Mid February and time to make our annual trip to the New Forest to see Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers. Or, as it turns out almost every year, to spend a morning listening to distant drumming and to leave without managing to set eyes on them. This year was no exception. Greater spots drumming and a distant half hearted drumming from a Lesser Spot but no sight of them at all.
Plenty of birds in the forest but all of them difficult to approach although we did get the opportunity to photograph a juvenile Buzzard just after we entered the forest. It is not an unusual bird to see but it is one that I have always found difficulty in photographing.
We had a look at Blashford and a few of the enclosures but there was not much to see and even less to photograph. There were a few of the more common birds about but there was little point in spending time chasing them when our final stop of the day, at Eyeworth Pond Fritham, would deliver close up views of all of these birds.
You do need to take a few handfulls of peanuts or sunflower seeds to keep their attention but the birds are conditioned to being fed and to being close to people. It's not our usual idea of birding but it does lift the spirit to have so many "wild" birds almost close enough to touch.
Even the Mandarins are happy to come over looking for food. We had seen ten of these at the northern end of Swanbourne Lake earlier in the week but they were very wary of people, staying well away from the feeding areas. The Eyeworth birds were out on the pond edge often too close to be able to get the picture.
|Displaying to the ladies|
Last time we visited there were a pair of Wood Ducks on the pond. I was hoping they would have stayed and I could have another go at photographing them but we did not see any sign of them this time.
As you leave the forest there are some areas of open grassland which are always good for Thrush species. Most were a bit distant but we were fortunate to get a pair of Mistle Thrushes that were feeding close to the car.