"To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand
And eternity in an hour."

From "Auguries of Innocence"

by William Blake

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Jack Frost and a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker

My husband and son were on holiday yesterday and we visited Ladywalk Nature Reserve in the morning. Ladywalk is a West Midland Bird Club reserve in the Tame valley covering about 125 acres and comprising woodland and pools.

It was another very cold day with temperatures hovering around 0 degrees centigrade but the sun was shining and the sky was a brilliant blue. The whole reserve had been coated with hoar frost creating a winter wonderland reminiscent of Narnia and I wouldn't have been surprised to see the White Witch appearing in her sleigh!

There were several robins, dunnocks and blue tits on the feeders in the car park.

The undoubted highlight of the whole visit was the sighting of a male lesser spotted woodpecker (oh yes!!) in the trees along the footpath which leads from the car park to the reserve. My first sighting of this relatively scarce and elusive species since seeing one at Brandon Marsh several years ago.

We had good views of a handsome male bullfinch and there were lots of coots and mallard on the River Tame and several wrens foraging in the brambles (good to see these tiny birds surviving the cold weather).

I thought the hoar frost on this shrub resembled spring-time blossom

Entering the Reserve

I spotted a muntjac deer in amongst these silver birches. Unfortunately, rather than taking a photo I tried to attract my son and husband's attention to the deer and I think the rather dramatic waving of my hands frightened the deer and it disappeared as quickly as it had appeared. A flock of long-tailed tits passed quickly through the trees foraging as they went.

Some rather large bracket fungi - possibly a Ganoderma species??

We spent half an hour or more in the hide overlooking many bird feeders and saw great spotted woodpecker, blue and great tits, robins, dunnocks, greenfinches, goldfinches, chaffinches, blackbirds and reed buntings. I was exceedingly jealous that my husband who had arrived at the hide a good ten minutes before me (I had lagged behind to take fungi photos) had already seen a brambling which sadly failed to return after I''d reached the hide! No sign of the usual water rail which in past years has appeared near the feeding stations.

View from hide with feeders in the foreground and frozen pools in the background.

I was surprised not to see any redwings or fieldfares (we often visit this reserve in December and there are usually large flocks about) but they could well have been foraging in other areas of the reserve.


The Wessex Reiver said...

Great posting, and well done for seeing a lesser spotted. It's years since I've seen one, 2007 to be precise. Your husband seems to have the same fate brought upon him as my Julie does - I lag behind continuously to take photos and she wanders off. I hope you have warmed up now after your half hour in the hide. Brave souls.

Ragged Robin said...

Thanks Andrew. Have just about defrosted now thanks :D Helped by the fact that is was a balmy 2 degrees here today:D I am always "losing the family" when we go walking - stopping to take photos or try and id a butterfly or flower - its not much fun catching up especially when its uphill!

Pete said...

lovely pics. nice to see blue skies.

I've seen two Lesser Spots and both were years ago alas!

Ragged Robin said...

Thanks Pete - glad you liked the photos. I've only ever seen 3 Lesser Spots - one at a Warwickshire woodland near Fillongley over 30 years ago!! - that for ever after we have called woodpecker wood, the one at Brandom Marsh a couple of years ago and this latest sighting.

Anonymous said...

Hi Caroline, LSW`s are deceptively small birds, aren`t they ? Well done on seeing your 4th ever.

Ragged Robin said...

Thanks Dean. Yes, they are tiny but so beautifully marked. Much easier to see at this time of the year with the bare branches.