We rely on reports from visitors and our own sightings to populate this page. You can also read more about Bedgebury's wildlife on our wildlife and wildflower blogs.
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. However, we reserve the right to withhold the location of any vulnerable species on site if we feel there is a risk to their habitat.
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.
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: