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Post Info TOPIC: Forest of Dean


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RE: Forest of Dean


As usual whilst away in Glamorgan for Easter we had one day planned to visit the Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire and with a sunny day forecast we decided today was the day! First port of call was Nagshead RSPB Reserve. We headed down towards Lower Hide and just before getting down to the Hide itself we had a male Pied Flycatcher singing and showing well in trees by the path. Then from the Hide Carys spotted a male Redstart displaying over the pond, flaring his red tail and looking gorgeous in the morning sunshine. A Grey Wagtail by the pond added to this colourful scene. The rest of the reserve proved quite quiet so we headed up to New Fancy View. We managed two excellent sightings of Goshawk, possibly the same bird. I next found a Red Kite & locals said that it was a good bird for the Forest, rarer than Goshawk!! Also spotted were a Peregrine, four Ravens and several Buzzards. Being the only ones with a decent scope up there we found all the birds ourselves, but of course shared with others letting them use our scope. A brief stop at Cannop Ponds next produced 5 Mandarins, a yeartick for us! We then headed up to nearby Highnam Woods RSPB. The highlight was a singing Nightingale, a guy we met earlier had had two. Both of us had brief glimpses of the bird in this, one of the most NW sites for the species. Blackcaps were everywhere & the local Song Thrushes incorporated a lot of Nightingale into their song! Otherwise just Green Woodpecker of note. All in all a fab day in an area full of nature but probably overlooked by birders from further afield.

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Was away over Easter at my In-Laws in South Wales so took advantage of a sunny Good Friday to make a trip to the Forest of Dean with a certain raptor as the main target given the weather smile

Our first point of call was New Fancy, and the short walk up to the viewpoint. A small gathering of birders had seen little so far but within 3 minutes of us arriving the first Goshhawk was seen. Distant but giving good views in the scope. Thereafter things hotted up with more Goshawks and Carys & I finding our own and calling them out for folk, great fun! At least 5 birds were seen as well as 5 Buzzards, 2 Sparrowhawks and displaying Ravens. Lots of Siskins flew over as well as a pair of Crossbills.

Next was a pop down to Nagshead RSPB where it was quiet apart from Fallow Deer & butterflies, no birds of note really.

Cannop Ponds was next and initially nothing, but in our two visits we had (predictably) 19 Mandarins, the drakes looking stunning, sails up, displaying to the females. Coal, Great & Blue Tits visited the feeders as well as Siskins in smart plumage.

A few walks around various parts of the forest produced two more Goshawks but the locations must remain secret. Otherwise just nice being out in the sunshine and amazingly for a Bank Holiday it was relatively quiet, especially on the back forest tracks and even on the roads & in the car parks surprisingly!

 



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Late post from yesterday following a day out in the Forest of Dean.

First stop New Fancy View:
Goshawk -3
Peregrine Falcon - 1
Buzzard - 6 max in air at once
Kestrel
Sparrowhawk
Raven -2 pairs
Highlight of the raptor fest was a mid air duel between Goshawk and Buzzard

Also
Crossbill giving close views in the conifers below the viewing platform
Siskin
Hawfinch over

Next stop Cannop Brook for some rather splendid venison sausages and more importantly
Marsh Tit
Mandarin

Then onto Crabtree Hill where Great Gey Shrike was showing stunningly well to about 20 feet. Also on the nearby lake
Little Grebe and Goosander highlights. Also Lesser Spotted Woodpecker calling and two Nuthatches muffing up the nest hole were great to find.

Also bumped into a Firecrest on our travels with close views making it the bird of the day.

Fantastic day out and non bird views of Fox and wild board tracks rounded it off

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Originally posted today by Patrick Earith:

New Fancy View.


