Feeling blue this Blue Monday? Here’s something to cheer you up. Marker pens at the ready, eyes…up, it’s time for Bird Bingo!
Yes, it’s Blue Monday. Officially the most depressing day of the year, when Christmas is a distant memory. And your new year resolutions are already in the bin. And it’s sooo cold. And...
Come with us to the forest. That birdsong on the breeze - that’s a song thrush; that tapitty-tap-tap - that’s a woodpecker; that hoot in the moonlight – an owl, of course.
Take solace in nature and the sounds and sights of our winter birds, still chirping their cheery tune even in the depths of winter. It can’t fail to lift your spirits. Go for a walk in the wood, senses alert and see how many of these 12 wonderful winter birds you can mark off, in our Bird Bingo!
British winter staycationers
Some of our most-loved birds are familiar year-round residents. You are certain to see Britain’s favourite bird, the robin (1), with its distinctive red breast! The nuthatch (2) usually stays loyal to the wood in which it was born, and you should be lucky enough to see this plump little fellow with its chestnut chest on a woodland break at Sherwood Forest or Cropton. Keep an eye out for blackbirds (3), whose cheerful song rings out across the countryside.
In Blackwood Forest, great spotted woodpeckers (4) are easier to hear than to see, as they perform their distinctive drumbeat on the beech trees, searching for insects just below the bark.
Visitors from abroad
It’s too early for our summer migrants from Africa, but did you know that we have winter migrants too? Birds who escape colder climes for our more temperate weather.
Redwings (5) fly in from Russia, Northern Europe and Iceland. Similar in size to blackbirds, they have a reddish belly and light strips around their eyes. Rather more exotic in looks is the waxwing (6), with its proud crest and flashes of yellow. They are likely to be found in great numbers on rowan trees, eating the berries.
Magnificent birds of prey
A rare and exhilarating sight at Ardgartan Argyll and Strathyre is the golden eagle (7), one of Scotland’s Big 5 wildlife species. These mighty birds soar silently above forest clearings, before swooping for prey. The buzzard (8) is about in springtime too. The UK’s most common bird of prey, it should be an easy win on your Bird Bingo card.
A choir of birds
The dawn chorus is associated with spring and summer, but it will cheer you to know that as soon as the shortest day is over, just before Christmas, birds sense the change. During January, as the days almost imperceptibly lengthen, birdsong slowly but surely fills the air.
By the end of January, the choir at dawn has a respectable turnout. Joining the blackbirds and robins, you might hear the surprisingly powerful song of the wren (9) given its tiny size, the poetic lilt of the song thrush (10) and the musical tones of blue tits (11) and coal tits (12), all greeting the new day.
Our closest feathered friends
Each of our forest locations has its highlights. Have you met Victor, the grumpy Canada goose on the millpond at Deerpark? Or how about The Prof, Forest Ranger Gerry’s barn owl, at Forest of Dean. And later in the year, ground nesting nightjars will be seen again at Thorpe Forest and Keldy. Wherever you stay, look out for our cheeky yellow rubber duck too, who lets you know when your hot tub is ready!
Feeling better? Blue Monday is no match for our beautiful birds and their soothing songs and a full card on your Bird Bingo is the perfect antidote to the winter blues. Book your winter break in the forest today and experience the uplifting power of nature.
And don’t forget, it’s the RSPB’s Big Garden Birdwatch later this month, on 27-29 January. The perfect excuse to sit back and surround yourself with birdsong.
Print your own bird bingo card and get started on your bird spotting adventure!