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This forest covers large areas of woodland between the River Wye to the north and the Severn to the south.
Much of the area consists of mature oakwoods as well as large areas of more recent conifer plantations. In addition there are areas of beechwood, scattered Holly and Rowan, and Alders growing along streams.
More open areas have heath and bog adding to the range of habitats. Continuing forestry work ensures there are woodland patches at varying stages of growth and the result is a good diversity of plant, invertebrate and bird species.
Breeding species include Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Common Buzzard and Tawny Owl, Woodcock and all three British woodpeckers. Pied Flycatcher occurs here in very good numbers especially at Nagshead as well as Common Redstart, various tit species, Eurasian Nuthatch and Common Treecreeper. Warblers include Grasshopper Warbler, Garden Warbler, Wood Warbler and Willow Warbler as well as Blackcap and Common Chiffchaff. Hawfinch is present (Try Speech House or Parkend Church) although it can be elusive and Siskin and Common Crossbill nest. European Nightjar is a summer visitor to more open parts of the forest, particularly the Woorgreen area and similar habitats hold Tree Pipit, Whinchat and Yellowhammer.
Goshawk can also been seen at times. Early spring at New Fancy View can produce views albeit sometimes distant.
Northern Hobby hunts over the open heaths and Northern Raven is commonly seen. Common Kingfisher, Common Dipper and Grey Wagtail nest along streams. The coniferous plantations hold Common Crossbill, Siskin and a few Common Firecrest nest here.
Mandarin Duck are numerous at Cannop Ponds whilst Marsh Tit can also be seen at times with Highnam Woods a good location.
Birds you can see here include:
Little Grebe, Great Cormorant, Grey Heron, Mute Swan, Common Teal, Gadwall, Mallard, Tufted Duck, Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Northern Goshawk, Common Buzzard, Common Kestrel, Northern Hobby, Common Moorhen, Eurasian Coot, Jack Snipe, Common Snipe, Eurasian Woodcock, Common Sandpiper, Stock Dove, Common Woodpigeon, Eurasian Collared Dove, European Turtle Dove, Common Cuckoo, Tawny Owl, European Nightjar, Common Swift, Common Kingfisher, Green Woodpecker, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Eurasian Skylark, Sand Martin, Barn Swallow, Northern House Martin, Tree Pipit, Meadow Pipit, Grey Wagtail, Pied Wagtail, Common Wren, Common Dipper, Dunnock, Common Nightingale, Eurasian Robin, Whinchat, European Stonechat, Common Redstart, Northern Wheatear, Eurasian Blackbird, Fieldfare, Song Thrush, Redwing, Mistle Thrush, Common Grasshopper Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat, Common Whitethroat, Garden Warbler, Blackcap, Wood Warbler, Common Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Goldcrest, Common Firecrest, Spotted Flycatcher, European Pied Flycatcher, Long-tailed Tit, Marsh Tit, Willow Tit, Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Eurasian Nuthatch, Common Treecreeper, Common Jay, Common Magpie, Eurasian Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Northern Raven, Common Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Brambling, European Greenfinch, European Goldfinch, Eurasian Siskin, Eurasian Linnet, Lesser Redpoll, Common Crossbill, Common Bullfinch, Hawfinch, Yellowhammer
Butterflies are abundant in the forest and surrounding open country. More than 30 species have been recorded including White Admiral Limenitis camilla, Brown Argus Aricia agestis, Purple Hairstreak Quercusia quercus, Holly Blue Celastrina argiolus and Grayling Hipparchia semele. Several species of fritillary can be seen including Silver-washed Argynnis paphia, Pearl-bordered Clossiana euphrosyne, Small Pearl-bordered Clossiana selene, High Brown Fabriciana adippe and Dark Green Mesoacidalia aglaja.
Mammals include Red Fox Vulpes vulpes, Badger Meles meles, Hazel Dormouse Muscardinus avellanarius and Fallow Deer Cervus dama. Wild Boar are also numerous in the area although you are more likely to see the results of their foraging than the actual Boar themselves.
The diverse rocks and soils of the Forest of Dean have given rise to a rich and varied flora with scarce species such as Ivy-leaved Bellflower Wahlenbergia hederacea, Autumn Crocus Crocus nudiflorus, Herb Paris Paris quadrifolia and Birdsnest Orchid Neottia nidus-avis as well as the commoner Bluebell Endymion non-scriptus and Foxglove Digitalis purpurea.
History and Use
Areas of Interest
The forest includes Nagshead RSPB reserve which is one of the best areas of the forest for birds. Woorgreen's Lake, to the north of the B4226 holds a few waterbirds and Jack Snipe in winter and Noxon Pond by the B4231 has wintering ducks and attracted Whooper Swan in the past.
Tidenham Chase in the south-west of the forest is another good area with extensive coniferous woods and heathland. This is one of the best sites in Britain to see Goshawk with several resident pairs.
These are best seen in spring from the raptor watchpoint at New Fancy View car-park to the north-east of Parkend.
Access and Facilities
The Forest of Dean can be reached from the south on the A48 Chepstow to Gloucester road via Lydney on the B4234 or Blakeney on the B4431 or B4227. To the north both the A4136 and B4226 cross the forest.
There are numerous minor roads, tracks and footpaths from these roads forming a network across the area and there are many car-parks, lay-bys and picnic areas from which the forest can be explored.
The reserve is signposted and reached along a forest track off the B4431about 1km west of Parkend village. There is a car-park and picnic area, marked trails and hides overlooking woodland glades and a pool.
Grid reference: SO606085
Tel: 01594 562852 (RSPB)
- RSPB: Nagshead Reserve
- Forest of Dean on Streetmap
- Nagshead Reserve on Streetmap
- Tidenham Chase on Streetmap
- New Fancy on Streetmap
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Content and images originally posted by Steve