Male and female Goshawk displaying yesterday at around 15:30. Also, several Raven, 2 Buzzard and a female Sparrowhawk. A male Crossbill was also seen briefly, but, not by me. Lots of Siskin around too, including juveniles begging their parents for food. Earlier, just down the road in Speech House Woodland, a male Two-barred Crossbill was seen, but, again, not by me! Great place this, with fantastic views over the Forest

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Brilliant Pete, always superb to get a lifer & to get views of Nightingales is special too. This wood really is a little jewel, and reasonably accessible for us in the NW as its motorway nearly all the way. I agree about the hoof prints, we thought Muntjac too. It will definitely be a regular spot for us to visit in the future. Just over the other side of the motorway are some excellent Duke of Burgundy sites (for any butterfliers reading this!!), another hard to see species smile

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Inspired by Doc's posting [thanks Doc!] I realised I was passing Highnam Woods again this week on Wednesday evening. What a difference it made being two months earlier in the year since my last visit. Within 50m of the entrance I heard my first Nightingale and in the hour and a half before dark I must have heard at least 12 and had sightings of around 5 individual birds. They did go quiet every so often and then strike up again once two or three birds were within range [at the edges of territories I guess]. I even managed to photograph a couple in the middle of thickets so twigs in the way and lots of manual focusing :) There were also Buzzard, Raven, Blackcap, Whitethroat and many other woodland species alomg with normal sized and tiny hoof prints that must have been some very young Muntjac I guess.

The car park was locked up but I asked nicely at the petrol station along the road and in return for being allowed to park there I filled up with diesel as I left.

A lifer for me and a brilliant experience.

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Taking a late Easter break as I was working at Focalpoint on Easter Saturday we stayed in Cardiff and with the weather set fair I looked for somewhere nearby to visit. Trawling local websites I came across reports from Highnam Wood RSPB (should have looked at Pete's posting below but missed that!!). A visit in the sunshine made for a fantastic morning, as Pete says though the car park was locked, never to be re-opened info has it, due to goings on in cars after dark winkbiggrin

Taking the nature trail we soon heard our first Nightingale, and then had views of it perched up singing it's heart out. Later we stood on a ride surrounded by four singing males, the best Nightingale experience I have ever had, mindblowing! In total we counted at least 6 singing males, more likely 8 and as Pete says some of the Song Thrushes also mimicked part of the Nightingale song, a trap for the unwary!! We also saw 3 Marsh Tits around the feeding area/screen and another deeper in the wood. Lots of other 'common' stuff like Blackcaps, Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs. Also lots of butterflies, especially Orange-tips & Green-veined Whites. Botanically lots of spectacular Lords & Ladies and the local Tintern Spurge.

Later a trip to Nags Head RSPB in the Forest of Dean proper had Pied Flycatchers and Redstarts already present and Mandarins on the pond. We also saw Slow Worms and a Wood Mouse but the highlight of the whole day were 6 stripey Wild Boar Piglets which I managed photos of before someone stepped on a twig some distance away & sent them scattering into cover. A flying visit to New Fancy View added two stunning male Crossbills in the closest tree as well as numerous Siskins and Redpolls in display. Only a short visit here as the rain swept in bringing the day to a close.

I have been to the Forest of Dean many times but the discovery of Highnam Wood was great and I intend to make regular visits here in the future smile

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Planned to spend the weekend here, but got waylaid looking for Great Northern Diver and Garganey en-route and didn't get here until after dark on Saturday, so only spent Sunday in the Forest.

Symonds Yat (11:00-14:00)
Great views of one of the resident Peregrines outside the nest site and then chasing off Intruders on 2 occasions. Several Pairs of Buzzards over plus some singles, at least one pair of Ravens and a male Sparrowhawk. A trio of birders turned up and pointed me at a distant pair of Goshawk over hills to the North. Unfortunately they dropped down out of sight and didn't reappear.
2+ Peregrine
2 Goshawk
6+ Buzzard
1 Sparrowhawk (male)
5+ Ravens
plus
2+ Goldcrest, 4+ Coal Tit and 3+ Nuthatch in the woods and around the watchpoint

RSPB Nagshead (15:00 - 16:00)
Quiet visitor wise but lots of resident birds singing and being fairly active
6+ Nuthatch
4+ Siskin
4+ Treecreeper
2 Redwing
1+ drumming woodpecker (seemed too slow to be Greater or Lesser Spotted)
1 singing Chiffchaff

Cannop Ponds (16:00 - 17:00)
Always worth a visit to see the Mandarin.
5+ pairs of Mandarin Duck
pr Little Grebe
2 Great Spotted Woodpecker
pr Grey Wagtail
4+ Nuthatch
1 singing Chiffchaff

New Fancy View (17:00 - 17:45)
I had left it a bit late to come here and so there was not much to see apart from the Siskins in the treetops below. No sign of any Crossbills or Goshawks. Other birders reported that the Two-barred Crossbills had been seen nearby along with a flyover Goshawk. Goshawk and Hawfinches were also seen briefly at Parkend.

