In winter, the forest is home to scores of birds that migrate south to escape the snow and ice that covers their feeding grounds in the frozen north.
Enticed by the plentiful seeds, berries and insects, a variety of different species, including many less well-known members of the finch family such as Bramblings and Redpolls, join Thrushes, Fieldfares, Swans and Geese.
You might even spot these three less common species around the Heart of England Forest, especially at Netherstead, where the wetlands and long grass provide a safe seasonal haven:
These medium-sized wading birds with straight bills and short legs can often be seen around the edges of pools and ponds, seeking a juicy worm or insect for breakfast. You will have to look hard, though, as their mottled brown plumage ensures they are well camouflaged. Listen out, too, for their distinctive ‘drumming’ or ‘bleating’ call.
With their straight bills, Woodcocks have similar markings to Snipes, but are bulkier, with equally short legs! They, too, are difficult to spot unless you disturb them and they clatter noisily out of the undergrowth, as they are primarily nocturnal and spend much of the day in dense cover.
A very striking bird with beautiful black and white plumage and a regal crest, Lapwings are notable for their distinctive swooping flight with its lazy wing beats. They are also known as ‘Peewits’ because of their unique call. Although their numbers have dwindled in recent years, they arrive during the winter, and are drawn to wet lowland areas to seek food and nest in the spring.
There are, of course, many other winter visitors to the forest, but birdwatchers would be thrilled to see any of these three species. It is always worth carrying a pair of binoculars when you are out and about on any of our walks. And if you spot a bird, visitor or not, that grabs your attention, we would love to hear about it. Share your pictures on our Facebook page or email them to us at firstname.lastname@example.org