Trip report: Forest of Dean (5 March 2013)

Twenty-four members, joined by another before we left New Fancy View, gathered for the annual Tuesday morning Forest of Dean expedition. As the sun had already been shining for some hours we optimistically kept our eyes peeled for possible sunning adders on the climb up to the viewing point where the visibility wasn’t gin- clear, but quite good enough for us to enjoy repeated flypasts with some aerobatic manoeuvres by the local Ravens. While in the car park, we had already heard a Song Thrush singing. An early distant view of a raptor was judged to be a Peregrine. Buzzards and Sparrowhawks were also seen but not a Goshawk and few smaller birds. However, everyone seemed to be smiling – an hour of warm sun on our backs and wall-to-wall blue sky made sure of that. We moved on to Speech House where, predictably, the Mistle Thrushes were in the field and then, as we walked through the woods down to Beechenhurst, we spotted all the usual suspects including Greenfinch, Coal Tit, Goldcrest, Wren and many singing Robins. On to the picnic site at Cannop Ponds and mid-summer (English!) temperatures. Here we did have to jump up from our lunches to view, at last, a circling Goshawk. There were also Long-tailed Tits flitting through the Alder catkins and a Grey Wagtail nearby, plus, of course, the handsome Mandarin Ducks among the Coots, Moorhens, Little Grebes, Tufted Ducks, etc. on the lake. En route to Nagshead Reserve we saw the Greylags and some of the party saw Marsh Tit and Siskin. A visit to the Bruce Campbell hide gave good views of Nuthatch and, although a final walk through the oakwoods didn’t add to our total of 35 species, or reveal any Hawfinches or Crossbills, Colin was able to show us evidence of the latter on some discarded cones. Many thanks are due to him for both leading a very enjoyable walk and the work put in beforehand on his recces.