Tuesday, 31 May 2011

Blean Woods

Yesterday we decided to go to the RSPB Reserve at Blean woods. The day was changeable in that it was overcast for most of the day but not cold, with the sun quite powerful and occasionally breaking through the cloud cover. We didn’t get there until about , and I was aware that both the weather and the time of the walk would cut down on what we saw, though I didn’t realise until afterwards by how much. In addition the canopy was so dense that not enough like filtered through to get a fast enough shutter speed and only one of my pictures came out, so I have used a few of my (unrelated) older pictures to use as breaks in this posting. Sorry!

Male Chaffinch - Cliffe Pools 6-5-2010 - Olympus SP590UZ
At the car park there is a map of the woods showing four specific footpaths. We found the reserve to be well maintained with the footpaths clearly marked with route markers showing you which walk you are on; there is even a  separate route specifically for dog walkers. and although one or two dog owners chose to ignore the no dog signs, this was only on the footpath back to the car park.Cycling on the footpaths is prohibited, but only shown on a small sign at the start.

Female Blackcap - Leybourne Lakes 25-9-2010 - Canon 400D + 100-400mm
The woods initially appeared to be full of life and awash with song. Within the first ten minutes I heard Chaffinch, Robin, Willow Warbler, Blackbird and Great Tit – and yet saw none of them. I searched through the dense foliage with my binoculars but they all remained elusive and five minutes further into the walk all was silent. This was almost a template to rest of the walk with periods of quiet interspersed with short bursts of song, usually from behind several layers of vegetation. However dogged patience brought a sighting of one of the Willow Warblers, and before lunch we added Blue Tits and a Nightingale to the heard but not seen list. By the end of the walk all except the Nightingale and Chaffinch we were able to add to the seen list.

Goldcrest - Seasalter 12-10-2010 - Canon 400D + 100-400mm (and 3 hours of waiting)
During lunch I heard a Chiffchaff calling, which afterwards I was able to track down at the edge of a clearing. It was about ¾ way through the walk before I managed to spot a couple of Great Spotted Woodpeckers high in the canopy where they were attacking leaves at the tops of the trees. I assume this is where a lot of the insects were to be had as this was also where the Blue Tits were feeding. Other sightings for the day were a male Blackcap, a female House Sparrow, several Jays, a Rook (at the reserves edge) and a Wood Pigeon. All in all a very short day list.

WhiteStork - Cadzand Bad, Holland 6-8-2010 - Olympus SP-590UZ
So what about the insects and associated mini-beasts? There were only two types of insect we saw, the first was a wood ant, in fact these were almost everywhere, rivers of them climbing up and down the trees in continuous processions – it was fascinating to watch, we also came across one of their nests (the only picture to come out of the day), you cannot see it, but it was covered in ants. They were good to see in such numbers throughout the walk as they are an indicator of a healthy deciduous woodland. The second insect was the mosquito, I was bitten at least 13 times – and that’s only the ones I can see on my chest and arms!

Wood Ant nest - Blean - Olympus SP-590UZ
All in all it was a nice walk (except the insect bites), end of May is a bit late in the year to expect too much and as it was Bank holiday Monday there was probably a lot more human disturbance than normal, but I was still disappointed that I failed to find any Nuthatch or Tree Creepers. This will not deter me from revisiting Blean Woods probably late evening for Woodcock and Nightjar – this time with insect repellent! 

No comments:

Post a Comment