It was a cloudy but dry start to our day as 19 of us met in the RSPB Blean Wood car park. We were all hoping for a sighting of the now rare Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, which although Sandra and I had tried several times before in the Blean, had never managed to see one. Before the trees are in leaf is a good time as they are mostly high in the canopy. Coal Tits were around the car park area collecting nesting material and a Blackcap was heard nearby. Chiffchaff, Great Tit, Chaffinch and Blackbird were added to our list as we made our way along the paths, some being very muddy.
In places the wood was carpeted with Wood Anemones, and they looked lovely in the warm sunshine which peeped through the clouds from time to time. The woods were full of bluebells, and although only the odd flower, they will very soon, be covering the floor with their blue hue. A Jay gave a nice view before flying away, as did a Great Spotted Woodpecker. Long-tailed Tits, Wren and Buzzard were spotted, and good views were had of the Nuthatch making its way up and down the trunk of a tree. Willow Warbler was heard and eventually found high in a tree, and some of our expert bird song members explained the descending sound of their song. The Coal Tits song was also pointed out and hopefully we will hear and see it more often to enable us to remember it. Nice views of Treecreeper were had, and a single Swallow passed overhead just back from it’s wintering grounds further south. Several Wood Ants nests were seen, the large piles of pine needles, tiny twigs and sticks that make up their fortresses had seething masses of ants warming themselves in the spring sunshine, with others already out and about gathering materials for the nest. It was also nice to see quite a few Great and Blue Tits, very busy too and fro from their natural nests in holes in the trees, possibly feeding young, as they had some sense of urgency about them. We also noticed, a little distance away, bumblebees in and out of a natural hole in one of the trees. It was nice to see these nests and occupants in a natural setting.
Our necks ached from searching the canopy for the elusive Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, and as we made out way back to the car park for lunch a Comma butterfly was seen on dog mess getting its nutrients, salts and minerals. Not our idea of a nice lunch at all! Redpoll were high up in the tree tops and a Green Woodpecker did a fly pass.
After lunch we set off in a different direction, passing spring flowers such as Dog Violet, Lesser Celandine, Primrose and more Wood Anemone. A Harlequin Ladybird in one of it’s many guises was seen, along with Red-tailed and Buff-tailed Bumblebees searching for suitable nest sites. Goldcrest were heard along with Pheasant and we had nice views of a Peacock butterfly. Suddenly there it was. The Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, high in the distant canopy, and although only a few of us saw it then, shortly after, further along the same track everyone, bar one, had a reasonable view of this elusive bird. A very nice way to end the day and well worth waiting for. We returned to the car park, muddy but happy. The showers that had been forecast had stayed away until our drive home. Thank you to everyone who came, we hope you enjoyed it as much as we did.
Norman and Sandra Hogben
PPS – Thanks to Norman and Sandra for leading the walk and writing the trip report. Special thanks to Sandra for baking the cakes that she shared with us all at lunch time and thanks to Chris for the photographs. “The one” was actually two. Steve stayed in the picnic area after lunch (back pain) and also missed seeing the lesser spotted woodpecker. But he kept himself busy by taking photographs of the grey squirrels that came to say hello.