Report on the birdwalk in Parkhurst Forest

Posted by NH Admin on Tuesday, 5th June 2007, 17:28

Report on the Isle of Wight Ornithology Group local outing to Parkhurst Forest. Saturday 2 June 2007.

I timed a weekend visit to my family on the Isle of Wight to coincide with this event. Those of us who attended were not disappointed. Weather conditions during the day were perfect (dry, clear skys, little wind). I decided to walk from my mum’s house in Oxford Street to the Forest. I walked down Pallance Lane, took the path to the left, crossed the fields, passed Ridge Copse, entered the Forest at Hillis Gate and then walked south to the meeting point, negotiating a couple of barking dogs along the way (I’m sure they can smell the fear).

We gathered at 8.30pm at the car park and walked the long way round to the clearing north of the red squirrel hide. As we walked we heard several birds performing a ‘dusk’ chorus, including song thrush, blackcap, goldcrest and chaffinch. Gathered ‘in position’ next to the clearing, with the light gradually fading, we did not have to wait long before a woodcock flew over us, whistling as it went. It was joined by a couple of other ‘roding’ males.

Soon after the first nightjar started its ‘churring’ song. Hearing one in the field makes any CD recording pale by comparison. This bird came out of the distance and flew between some trees in the clearing. Despite the gloom it was possible to pick out the white spots on the wing tips and outer tail feathers, confirming that it was a male. This bird and another came within a few metres of us and landed in some nearby trees. They then flew back across the clearing and it was possible to pick one out perched in a tall tree, churring away as loud as before.

Sated by nightjars, and with the temperature dropping, we continued our circular walk back to the car park. En route we heard an adult long-eared owl calling. It was some distance away, and not possible to get any closer to it. Approaching the car park and the end of the walk, we heard three juvenile long-eared owls screeching. This sound has been compared to a squeaky gate, swinging on its hinge, and the comparison is a good one. Although we were only a few metres beneath the owls it was not possible to locate them as night had truly fallen. To see or hear all three target birds on this outing, and add two to my life list, made this an evening not to forget.

debbiepledge@hotmail.com

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