In spring don’t be surprised if you spot some rather prehistoric-looking chicks high above the lake at the bottom of Woodchester Park. On an island, perched in the Scots pines, is a bumper heronry – home to more than ten heron nests and somewhat gawky chicks.
The herons have been coming here for decades, and seem to have found the perfect high-rise location – that’s if you don’t mind close neighbours. They usually turn up in February, and by April and May are fussing over their strange yet enchanting chicks.
Gentle birdsong hits you in surround-sound in the valley, and volunteer Terry Grant is tuned in more than most. In more than ten years that he’s volunteered here he's logged 124 species. After a successful career in journalism and PR that took him to all corners of the country, he settled in the Cotswolds and made the wildlife of Woodchester his next great passion.
Terry certainly knows his subject. He believes “Woodchester Park is a mecca for birds, whether they are passing though and just resting up, or choose to remain in this safe haven and breed.
" According to my parents, I was avidly watching birds from my pram. So my current interest in the birds of Woodchester Park appears very deep rooted."
Some birds, such as ospreys are purely passing through, stopping off for a breather on their great migrations. They track the contours of the Cotswold valleys as they make their way to some distant shore. Snowy white little egrets drop in, and Terry has been very pleasantly surprised to spot a spoonbill and a crane in recent years.
His list is endless, and impressive…willow warblers, garden warblers and even a wood warbler, pied and spotted flycatchers, redwings and bramblings, to name but a few.
‘Every day brings new delights. And as conifers are felled and the park opens up who knows what long-departed feathered friends will return,” said Terry.
‘To hear nightingales singing once more would be the icing on the cake.’