As we entered the reserve from the car park to embark on our Sussex Guided Bird Walk outing we heard our first couple of species of the morning, with a Robin giving its ‘tick’ call, and a Blue Tit singing. The first bird we saw as we got through the gate was a Dunnock. I described its song to Helen and Stuart as a rather tuneless, aimless warble.
Along the southern track we heard the first of many Coal Tits, giving their high-pitched ‘swi-swee, swi-swee’ song. A short distance down the track we heard the first Great Tit of the morning, and it was useful to point out the difference, with their song having a stronger tone and more even rhythm between the notes — ‘tee-cha, tee-cha, tee-cha’. We also heard our first Chaffinch of the outing.
A few Herring Gulls flew over and a Mistle Thrush delivered its loud and distinctive song. As there was little to no wind, it was a perfect demonstration of just how far the song of this species can carry. Along the way we also saw a Woodlark fly overhead, showing its short tail. A Dartford Warbler gave a few glimpses in the gorse.
Along a muddy stretch of track we encountered two Goldcrests, catching insects high in the trees. A Treecreeper was heard singing too – as I described, another song rather like the Chaffinch that accelerates before it suddenly stops.
Turkey-tail and Hairy Curtain Crust fungi growing on a log pile
Past the log pile we spotted a pair of Blackbirds in a tall tree and, shortly after, a Stock Dove landed nearby and gave good views before flying off south with another one in tow. This gave us the perfect opportunity to notice the largely plain grey wing with the strong black border, lacking the white stripes of the Woodpigeon. As Stuart said – ‘a rather prettier version of a town pigeon’.
Helen picked out a Great Spotted Woodpecker drumming, which we heard a few more times before moving on. We talked about the difference in drumming between Great and Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers. We also heard a couple of cronking calls from a distant Raven. A little further on we heard the first singing Wren of the day and were able to spot it flicking around low in vegetation. I heard a Raven call again and suddenly two came in quite low from the south and powered north, both calling and one doing its tumbling display.
At the bridge over the stream, we could just about make out the call of a distant Nuthatch. We got slightly closer and heard the ‘twit twit twit twit’ call again but never got close enough to see it, unfortunately. Several Goldfinches also flew over the valley, the light made it rather tricky to pick out the yellow wing-bar but we heard the distinctive ‘chippity chip’ flight calls as they went past.
View across Old Lodge NR