Trip reports

Ashdown Forest & Weir Wood Reservoir, East Sussex - Saturday, 21st July, 2018

Ashdown Forest & Weir Wood Reservoir, East Sussex - Saturday, 21st July, 2018
Keeled skimmer by Steve Grayson

Saturday, 4 August 2018

During our circuit at Old Lodge about six common redstarts were seen and family parties, of various sizes, of stonechat were encountered regularly. Three siskins flew into a mature birch near the reserve entry point and an adult male in the party remained for a minute or two in an exposed position. Others were seen/heard flying over during our visit as were a few lesser redpolls. A couple of willow warblers added to our tally here. Raptors came in the form of two common buzzards resting in trees near the stream and a sparrowhawk seen harassing a hobby over the western end of the reserve at around noon. Other wildlife included small red damselflies that were numerous around the bog pools down the north-western edge and keeled skimmers. An old female of the latter species, found in heather a long way from water, was a puzzle being very dark-brown in colour; only the yellow cells near the wing-tips gave the clue to its identity. A clouded yellow flew west soon after noon.
Excellent close-range scope views were had of a tree pipit that remained for some minutes on a dead tree beside the 'runway' at the Old Airfield and more stonechat families were found here. A few swallows had been seen flying high at Old Lodge, but when two adult birds flew back and forth close to our party for a minute or two at the Old Airfield and they were close enough to see that one was carrying food in its bill when it departed, this suggesting that young were still being tended nearby. Another hobby was seen in flight and a common buzzard circling low in mid-afternoon was carrying an unidentified prey item in one talon.
At Weir Wood, 20+ grey herons were scattered around the shoreline (often beneath branches overhanging the water) near the nesting colony at the western end of the reservoir and two little egrets were also perched up in the branches close to the heronry. There was quite a gathering (50+) of great crested grebes with at least one pair out on the water still performing the charming courtship dance of the species. 10+ mandarin ducks were noted, mainly out of the water on a bare spit on the shoreline opposite the viewing point. Most appeared to be adult females but at least one eclipse male and two ducklings were also present. Also on the spit was a single common sandpiper that had been joined by three others by the time we departed an hour later. About half a dozen lapwings were distributed around the shoreline of the Reservoir and at least three common terns flying around. We also had another sighting of buzzard with one flying low over woods beyond the reservoir.
Our totals for the day comprised 54 bird species, 8 dragon- and damselflies and 10 butterfly species.

Based on an original trip report by the leader, John Parish