Our Forest of Dean Forest Ranger, Gerry O’ Brien, has set up some camera traps to get a feel for the forest wildlife on his ‘patch’. We just had to share the pictures with you!
Here, Gerry tells us all about what’s been going on, down in the forest.
“I have been working closely with the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust and the cameras are part of the work we are doing to look at the feasibility of re-introducing pine martens into the forest. They have helped us to build up a great picture of forest life.
These first three videos are deer who wandered by our camera. There are six species of deer in the UK and we managed to spot three of them here in the Forest of Dean.
Muntjac deer at night
I get regular encounters with fallow deer. I spot them almost nightly on my walks and am looking forward to the autumn months when the bucks will reappear with their freshly grown antlers. I love listening to their bellowing calls around the forest as they assert their dominance claims.
Having found a poorly hedgehog last winter and caring for it until I could get it to a registered carer, I've been inspired to go on a hedgehog rehabilitation course this autumn. Hedgehogs have had dramatic declines in the last few decades so every individual that we can help counts. Here is some information about how you can help too.
This summer I have had amazing tawny owl encounters!
I heard the first youngsters of the year calling in early May and I have since observed them developing from fluffy owlets to young adults, ready to disperse and find their own home range. On many occasions, they were perched in prominent positions which ensured that I could help guests to see them too, which was a memorable and magical encounter for many.
Recently, whilst I was out walking alone, one of the youngsters was perched no more than 15 feet away from me. We were at eye level with each other and he seemed totally relaxed as I gently talked to him. I'm sure that he recognised my voice, footsteps and posture. I know from my experiences with my own owl, the Professor, how in tune with someone an owl can be. His sibling flew down beside him and I spent a magical few minutes in the company of these two wild owls.
(Picture: Brian Bastik)
(Picture: Brian Bastik)
We can’t talk about the Forest of Dean without mentioning the resident wild boar!
I always feel uplifted after a boar encounter and our guests are eager to see them. Even though I can't produce guaranteed sightings of them every time, I can point out evidence of their presence.
Upturned soil highlights where they've been rooting in their pursuit of anything edible from bugs and worms to roots and bulbs and I often find favoured scratching trees that the boar utilise. They cannot thermoregulate like us so use mud wallows to cool down. After wallowing, they will find a nice tree to scratch against which will get all that mud off their wiry coat and take away any unwanted parasites, such as ticks, along with it.
Come and see the animals
There is so much going on here at the Forest of Dean. I have been networking with the Dean Meadows group and Butterfly Conservation to manage our meadow to be as beneficial as possible for biodiversity and I have worked with our consultant ecologist to put dormouse nest boxes up. I have carried out lots of Big Butterfly counts to feed into the national database too.
I am particularly delighted that our Forest School activities at Berry Hill Primary School have contributed massively towards their achievement in receiving the Gold Certificate for the Woodland Trust's Woodland Ambassador Challenge. We hope to now carry on when school resumes to help them achieve their platinum award!
Come and stay in our Forest of Dean cabins and accompany me on one of my many adventures – who knows what you’ll meet.
I’ll leave you with this cheeky fellow, who popped up recently to see what all the fuss was about.”