Terry Pickford’s Secret Forest of Bowland

This location many years ago was once my very special jewel in the crown as far as the Forest of Bowland was concerned; well off the beaten track, away from the normal tourist trails, just a perfect isolated habitat to relax , watch and enjoy rare wildlife.

In the early 1990’s I saw my first puma in this forested area. I only caught sight of the big cat once and never saw it again. But I can tell you the animal passed so close to me it sent a chill up the back of my spine. I was later told by a local farmer there were up to 3 puma roaming free in my part of Bowland.

I once caught a stunning view of a female adult golden eagle perched at the apex of a scots pine a few hundred metres from where this video was captured . This was the first woodland where I began to see goshawks displaying on a regular basis each spring. On one  memorable day, over two decades ago, I observed two individual pairs of goshawk high in the sky power diving in unison while displaying as a prelude to mating. Curiously however I never once discovered an active nest, despite spending hundreds of hours over many years looking with other members of the North West Raptor Group.

Perhaps my most curious observation was made on a cold frosty sunny spring morning while in the company of my friend Paul while walking around the edge of the forestry overlooking the moor.  We could not believe our eyes or identify what species of bird we had spotted, a falcon or hawk? From several hundred metres distant we observed a pure white bird of prey perched at the top of a conifer. The raptor was being attacked incessantly by a dozen or so crows making the raptor duck its head each time it was attacked by this black mob. I would estimate the pure white raptor we were both focusing on that day was as large as a female goshawk, but much broader at the shoulder; we never did agree on what species the bird was at the time. Today this observation remains just an enigma in the back of my mind.

Now the hawks, falcons, and puma have all disappeared from within my secret Bowland, and are unlikely ever to be allowed to return. Those early years were truly a remarkable and a very personal experience for me – I wish the wildlife I once had the privilege to study and enjoy would return, but I now realise they never will, at least not in the Forest of Bowland that I once knew and had the privilege to explore and enjoy.

What a countryside we have now inherited. killing-trapping-poisoning is todays name of the game, I hate it.

1 comment to Terry Pickford’s Secret Forest of Bowland

  • Bowland Bill

    Thank you for sharing your memories and it has sparked a few of my own.
    Your video was good to watch and indeed listen to too.

    All I could add to that Terry Pickford is that I also heard about sightings of a Puma around the early 90’s from trusted friends in Bowland. I have had the pleasure of seeing Goshawks too, though never an Eagle.

    I often wish we could go back 40 years and wander around Bowland, almost certain to see hen harriers, perhaps a goshawk and all the usual raptors.

    I wish I had recorded my sightings back then, but alas, no camera.