Birds of a feather flock together at Hatfield Forest
As summer gets into full swing, the team at Hatfield Forest are hoping visitors will flock to the medieval hunting ground to see feathered friends and their newly hatched families and listen out for the elusive nightingale. Helen Hooker and Elizabeth Reeve, from the visitor welcome team, describe July's woodland delights.
As the bird nesting season comes to a close at Hatfield Forest we have enjoyed the privilege of watching a new generation of fledgelings embark upon their new lives. However, with the effects of climate change, many birds are choosing to breed either side of the traditional nesting period. This presents its own challenges, for both them and us.
Here at the forest, we are fortunate to have a wide variety of bird species. In fact, our National Nature Reserve designation owes a lot to the birds, which use the marshy areas at the north end of the lake.
One of the challenges facing birds worldwide is habitat loss. Not all of this is through the urbanisation or the destruction of green space; instead, much has to do with changing land
management techniques. The loss of hedgerows is a key problem, as is the way woodland is cared for.
At Hatfield Forest, the centuries-old practice of coppicing creates a wealth of habitats for bird life. These techniques have been used here for over a 1,000 years - the thick and bushy growth it encourages is perfect for nesting birds.
With an increase in local development and modern farming techniques, the forest is becoming ever more isolated. Part of the National Trust's wider aim is to work with organisations to ensure nature corridors are created or kept open to mitigate this isolation.
One of the summer visitors to the forest is the nightingale. The restored mixed deciduous growth at Emblems Coppice is particularly suited to this elusive species and they have been heard singing here over the last couple of summers. This migratory bird lays four or five eggs and the young fledge at around 12 days old.
If you would like to learn more about our native birds, the RSPB has recently launched a 'Let Nature Sing' campaign, spotlighting how sad the world would be without birdsong. This campaign included the release of a single featuring birdsong, which reached number 18 in the music charts. For more information about 'Let Nature Sing' visit www.rspb.org.uk/get-involved/campaigning/let-nature-sing/
Highlights of our summer events programme include a series of nature walks, where visitors can set off on an adventure to explore the forest, using binoculars to spot our bird, mammal and insect life.
Later in the summer we are once again holding our popular bat walks, hosted by our learning team. With the aid of bat detectors, the walk leaders will help you locate and identify some of the species of bat we have at Hatfield Forest. Last year up to seven different varieties of bat were identified during these walks.
Our busy events programme also includes a 'Summer of Sport', with a host of different activities planned. These include longbow archery taster sessions, led by White Dragon Archery. Come along and see if you would have made the grade as an archer in the time of King Henry I, who established Hatfield Forest as a royal hunting ground in medieval times.
For more information and to book events tickets, visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/hatfield-