Forest gems and coastal surprises.

by A warbler a day

With the bank holiday weather being perfect I decided on a double-bill of new forest in the morning and coast in the evening. First off I parked at Beaulieu Road station and walked down to Bishop’s Dyke. On the way down I saw a pair of Stonechat and a Common Heath, a day-flying moth. At Bishop’s Dyke I was greeted by the sound of several warblers as well a Reed Bunting, but what would I see? Eventually a Garden Warbler flashed between trees. That’s 3 days running I’ve seen one. Also flying around the pool were some newly emerged Large Red Damselflies, my first damsels of the year. After rescuing the my cup from the pool I set off along the dyke towards Denny Wood. Pleasingly I saw several of one of the forests most handsome birds, male Redstarts. There were also couple of Woodlark, flushed from the low vegetation along the path and some Meadow Pipits. The latter may be why I could also hear Cuckoos nearby. Pipits are one of the Cuckoo’s favourite hosts. However the Cuckoo stayed out of sight. After eating lunch by the car park I took a brief stroll up the track over Black Down. I was aiming towards some large gorse bushes in the hope of Dartford Warbler. Mission was accomplished. First I saw a small bird moving in a vert Dartie way in a small bush. Then I followed a bird that had flown into a larger bush as it moved higher it poked it’s slate grey head out the top. unmistakably a Dartford Warbler. Back at the car park I finally managed to spot some Crossbills flying between the pine trees. However the noisy Goldcrests and Coal Tits were not seen.

For my coastal walk I went to Lepe Country Park. I spent most of the time around Stansnore Point. In the scrub behind the point I heard a Nightingale. unfortunately this one stayed resolutely deep in cover, even when an out of control dog careered through nearby bushes. A little later a Stoat gamboled out the scrubland and disappeared down an old rabbit hole just off the path. Looking out to sea, several Sandwich terns flew past and I am 95% certain that I saw some Skuas in the distance. They were darker birds that Terns or gulls with long wing compared to their body length. I can’t think what else they would be. As I got back to the car I spotted a group of waders on the foreshore including a couple of Bar-tailed Godwits.

All-in-all another fabulous day nature watching!