Glorious day and (I would have thought) perfect conditions for Goshawk, but came away slightly disappointed with the views. Time seems to fly by when I go out birding these days - need to be bit more disciplined and organised and I might get to a few more sites.

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Had an evening walk around Highnam Woods - just east of the main forest thus week. Superb woodland walk with loads of birdsong - not confident I heard any Nightingales [shame I wasn't passing earlier in the year] but did see and hear Blackcaps, Green Woodpecker, Nuthatch, Song Thrush doing superbly varied songs [inspired by the Nightingales maybe :)], Tawny Owl, many more common woodland species and also saw my first ever Muntjac - lots of deer tracks as well - with what I presumed were the Muntjac being tiny - about 2cm!

Only problem is the car park is locked up - presume they've had some issues...

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Called in on way back from Yellowthroat - and this site continued its reputation as one of the most reliable places for Goshawk - multiple sightings between 2:00 and 4:30, plus a couple of Adders for good measure.

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Yesterday l cancelled work, got up early, picked up Simon Warford and drove us to The Forest Of Dean....hungary for the sightings of displaying Goshawk
When we got to The New Fancy View at Cinderford, the platform was already busy with birders and within moments Simon had picked up the first magnificent bird...it rose up from a dark green wood and resembled a crucifix (to me)...it's stature and body was very impressive. l've seen them before but these views were great!!

It wasn't long before Simon had two males in his scope and he very galantly gave me the scope so l had the priviledge of seeing them chase. Again with the wood in the background the splendour of these birds was clear to see. As good as l could l gave a running commentary of where the birds were and what was happening, l was very excited and my hurried discription was not unlike a pundit at a racetrack at The Grand National !!

We also had a very impressive huge female, only the one but nevertheless she was a great addition to the sky The weather although bright and clear was very breezy, and other birds who dominated the view were Buzzards, Raven, Sparrowhawk and Kestrel.

Great day and great company...x

Just a quick note:
There were a couple of....All-the-gear-but-no-idea types there

Do us a favour love....if you don't know your Kestrel from your Goshawk.....don't claim ''Gossie''

Even the most experienced birder will get the bird in his scope before he calls it !!



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1 Red Kite, at least 3 Goshawk, Buzzard, Sparrowhawk (buzzing one of the Goshawks!), Crossbill, Siskin, Goldcrest, Green & Greater Spotted Woodpeckers from the New Fancy watchpoint over lunchtime today.

A good show, despite the overcast weather

-- Edited by Mike Chorley on Tuesday 28th of February 2012 08:29:21 PM

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I was planning a visit this weekend, but for family reasons im in Manchester instead. Its always worth checking the sightings page at the Gloster Birder

http://www.birder.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/

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If anyone gets a chance to visit the Forest Of Dean it's well worth a trip to the New Fancy view point. Great views, and lots of Goshawks at this time of the year. Really impressed - but it was a lovely day weather wise which certainly helped !

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On the way home from seeing the Common Yellowthroat in Gwent (see National Mega Sightings thread) we stopped in the Forest of Dean at the New Fancy raptor view point in the hope of seeing the widely publicised Goshawks. We were not disappointed; we had 4 of them in the air at one point - Mr Barber's second lifer of the day. We also had Crossbill, Siskin, Brambling, Buzzard and Raven.

The highlight for us was however the female Wild boar with her three stripped piglets trotting around below the viewpoint in the open spaces in front of the tree line .


-- Edited by sid ashton on Sunday 26th of February 2012 11:17:58 AM

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I have just returned from a weekend away in the Forest of Dean. It was my second visit of the year and though I was supposedly there to attend a small music festival in Lydney, I spent most of the daylight hours out birding.

