A phone call from Kevin Hughes on Saturday evening saw myself,Wayne and Kevin heading up the M4 early Sunday morning in the direction of Cotswold Water Park for a day's "twitching".There were some good birds reported in Glouscestershire so first it was to Pit 68 for 2 early Gargeney reported on Saturday,no sign from the "new" hide of these reclusive ducks but plenty of Teal,Gadwall,Shoveler,Common Shellduck and other common wildfoul.
We decided to leave the hide and take a walk further along the footpath to a gap in the hedge to hopefully get a better view of the far end of the pit,still no bloody Garganey !!
On returning to the hide to check if the birds had shown we found Martin Bevan,Phill Hill and Rob Gaze on the same mission and having the same poor luck !!
A local birder reminded us of the Great Grey Shrike on the outskirts of Cirencester opposite Tescos which had been in residence since December,this was on our route to Stroud on the way to our next port of call which was Frampton -Upon-Severn for an obliging Long Eared Owl.
On our way back to Waterhay car park we bumped into Colin Gittins,Sid and Dave Lewis - 3 more Glamorgan birders on a mission !!
The shrike turned out to be a "car tick" as we saw it perched on a tree in a field alongside the main A419 before pulling into a very convenient lay-by for great views of this normally notoriously difficult to find species.
Onwards then to Frampton where a party of 22 Waxwings had come up on Kevin's pager closely followed by a text from Dan confirming their whereabouts.The birds were feeding on berries at the side of the main road and duly obliged for a couple of photos albeit quite high in the trees.
On then to Splatt Bridge and a stroll down the canal towpath for the Long Eared Owl or Headless Long Eared Owl as it turned out,not a new species-just a bloody crap view of the roosting bird !!
The bird was "buried"low in a dense hawthorne tree and although the breast was clearly visible that was about all !!This was a difficult to see species being "difficult to see" and despite all sorts of contortions we just couldn't get to view the head except for when it carried out some all to brief preening.
You can only take enough of a partial owl so we headed back to the car bumping into Matt Evans and Mark Duttfield along the towpath - were there any birders left in Glamorgan ??!!,well we know Dan was as he couldn't come with us !!
Next stop was Slimbridge for the drake American Wigeon which had settled in for the past couple of weeks,not the best of places to go on a fine sunny Sunday being over-run with families holding bags of bird food and cameras.
The bird was easy to find from the Zeiss Hide although it spent most of it's time asleep as ducks seem to do,usually when you really want to get a good photo !!
Here's what it should have looked like !!
Next stop was the Holden Tower where half a dozen Bean Geese way out on the edge of the estuary provided a year tick,geese numbers were well down with only about 30-40 White Fronts remaining.
Although having dipped on Gargeney we'd "mopped up" our target birds by 2.00pm so decided to have a try at the Forest of Dean for Goshawk and Hawfinch,Goshawk duly obliged at New Fancy Viewpoint with a couple of separate sightings but despite a stroll around Speech House we dipped on Hawfinch and headed for home.
A great day out and although no "lifers" involved a few year ticks and some really good birds.
I think I'm now in double figures for GGS,the LEO was my 4th as was the American Wigeon and although tempted I resisted "ticking" some of the more exotic species at Slimbridge !!!