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Forest of Dean 21 January 2012

Hawfinch pair, male on the left.

Lesser Redpoll

An earlier start than the last trip out, getting a bit lighter now and it was a half day event.  It was off to a flying start, we bumped into Gloucestershire’s celebrity birder Mike King who was not up for signing autographs but did have Hawfinches staked out. Thanks to Mike. We all enjoyed views of a trio which posed for a time atop the trees. They remained for about ten minutes and enjoyed them from a safe distance through the scope, these birds are rather shy.

Heading off for a walk we were met by continous flocks of Redpoll and Siskin all heading for the same area. Nuthatch, Coal Tits and a couple of flyover Crossbills did their best to steal some limelight but the small finches dominated the studying. Such good views could be had everyone watched the activity, Neil and I stole moments to sift through the Redpolls..always worth checking for Mealy (Common) or even an Arctic. A male Crossbill clung on to a pine, the wind was gusty at times but he stayed for all to watch. More flocks of finches arrived in our area, it could be due to the wind and it was more sheltered, could be that the larches were providing a lot of food or it could have been a family that lost their dog. They were scouring the hillsides shouting the dogs name, any birds in front of them may have been moved up to us. Happy ending they got the deer stalker back.

Flocks of Brambling arrived with a few Crossbills, eventually 200 had passed, some feeding next to us with the other finches. At least 200 Lesser Redpoll were present, 200-300 Siskin and the Brambling made it memorable. Another brief view of Hawfinch. Time to search for Willow Tit, quiet at first but a roving party of tits contained two Willows, I tried to get everyone onto them but they crossed the track twice before dissapearing into the woods, calling as they moved off. Sorry guys.

We moved on, explored Speculation where it was a bit breezy, a Buzzard was spotted on the way in. I did see a pair of Hawfinch, the male palying hide and seek with me, otherwise quiet. Onto Cannop Ponds, Nuthatch and seven Mandarin were enjoyed. A search for Dipper was a dip, we could not find them, the stream level was low but still adequate. To New Fancy View, a bit breezy here but two Buzzard and fly by Crossbills were noted, following the calls we located antoher flock of Siskin, c 40 and a party of 12 Crossbill.

A look at Woorgreens Lake was well worth it for the 12 Goosander present,8 adult males, three females and a first winter male. Moving off to the final stop I was surprised to see how much the water level had dropped at Wamore Common, no wildfowl at all!

Some good views of the finches today depsite it being breezy, thanks to all of you who attended and to Neil for helping me out with some nifty scope work. I hope the nest visit will focus on searching out the elusive Lesser Spotted Woodpecker.

Filed under: Trip Reports


at 7:37 pm

New Forest/Hampshire Coast and Poole Harbour 14 January 2012

The day began with -4 temperatures and a hard frost. I made sure plenty of food was available for my garden birds before I left. I met with nearly everyone in Whitminster and we set off with only one more to pick up and to stop at a service area in readiness for birding.

The Hawkshill Inclosure was our first birding stop, largely due to the presence of a Dark-eyed Junco, a North American visitor. A large group of birders had gathered at the clearing but we were distracted by the calls of Crossbills all around us. These stocky finches gave views to eye level, fed on the ground, were singing and displaying in the sun. Excellent viewing of this top notch bird. The junco showed to all on a few occasions either on the fallen trees or on the ground, it perched in full view for a while. It’s slate grey head, neck and upperparts contrasted with the whitish-pink tinged billed and white underparts. A pleasing bunting like bird, certainly at home with counterparts. The Reed Bunting flock that had gathered at the same site numbered over 30. A Mistle Thrush sang, it was a good place to be, still, frozen white but sunny.

Moving on, a straw poll saw us heading for the nearby Spanish Sparrow, arriving at Calshot, most had either seen the bird via the kind folk who had it on their back garden feeders or headed for the “Spanish Sparrow Cafe”. The village hall were selling charity fund raising Tea, cake and rolls. For those that wanted to see the bird, they all had great views so we were soon back on the beach of Calshot spit. The tide was on the way in and on the sea were 2 Great Crested, 2 Little and 2 Black-necked Grebes. Waders were moving into the saltmarsh creeks with large roosts of Oystercatcher and smaller numbers of Dunlin, Turnstone, Black-tailed Godwit, Grey Plover, Redshank and Dark-bellied Brent Geese. A few Rock Pipit, Linnet and Reed Bunting visited the beach. Huge container ships passed by, perhaps used by the junco and sparrow?

