Old Lodge Nature Reserve, Ashdown Forest – British Birding


Just 45 minutes away by car from my mother’s home I can get to Ashdown Forest. This is a great place to find a number of woodland and heathland birds that are not easily seen in Southern England outside of the best habitat and today I made a visit to this very scenic area. In the past I have found Old Lodge Sussex Wildlife Trusts Nature Reserve to be one of the best areas in Ashdown Forest for birds so I headed straight to it and spent the best part of 5 hours walking around, taking photos of the birds I found although today the results were not particularly good due to the persistent poor light.

Despite the gloomy conditions there were lots of birds singing and calling and I got nice views of a number of species scarce in this part of the UK including Spotted Flycatcher, Common Redstart, Crossbill, Tree Pipit, Woodlark, Common Cuckoo and Willow Warbler. Quite sobering to think that many of these were common when I was younger.


Plenty of Chaffinches to be seen on my walk today and this one greeted me in the car park as soon as I arrived. Some people talk a lot about colourful birds overseas; these people need to remind themselves of birds like Chaffinch, look at it, it’s lovely.

Tree-pipit2Tree Pipit

There were several Tree Pipits performing well today. Despite the heavy overcast skies these birds were feeling like putting on a show with constant singing from treetops and parachuting displays, frequently using some overhead wires too. This photo would have been much better had the light not been appalling.


Just a record shot but a nice bird. Woodlark is another one of those birds doing poorly in much of the UK, only just hanging on in many places, even where the habitat seems to be perfect. Ashdown Forest has a fair population and I saw two on my visit with this one settling on a wire before flying away to never be seen again.

Blue-tit2Blue Tit

Blue Tit is another of those colourful birds people seem to forget about – familiarity breeds contempt! I found a pair that were feeding recently hatched young so it was just a case of waiting for them to come, bringing food for their chicks. There were also several Great Tits, 2 Long-tailed Tits and a small group of Coal Tits on my walk and other woodland birds included Great Spotted Woodpecker, Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush, Green Woodpecker, Chiffchaff, Goldcrest and Willow Warbler.


I had a very lucky moment just as I was getting quite tired and beginning to head back to my car. I saw a Coal Tit feeding on some low branches so I headed towards it to take some photos. As I got closer I saw another bird move which turned out to be a Spotted Flycatcher. With this being a more scarce bird I attempted to get some photos of this bird but it moved off through the trees with another Spotted Flycatcher. These birds, in turn, led me onto a group of about 14 Crossbills feeding in a larch tree. Once again the really poor light conditions meant that my photo ended up being nothing but a record shot.

Common-stonechat-juvenileJuvenile Common Stonechat

With it being Spring there was a lot of birdsong and I was able to track down species such as Willow Warbler, Wren, a Common Redstart, 2 Common Cuckoos, Blackcap, Common Whitethroat and Dunnock by following their voice. This juvenile Stonechat was one of 4 fledged young being fed by a pair of adults. They were followed through the gorse by a singing Common Whitethroat and a Dunnock.


Dunnock is one of those birds which is really nice when you look at it closely, although from a distance it looks like a fairly dull brown bird. It has a great song and it was nice for this one to pose for me; if only that sunshine could have brightened things up.

Lesser-redpollLesser Redpoll

Another nice bird was Lesser Redpoll. This is a bird I only get to see once a year, if I am lucky, so it was great to see this one so well and see several more throughout the day. Small groups of them were flying back and forwards all over the site but I only once more had a good view after this one above, with a group of 3 birds feeding on pine cones.

Having not been in UK during Spring for several years this was a really nice walk with a number of good birds that I have either not seen for a few years or just once or twice over the same period. If only all British woodland could be this good for birding.

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