Thursday, May 03, 2018

πŸ“– #31 ~ Wyre Forest

☀️☁️8/19C Thursday 3rd May 2018 Amazingly this was my first ever visit to the Wyre Forest in Worcestershire, which is, in fact, one of the largest ancient oak woodlands in England at nearly 550 hectares. I began at the Dry Mill Lane car park taking the clockwise circular walk, which takes you along an old disused railway line. Today I was in the company of a couple of Warwickshire birders, Theo de Clermont who travelled with me from Napton and Denis Woodward who we met up with at the car park.

Circular route from Dry Mill Lane
Arriving at around 7:30am it was a chilly start, in fact, I had to scrape some light frost off the windscreen when I set off from the marina an hour earlier. The weather to start the day was around 8C with overcast skies but by the time I ended the visit shortly before 2pm, the sun was shining with a pleasant 18C, enticing a few butterflies on the wing which included: Orange Tip, Brimstone, Speckled Wood, Peacock and Green-veined White.

Wood Warbler ~ In full song
It wasn't long before we were into the first of eight Wood Warblers today, its highly distinctive song resonating through the woodland. I love these birds, sadly an infrequent spring visitor to Brandon Marsh, my local reserve, probably due to a number of reasons, not least the lack of Beechwood there, its favoured habitat.

One of a half dozen Tree Pipits today!
A short time later the song of another distinctive bird, a Tree Pipit, which was perched high in the canopy, occasionally completing its characteristic parachute display, were it climbs skyward then parachutes down on rigid wings, legs dangling near the end of the descent, often perching in a different tree.

Pied Flycatcher (m) ~ Six today during the visit (including 2 females)
A short way along the track we paused at an ornate bench, which is carved with various animals, immediately picking up the song of a Pied Flycatcher. A short time later we had close-range views of the bird which appeared to be holding territory.

At Lodge Hill Farm we took a detour into the orchard, primarily for Common Redstart but despite not connecting with this particular species we still enjoyed watching a pair of Pied Flycatcher, which were taking great interest in one of the many nest boxes. A couple of Raven, Buzzard and Sparrowhawk overhead before we moved on.

Dipper ~ Unfortunately photo hampered by poor light
Dropping down through the woodland onto Dowles Brook, we managed to eventually connect with a Dipper, obtaining a few record shots (above) but unfortunately hampered by the bird refusing to come out into the light! A Grey Wagtail also appeared while we waited patiently on the wooden bridge.

Another Wood Warbler ~ Gorgeous birds!

From here a walk back towards the car park along the brook, stopping at Knowles Mill, now in the care of the National Trust. Another male Pied Flycatcher and a few more Wood Warblers, along with Marsh TitBlackcap, Garden Warbler, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler and a second Grey Wagtail, before lunch at the car park.

Tree Pipit ~ Ground foraging
After lunch and with the sun shining and a little more heat to the day we decided to retrace our steps, at least as far as Lodge Hill Farm. This mainly in the hope of finding some early Fritillary butterflies (3 species found here), plus any illusive Redstarts, our nemesis bird for the day but it wasn't to be.

However, stopping once more at the bench we noticed that the earlier male Pied Flycatcher was now in the company of a female, which perhaps we'd missed earlier. A second visit to the orchard at the farm failed once more to produce any Redstarts but some incredible views of a Tree Pipit, foraging on the ground, plus a surprise when a Tawny Owl called a few times, but we didn't attempt to locate the bird.

Wood Anemone ~ Lots of this gorgeous spring flower on site