I needed to hear a wood warbler, I was feeling bereft. They don’t breed in the Chilterns; we are too far east. I normally see and hear them at White Wood on Dartmoor, and also on visits to Wales. Last year I didn’t travel west during the wood warbler season (roughly April to June), and so I hadn’t heard one since May 2019.
When the opportunity arose to visit friends in Ross-on-Wye in May I determined to take in the nearby Forest of Dean and try my luck. I had no idea where precisely I should go but decided the safest bet was the RSPB reserve at Nagshead, near Parkend.
I drove up the track to the car park, and walked the marked ‘long trail’ north through the woods.
There was birdsong all around. At roughly the northern end of the trail I came to a patch of mainly birch and scrub which was being managed for pine martens; here I heard and saw a garden warbler.
The trail enters an area of heath with scattered trees where I hoped to see tree pipit, but no luck.
At the end of the heathy stretch, where the path re-enters woodland and curves around to the south-east, I decided to keep walking south, and it was the right thing to do. Before I had gone very far I heard the distinctive ‘spinning-penny’ song of wood warblers, and then I saw one. There were probably about four of them, singing noisily. It was pure joy to see and hear them. I made a recording here.
I retraced my steps and rejoined the long trail back to the car park, and then took the path to the east towards Lower Hide. There the trees are more spaced out but just as lovely, and I saw a baby siskin on the path.
But the prize was the wood warblers.