People watching birds through binoculars in a field with trees

Winter Bird Walk at Alne Wood Park

8 February 2024
James Booth, Alne Wood Park Manager

In January, I had the pleasure of attending a Heart of England Forest bird-spotting walk led by Aaron Richards, one of the Forest Rangers. A group of us met at dawn on a Sunday morning in the car park at Alne Wood Park to try to spot a few of the bird species that frequent the area.

Setting off up the hill towards Alne Wood we saw the pair of resident ravens over the left-hand side of the site and heard the cawing of the crows and jackdaws wheeling around above the oaks. Entering the woodland, we started to hear a lot more bird calls and Aaron was able to start to give us an inkling of the birds we might see based on those we could hear.

We made our way through the trees up to an area where a few bird feeders had been put out to provide focal points to view the birds. However, the weather was notably warmer than it had been for the previous couple of weeks, meaning the ground had softened. Consequently, the birds were less interested in the feeders as their wider sources of food were available again.

There were however a number of blue tits and great tits using the feeders as we walked up. Then as we started to head back down again, we paused for a while at a longer distance and were rewarded by seeing coal tits and the attractive colours of a nuthatch joining the others. While we were in the woodland, we also caught fleeting glimpses of a muntjac deer and a hare.

People watching birds with binoculars in woodland
Some of the group watching one of the feeders

We headed back up the hill and out the back of Alne Wood into a more recently planted area of the woodland. Several roe deer were spotted in the distance, and then in the hedgerow at the back of the old trees we had the fortune to see a group of long tailed tits. These busy birds have a small round body, and as their name would suggest a long tail giving them the nickname of “flying spoons”.

As we started to head along the back of the trees, we also saw a trio of goldcrests, the UK’s smallest bird. These were flitting between a group of immature trees right in front of us, so we were able to get a good look at their bright crest, thought of as a gold crown which gives them their nickname of “the king of birds”.

As well as spending a pleasant couple of hours in the woodland, it was nice to get so much interesting information from Aaron about the birds we saw and to meet everyone in the group.

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