Sunday, 23 March 2014

Shut Heath, Lesser-Spotted Woodpeckers fail to show

I spent the morning at Shut Heath Wood at Great Totham in Essex, searching for Lesser-Spotted Woodpeckers.
The forecast was for a dry bright start with rain showers arriving around midday, and it turn out to be spot on.
Arriving at the car park around eight, it was a short walk around the edge of a field to reach the entrance to the wood.
On entering the wood there was the sound of a distant woodpecker drumming, unfortunately not the target bird but a Great-Spotted. Walking along the obvious paths with regular stops to scan any bird movement, It seemed every bird scanned was either a Blue or Great Tit. But there were other birds present with plenty of Treecreepers found and one pair was watched nest building.
Nuthatches were very vocal in the wood, but proved somewhat more difficult to pin down for any prolonged views.
As the tree canopy opened up three Buzzards were seen circling overhead, they were then joined by a Sparrowhawk.
The below shot was the best I could manage, before they drifted away and out of view.

Common Buzzard

Green Woodpeckers were heard at regular intervals and more persistent drumming from a Great-Spotted Woodpecker allowed us to pin point it's location.
After 2-3 circuits of the wood there was no sight nor sound of any Lesser-Spots.
Another week or two and the wood floor will be covered with carpets of Bluebells.
Late morning saw the weather begin to close in and the rain started to fall. So I took this as a sign to head back to the shelter of the car.


  1. Hi Jim, just wanted to say thanks for your directions that led me straight to a Dartford Warbler this morning! Also walked around Minsmere and added Spotted Redshank and Ruff to the year list (129).
    Also I thought I'd let you know, I live near a country park called Thorndon ( in Brentwood, Essex) and have in the last ten days seen Lesser Spotted Woodpecker on three occasions (twice before/during my morning run, and once last Saturday afternoon). It favours the same small error near the second car park of Thorndon country park North. Don't know if this us any help, but if you were down and wanted to be shown the location, just e mail me and I'll do my best!!

  2. Hi Adam
    Congratulations on seeing the Dartford Warblers, pleased my information helped.
    Thanks for the information on Lesser-Spots, I've got a 4 day birding trip to Scotland from Friday until Monday evening, so won't be around this weekend unfortunately.
    But it's good to know you have been seeing them quite regularly there.
    If I get the chance to visit I might e-mail you to either take you up on the offer or just to get an idea where best to look.
    All the best