Forest of Dean - Looking back over the past week at our stay in the forest there have been more than one or two highlights. The past couple of nights we finally caught up with wild boars, or at least the sound of them as they grunted away into the early hours. When I checked the woodland floor at the bottom of the valley this morning it was as if a tractor and plough had been in there; those beasties certainly can shift some soil in their quest for food.
The Dippers have been great to see along the Wye, as were the black-capped tits and Hawfinches in the forest, but the stand out bird of the week has to be Goshawk, a bird I rarely see now. We had some cracking views, particularly yesterday morning when I watched a bird hunting along a valley and take a Pheasant. Mind you that was no real problem as some of the birds reared for game shooting locally were almost tame, an easy meal for such a powerful raptor.
Whilst on the subject of plastic Pheasants, travelling home along the M4 today we noted hundreds dead on the motorway and at one spot near Swindon saw several fly strait into the side of lorries and explode in a cloud of blood, guts and feathers. I`ve always thought what a pointless waste of time and money (quite apart from the cruelty of it all) the Pheasant shooting industry is, rearing a tame bird just so some `sportsman` can blast it out of the sky at point blank range.
Lade - Anyhow, we arrived home late afternoon and couldn`t resist a run out over the local patch. As it was calm we set out across the desert to Mockmill and settled down to watch, and it wasn`t long before at least 3 Short-eared Owls were quartering the rough ground towards the airport, all the while being hassled by crows. A Merlin shot through chasing Mipits (without success) and 5 Marsh Harriers headed to roosts towards the bird reserve. As the light went the Water Rails began to squeal and a huge flock of 500 or so Jackdaws passed west.