Walkers met in the car park at Heartwood Forest Sunday morning in glorious weather. Following three dawn chorus walks which started at 0400, Murray Brown led the first of the morning walks, starting at the more reasonable hour of 1000!
Bird species recorded during the dawn chorus walks totalled 34 and this morning’s party were able to add to this with close-up views of House Martins feeding with Swallows over the pool in the centre of the car park. Other additions included Nuthatch, Red Kite and Buzzard.
The Red Kite and Buzzard performed fantastic aerobatics at the back of Pudler’s Wood as they soared up on the same thermal together, engaging in a little territorial bickering and allowing observers to note the differences between these raptor species which are of a similar size and can be confused. Hovering Kestrels made up a ‘raptor trio’.
Attendees were also treated to excellent views of a male Great Spotted Woodpecker visiting the nest hole to feed his very noisy brood and Green Woodpeckers were heard during the course of the morning.
The beautiful song of Skylarks poured out around and above the group all morning and the parachuting display flight of singing Meadow Pipits was also noted. Other birds that sang rather splendidly included Blackbirds, Song Thrushes, Blackcaps, Whitethroats, Chiffchaffs and Wrens. Good views were had of a Reed Bunting and Linnets.
So what about the other wildlife? Butterflies were ‘out in force’ with Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell and Small White being joined by Small Heath and the first Common Blues of the year. Speckled Wood was noted in the mature woodland. Day-flying Cinnabar Moths were also on the wing. If you’re not familiar with these, do a Google image search. With vermilion contrasting with metallic green/black, these really are little stunners. (They’re the species with the bright yellow and black-striped caterpillars that can be found feeding on Ragwort.) With a gorgeous show of wildflowers and grasses, especially in the area below Hill End Farm, butterflies should be abundant in the daytime walks that are taking place in July and August. Murray also pointed out the squeaks of shrews in the grass in this area.
Murray will be working with the RSPB in Scotland for much of June and guided walks will resume on 2nd July for an evening walk at 2030: “As day turns to night…” For more information about this and the rest of the summer’s programme of walks at Heartwood Forest, visit: