Sunday, 17 March 2013

Forest of Dean


Today was the Northants Bird Club car trip to the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire.

First stop was the Speech House area of the forest and here like everywhere we went there was plenty of evidence of Wild Boar activity with upturned soil and turf alongside the roads and tracks.

The Nuthatches were vocal as we traversed the ancient trees and paddocks near to Speech House.  After a short time we glimpsed a couple of Hawfinches, one bird being particularly vocal and even singing a little.  We then crossed the road to the small arboretum and another calling Hawfinch flew over.  Two Ravens were the first of many during the day.

With the grey skies lightening and some blue sky appearing, we decided to head off to New Fancy View, a raptor watch-point a short distance away.  This is the place to try and see Goshawk, and on arrival an adult female was already perched up on top of a conifer.  Subsequent scanning located a male nearby in a similar pose, both birds being mobbed by Siskins and tits.  A third perched bird proved to be another adult female, the lack of a breeze presumably ensuring that it was too much effort to provide a display flight!  Shortly afterwards, two more adult females came in to view chasing each other both above and below the trees.  Several Ravens flew around the watch-point and the Common Buzzards managed to find enough thermals to strut their stuff.  A flock of Crossbills danced around distant conifers.

We then progressed to the village of Parkend which fits snugly in to the woodlands and folds of the land of the forest.  A flock of about twenty Bramblings were gathered around a garden laden with bird feeders, the food also attracting plenty of Siskins, tits and Nuthatches.  A pair of Dippers were watched constructing a nest on one of the streams running through the village.  A Hawfinch was heard calling but remained hidden.

Our next venue was Cannop Ponds which immediately yielded up to 26 Mandarin Ducks including many resplendent males as well as many common woodland species.

Our final stop was the watch-point at Symonds Yat which provides a fabulous vista of the countryside surrounding the River Wye.  A pair of Peregrine provided good views, with both birds catching avian prey within a minute of each other (the male apparently caught a Blackbird while we witnessed the female catch a Stock Dove).  They were good but not as awesome as the immature female Goshawk that circled up out of the woodland on the opposite side of the river and eventually disappeared at great height.  Good views were had of a variety of common species in beautiful spring sunshine.  Imagine our surprise when we returned to Northamptonshire and found snow on the ground!


Neil M

Mandarin Ducks

Peregrine with prey

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