Forest of Dean, Saturday 2nd March

The ancient woodland of the Forest of Dean made a welcome start to March as 22 BOC members joined a walk with chair Ed Drewitt, starting off around the RSPB’s Nagshead reserve. Blackbirds were all over the woodland, scattering as we approached them along the footpaths – many were probably migrants getting ready for their journeys northeast back to Scandinavia. The songs of Coal Tits, Blue Tits, and Great Tits rang throughout the woods, while the drumming call of a Great Spotted Woodpecker entertained us all. Nuthatches, with their Morse-code style calls were relatively easily to find, while the mouse-like Treecreeper took a little more time, but was spotted nonetheless. Siskins were often evident, especially close to the car park where some were in the trees, and others were chasing each other and singing simultaneously. After an hour and a half walk, we drove to the New Fancy Viewpoint – but the low cloud and cool temperatures made little opportunity for Goshawks to display. However, most of the group did see a very distant Goshawk, though for many it was difficult to identify as it drifted in and out of sight. Moving on to Speech House, we checked the nearby playing field for thrushes – it was busy with various Redwings, Blackbirds, Song Thrushes, and at least three Mistle Thrushes. What was even more surprising was another field nearby contained more Song Thrushes than Redwings! We came to the conclusion these must have been migrants, fattening themselves up on earthworms. Two Stock Doves were perched in an oak tree, and some of the group watched a Magpie feeding on the wound of a sheep (the sheep was completely oblivious!). Back at the car park, some extra bird food laid out by some members attracted dozens of Chaffinches, Blue Tits, Great Tits, Coal, Tits, a Pied Wagtail, at least two Nuthatches, and Blackbirds. Before we moved on a Treecreeper flew into a tree nearby. Our final stop was Cannop Ponds – by now the cloud was breaking, and in glorious sunshine we enjoyed seeing over 20 Mandarin Ducks at close view. Meanwhile, the weedy lake was full of Moorhens, at least four Little Grebes, Tufted Ducks (including a hybrid), Coots, Mallards, and domestic ducks. Behind us in the Alder trees some Long-tailed Tits passed by, and some spotted a Goldcrest and a Grey Wagtail. To complete the day, a Raven flew right in front of us before coming down to the lake bank and then perching in a tree. Two others were soaring in the distance. Finishing just before 1pm, some of the group relaxed with their lunch at Cannop Ponds before visiting some other smaller sites, some spotted at least three displaying Goshawks at New Fancy View (one chasing off a pair), while others caught sight of one or two Twite at Aust on their way home. Ed Drewitt