A new venue for me, part of the Blean Wood complex near Canterbury and in winter an excellent opportunity for some woodland birds.
A beautiful day with clear blue skies, bright sunshine and no wind – how lucky could we be!
Although a small area we managed to make a day of it, examining fresh primose leaves emerging, buds on the trees giving them a red aura, and giving us some excellent “firsts” for 2012.
Highlights were many, including a treecreeper which fed in the angle of a branch, a nuthatch, marsh tit, several coal tit, goldcrests feeding in a holly bush, lesser redpoll. A sparrowhawk circled over the wood disturbing large flocks of wood pigeons throughout the day. Blue and great tit were heard almost constantly with their busy contact calls ringing out as they fed in large flocks. A flock of at least 12 fieldfare flew overhead, and we had great views of bullfinch with at least three males showing well, their bright colours enhanced by the sunlight. A family of long-tailed tit joined in. Several male blackbirds were squabbling, jays scolded and we saw and heard at least three song thrush during the day – a species we saw far less of last year compared to previous years.
Non-avian species also surprised us with three red admiral butterflies taking advantage of the warm sunshine, as were several hover flies.
On the way back to the car a flock of around 30 meadow pipits were feeding in the long grass of the fields.
But the star of the day was seeing a lesser spotted woodpecker, my first for the UK, and a great delight. Malcolm saw it first, but it then eluded us for some time until a light tapping noise was heard in the distance. As I moved towards the direction of the sound, the bird flew directly towards me and landed on a branch just ahead, good (if a little quick) views were had by all before it flew off.
What a brilliant end to a great day. A beautiful part of Kent and well worth a visit.