Sunday, 28 March 2010

Birding the Forest of Dean

After ALOT of rainy days, the forecast for Saturday was dry, at least for some of the day so a birding friend and I decided to take a trip across the River Severn to Wales. Well, it's not quite Wales, the Forest of Dean is still in England, but it feels like you're in Wales. There are two bridges spanning the Severn over to Wales and the photo below is a view of the newer one.
The title of this post is 'birding' the Forest of Dean, but I can't say we were too serious about it.  For a start we didn't get up at the crack of dawn and we spent more time nattering than birding, but it was still great to be out in some dry weather and in a beautiful part of the country.  The woodland below is an RSPB reserve called Nagshead. We were there to try and see Lesser-spotted Woodpecker (no chance) and Firecrest (little chance).  Needless to say, we were unsuccessful (L S Woodpecker is one of the most difficult birds to see in Britain, in my humble opinion).  We had a lovely walk here full of the song of the more common woodland birds.
As always, I had to stop and take a photo when I noticed this lovely group of moss, lichen and fungi together.
The sheep in the Forest of Dean are left to wander anywhere which makes for careful driving, specially at this time of year with young lambs about.  This one was safely off the road enjoying it's breakfast!
One of our target species for the day was Mandarin Duck.  These beautiful ducks were originally from east Asia.  A feral population thrives here in the Forest.

The male is simply stunning.  A true courtier of the water!
The female is beautiful in a softer more graceful way. 
I'd go out with him if I wasn't already taken! (-:


Kelly said...

What a beautiful place. I don't think there's a forest anywhere here where sheep wander free. What a wonderful sight that must be. The Mandarin Ducks remind me of our male and female Wood Ducks, each beautiful in its own way. (I always like coming across lichen and moss formations too...)

Eve said...

Oh Jenny your header blows me away!! Good job! Love this duck. I think the trip was well worth it for the lovely photos you made!

TonyC said...

Nice post Jen, I'll look back through my records and find out where I used to go for Lesser Spot.

Rural Rambler said...

I am with Sunny Side Up Eve, the Mandarin Duck and your new header are stunning!! And it sounds nice to walk through the Forest of Dean nattering to/with a friend. Wish I had been there :) All beautiful pictures Wren!

Chris said...

Hi Jen,
Well yes that was a beautiful place to visit and to get nice shots like this of the mandarin duck is truly superb!! I love these duck pictures a lot, they are beautiful as the duck ;-)

Mary said...

I saw your header and stopped and said "wow!" I Love those Mandarin ducks. So gorgeous and colorful! Love the sheep and baby lamb :-) My smile for the day. I'll have to show it to my sister who was trying to get me to eat lamb way! I remember the sheep everywhere the time we went to Wales and having them in the middle of the road...sort of scary on your narrow roads over there!

John said...

Wow...cracking new header Jenny. Manderins are just so stunning. Love the the Lambs, the fields on my train journey to work are full of new born lambs, don't you just love this time of year...

Jenny said...

Hi Kelly, yes I think they are quite similar to Wood Ducks too. In the New Forest (south of where I live) there are horses wandering around in a similar way. Must be a British thing! (-:

Hi Evie, glad you like the header. It's certainly a stunner of a duck. My Mum had one on the river at the bottom of her garden once.

Hi Tony, I'd appreciate any help you can give me for places to try for LS! Let me know what you come up with. x

Hi Pix, it would have been great fun to have you along too. I'm sure we could have found a nice pub to have lunch in too! (-:

Hi Chris, I feel the same about your Harlequin Duck!!! (-:

Hi Mary, it's certainly a WOW bird isn't it. I wonder if you drove through the Forest of Dean when you were over here?

Hi John, yes it's the BEST time of year. I just wish it would stop raining for a bit!!! (-:

Felicia said...

Mandarin Ducks are awesome--I can't help wondering what confluence of natural factors conspired to create something that looks like that! Somehow, somewhere in the world, those looks are not only striking but eminently practical. Very cool!

Anonymous said...

Super header Jen. I am guilty of seeing what I believe now to be two LS Woodpeckers a few years ago without actually realising it, no bins with me at the time. But I have definitely spoke to another birder that heard one once.{:)

Too much nattering, I cant believe that.

Quiet Paths said...

Mandarin ducks! I've never seen a photo of these before. And you have them right there. Wow. Just wow.