Why hire a guide?
Employing the services of a guide with local knowledge can help you get the absolute best out of an area. By helping to visually and audibly identify different species, your guide can help you to have a greater chance of spotting birds and mammals you’d particularly like to see and by knowing locations and times of day for different species.
There are also proven wellness benefits to being outdoors and engaging with your surroundings. In daily life, full of stress, take time out to have a gentle walk and learn about the area. The forest is an amazingly calm place, and there’s always something going on to catch the eye.
What am I likely to see?
With over 100 species of bird present in the forest as well as a host of mammals and stacks of invertebrates, there is always something to see, regardless of season.
The Forest of Dean is a real hot-spot for raptors, so it’s not uncommon to see Sparrowhawk, Buzzard and Peregrine. Red Kite’s are starting to increase their range from surrounding populations and are now frequently seen at the edge of the forest. Our absolute star species, as far as raptors are concerned, is the Goshawk. The Forest of Dean has a nationally important concentration of this species and with a bit of luck, you may catch a glimpse!
Speciality species to the area include Cuckoos, Crossbills, Hawfinch, Wood Warbler, Mandarin Duck, Pied Flycatchers and Nightjars.
Spring is always a fun season to be out and about in the forest. At the start of the season migratory bird species start arriving en masse to find and establish territory and breed. This is a great time to see many species as they make themselves known through an amazing variety of song and the lack of leaf cover at the start of the season makes spotting them that bit easier!
Some species arrive sooner than others, so the list of birds can only ever increase through spring! Some of the forest’s star species like Redstart, Wood Warbler, Pied Flycatcher and Nightjar can all be found if you know where to look.
Reptiles start to emerge and make themselves easier to find too, with Common Lizard and Adder a distinct possibility at some sites.
Most birds have found territory and are nurturing broods of chicks. You may be lucky enough to spot a nest or two with some care and attention. Watching newly fledged chicks is a brilliantly soul-nourishing experience. This is also a really great time to observe bird behaviour. Butterflies and dragonflies can be found in good numbers too. The warmer months and calm evenings can provide brilliant views of glow worms.
You also stand a chance of seeing one of the few varieties of bat species here in the forest too, with Serotine, Daubentons and Lesser Horseshoe bats all present. The population of Lesser Horeshoe bats is recognised as the largest roost in Europe.
Migrant birds to the UK start to travel South. This is a great chance to see species you didn’t manage to catch in the Spring! As Autumn continues, winter migrants bolster UK populations of some species, looking for a less harsh climate and a reliable food source.
Fieldfare, Redwing and numerous finches arrive in the forest in decent size flocks. As the leaves start to fall from the trees, all these species become much easier to see!
A quiet but beautiful time in the forest. Wintering birds are here in their highest numbers, while the lack of vegetation leaf cover can make mammals easier to spot.
This is a wonderful time to look for Hawfinches as, like the other finch species, the population increases over winter with the influx of birds from the European mainland.
What do I need to bring with me?
If you have binoculars then please do bring them along as there’s no substitute for using your own equipment that you’re used to.
We provide a high quality spotting scope to help get better views and to make sure we observe but do not disturb the wildlife. We also have reference guides for bird and invertebrate species at your disposal.
Dressing sensibly for the weather is a great idea. Sturdy footwear like walking boots will help when the going gets slippy. A decent set of waterproofs will help keep you dry if the weather turns out to be inclement! If it’s cold, then a hat, buff, gloves and nice thick socks are ideal. The pace of the walks are slow so, if in doubt, bring more layers than you need to stay warm while standing still and being quiet looking for wildlife.