Misty Forest Mornings

Yesterday we ventured out on a morning tour with a lovely family of 4, who were staying in the area.

It started to feel a lot like Autumn is on it’s way. That slight crispness to the air, the smell of dampness on fallen leaves, the mist hanging in the trees. There’s something special about the change of seasons. Maybe it’s the feeling that everything is about to change? The colours of the trees gradually fading to brown and russet tones, the movement of birds on their route South to warmer climes are all becoming evident at this time of year.

Our tour started with a couple of common bird species, highlighted by a smart looking Grey Wagtail, picking insects off the roof of the Rewild Project building.

As we continued our walking route around Woorgreens Lake, we spotted a couple of late Swifts drifting over. Swifts are our shortest staying migrant bird in the UK, arriving in June and leaving in August.

As we stepped out onto Crabtree Hill, we watched a couple of Roe Deer bound off across the track in front of us. At this point it seemed all the birds having a lie in started to come active. A pair of Stonechat perched obligingly on a tree close to us, allowing a decent scoping opportunity. As the sun came out it highlighted a couple of small light coloured blobs on the edge of the nearby woodland. A little investigation with the scope identified 2 Spotted Flycatchers warming up in the morning sun.

As we wandered further up onto the hill, we were greeted with a host of Swallows, with parent birds still feeding young in some of the smaller trees in the area. Being so close to them gave some great views of the behaviour. A handful of Willow Warblers and a couple of small, noisy, flocks of Linnet made themselves known towards the top of the hill, and a family of Stonechats including a couple of juvenile birds.

We stopped in at the Cathedral stained glass sculpture on the Beechenhurst Sculpture trail on the way back, as that’s always worth a look if you’re in the area.

All in all, a varied and fun tour with a great group of people! Why not come and try a tour for yourself?

Variety is the spice of life!

A morning tour a few days ago provided a few brilliant nature encounters!

Our usual start at Speech House Woodland can provide a handful of common species but it proved a little slow to start. Progressing slowly towards Woorgreens Lake the species started to reveal themselves as the habitat changed into more.open lakeside margins, with fervently singing Willow Warblers and a chance fly by of a group of Crossbill.

The grassy margins next to the lake are brilliant for butterflies and damselflies. This particular day was no exception with a lot of warmth early on in the day. Absolutely perfect. Small White, Green Veined White and Gatekeeper butterflies all appeared quickly, along with a magnificent Emperor Dragonfly.

Ambling up to Crabtree Hill and onto the heathland habitat we were quickly aware of a huge number of juvenile Swallows roosting in several coniferous trees. I’ve never seen so many Swallows!

A friendly Green Woodpecker drifted by and flushed a Tree Pipit. Then a veritable wave of bird species appeared, including Stonechat, Linnet, Siskin, Spotted Flycatcher and a family of Redstarts.

On the way back to the cars, we stopped at a small pond near Kensley Lodge and a large number of Cinnabar Moth Caterpillars feeding on Ragwort. The caterpillars are brightly coloured, just like the adult, day-flying moth they turn into!

After departing the guests at the car park, I took the opportunity to scope out New Fancy viewpoint on my way home. The site is well known for its Goshawk sightings but alas they evaded me on that particular day. However a very confident Common Lizard made a brief appearance, basking in the sun and warming up.

In a period of 3 hours, the variety of species included 30 bird species, 9 butterflies , 4 dragon/damselflies and a hornet!

The Forest of Dean truly is a remarkable place. If you want to see these remarkable things for yourself then come and join us on an early morning tour and we’ll show you some amazing wildlife!