Trip reports

Field Trip to the Forest of Dean

Field Trip to the Forest of Dean
Craig Watson

Sunday, 20 March 2016

We had a good turnout for the trip with sixteen of us eventually meeting at New Fancy view point. What caused the delay for most of the group was that the road leading to New Fancy was closed for half an hour due to the Forest of Dean Half Marathon taking place on the same day!

We had spectacular views over the Forest of Dean from the view point although there was heavy cloud and it was a cold day. In the distance we spotted a goshawk perched in a pine tree and then distant views of three goshawks having a territorial scuffle in flight.

Nearer to our position we saw another goshawk flying and good views of what appeared to be the bird's white rump. However, when displaying, the male goshawk deliberately fluffs out its white undertail-covert feathers which gives the bird the appearance of a white rump.

Another bird of prey that flew past was a sparrowhawk, which is smaller in size than a goshawk. Perched in trees nearby, a great spotted woodpecker and goldfinch were noted. A bullfinch with its distinctive pinkish-red breast was also seen in flight. At the bottom of the view point near the car park, both mistle thrush and song thrush were seen.

We then made our way to Crabtree Hill where a great grey shrike had been seen every day the previous week. I actually saw the bird catching common lizards on the preceding Thursday when I did a reconnaissance for the field trip. When we arrived at the site we were told that the shrike had been seen fifteen minutes earlier, however, unfortunately for us, the bird did not reappear, although we did see a lone stonechat. Sometimes birding can be a very frustrating pastime!

Our next stop was Cannop ponds where the birds we saw made up for the non- appearance of the great grey shrike earlier. We had splendid views of eight male mandarin ducks and their females. The males were resplendent in their orange multicolour plumage against the quite drab grey-brown colour of the females.

Other species seen on the ponds were greylag goose, moorhen, coot and tufted duck. Nearby, flitting amongst the trees, we noted nuthatch, blue tit, great tit, coal tit and chaffinch. Other birds seen were treecreeper, robin, woodpigeon and goldcrest.

We finished off the day by visiting Parkend where the group saw at least six mistle thrush on the cricket pitch, song thrush, wren, chaffinch and a jay.

On the way home two of our group were lucky enough to spot some feral wild boar and their piglets which are prevalent in the forest but difficult to see. So all in all we had a good day's birding, seeing a wide variety of species.

Viv Jenkins