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.