Open University Woodland Birds Identification Workshop

Saturday January 30th 2010

Rhinefield Arboretum, New Forest

list of species

Parking at the Forestry Commission's Black Water car park we started birding immediately with a Treecreeper showing well on the tree next to the cars! After a brief pause for coffee and biscuits we walked west in to Poundhill Inclosure into a fairy-tale landscape of tall oaks and pines with the woodland floor dusted with just a sprinkling of snow. Birds were hard to find here but we did find a patch of the common fungus Varicoloured Bracket Coriolus versicolor.

Amongst the native oaks and birches there were a number of exotic species, some of which such as the Douglas Firs and Western Red Cedars were planted 150 years ago and have grown to an immense size.

Like most of the New Forest the woodland floor under the trees has been mostly grazed out by deer and ponies, providing very little shelter for birds. Where we did find some undergrowth in the wetter areas there were good numbers of Reed Buntings - hardly a woodland species but a good bird to see with perhaps 20 or 30 feeding in a small area. Overhead we could see and hear Coal Tits and Siskins feeding in the tops of the pines, with an occasional Goldcrest and Chaffinch putting in an appearance as well. Once or twice we glimpsed a Green Woodpecker flying off through the trees.

Reaching Queens Meadow we found a small herd of young Fallow Deer, including one pure white individual. The trees here produced a few more birds, including some great views of a Nuthatch.

One of the main reasons for choosing this part of the forest was to see that most reclusive of all woodland birds, the Hawfinch. At Rhinefield Arboretum, just across the road from where we parked, a number of these beautiful birds fly in every evening through the winter to roost. We arrived just at the right time, with the setting sun just lighting up the tops of the trees around us. If we were lucky, we would see one of the Hawfinches getting one last bit of warmth before the cold night set in.

And that's exactly what happened!

List of species seen


Wood Pigeon
Green Woodpecker
Song Thrush
Coal Tit
Blue Tit
Great Tit
Long-tailed Tit
Carrion Crow
Reed Bunting


Fallow Deer
Grey Squirrel

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