It has been a fantastic week on the reserves and looking at the list of sightings you would be forgiven for thinking we were in a remote area of Eastern Europe or Scandinavia rather than Gloucestershire! Hawfinches performing courtship displays, Brambling flocks feeding on beech mast, nest building Crossbills, displaying Goshawks, drumming Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers and Wild Boar sows with tiny piglets have all been seen recently.
We ran two successful Hawfinch walks at Nagshead last week, both of which were fully booked. It was great to share some rare views of Hawfinch courtship behaviour with people on the first walk and knowing some had never seen the species before made it even more exciting. We had tantalising views to start with and then eventually everyone managed to get good scope views of eight Hawfinches at the top of tall lime trees. As if that wasn't enough we were then treated to views of a pair lower down around 15 metres away. As we watched, the male faced the female, drooped his wings, snaked his head from side to side with his crown feathers raised and then gently fed the female...... brilliant! Suffice to say everyone was chuffed to bits and with the pressure off we managed to see a Goshawk, three Bramblings and two Crossbills as we continued the walk.
I walked into Campbell Hide at Nagshead at the end of last week only to be told by a couple who were already in there that I had just missed three Wild Boar sows with 11 small piglets. Just my luck I thought, but I got my camera ready just in case. I had only sat down for a few minutes before the boar returned. The piglets were indeed very young and it was great to watch them playing together and lined up to drink from the pond before the sows led them away once again. The return of these animals to Britain is still a very controversial subject, but when the young are like this it is very hard not to fall in love with them......
Wild Boar piglets - Sus scrofa, RSPB Nagshead 2012 (Photo: Lewis Thomson)
What a wonderful picture, I'm still looking to spot the wild boar sometime this year, seen two Roe deer today while out cycling on farmland near Stoke Orchard.