Aside from the area around Lydney Harbour, it is actually quite difficult to get close to the water along the Bristol Channel, as most of the land along the coastline is in Private hands. I therefore concentrated on the areas inland and armed with some clues culled from the Gloster Birder website
http://www.birder.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/
I went off in search of some of my bogey birds - Goshawk and Dipper(which I have seen once, a long time ago in the Lake District).

I was stying at the Whitemead Forest Park, which has a campsite, caravan park and self-catering chalets and is conveniently located across the road from The RSPB Nagshead Reserve in Parkend and a short drive from my Goshawk hunting locations of Parkend Church, Boy's Grave and New Fancy View. Its a sort of mini-centreparks, with a swimming pool and gym etc, but more orientated towards outdoor activities. The park sits in the middle of the forest so you are surrounded by trees full of tits, nuthatch, woodpecker and on one particular evening Tawny Owl as well.

Sat 8th Oct: New Fancy View:
I spent most of the morning here and while the view over the Forest is fantastic, there wasn't much raptor activity. Aside from the more usual tits and other passerines, plus the innevitable Woodpigeons, I also saw
- Great Spotted Woodpecker
- 3 Raven soaring over the forest
- 2 Buzzard (there was a bird at almost every site I visited)
- 4 Crossbill
- 30+ Siskins

Sun 9th Oct: Parkend Church
A long walk round the forest was rather unproductive. Very few brds showed themselves and I had to rely on the bird calls to work out what was present, which wasn't much. leaving out the small passerines, I just saw
-1 Buzzard
-c6 Jay
- 6 Crossbill overhead

I then went off driving and attempted to get down towards the Bristol Channel at Awre and Eltoe. It was a complete waste of time as the roads turned out to be farm tacks and nothing led down to coast. When you did get close, there was a railway line to cross. However when I did get out of the car and get out the binoculars, besides the inevitable Buzzard, there were  4 swallow flying north up the Bristol Channel towards Gloucester!

Mon 10th Oct: RSPB Nagshead
I visited this reserve earlier this year, in April and then it was alive with all manner of small birds.  This time it was much quieter with the tits and nuthatch making most of the noise - aside from the Buzzard calling overhead. I was otherwise rather disappointed with the return on a walk that took me all around the reserve and a little further over the course of nearly 5 hours
- 1 Goldcrest with small tit flock (also joining in with their bathing activities)
- 1+ Jay
- 2 Song Thrush
- 30+ Siskin

Cannop ponds:
the RSPB leaflet from the Nagshead reserve suggested that the stream running close to these ponds would be good for Dipper, but once again I dipped on that particular species. Tits, Nuthatch, Siskin and other finches were numerous along the paths and in the trees around the ponds, so once again their was little that was unusual or unexpcted. The best on offer included
- Buzzard ( probably the same one that was across the road in Nagshead earlier in the day)
- 1 Grey Wagtail by the side of one of the ponds
- 1 Little Grebe.
- c15 House Martin - drinking from the pond and feeding on flies above the treeline.

Symonds Yat:
Arriving here at the end of the day (5:30pm) with daylight rapidly failing, I didn't expct to see much, but I had a very interesting chat with one of the volunteers who helps out at the viewpoint. Birds seen included
- 1 Buzzard
- 1 m Sparrowhawk
- 3 Swallow - heading east at around 6:30pm

Tue 11th Oct:
Lydney Harbour: 
The tide was in, so most of the Gulls were inland on privately owned farmland and it was quite blowy, so the birds that did try to move were flying into a strong easterly and making slow progress. besides the Dunnocks, Robins and tits in the hedges around the harbour, there were
- 3 Pied Wagtail
- c8 Meadow Pipit trying hard to fly east
- 1 Swallow heading South West along the coastline.

New Fancy View:
Even more Siskins and other finches (Chaffinch & Goldfinch) in evidence than during my visit on Saturday, but aside from that it was once again very quiet, not helped by the stiff breeze.
- 1 Buzzard
- 3 Raven
- 1 Mistle Thrush over
- 1 Green Woodpecker

Speech House:
Plenty of small passerines, but nothing that I already hadn't seen plenty of.

