This summer’s schedule of guided walks started at Heartwood Forest on Monday. Meeting in the car park at 0400, Murray Brown led the first of three dawn chorus walks.
Although a little wet later on, conditions were clear as the sun rose and participants were treated to a crescendo of beautiful sound as the birds began to perform, commencing with Song Thrushes and Skylarks. These were closely followed by Robins and then the first Blackbirds. As Heartwood sits relatively high, an impressive ‘wall of sound’ rising from the area around the village of Sandridge was witnessed. Blackcaps, cooing Woodpigeons and trilling Wrens joined in and we were delighted to hear at least two Cuckoos. A Mistle Thrush was seen as it gave its ‘football-rattle’ call and then sang.
As the light improved, we were able to obtain fine views of some of the birds present including a splendid cock Yellowhammer, Reed Bunting, and Meadow Pipits that were performing their typical ‘parachuting’ display flights as they sang. The jaunty song flights of Whitethroats, a summer visitor to Heartwood, enhanced the entertainment, and Linnets and Dunnocks added to the chorus.
In all a total of 24 bird species was recorded including Red-legged Partridge, Pheasant, Kestrel, Jackdaw and Starling. Bats were also seen patrolling the hedgerows (although it is extremely difficult to identify different species on the wing without the aid of a bat detector) and an obliging Brown Hare gave good views through binoculars.
Two more guided walks will be taking place to enjoy the dawn chorus on 30th and 31st May. For more information about these and the rest of the summer’s programme of walks at
Heartwood Forest, visit: http://www.woodlandtrust.org.uk/news/events/heartwood-stroll/