Bird Watching, New Forest, May 2018

Surprisingly, only three people went to the New Forest in glorious weather yesterday. The journey took a little over 1 hour 30 and we parked at Ashley Walk Car Park at the Northwest of the Forest a few miles north of Fordingbridge.

Possibly because of the warm weather there were fewer birds around than we had expected, and for the first half hour the only birds of note were several Stonechat, one of which had far more white on its wings than normal, leading us to believe that we were possibly watching an Eastern Stonechat. But we could not be certain of this. We stopped in a small copse of mature trees and heard a lot of birdsong for the ten minutes we were there (including a possible Woodlark), but we saw virtually nothing.

Emerging from the copse we soon saw a singing Skylark and two male Bullfinches; we then went among the gorse bushes in an unsuccessful attempt at finding the elusive Dartford Warbler, which is known to frequent the New Forest. We heard a distant Cuckoo, which teased us until it eventually showed itself to us as we were relaxing over lunch.

The same relaxation spot yielded the sight of a Stock Dove and a male Redstart - our second Target Bird of the day (the first being the Cuckoo), plus oft repeated calls (but no sighting) of a Green Woodpecker

We decided to return to the car by another route, which yielded a Jay, single Buzzards and a Kestrel several Swallows, Herring Gulls and Crows, but nothing more exciting. The same woodland copse as before yielded a Chiffchaff, but otherwise only Chaffinch and Robin. So we returned rather earlier than planned to the car and came back to Wells.

Our total count of bird species seen was only 28, with another half dozen heard. In birding terms this was quite disappointing, but at least the sun shone and we did see some birds which Somerset would probably have denied us.