Cannop Ponds:
much the same as the previous day, with the tits and finches busy in the trees. There was no sign of the House Martins, but the same pond hed a different treat in the form of a large flock of Mandarin. i had seen a few birds on the ponds at Nagshead in april, but nowhere near as many as this. The constantly lurking Buzzard seemed to be making the small birds quite nervous and several times the sky was filled with 100+ small finches and tits. Highlights
- 1 Marsh Tit
- 56 Mandarin Duck
- Brimstone Butterfly
- 6 Wild Boar

Boys Grave:
This is actually just further along the road from New Fancy View going towards Speech House, but the sign, unlike most of the Forestry Commission signs, is actually set back from the road, so it is easy to miss and I drove up and down the road several times before I found the entrance. I didn't have as much time to explore the area as I would have liked and was only able to make a quick walk along a couple of the paths - where i saw the usual tits, nuthatches, finches and woodpigeons

The finches were again quite flighty, so I presumed that a Buzzard must be around, though I couldn't see one, however as I was returning to the car I saw one soaring above the treetops - and then another, slightly smaller bird soaring higher up. training my bins on the bird, I could see it was a Goshawk and it came out of its climb and glided down  before disappearing beyond the treeline. I dont know what I was expcting but it was a slightly anti-climatic lifer.
- 1 Geat Spotted Woodpecker
- 1 Goshawk
- 1 Buzzard
- 100+ siskin

I did try another couple of locations but there was either little of interest or accessibility was limited. Overall it wasn't a bad trip, but i was a little disappointed with the variety of birds seen, (around 48 species in all), considering where I was and how much time I had been out in the field, but i suppose that 2 lifers (Goshawk and Crossbill) is some compensation.

 

-- Edited by Charles Farrell on Wednesday 12th of October 2011 06:07:52 PM

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Well nice little break with the family,

Goshawk, redstarts, wood warblers, nightingale, buzzards galore,

nice part of the world for a break could not catch up with the red-footed falcon.

keep birding

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Thanks for the Info Paul,
I went down to the Forest of Dean this weekend, weather you could say was a bit wet. At New Fancy View there was no sign of any Goshawks, but had been reported on Thursday. There was a Great Grey Shrike near by though, and some Wild Boar. Symons Yat the Peregrines where doing there usual thing, and got my first sighting of a Goshawk on Saturday afternoon, plus some great views of Buzzard soaring down below the rock. 3 Hawfinch at Parkend church (good location for them according to a Gloucester birder). 7 Mandarin duck down at Cannop ponds, plus one sparrowhawk. Also saw one Merlin on the way down there Junction 2 M50. I will have to go back in May when the weathers a bit better. One Gloucester birder said they had an opsrey below Symons yat rock for a month last year, I will have to watch out for any reports like that, new view of an osprey looking down on them for a change.

Steve Johnson


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Thanks for your reply Paul, didnt know the RSPB had a centre there, and I am a member. I think I will head there first to get a bit of local knowledge as well. I'll post my sightings on my return which will hopefully include a Goshawk, a new tick for me. Just the Montagu's Harrier to get in the summer then and that will be all the Raptors done.

Many thanks

Steve


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Steve going myself in June, so hope you enjoy it have been before several times , but if its a first visit then RSPB Nagshead leave B4234 westward at parkend towards Coleford on outskirts of Parkend turn north for RSPB signs Information centre there should be a wealth of sighting posted there.
speech house hotel south of the B4226 between Cinderford and Coleford has an Aboretum good for crossbill
Woodsgreen lake between B4226 and A4136 another good area.
keep birdingbiggrin.gif

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I am off to the Forest of Dean 8,9 & 10th of March hoping to see the Goshawks, been told to try looking from the New Fancy view point. Has anybody else visited the area and know of any other good sites for birdwatching while I am in the area (first time visit)confused.gif. I will be visiting Symons Yat to see the Peregrines.

All info on the area welcome.

Many thanks

Steve Johnson


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