Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Forest of Dean Dash

I've been wanting to get to the Forest of Dean for a few weeks now. There's 4 or 5 species that are easier to get there than elsewhere. So an early start, saw me sprinkling seed out at Brierley at 6:45am, as dawn broke. Plenty of birds were twittering about in the tress along with a noisy peacock. After waiting some 45 minutes the birds began to drop down for the seed, notably chaffinches at first and some tits. About twelve bramblings were in the trees and as I scanned these I came across the first of two hawfinches. I soon found the second, and was treated to them coming down to feed with a mixed flock of chaffinches and bramblings a couple of times. A great spotted woodpecker also came down to feed on the seeds. Satisfied I'd seen what I wanted I moved on to New Fancy View. The rain and wind did not bode well, and sure enough there were only a few greenfinches and wood pigeons on show at first. After a while though the weather eased a little and I'm 90% certain I got another hawfinch flying towards Parkend. There were no raptors to be seen and after about an hour I started to think about my next stop. At that time however, I was drawn to two crows making a commotion and I concluded they were mobbing something. I drew my bins up and sure enough there was a raptor at top of a tree doing its best to avoid the crows attention. As I got by 'scope up it took to the air. A nice male goshawk then gave decent views for a couple of minutes as it evaded the crows' attention. I gave little hope of seeing any other goshawks, so I moved on the Nagshead with the hope of getting marsh tit. It was quiet, with not a bird to be seen in the hide. The heavens then opened as I returned to the car. Cannop Ponds was the next stop for Mandarin duck and possibly willow tit. A couple of drake Mandarins were in their usual spot. Along from the picnic area, a couple of cars were parked next to a feeding table and some suet balls. Good numbers of chaffinches, tits and nuthatches were visiting the table so I waited a while. I was soon rewarded with a female great spotted woodpecker at the table and a marsh tit. I decided to get the car and pull up alongside the feeders. This was a good idea, as I was able to get two marsh tits down to about 10 feet. On the way home I stopped off at Ynys-y-fro Reservoirs where the three black-necked grebes are still present and showing signs of summer plumage. Good numbers of sand martins were also passing through. A good day with five more added to the year list, taking me up to 146.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Brambling, Brierley 15th March

One of 15+ Bramblings in the Forest of Dean, whilst waiting for Bignose to appear... Eventually got a Bignose feeding on the ground, just where this Brambling is pictured, started focussing on her, and the camera batteries died....grrrr! Bought some more from the nearby garage, waited another hour, and saw very little, other than a Marsh Tit. 2 Gossies showed reasonably well at New Fancy View earlier, and there were several Mandarin at Cannop Ponds.