Thursday, 24 June 2010

Fantastic Forests Phase 2

Well I'm sat here quite stunned/knocked over/ by all the attention which has come about following my appearance on Springwatch, it really has been wonderful. Lots of people calling and e mailing with their own Little Owl observation and indeed some new sites for us to visit, thank you all for your kind comments. Meanwhile the important job of the last few weeks is the continuing partnership project The Forest Long-eared owl project, a project between The Foresty Commission and Hawk and Owl Trust. Two week ago we were on Bodmin Moor and met up once again with our great friends from The Cornwall Bird Watching and Preservation Society The weather was very perfect for going out at night, warm in the day cooling nicely with dropping wind speed for evening. Sadly only one female Long-eared owl was recorded, but at another site The team from CBWPS had mentioned that a Long-eared had been continually observed hunting through to the summer, so we could not rule out perhaps some late breeding here. As many of have noticed the comment from Steve Evans that in the North the Leo's are late, well just perhaps that's whats happening here as well. Certainly coastal offspring are flying yet still with parents, so maybe on the higher ground Leo's are a few weeks behind. Our Vole study plots certainly echo this with Voles slow to build on high ground, yet on the low ground seemingly doing very well after the cold winter and very dry spring/summer so far.

These Nightjars were so close to me at one stage they almost knocked me over

Tree Pipit found across most of the Forests

Please everyone note the plant this Blue Tailed Damsel is resting on

And this Red Admiral, you really can't keep a good bramble down

Dartmoor Forests revealed a wonderful observation of a Long-eared Owl out hunting in the sunset light. Clearly this Owl was hunting with either a sitting female or very young owlets in mind as it floated low of the clear fell part of the forest, momentarily halting itself in flight with wings outstretched then plunging into the long grass, this particular area is over 1300 ft above sea level. I don't know how this compares with Steve's area but certainly the snow and frost would have lasted longer here than on the south west coast.

Peregrine Falcon was not the only raptor recorded on our Forest surveys

Planet Venus hangs just above the Forest tree's

Once again these forest survey have echoed much of what I mentioned during the winter blog updates, in that whether on the Blackdowns, Exmoor, Dartmoor, Bodmin or Haldon they have a superb diversity of life within them and even if I were to just highlight some of the birds such as Goldcrest, which is noted for its dramatic decline over the hard winter 09/10, yet is found everywhere, and yes in good numbers in these forests. Maybe whats happened is that the plantation tree's actual give them and others better protection during long cold snaps, so if that is true and long cold spells are to be feature of climate change in the UK, then this makes forests suddenly become very important areas indeed. Other Birds of note again Yellowhammer stands out in the young tree's and clear fell areas, as do Whitethroat, Willow Warbler and Song Thrush. Cuckoo was noted in all the locations we have been to so far, indeed even at Haldon Forest on the 24th June. Nightjars well a big WOW! as they were literaly everywhere and a even bigger wow with us finding them between 02 and 03 hours coming together on forest paths lit by the moon. Glow worms were starting to emerge at Haldon last Thursday and I suspect that's the first this year, as normally I catch up with this species in Mendip and Somerset Levels but this year I have been too busy with the forest project to visit my traditional haunts.

Oh yes by the way. If you are enjoying following this and other projects I highlight on my blog, then please do join us and become a member of the Hawk and Owl Trust, you can join online by going to we need all the support we can get. Its not all over yet either, having a short break now to do some Barn Owl ringing and nest checking of other Owls and Birds of Prey, then back out to visit Dartmoor and Haldon again in a week or so. OK so that's the quick catch up time to retreat to my pit, however for tonight it will be the more sensible time as apposed to 0500hrs. And folks I'm not complaining as you can tell I love it, however my stomach does not, its fun way to shed pounds. Thanks again to all who have supported this project so far from Forestry Commission to all the Bird watching groups and Hawk and Owl Trust volunteers, we ought to have a big party at the end.


1 comment:

CherryBarlow said...

Loved your photo of the Nightjar's,another tricky shot...and the Peregrine,brilliant.Why not pop them on FBook