Thursday, 5 March 2015

Acres Down New Forest

Yesterday morning our group met in the New Forest to seek out a few of the local specialties that can be found around the Acres Down area.  This is a site that can produce good birds in the winter as well as in spring and summer and yesterday didn't disappoint. We started with a walk around the woodland and almost immediately we heard Bullfinch calls and then it started to sing which was quite a treat. a short distance after I picked up a small group of Goldcrest which were accompanied by two maybe three Firecrest.  These small woodland gems looked so good in the morning sunlight, but it took a little while for everyone to get good views as they worked their way through the holly in search of an insect meal.  We continued our walk around the woodland trail in the hope of picking up a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker as this time of year they start to become territorial and you have the best chance to see them as the trees aren't in leaf.  But unfortunately this morning we were out of luck all was quiet on the woodpecker front, though we were treated to the beautiful chorus from a Mistle Thrush in typical fashion sat at the very top of one of the large Beech trees singing its heart out.

We eventually arrived back at the car park and headed up on to the heath at the top of the down where you have a panoramic view across a large part of the forest.  Our target species here were raptors and our first to be seen was a Sparrowhawk which was soaring distantly to the south.  As we walked out to our first view point I picked up a single Raven which looked a little odd at first until we realised it was carrying something the size of a chickens egg in its bill.

We also found several pairs of Buzzard one or two were starting their territorial swish-backing displays.  After a while another raptor was sighted which was obviously a accipiter but this time larger than the earlier Sparrowhawk.  Though distant it was an obvious Goshawk which soared up extremely high before it glided off across the forest out of sight.  Over the time we were here we had several sightings of this super bird of prey but unfortunately none ventured close enough to give really good views.

An Archive shot of a Goshawk over the New Forest
Whilst we were looking for the birds of prey Jackie picked up a large finch flying towards us, as it came closer it became obvious that it was a Hawfinch when it passed us by. We also had the odd group of Siskin flying over giving the high pitched flight calls.  As the morning warmed up a number of species seemed to feel spring was closing and started to sing, with Chaffinch, Bullfinch, Wren, Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush and Robins in good song.

We ended our walk just after midday and all felt we had a good mornings birding.

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