Once again I was off with the West Midland Bird Club yesterday for our monthly trip, this time to the lovely Forest of Dean. I always look forward to this one, it's one of my favorite destinations!
As the weather forecast was not great for the morning, we decided to start off near Parkend to look for Hawfinches. Despite the drizzle, within a few minutes of arriving I had located 2 chunky finches in the top of some tall trees, scope views soon confirmed they were Hawfinches - the first of many seen by our group in this spot.
|Very gloomy digiscoped record shot of Hawfinch!|
We walked down to the Fountain Inn to look for Dipper which had been reported on the stream there. While I waited for them to put in an appearance, a pair of Great Spotted Woodpeckers bounced around in the trees above. Also in the vicinity was the Biking Birder Gary Prescott on his latest travels around every RSPB reserve in the UK, hoping to see birds aplenty and raise money for several charities while doing so. He was very pleased to meet a bunch of fellow West Midlanders! I also had a quick chat with him as he was interested to meet a young(ish) female birder, and enthusiastic about encouraging more young people and especially young women into birding, seeing as there relatively few of us.
|Gary Prescott, a.k.a. the Biking Birder!|
A pair of Dippers eventually showed too, carrying nesting material to a spot on the stream bank. We set off to our next stop, Cannop Ponds, feeling pretty pleased with our strong start!
We had a great walk around Cannop Ponds despite the continuing gloom and drizzle - Little Grebe, Tufted Duck and Mute Swan were around, and there were plenty of lovely Mandarins - although a man was feeding them bread (disapprove) it certainly brought them close in.
|Mallards and Mandarins on Cannop Ponds.|
|About the best photo I could manage in the terrible light!|
On the feeders, as well as the usual tits and Chaffinches, Nuthatch and a pair of Marsh Tits were super. Also on the walk round we had Song Thrush, Treecreeper, Goldcrest and Siskin doing a song flight. And in the stream by the picnic area, as well as the usual Grey Wagtail which is always nice, we saw a hunting Kingfisher - smashing!
|Nice spot for Grey Wagtails and Kingfisher.|
After a quick lunch stop at the Beechenhurst visitor Centre, our next stop was New Fancy View. Fortunately by this point the drizzle had stopped and it wasn't long at all after we reached the top of the hill that we spotted the first of several Goshawks, and we had great views of them both flying around and perching in distant conifers. Also to be seen were plenty of Siskins, Ravens and a Buzzard or two.
|From the top of New Fancy View.|
Our final stop for the day was the awesome Crabtree Hill, where we had been last year for the overwintering Great Grey Shrike. We were hoping to replicate last year's success, and indeed we did, watching the shrike fly around to various perches and at one point, catch and cache a lizard!
|Digiscoped record shot of the mighty shrike!|
Also up on the hill we saw a herd of Fallow Deer, a pair of Stonechats and a Wren, and in the trees on the walk up were Coal Tits aplenty and yet more Siskins. We headed back to Birmingham feeling pleased as punch with our packed day of birding delights!