Wildlife Conservation Group in the

Forest of Dean


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Beaver update - December 2019

Christmas sheep removal - December 2019

Centenary tree planting - November 2019

Arrival of the male Beaver at Greathough Brook - November 2019

Sheep at Linear Park - November 2019

Countryfile 20th October - October 2019

Ruardean Hill Roman Excavations - September 2019

Highland cattle in Wigpool Lake - August 2019

Update on the Beavers - August 2019

Nightjars at Crabtree Hill and Wigpool GWT Nature Reserves - July 2019

Beavers gone at Greathough Brook (but two more will soon be back there!) April 2019

Moseley Green Reptile Summary for 2018

Beavers to be replaced at Greathough Brook

Boar turf up grassland areas


Beaver update - December 2019

The beavers have settled in together well now and there are signs of tree removal.





Christmas sheep removal - December 2019

The sheep which have been grazing in the wild flower area at Linear Park have now been taken back to their farm over Christmas. They should be back in the spring.




Centenary tree planting - November 2019

Today, we celebrated 100 years since the formation of the Forestry Commission to restore the nation's woods and forests following the First World War, and the passing of the Forestry Act.

We planted 3 trees

A Black Poplar tree with a commemorative plaque donated by Anthony Hart, the son of Cyril Hart, was planted to thank the Dean Green Team for their volunteering work over many years at the Arboretum.

The Jubilee Oak, which had been planted in 2002 had been decimated by squirrels so it was decided to replace it with a Tulip Tree.

A Hazel tree was planted by the Forest Verderers for the 100 year centenary


Many of the Dean Green Team and the Rangers attended the plantings



Arrival of the male Beaver at Greathough Brook- November 2019

At last! A male beaver has arrived at Greathough Brook to keep the female beaver company. Their job is to build dams to slow the water flow through the brook to Lydbrook. They are checked every day and have wildlife cameras recording their movements.

He has been very thoroughly health checked and came out of the travelling crate very peacefully before entering the stream.




Sheep at Linear Park - November 2019

We are pleased to say that we now have nine sheep grazing in the butterfly area at Linear Park . They are mostly East Friesian sheep with a couple of Shropshire sheep. They have now settled in and will graze the very long grass to provide space for the wild flowers to grow.

The East Friesian sheep is a dairy or milk sheep breed. It is raised mainly for milk and cheese production. The East Friesian sheep are pretty strong animals, and they are well suited to almost all climates. They are relatively docile in terms of temperament which is a desirable trait in any dairy livestock.

The Shropshire is more completely covered with wool than any other Down breed and grows a particularly heavy, dense fleece. Shropshire Sheep are active and alert with a free action.



Countryfile 20th October - October 2019

Countryfile on BBC1 is showing the filming they did in the Forest of Dean on the 20th October. The whole programme is centred around the forest and includes an interview between Matt Baker, the presenter, and Kate Wollen, our FC ranger. This was done on the site at Mallards Pike where we were building a hibernaculum for the adders. Dave Dewsbury, our local reptile expert, will also be seen lifting one of the many trays we have out in the forest so that the children from Lydbrook school could see what was beneath it.

Members of the Dean Green Team have assisted with the digging and building of the hibernaculum.


Ruardean Hill Roman Excavations - September 2019

The site survives as a shallow earthwork and is one of four rectangular enclosures identified in the Forest of Dean during a lidar survey in 2006. Based on examples elsewhere, it was first suggested that these might be early Roman small fortlets or medieval hunting lodges, but a trial trench through the ditch and bank at Ruardean Hill revealed lots of Roman pottery. Until now, no excavation has ever taken place inside the enclosure, so there's a lot of uncertainty and unanswered questions about what exactly was going on at the site nearly 2000 years ago.

The trenches have got deeper and the story has got more complicated as all those on the guided tours today found out. The various pieces of pottery found indicate different time periods so it’s interesting to consider how people have re-used the Ruardean Hill site. There were some remarkable pieces including a lead ‘pot mend’ which might have been a particularly prized item.

Members of the Dean Green Team have assisted with the digging.



Highland cattle in Wigpool Lake - August 2019

The six Highland Cattle which were at Crabtree Hill have been moved to Wigpool GWT reserve for a while as there is bracken spraying going on at Crabtree Hill.

They are really enjoying bathing in the lake!



Update on the Beavers - August 2019

Our original beavers are happily living in their new enclosure and a video of them enjoying their new home is below.

The breeding season for beavers is well underway and this year's kits are now active so Scottish Natural heritage are now permitting trapping in Scotland.

