Maria very kindly gave me permission to play out today, something I've not done for a while because of the ongoing work on the house. So I decided to take up an invitation from Derek Lawrence to travel down to the Nottinghamshire area with his son Kieran and Derek Charlton in the hope of seeing one of the UK's most elusive birds - LESSER SPOTTED WOODPECKER. Up at 6.00 am, picked up at 6.30ish and on the motorway shortly after, it only took us 1hr 30mins to get to our destination, Rufford Abbey Country Park. Derek C had been told of the most likely area to see one of these shy birds so we immediately headed there on arrival. We looked and listened intently for over half an hour but all we had were a good mix of common species, the highlight being an extremely close Nuthatch. So we decided to split up and cover more area. After another fruitless 20mins Kieran thought he heard one not too far away. As we headed towards the area Derek C called out excitedly. We hurried over to where he was and after a frustrating few moments the bird in question showed itself. It was a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker. Within seconds Derek L had joined us and we all enjoyed some great views of the bird calling and then drumming. We were absolutely ecstatic. And then it was off! We all looked at each other with a huge grin, and even more huge sigh of relief! I think deep down we were all a bit doubtful whether we would seen one as they are so difficult to find, but today our luck was definately in. We decided to stick around to see if we could get some more views and we rewarded with another two sightings. In fact the third sighting was outstanding. The bird was on show for over 15mins and was constantly out in the open. It was superb. We even managed to put a pair of American visitors onto the bird for which they were extremely grateful. Myself and Derek L had a great bonus bird while searching for the Woodpeckers in the form of a gorgeous female GOSHAWK flying overhead. We eventually decided to move on, so we went to a place called Clumber Park in the hope of seeing another extremely elusive species, Hawfinch. On arrival though we knew we had no chance of seeing one as the place was absolutely chocker! What we did see was an amazing TWELVE Mandarin Ducks on the river. It was an amazing sight. As we still had a bit of time left we thought we would try another place on the way home, Lyngfield Lake. On the approach road we saw a pair of Red Legged Partridges on the side of the road, my first for a couple of years. The Lake itself took some finding but it was definately worth it. We saw three males and a single female of an extremely attractive species of Duck, the RED CRESTED POCHARD. I hadnt seen one since the one at Bowesfield Marsh so was delighted to see them today. It was an excellent finish to a superb day.
LESSER SPOTTED WOODPECKER (TOP), GOSHAWK (MIDDLE) & RED CRESTED POCHARD (BOTTOM)