The Forest of Dean.

Forest Wildlife




Wild Life & Nature in the Forest.

Canon Clifford Davies
Ruardean. April 2003.

Not surprisingly, with 27,000 acres of woodland within its boundaries, the Forest of Dean abounds in wildlife - it is a naturalistís paradise. Birds and animals, some secretive and rarely seen, some more sociable and† easily spotted, live out their lives within the Dean. Such developments as the Forest Enterprise deer hide at Cannop and the RSPBís reserve at Nagshead Enclosure have made the study of them a little easier.

Over the past 30 years, animal and bird species and population have increased with even the tiny muntjac deer now being spotted in parts of the area as well as the Norman-imported fallow deer which roam the Deanís central section.

The peregrine falcon nest site at Symonds Yat Rock has become world famous since it was re-inhabited in 1982. Well over 40 peregrines have now been bred, reared and flown from the site in the last 20 years. A viewpoint for the public has been jointly set up at The Rock by Forest Enterprise and RSPB and is now probably the best site in Europe to watch these magnificent birds of prey. The birds ignore the crowds - the tourists were there before they chose their nest sites.

The powerful goshawk, once driven out of Great Britain by persecution, is now a Forest resident with a number of pairs claiming territory and nesting within it. Only recently (February 2003) a male bird was photographed in a pigeon loft in the central Forest beside the "meal ticket" of the resident, tame male doves.

Another, once threatened species, the otter has made its way back into the Dean and, although not welcomed by anglers, is tolerated and grudgingly admired for its resilience. Even the now rarer polecat has been sighted in the Western fringes of the Forest and another raptor, the kite, driven to near extinction, has visited the Northern reaches, drifting over from Central Wales where it is now re-established.

The more common members of our native wildlife thrive in the Dean. The imported grey squirrel and rabbit, can at times increase their numbers to pest size. The multi-coloured, multi specied water fowl on the outer and central ponds provide a rainbow of colour as well as proving amusing to the visitors who feed them. The more common birds, such as robin, chaffinch, crow etc have become adept at purloining left-overs and even anglerís bait.

Improved management, increased education and a greater awareness of the rights of other creatures we share the planet with, have all helped to improve the variety and numbers of wild birds and animals in the Dean. If this respect is encouraged and increases, the situation will improve still further. Already some dangerously threatened species are beginning to recover in numbers, others in peril of being lost †will also start to tread the path to survival.

The wildlife of the Forest of Dean is there to be enjoyed and in this beautiful part of the British Isles, it provides an attraction that costs nothing but a little care and thought.

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