Once a suitable pair have been found they will undergo health screening in Scotland before being released into the enclosure at Greathough Brook.

As we know from our experience of trapping this could take some time although we would like to think this all may happen in September.


Nightjars at Crabtree Hill and Wigpool GWT Nature Reserves - July 2019

Walks in the late evening over the two reserves have shown the success of Nightjar habitation this year. It is magical to be out in the forest on a beautiful evening (between 9 pm and 11 pm) as the sun is setting and hearing the churring of the Nightjars. Nightjars are nocturnal birds and can be seen hawking for food at dusk and dawn.
The first indication that a nightjar is near is usually the male's churring song, rising and falling with a ventriloquial quality.

The nightjar is one of our most fascinating summer migrants. They're only here for a few weeks in the summer, arriving in late May and leaving by mid-August. Typically nightjars nest in heathland and young conifer plantations to the point where birds will move territory as areas of young growth in forest plantations change within the management cycle. Thanks to its brown and black tree-bark-like plumage, the nightjar is hard to see during the daytime when it fades into the background. This plumage is especially important for the female as they are a ground-nesting bird. Adults have a flat, wide head and large eyes that aid their sight at night. In flight, they have obviously long wings and tails and males can be told from females by their white wing and tail patches.


Beavers gone at Greathough Brook (but two more will soon be back there!) 16th April 2019

Finally, the female beaver has been caught at Greathough Brook. The male beaver was caught a few weeks ago but it has taken two months to catch the female even with copious amounts of carrots and apples to entice her into a trap and a daily visit by our forest ranger to check for her! Both the beavers have gone to a safe quarantine area in Devon. There were seven traps across the area but, today, a few of our Dean Green Team members and a few of our local enthusiasts went there to remove five of the traps. We, also, cleared some debris from the culvert covers, cut the foliage along the fence line and re-constructed the beaver lodge.

We are expecting two new beavers to arrive from Scotland in the next few weeks and our fence checking rota will resume then.

This is the slashing of the fast growing foliage beside the fence which should help with a clearer view across the valley

The old lodge was made larger

Evidence of beaver gnawing through the trees


Moseley Green Reptile Summary for 2018

As well as regular butterfly surveys in the summer, there are now 20 corrugated trays set out at Moseley Green to record the reptiles and amphibians which use them.

We have individual record sheets for each date giving time of visit, temperature, % sunshine.We also kept some records of % sun on each tray for some visits to look for correlation.

Click HERE to see the total findings for each refuge for the year.

Click HERE to see across the whole transect for each visit.

Although we have not been lucky enough to see any snakes on Moseley, we have included them on the record sheet ..... for the future!



Beavers to be replaced at Greathough Brook - February 2019

The beavers have to be replaced at Greathough Brook even though the Forestry Commission were stringent in getting the licences, obeying all the rules and already knowing that
the beavers are not infected.

The powers to be are adamant that the beavers have to be replaced.


The following explanation has been isuued by the Forestry Commission

It has become necessary for us to carry out humane trapping inside the enclosure to enable us to remove our Beaver pair from site.

This situation has come about after a group of beavers imported from Germany where one animal has tested positive for Echinococcus multiocularis (EM), and has been euthanised. The UK is only one of four EU member states that is EM-free, and it is important that we retain our status. (This allows the UK to implement tapeworm treatment controls for travelling dogs.)

All beavers from this group currently in England, including our two beavers at Greathough Brook will now need to be tested further for EM and rehomed in biosecure accommodation. They will be replaced by a pair of beavers that have been captive bred in the UK as soon as is possible.

We appreciate that this latest news may come as a shock, but please be assured the trial will continue, along with monitoring water flows and ecological changes in the brook.

As you know we have already seen water levels in the brook rise as the beavers built their dams slowing the flow and holding back water in the valley, unfortunately some of these dams will need to be broken down in order to set the traps and changes will be noticeable on site.


Boar turf up grassland areas - January 2019

The following explanation has been isuued by the Forest of Dean Community Ranger

We get many questions asking us why the Boar turf up grassland areas.

From early autumn they move out of the Forest in search of a different food source. Their rooting of the grassland areas is triggered by the softening of the ground and a large amount of insect activity in the soil, with the boar foraging for the larvae of insects such as leatherjackets (daddy-long legs) and cockchafers (may bugs). This foraging is very seasonal and they frequently re-visit sites that have provided a good food source in the past.

From late spring through summer they prefer to move into dense woodland cover to raise their litters and their diet changes to consist mainly of vegetable matter.

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