Wednesday, February 20, 2019

πŸ“– #7/2019 ~ Brandon Away-Day

☁️13C Wednesday 20th February 2019 A second visit of the year for me to the Forest of Dean, Gloucestershire and what turned out to be an excellent away-day with seven members of the Brandon Marsh Voluntary Conservation Team and guest young Theo de Clermont, our Gull expert πŸ˜€ Having been prevented last year from using the Trusts minibus for our days out with the lamest excuse known to man, "We've only insured it now for business use" ~ there's gratitude for yer and a nice kick in the teeth for the regular volunteers at Brandon who work tirelessly to make the reserve what it is today ~ we reverted back to the old ways of car sharing!

Despite being elusive Theo still managed this record shot of the Yellow-browed Warbler
Our first stop, Westbury-on-Severn sewage works for what turned out to be an initially elusive Yellow-browed Warbler. However, with patience and much searching of several spruce trees, plus the bird only calling once during our hours stay, everyone eventually managed to achieve some excellent views. While searching a couple of Chiffchaffs, the odd Goldcrest and two male Stonechats were also noted with Theo even managing to take a record shot of the Yellow-browed!

Dipper at Wenchford Picnic Area ~ Forest of Dean
From here on into the Forest of Dean, where a stop at Wenchford Picnic site produced Marsh Tit, Treecreeper, Nuthatch, Grey Wagtail, plenty of Siskins and the target bird Dipper.

Next stop New Fancy Viewpoint where unlike my previous visit with Dazza last month, when the low cloud and mist made observation impossible, the conditions were much more accommodating today. In fact, there was plenty of raptor activity throughout our stay with double-figure Common Buzzards, a single Sparrowhawk, great views of a Peregrine but of course, the highlight was the Goshawks, three in total, although always distant. At least four Ravens are also worth a mention.

We enjoyed our packed lunch at Parkend triangle while searching for Hawfinch, which unusually took some time to locate. Jim Rushforth finally connecting with just two birds, feeding in the ground vegetation below one of the trees. While here a couple of Bumblebees and a single Red Admiral, made for my first butterfly sighting of 2019.

Female Common Crossbill at Park End Church

Male Common Crossbill ~ Park End
Park End church next and this turned out to be a real treat with at least a half dozen Crossbills putting on a great display. The birds were constantly chattering away and dropping down to a nearby stream to drink, thus providing some close range views. We enjoyed the birds for sometime before heading off, but not before a further flock of some 25 birds passed overhead.

Drake Mandarin Duck Canop Ponds
Our final stop within the Forest of Dean was Canop Ponds for the well-known population of Mandarin Ducks, I didn't complete a count personally but at least a dozen birds were on view.

American Wigeon female ~ Church Farm Pool ~ Courtesy of Alan Boddington
With all the target birds now in the bag so to speak at only 2pm we decided to head over to Church Farm Pools at Grimley, Worcestershire for an American Wigeon. Being a female this was actually harder than we'd anticipated locating! However, there was plenty of expertise on hand to eventually find the bird and in fact, after we'd all agreed on the individual in question Alan Boddington managed to achieve a very respectable shot of the bird on his super 100X zoom Nikon Coolpix P1000. A top day out!

Other images of the day....

Chiffchaff by Theo de Clermont
Frisky Crossbills