Sunday, 14 March 2010

A Day in the New Forest

Some of the Brent Geese at Ferry Bridge

Working on the premise that 'a picture is worth a thousand words' today's post is more pictorial than type-written. There was always a tentative plan laid to pay our, now, annual visit to the New Forest one day this week, but Wednesday / Thursday had seemed favourite. T had his morning an early visit to the cemetery produced about 6 singing Goldcrest and a pair of Coal Tit well into their courtship ritual, but Radipole remained very quiet. At Ferry Bridge c22 Brent Geese had gathered, along with a few Mediterranean Gulls and c2 Little Egrets, but there was also the sound of Skylarks, Meadow Pipits and the mobile phone. Given the continuing good weather Bowie and Sheila had made a spur-of-the-moment decision to do the Forest run and were calling to invite me along. It took just 20 minutes to get home, and a further 15 to collect telescope, small camera and flask then meet at their house.

As usual, our first stop was Ibsley Bridge in the hope of finding Bewick's Swan, with just a single among about two dozen Mute Swans.


From there we continued north to Fordingbridge, took the bye-pass past Sandy Balls and into the New Forest proper. There we visited the 'Top Secret' Goshawk site, which only everybody knows about, and within 10 minutes watched a pair enjoying the mid-day thermals. Along with a few Common Buzzard and a single Merlin the weather started to deteriorate, and within the hour had turned from bright, sunny and still to overcast, windy and cold. It was time to move on, but not before recording Woodlark.

Mandarin (male)

Mandarin (female)

At Eyesworth Pond the Mandarins were immediately visible along with a couple of Canada Geese, Moorhen, Mallard and a couple of uncontrolled dogs swimming in the pond.

Marsh Tit

'Shore-sides, there was no shortage of Blue, Great, Coal and Marsh Tit, an obliging Treecreeper plus a vocal Nuthatch, but no sign of the occasional Lesser Spotted Woodpecker.

Having pulled away from the car park, in an attempt to leave, it was a last minute bonus to see a male Wood Duck swimming across the water. Scarce at the best of times, even in a feral / escape state, this majestic duck holds no place on the British Bird List, but given the presence of Hooded Merganser, Bufflehead, American Wigeon, Green-winged Teal, Pied-billed Grebe et al in the country at the moment, who is to say that this too is not a true 'American vagrant'??

Bowie spotting yet another Coal Tit.


Into the heart of the 'ancient woodland' it wasn't long before we were picking up more Tits, Treecreepers, Nuthatch etc and even a suspected Woodcock which unfortunately was not confirmed.

Sheila, maybe a little disgruntled not having quite got enough on a 'springing' Woodcock.

Given the sunny quality of the day, there was great expectations of a few Butterflies. In the event, there were only c2 seen both Brimstone's, as shown.

Nuthatch at a feeding station.


At Bolderwood, we once again had high hopes of Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, but unfortunately this was not to be. Instead we found a couple of Firecrest, and cannot imagine anyone would disagree if I observed there's no finer bird in the forest?


The day ended, as they always do on these winter visits, at the Blackwater Arboretum. The extremely bad news here is still no cure or slowing of the Sudden Death Oak Disease which has blighted the area for almost 2 years now, with large tracts of woodland still fenced off in the hopes of finding a cure. However, on the plus side the population of wintering / roosting Hawfinch remains healthy as we saw at least half a dozen. In addition to the species mentioned, Mistle Thrush and Crossbill were also added to the 'year list' bringing the total to 115.