Saturday 04 July – Forest of Dean

Eight members and one guest from Costa Rica, who had decided that the delights of an evening’s birding in the Forest of Dean was sufficient to attract him away from his ornithological paradise, met at New Fancy View on a warm early evening. From the viewing point we observed two Goshawks circling over the distant trees but a good enough view to note the slower and more powerful wingbeat than its Sparrowhawk relative. Song in early summer is beginning to die back but Song Thrush, Blackcap and Chiffchaff were prominent. We moved on to Cannop Ponds where Swallows, House and Sand Martins swooped low over the water feasting on the abundant supply of flying insects. A family party of Grey Wagtail worked along the shoreline and four Common Sandpiper rested on a stump protruding from the water before giving us a flyby display. A Kingfisher flashed by and a Siskin was an unexpected bonus on a nearby feeder. Several juvenile Mandarin Duck loafed on the water. We then moved on to Crabtree Hill to station ourselves for the possibility of Nightjar. A Garden Warbler started up its prolonged babbling and Stonechat and Linnet were present on the heathland. We waited patiently until 9.50 and then a “churring” was heard. What followed was a magical display of several Nightjars, some flying overhead, with just sufficient light to observe the white wing and tail patches. At one point there were three in the air together. A real bonus was the flight of a Woodcock calling with its shrill flight note. 44 species had been recorded and we felt our way in the twilight back to our cars contented. (Thanks to Mike for leading.)

Mike Johnson