A Bird Watcher’s Guide to the Forest of Dean

Birdwatching in the Forest of Dean brings you closer to nature in the best way. This guide unveils why it’s a top spot for bird lovers, from its ancient woods and lively rivers to its friendly birdwatching community. Ready to explore?  Let’s dive in . . .

5 reasons why the Forest of Dean is such a special place for birdwatching

Range of Habitats 

The Forest of Dean has a wide range of habitats including woodland, riverside, heath and open spaces which attract many different species of birds.  The ancient woodland is home to some specialist species and the river valley attracts waterfowl and waders.

Biodiversity 

The forest is one of the oldest surviving ancient woodlands in England, offering a complex ecosystem that supports a rich biodiversity, including a vast array of bird species making it a haven for birdwatchers.

Conservation Efforts

There are ongoing conservation efforts in the Forest of Dean that help protect the habitats of endangered species. These efforts ensure the survival of a wide variety of birds, making the forest a vital area for bird conservation in the UK.

Seasonal Variations

The Forest of Dean offers different bird spotting opportunities throughout the year. Spring and summer sees the arrival of migratory species and the breeding season for many birds. Autumn and winter, on the other hand, provide the chance to see different species that visit the UK during the colder months.

Access and Facilities

The Forest of Dean is accessible and equipped with facilities such as hides and information centers that make bird spotting more convenient and educational. Guided walks and expert talks are often available, enhancing the birdwatching experience.

Some of the best places to go birdwatching

Just a 10-minute drive from our cosy holiday spot, RSPB Nagshead Nature Reserve sits in the Forest of Dean’s heart. It’s a haven for birds all year round. Come spring, spot Pied Flycatchers and Redstarts, summer brings Woodpeckers, autumn is for Nuthatches, and winter welcomes Goshawks and Treecreepers.

Nagshead Nature Reserve, Gloucestershire – The RSPB

A short 20-minute journey from our holiday home takes you to RSPB Highnam Nature Reserve in Churcham, right on the Forest of Dean’s eastern fringe. Highnam Woods, with its thoughtfully maintained blend of mature and coppice woodland, is a sanctuary for birds. Here, springtime is marked by the melodious return of nightingales, while winter offers the thrill of spotting hawfinch and the elusive lesser spotted woodpeckers.

Highnam Woods Nature Reserve, Gloucestershire (rspb.org.uk)

For more birdwatching trails throughout the Forest of Dean including some that will be home to waders and waterfowl check out this link

10 Best Bird Watching Trails in Forest of Dean | AllTrails

For more about habitats, types of birds you can discover and access to further facilities clink this link Birds of the Forest of Dean and Wye Valley (visitdeanwye.co.uk)

Just a 45-minute drive from our cottages, you’ll find WWT Slimbridge Wetland Centre, a wonderful place to immerse yourself in wetland nature and wildlife. Packed with activities, from canoe safaris and bird flight shows in the theatre to exploring a walk-through aviary, climbing the estuary tower hide, and discovering 13 other hides perfect for wildlife spotting. Plus, don’t miss their engaging talks and tours!    Slimbridge Wetland Centre | WWT

Download the family friendly App Wetland Heros Wetland Heroes App | WWT

Here’s our list of top tips to make your birding adventure a success!

Essential Gear

For a successful birdwatching adventure consider the following :-

  • a lightweight pair of binoculars for a clear and stable view
  • a reliable field guide for species identification (you will find one at Wyldwood Cottage *
  • a notebook and pen – essential for noting down dates of sightings, location and behavior (you will find a wildlife sightings log book at Wyldwood Cottage) *
  • * As an alternative  a birdwatching app like Birda can be a game-changer. It’s a free digital hub for all things birdwatching, from identifying species to logging sightings. Plus, it connects you with a community of bird enthusiasts. To join, simply follow this link and dive into the world of birdwatching with ease.

Free Birdwatching App To Connect With Nature | Birda

Clothing & Comfort

  • Make sure to wear sturdy, waterproof boots or shoes—they’re essential.
  • Dressing in layers of muted tones helps you blend into the surroundings and adjust comfortably to any temperature changes.
  • Don’t forget to shield yourself from the sun with a wide-brimmed hat and/or sunglasses.
  • And, it’s always wise to pack a lightweight, waterproof jacket, just in case the weather decides to surprise us.

Additional Items

  • Don’t forget to bring along some snacks and water to stay hydrated and energized throughout your adventure.
  • Applying sunscreen and insect repellent is a smart move to keep your skin safe during the warmer months.
  • Bringing a picnic blanket can add a comfy touch to your outdoor experience, and of course, a backpack is essential to carry all your gear easily!

Tips for a Better Birdwatching Experience 

  • Take it slow and steady, and keep the noise down—birds startle easily, and patience is key.
  • Learning to recognize their calls and songs is incredibly rewarding and adds another layer to your birdwatching experience.
  • Try visiting different environments to spot a variety of species; diversity is the spice of life, after all.
  • Joining a birdwatching group can be a great way to gain new insights and tips from fellow enthusiasts.
  • And remember, always watch birds from a respectful distance, especially near their nesting sites. It’s all about enjoying their presence without disturbing their peace.

Birdwatching Tours

Forest of Dean Wildlife Tours

Early Morning Birding (min. 2 people – £30pp.  Walk 4km, Experience 2.5 hrs)

Starting at 7am near Speech House (just 5 mins drive from our holiday cottages) the route has been designed to incorporate as many habitats as possible to increase the variety of birds spotted.

Half-Day Birding (min 2 people – £70pp)  Explore some fantastic places expect to spot around 40+ different species.

Evening Nightjar Experience (May – Aug ONLY  1.5 hours £15pp) Nightjars migrate from Africa and the Forest of Dean is one of the best locations to see them!  During the experience there is a good chance of seeing Wild Boar and weather dependent some Glowworms

https://fodwildlifetours.com/guided-tours/

 

Ed Drewitt 

Bird Song Walks – the Dawn Chorus.

The Dawn Chorus is an amazing sound, if you’ve never heard it before it will blow your mind!  For further details click the link.

https://www.eddrewitt.co.uk/dawn-chorus

 

Before your visit to the Forest of Dean you can follow the Forest of Dean Bird Watching Community which lists their latest sightings and photos.

Forest of Dean Birdwatching Site – BirdGuides

 

Connect with Nature in the Forest of Dean

Whether you’re keen on catching the early morning bird songs, discovering a variety of species by day, or experiencing the enchanting nightjar after dusk, there’s a perfect birdwatching adventure waiting for you.

Feeling inspired to join the fun? Pack your binoculars, grab your guidebook (or app!), and come see what the Forest of Dean has to offer. Whether you’re planning your first visit or your next, there’s always something new to discover.

Ready to take the next step? Check out our website to book your perfect holiday accommodation and use the information above to start planning your birdwatching and wildlife holiday.

Don’t forget to tag us in on all of your sightings @willowforeststays we would love to hear about your adventures!

 

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