We departed the site and headed back to what turned out to be a very quiet heath near Beaulieu road station, a few distant Stonechats, flover Siskins and Fieldfares were all we could muster despite checking a couple of spots. Time to head to Sandbanks, the entrance to Poole Harbour. Arriving here the wind had picked up from the east so the sea was choppy and wind eyewatering. More Brent Geese and waders were seen and parties of Red-breasted Merganser but highlights were two female Eider and two Razorbill as well as Shags.

Moving to the bay as the tide dropped a flock of feeding Bar-tailed Godwit, half a dozen Mediterranean Gulls, three Sandwich Terns, a couple of Goldeneye. The sun was setting so it was time to check out Poole Park on the way home. I have not mentioned every bird seen, it was an interesting day, calm, cold and sunny to begin with and overcast and windy by the afternoon but provided some good birding.

Filed under: Trip Reports


at 9:30 am

Forest of Dean 7 January 2012

The weather looked good for a visit and indeed was, a little breezy on the hilltops but fine for birding. We all met up and I set off with my gang to climb the New Fancy View ‘mound’. From here we saw Greenfinches, fly by Redpolls, c90 Siskin calling and feeding in the trees below. Two Crossbill flew by calling, a Great spotted Woodpecker looked out form the tree tops. Colin picked up two raptors over the treeline to the east. Both crusied along the ridge…a male Sparrowhawk mobbing a female Goshawk which provided a great size comparison. The female Goshawk flew back along the length of the ridge heading S before crossing the valley and flying by in the sun!

I picked up another party of c12 Crossbill feeding in distant pines when they obligingly flew toward us and landed below the viewing area. We all had scope views of them prising cones open. A male Goshawk flew directly overhead and soared east.



We then headed off to the north to search for target birds..Hawfinch and Willow Tit. A quick coffee break and we headed into the woods for a walk. Coal Tits were numerous, a Goldcrest showed and then I spotted a Willow Tit with the Coal Tit flock, they moved off into the plantation and we tried to get ahead of them to no avail. Along the track a pair of Raven floated above and we found a ‘rich seam’ (apt FOD miner language) of birds. 100 Siskins many singing a few feet above us, a few Lesser Redpolls, Nuthatches and Coal Tits were joined by c 10 Crossbills, we once again scoped them up. One or two more flew by. Rich reversed the roles and spotted a Treecreeper getting everyone onto it except me, I was too slow and dipped.

Common Crossbill MJMcGill

Exploring the plantation further we located a large flock of tits, Coal, Long-tailed and Blue and I heard a Willow Tit. Further searching by ear eventually gave up a Willow Tit, again calling and showed in the tree top before moving off. We moved off toward Speech House to search for Hawfinch, a long search revealed three very brief and shy views of a single but it did not show for the party. Roberta found the only Brambling of the day, a male with Chaffinch, Great and Blue Tits on beech mast. We had now had a few walks so it was time for a whistle stop and search method. Cannop Ponds Stoneworks has had a lot of coppicing work so no birds were present and dog walkers had been along the brook so nothing doing there. We did see a lovely set of birds, a pair of Dipper in Parkend the male showing off to the female, Nuthatch and Jay.

At Woorgreens the highlight was a stunning flock of 22 Goosander and a Teal. On the way back we stopped at Walmore Common now in full flood. 8 Bewick’s, 4 Mute and 2 Whooper Swans were nice indeed but the Peregrine stole the show, it was hunting the waders and panicked the Wigeon flock. A chase unsued and the victim crashed into the water to escape, a Lapwing. The rest of it’s flock mates were joined by a Ruff and 30 Dunlin and flew off high to avoid predation.

A good day out, thanks to all who attended for your company.

Filed under: Trip Reports


at 11:07 am

1-29 January 2012 blog and sightings

29 January 2012 All day spent preparing slides for DBWPS tommorow.

28 January 2012 Spent the afternoon with R Taylor counting gulls at Purton. This was for the Severn Estuary Gull Group (SEGG) and county database. We logged over 5000 gulls, most were Common with a few hundred Black-headed, Lesser and Great Black backed and Herring Gulls. 25 Pied Wagtail, 18 Meadow Pipit, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel and 32 Cormorant were also noted. Rich spotted a Little Owl as we returned through the lanes.

