Friday, 8 February 2008

Hide and Seek.

We seek them here we seek them there we seek those Hawfinch everywhere. Reports in the Gloster Birder (see links) suggest Hawfinches seen at Brierley. In the past they have been seen at Parkend at the church.

Where is the best place in the forest to see these elusive birds?

My friend,Andy Carey spent a large portion of his day today looking for them at Brierley without more than a brief sighting. We often visit Parkend Church without luck, I know Andy has seen them there in previous years. Where are they seen most regularly?
Fortunately there is usually something else to see and photo. Today,for me,it was crows. I called in to Parkend on my way back from Lydney Tesco's having stopped on my way out there briefly to scatter some seed. The Hawfinches and Crossbills that i'd hoped to see were nowhere to be seen. A lone Green Woodpecker scarpered as it saw me approach in the car. A pair of Robins were chasing each other around the tree by the car turning area, it always amazes me that they have the energy to do this instead of sharing the food, I know why they do it,but why? surely grub in your belly is more important than chasing off competition.

Having sat tight in my car for 5 minutes or so I was joined by three Crows. For such a large bird they are incredibly timid, the slightest movement was enough to send them high into the trees. However they eventually became accustomed to my movements and came down to enjoy the offerings.

I tried desperately to get a shot of one sitting on a grave stone, just like in the movies, but unfortunately not. The depth of field on these two shots was insufficient to pick up the stones behind. I'm not sure of the quality of these shots.
I guess i need to keep searching for the elusive Hawfinch. Finding them will be one thing, photographing them a completely different kettle of fish. Watch this space!

Forest Rally, A Good or Bad thing?

Tomorrow see's the Forest Rally 08. Personally I enjoy the event and have followed it with interest for 10 yrs or so, but is it a good thing for the Forest and the wildlife within?

I think there is no wrong or right answer, each of us will have our own opinion. Certainly it brings a lot of visitors to the area and hopefully through the efforts of the Lions it will raise money for good causes. There will undoubtedly be some damage and litter left. If the ground is wet, and it looks like it will be, there will be untold damage to forest tracks and cars parking on verges will leave many a lasting reminder.

Do the wildlife suffer? Again its hard to say. I can't see how 100 plus cars racing through the area can not cause some problems.

On another note, people who have no interest in watching the rally are effectively banned from large portions of the forest in the name of safety. Is this right?

I guess the point i'm trying to get across is that in a democratic society the best we can hope for is that these things are done with all of the wider implications in mind. It's one day a year, is that an excuse? Debate!!

Sunday, 3 February 2008

Wild Boar, an opinion nothing more.

There seems to be a never ending stream of press and media interest in the Forest of Dean boar at the moment. Unfortunately lots of the points put forward are in favour of ridding the Forest of the wild pigs. There have been delays in the report that is expected, from DEFRA and the other interested parties, that will finally decide the future of a creature that was present in the forest long before any of those involved.

Wild Boar are just like any other creature if left alone. They are no threat to human beings. They are not a ravenous carnivore in search of human flesh. They are timid, and shy from human contact.

Unfortunately there are incidents like the one reported this week of a boar in the grounds of Ruardean Primary school.The creature had found its way into the grounds and was "charging" at people. The Forestry commision were called and dispatched the creature. Quite correctly too. In no way am I suggesting that the safety of our school children should come second to a wild animal.

These incidents are a rarity. The action taken was, i would hope, considered and correct in the circumstances. Unfortunately the incident has only added fuel to the fire being stoked by those that wish to see a total cull. There are a number of farmers and small holders who have had "damage" caused and cry for the destruction of the culprits. These people don't care that more damage is caused in the forest daily by people dumping litter, parking on verges, lighting fires, and mindless vandalism. They don't care because it doesn't affect them directly.
I look forward to the report and hope that those with the power to decide will see the boar for what they are, a harmless welcomed addition to the rich diversity of wildlife that makes the Forest of Dean the fantastic tourist attraction that it is.

What a difference a week makes.

Sunday again but what a different day to this time last week.

I never managed to get out today so instead i'll post a few of the birds I shot yesterday.

Great Spotted Woodpecker. This was one of three that were drumming away madly at Beechenhurst by the Cafe.

Nuthatch. One of many that visit the arboretum .

Jay. There were three making visits to the feeder table at Beehenhurst.

Carrion Crow. In the trees at Beechenhurst, It also visited the feeder table.

Blue Tit, again at the Arboretum.

Bramblings. 2 visiting the Arboretum together.

It is easy to forget that winter is supposed to be a time of cold miserable weather when you have days that produce as much as yesteday did for me. There were others, Great Tit, Chaffinch, Robin, Grey Wagtail, Pied Wagtail, Mandarin duck at both Cannop and Mallards Pike, and a Heron and Goosander at Woor Green. No sign of crossbill at New Fancy although I see from Gloster Birder web site that there were some seen. (see my links).