Most of today was spent in the inclosures southwest of Lyndhurst, in search of scarce breeding birds and ancient trees (more on those later).
For the third outing in a row, I was fortunate to see a Goshawk in the opening few minutes, and this time I was able to secure some images as it initially soared directly overhead. It was a fine adult male, identifiable as such by the grey plumage and barred underparts (immatures are brownish with streaked underparts). The images below also show the fluffed-out white undertail coverts, and distinctive profile with a long paddle-shaped tail and bulging secondaries, leading to an S-shaped trailing edge to the wing. After circling for a while (and probably watching what I was up to), it plunged away over the treetops. I tracked it in the binoculars as it veered up on a display flight, before repeating the process a couple of times as if it was on an invisible rollercoaster. What a fantastic sight!
Later on, while passing Queens Meadow, I saw a stampede of about 35 panicked Fallow Deer coming directly towards me through the trees. The noise of a dog whistle confirmed my suspicions, and sure enough a pack of four dogs burst out of the trees in hot pursuit. Those with sharp eyes will note from the second image below that a Great Tit just managed to evade the stampede!
Ironically, this is one of few places in the forest where the authorities request that dogs are kept on the lead or under close control throughout the year due to the presence of deer (particularly Red Deer). I therefore had a polite but rather stern word with the owners when they eventually emerged from the trees, in the hope that at least they might be shamed in to being more responsible in future!
More heavy rain in the last 48 hours, courtesy of Storm Jorge, meant that many of the streams and rivers had again burst their banks. Fletchers Water was running so high a passing Cormorant circled a couple of times and even thought about landing before it headed on west! There was also a flock of ten Teal on floodwater at Queens Meadow - an unusual sight these days in the New Forest interior.
Other notable bird sightings included singing Woodlark, Hawfinch and Firecrest, a couple of Ravens, three Crossbills, a Woodcock flushed from a grassy ride, and a calling Lesser Spotted Woodpecker. Incoming migrants were represented by a noticeable arrival of Stonechats and a loose gathering of 40 Lesser Black-backed Gulls having a wash-and-brush-up on floodwater pools at Whitefield Moor. Finally, this Grey Squirrel, with a gammy right eye, was seen enjoying some of the new leaves on offer!