Trip reports

Field Trip to the Forest of Dean

Adult and child birdwatching
RSPB Images

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Fifteen of us turned up at the New Fancy View Point car park and made our way up to the viewing area. Around the car park area Mistle Thrush, Song Thrush, Robin, Blue Tit and Great Tit were seen.
On the way up to the viewing area, just off the path, an Adder was spotted curled up and basking in the morning sunshine as well as Common Lizard darting around the rocks. All around the slopes the grass and earth had been rootled by wild boar. This was evident throughout the forest.
At the viewing platform Buzzards were seen flying and displaying over the forest. Closer by Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Siskin and Greenfinch were seen flitting amongst the branches of the conifers. We also had splendid views of a male and female Common Crossbill acrobatically feeding off the Spruce pine cones, the male having a brick red plumage and the female having a greenish brown plumage. We watched intently as the female used her heavy cross tipped beak to prise open the cones and extract the seeds.
We then moved on to Speech House with the hope of seeing Hawfinch but they were absent this time. However Crow, Magpie, Wren, Blackbird, Jackdaw and Nuthatch were noted.
After lunch we split up into two groups, the more adventurous going to try and locate Two-Barred Crossbill on Serridge Ridge and the rest of us heading to Cannop Ponds.
At Cannop Ponds we had a lovely sight of a pair of Mandarin Duck diving by the banks of the lake, the male with its resplendent ornate orange plumage whilst its quite plain partner had a grey head and mottled brown flanks. These tree perching ducks nest in holes in trees. Other species seen were Greylag Goose, Coot, Moorhen, Little Grebe, Mallard, Cormorant, Canada Goose, Mute Swan and Tufted Duck.
At Serridge Ridge a Goshawk was spotted flying over, as well as another calling and flying from the conifers.
We all met up again at Parkend green where a Goshawk and Sparrowhawk flew over. In the trees near the green it was good to see a flock of Greenfinches as their numbers have declined in the last few years.
On the way home some of our group saw four Wild Boars rootling in the forest which was an extra bonus.
Butterflies seen throughout the day were Red Admiral, Small Tortoiseshell, Comma, Peacock and Brimstone.
The Forest of Dean was well worth a visit at this time of year.

Viv Jenkins