the Gruffalo statue is situated - at between 3.15 and 3.30pm as they were coming in to roost. Also in the same area were 12 brambling and 2 redpoll.
Click here for lists of species spotted in previous years: