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.

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