27 January 2012 A visit to Oldbury Power station to see the small party of Twite, I saw three of the four. Also plenty of Reed Bunting and Yellowhammer. I also called in at Sharpness Dock and saw a couple of Black Redstart.


24-26 January 2012 Nothing extra noted at work, a small flock of ten Ruff now roam the WWT floods and fields. Two male Blackcap at home in the garden.


22 and 23 January 2012 I caught up with a visiting Pomarine Skua to WWT, it had bathed in front of hides but I was doing an SBS talk at the time so missed this show. I caught up with it on the sandbanks off Middle Point where it roosted overnight and suspected it could be seen the next day. As predicted it caused a stir among the waders as it headed out in the morning, apparently flying downstream to Purton. A good bird for WWT, not too many records and only the third I have seen. I can again dream of seeing the ‘light and bouncy’ one on the Severn….adult Long tailed Skua.

21 January 2012 A morning in the Forest of Dean, see trip reports page followed by a fine afternoon at Cheltenham Town’s Whaddon Road ground…Bristol Rovers away, three points in the bag.

Lesser Scaup, female

Egyptian Geese (they try their best but a quality Anser they are not)

15-19 January 2012 Nothing new birding wise back to work at WWT Slimbridge, the 2 Egyptian Geese were a novelty, post frozen bird numbers began to rise again. I did miss a Short-eared Owl over the Rushy on 19th..I was feeding at the time, the birds not me.

14 January 2012 Day trip to Hampshire/Dorset, see trip reports.

12-13 January 2012 A rather boring couple of days with piles of paper, receipts and spreadsheets…yes, it is Tax return time again. Graham Clarkson stayed over and we discussed potential trips for 2012, a few ideas banded about depending on WWT work shedules etc. Blue Tit checking out one of my nest boxes and Collared Doves exploring possible nest sites in the garden.

Andy Jayne has messaged me with news of a male American Wigeon at Coombe Hill Meadows from Grundon Hide.

8-12 January 2012 Some new species for year included, Chiffchaff plus a female Stonechat in the WWT 100 Acre. The birding remains very good at WWT but still much the same as over Christmas. Colder weather is coming so new birds will arrive.

Bittern WWT Slimbridge

7 January 2012 A day trip to the Forest of Dean. Details on the trip reports page.

6 January 2012 I met up with Bob Radford and we headed for the high Cotswolds with a mission, to search through the Linnet flocks for Twite, none were found. We sifted through 1000 Linnets, 30 and 40 Yellowhammer, 60 Chaffinch, 20, 30 and 30 Greenfinch. A single Corn Bunting, 29 Golden Plover and lots of released Red-legged Partridge were also seen. During our route a total of 13 Kestrel were noted, over 50 Buzzards, two Hen Harrier, 3 Short-eared Owls and 12 Red Kites. Chips and mushy peas on the bridge in Bourton on the Water was followed by a quick look at the pits, 93 Coot, 2 Wigeon and small parties of Tufted Duck were the reward, a Coal Tit was new for the year. Off to the Forest of Dean tommorow.

5 January 2012 A brisk hide round with the 100 Acre Marsh Harrier scopeable from Holden Tower.

4 January 2012 A morning water level check at the 100 Acre provided the female Marsh Harrier, 2 Peregrine and 2 Buzzards plus a couple of Redpolls.

3 January 2012 An appointment at Frampton Surgery plus taking time off in lieu allowed for an hour around the pits, a few Little and Great Crested Grebe, some Tufted Duck and Coot flocks and a Little Egret were all eclipsed by an adult male and first winter male Goldeneye. Very smart birds and only regular in the CWP locally, Nick Goatman passed on news of these birds. I also explored some floods adjacent to the R Frome with another Little Egret seen.

1-2 January 2012 I recorded 76 species at WWT on 1st with a Barn Owl pick of the day as I left work at 7.42pm. A search of the north end of the reserve on 2nd gave up Short-eared Owl, Snipe, Marsh Harrier, 13 Grey Plover and Meadow Pipit.

Filed under: Birdwatching Diary


at 5:54 pm