Trip reports

Bossenden Woods (Leader Trevor Hatton)

Bossenden Woods (Leader Trevor Hatton)
Lesser Spotted Woodpecker (Richard Hanman)

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Seven of us turned up to accompany Trevor on our expedition to find the lesser spotted woodpecker (lswp). Around the entrance to Bossenden woods there was plenty of avian activity as numerous little brown job's (lbj's) flitted around - they seemed to be mainly blue tits, great tits and robins, together with the odd chaffinch. However, we also found a treecreeper.

We made our way down the track, scanning the tree tops as we did so, we saw a buzzard through the canopy, giving clear views against a deep blue sky. We walked on and heard wren, green woodpecker and several pheasants, and saw jays, wood pigeons and collared doves. The calls of a further three or possibly four buzzards circling overhead alerted us to their presence, and we saw some long-tailed tits to go with the many further sightings of blue tits and the occasional great tit. We continued along the paths, but there was no sign of the elusive lswp, until we heard a faint drumming. After some discussion we concluded it was what we were looking for, but try as we might we could not find the bird. We carried on searching for some time, but without success. The nearest we got to it was to hear a single great spotted woodpecker drumming.

Trevor decided to cut our losses and six of us went with him to the nearby Victory woods. We spent some time walking along the road which ran through the woodland, and although we saw or heard several of the birds seen previously, the only additions to our list were crow and goldfinch. So after a total of some two and a half hours searching there was still no sight of our quarry, but we had seen three harbingers of spring in the shape of brimstone, comma and peacock butterflies.

Trevor and two of our number had to make their excuses and leave, but the remaining four of us decided to try our luck at the RSPB Blean Woods reserve at Rough Common. Third time lucky maybe? This reserve was only a short drive away and a lswp had been reported there the previous day. It was supposed to be five minutes walk from the car park along the red route. This proved to be incorrect, as we had to walk at least 15 minutes from the car park before we heard the song of the lswp emanating from an area of closely growing multi-stemmed saplings. Judith quickly found the bird, but despite her best efforts in describing its location, the rest of us were unable to get our bins on to it as it flitted from branch to branch before it flew off. We spent some time trying to relocate it, but without success.

We made our way slowly back to the car park by a circular route, and although we heard the woodpecker again in another part of the woods we could not find it. We had to content ourselves with the sound and sight of several chiffchaffs and good views of two treecreepers.

So the moral of the story is that if you go down in the woods today be prepared, not for a great surprise, but for a disappointment. However, if at first you don't succeed try, try and try again or give up (delete as applicable).

Warren Mann