Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Lesser is great

Since the forecast was for a bright day I decided to open my 2012 woodland bird campaign. For the last couple of year I had concentrated on Park Wood but this year I have decided to concentrate on Bossendon Wood (near Boughton).
I arrived at about 8.30 and was greeted with a host of great tit plus a decent smattering of blue tit and chaffinch. I put some seed onto the fallen tree and stood around waiting for 10 minutes.........nothing came down. Undeterred I set off into the wood looking at anything that sounded unusual (but normally failing to spot it). After about 20 minutes I still hadn’t added to the day total of species seen though I had heard a green woodpecker. Eventually my luck changed and I good views of a coal tit plus a goldcrest. Now in truth I had had glimpses of probable coal tits but I wasn’t totally sure on the id.  By now I’d walked about 600 yards into the wood so decided to take another path back to the fallen tree convinced the birds would now be feeding on my offerings.
This proved to be a good call – not because anything was feeding on the offerings because there wasn't - but because I found 2 fire crests on the way. I did get the camera out but the little beasties were deep in a holly bush and I never got close to getting a shot off.
I started doing another circuit and 4-500 yards in I came across a noisy flock small stuff. Raising the bins to one of the larger ones in the canopy revealed a female lesser spotted woodpecker!!!
Out came the camera and I started shooting.
Lesser Spotted woodpecker (female)
The bird moved several times and after one of the moves I didn’t relocate the female – I found a male. As with the female he was always high up and distant but I got off ~ 40 record shots.

Lesser Spotted Woodpecker (male)
Whilst following the lesser spot I heard then found a nuthatch so when the lesser disappeared my attention switched to that.

Also in the same area was a small part of tree creepers mainly chasing each other around but occasionally landing and running up the trees.

Tree Creeper
The flock had disappeared back towards the fallen tree so I made my way finding another 2 fire crests on the way.
Back at the fallen tree there was still nothing coming to the offerings but I did find Steve Ashton and we hung around waiting for Mike to arrive.
We retraced my earlier steps seeing everything I’d seen on the previous circuit including the lesser spots. I did manage some more record shots but Steve latched onto the male right in the open and got some stonking shots (though he will call them record shots). The most frustrating thing was whilst Steve was firing away I couldn't see it – I must have been looking on the wrong branch.

Lesser Spotted Woodpecker
By now it was about 12.45. Mike had to go home for his dinner and Steve into Canterbury so I decided to have another go at the twite at North Foreland.
I was driving along the Thanet Way when I passed the sign for Reculver so I decided to interrupt my journey and try for the Bewicks. They were there and close to the near bank in amongst the mutes. At first I kept low fearing I’d scare them but after a few minutes it was clear that the mutes were not bothered by my presence and the Bewicks were happy to stay with them.

Bewicks plus Mute Swan
10 minutes and 50-odd shots later I was walking back to the car – job done.
I wish the story had a happy ending but I couldn’t find the twite despite walking around the cauli field twice but I did find a chiffchaff in the weeds on the cliff top – surprisingly my forth for the year.

So a great start to the winter wood campaign though there are still a few ticks to collect (marsh tit, redpoll, siskin etc) but to get lesser spot at the first attempt was very pleasing.


  1. Its heartening to see a pair of lessers about, not had one here for a couple of years now :-(

    I'd be pleased with your photographic efforts!

  2. Looks like you had a great day !!

  3. Steve my "stonking" (as you put it) shots of the Lesser Spot are most definitely average record shots. I think the trouble is that the birds being high up in the canopy are just too far away. Perhaps we could climb half way up!!!! A nice post by the way, and you had good luck with the Bewicks but bad luck with the Twites.

  4. Sounds like a really great day out Steve I havn't seen a lesser spot now for many years. Perhaps I need to pay Boughton a visit. However we don't want the whole of us there at once do we. Going down to Sisinghurst castle woods on Thursday lets see what they throw up! Great shots by the way.

  5. Regarding Steve's 'too far away' whinge ... It's shame I wasn't there as I could sit him on my shoulders and he'd have been eleven feet closer to the Woodpeckers? Just a thought?