Mar 072022
 

Expectations were low as fourteen of us gathered in the RSPB car park on this cold, windy but dry day! On the leaders’ recce only eleven species had been spotted so the first target was to see at least one bird species for every member attending.    The second target was to find the notoriously difficult to see, lesser spotted woodpecker – the Blean Wood complex is one of the few places this bird can be reliably found in Kent.   The third target was to keep our feet dry – the recent rain had left the paths wet and more than a few dogs and their walkers had churned many of them to quagmire status!

Mud at Blean © Claire Haslem

 

We decided to take the Red Route (a path that the RSPB states is 2.5 miles – although several of our group wearing ‘Fitbits’ argued that they recorded substantially more!).  

From the start birds were quite elusive although there were a couple of mixed feeding flocks and we saw siskin, coal tit, long-tailed tit and lots of blue tit all feeding mainly on the silver birch that presumably have plenty of new sweet buds to attract them.

Some had good views of a nuthatch steadily working its way along oak branches and we passed several large wood ant nests although on this cold morning they (sensibly) kept underground.

Chivalry in Action © Claire Haslem

As we progressed, the path gradually became wetter.   Some puddles were long & thin, others wide and deep and they combined their breadth, length and depth to keep us from a straight line.   At several points along the way we resembled Mudlarks – a new species for Blean!   Several of us took to the woods in preference where the going was rough but with less chance of getting a ‘booty’.    In a couple of places the streams, which are usually small, had backed up and turned the paths into small rivers.   Malcolm demonstrated that chivalry was not dead and helped some to cross without any major disasters – Thank You Malcolm.

Several of the group detoured to find some dams that have recently been built to hold water back and increase the ground water level – they were fascinating structures and certainly appeared to be working!

Man made Dam © Claire Haslem


We seemed to be making good time and decided to finish the Red Route before a late lunch and as we stopped by one of larger river crossings in the bottom of a valley we achieved our second target.   A lesser spotted woodpecker was seen clearly in the tree top, working away at some loose bark to get its lunch.   The group’s mood improved considerably and we picked up the pace towards lunch.


After puddle-jumping all morning, we decided to walk down New Road in the afternoon.   This forest track has a better surface and was much easier going. There were some unexpected highlights, such as, the flowers on hazel (small and very easily overlooked), the lovely bright gorse,  dormouse boxes mounted on silver birch and where to look for galls on broom.

Blue tit © Steve Cullum

We had excellent views of three coal tit foraging in a silver birch, some saw a chiffchaff and others had  a glimpse of a goldcrest.   The last highlight was watching a nuthatch working (head down of course) on the trunk of an oak.   It had been inspecting a nearby hole in a tree trunk until it realised we were there, then it moved further back, but still gave us great views.

By the end of the day had we achieved our first target?   Yes – we saw a total of 19 species and retired to the car park dry and satisfied.

Jim and Claire

Thanks to Jim and Claire for leading such a challenging walk, Claire’s pictures paint a picture of the ground we had to cover.   Thanks to Steve for bringing us back to the purpose of our walk, with his two lovely photographs of  two of the most numerous species seen on the day.

Robin © Steve Cullum

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

p.s. Only one sensible person wore wellington boots. Who do you think that was?

 

  One Response to “Group Trip to Blean Woods RSPB Reserve”

Comments (1)
  1. A challenging walk indeed, but worth it to see the lesser spotted woodpecker. It was good to see a nice turn-out and of course, a sensible person in wellies 🙂 Thanks to Jim and Claire for leading and to Sue for the report.

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