November 2013 sightings and blog

29 November 2013 Spent from 1100-2.00pm cycling or walking around the Forest of Dean exploring areas I have not covered of late. I settled down at a clearing to listen for crossbills and a Great Grey Shrike popped up. It circled the area trying it’s luck from various vantage points, at one point mobbing a Raven and pausing to hover over me. I just love watching these beautifully marked birds. It coughed up a pellet to rid itself of the useless parts of what it had eaten during the day. I eventually found some Crossbills with parties of 5, 19, 2, and 9 mostly around New Fancy View. Some may well have been the same birds as they were very mobile. In addition, also saw c30 Siskin, I believe I am seeing a pattern where by they arrive among feeding Crossbills perhaps to glean seeds from cones there larger relatives have conveniently opened. Likely to be a safety in mumbers issue also as it is easy to for Sparrowhawks to sneak up on them. A few Brambling were also vocal as they flew by but I saw none settled in this area.

Great Grey Shrike– Forest of Dean

Great Grey Shrike, FoD, MJMcGill 29 Nov 13 Great Grey Shrike, Staple Edge Wood, FoD, MJMcGill, 29 Nov 13

28 November 2013 A day out exploring the Forest of Dean with great results, I hardly noticed the overcast conditions as it was so still. At Edgehills I enjoyed the search and had success logging 4 Hawfinch, 50+ Brambling, 450 Chafffinch, 30 Siskin, 8 Crossbill (2,1 and 5). West of New Fancy View were 40+ Brambling, 200 Chaffinch and 3 Hawfinch. At Crabtree Hill the ever smart Great Grey Shrike was putting on a show. It was skipping from perch to perch and hovering over prey until it was disturbed by people walking across the middle of the heath. Quite a bird when you see it tail spread flapping in a hover.  To add to the experience a male Hawfinch showed very well as I chatted to Keith Vinicombe. I saw a single Crossbill but Keith had seen 7 plus at least 3 Two-barred Crossbill, they are getting much harder to locate. News came through of a possible Parrot Crossbill seen here yesterday which was what I was out looking for. More Forest forays are needed to relocate these birds or cross fingers that the forest birders manage to find them again.

Brambling and Chaffinch, Edgehills, FoD.

Brambling and Chaffinch, Edgehills, FoD, MJMcGill, 28 Nov 13 Brambling, Edgehills, FoD, 28 Nov 2013, MJMcGill

Hawfinch, Crabtree Hill, FoD

Hawfinch, Crabtree Hill, FoD Hawfinch, Crabtree Hill

27 November 2013 I attend the appointment at Southmead Hospital, Bristol for an operation on my toe and met with the consultant for a third time. Things had improved with regard to infection thus swinging the balance against proceeding with it right now. Opening up a new area is does add a risk of infection so the decision was made by me to leave it for now. I hope there is no return of any problem with my toe as I am keen to keep operations to a minimum. Overall this is good news, I still have at least one more operation in the  future but this allows a few months respite and to continue with a fitness programme which includes getting out and about walking as much as possible.

25 November 2013 Having got increasing counts of Wigeon on a date or two during the month it was a treat to log 2620 on 25th November. The cold weather and ice appeared to have moved all the Coombe Hill GWT birds down to WWT Slimbridge. Over 2000 were feeding on the Dumbles scrape Wigeon lawns. Although these are way off a record count (7000+) it is impressive to see them in large flocks. A male Teal looked a little bemused to be surrounded by the wrong species. It was a dark, overcast morning but here is an image of this little duck.

Teal among the Wigeon
“What am I doing among this lot”

Teal among Wigeon, Dumbles, 25 Nov 2013, MJMcGill

23 November 2013 A day out to the Hampshire/Dorset coast and heaths. See trip report page for details.

Spoonbills, Holes Bay
27 of them on a dusk high tide!

Spoonbill flock, Holes Bay, Dorset

Surf Scoter, Brand’s Bay, Poole Harbour

Surf Scoter, Brand's Bay,

16 November 2013 What can I say, after a few visits to look for them this autumn, I failed. I was however delighted when eventually two were located by one FoD resident birder (G. Black) and headed over to the forest on to try my luck. I had some intimate views of Common Crossbills but not the target bird. What were we all looking for? It is an invasion year and the species is the Two-barred (White-winged) Crossbill. Saturday morning I had a message that Lewis Thomson had located five of these smashing birds so off I went with Neil to join many county birders who were delighted to connect with what turned out to be 17+ Two-barred Crossbills! Thanks to the forest birders for sharing these top birds, apparently the third largest flock ever noted in the UK. We continued birding and saw 2 Hawfinches, 2 Brambling, Willow Tit, 200 Siskin, 20 Lesser Redpoll and a lovely Great Grey Shrike, the latter at the same time as 12 Two-bars were perched on spruce on the heath, 14 flew off and returning to the original spot we saw 11 feeding together in the Western Hemlocks. A damn good morning out.

Two-barred Crossbill, Kensley Lodge, Forest of Dean

Two barred Crossbill, male, Kensley Lodge, MJMcGill Two barred Crossbill, female, Kensley Lodge

Great Grey Shrike, Crabtree Hill, Forest of Dean

Great Grey Shrike

Recent highlights for the month below.

12 November 2013 Migrant Hawker and Common Darter still on the wing today.

11 November 2013 Adult Little Gull flew downriver

10 November 2013 Connected with the two Glossy Ibis on the South Lake, WWT Slimbridge.

Purple Sandpiper on the Rushy
8, 10, 11 November 2013

Purple Sandpiper, Rushy, MJMcGill Purple Sandpiper, Rushy, 12 Nov 13 MJMcGill

Purple Sandpiper, MJMcGill

Green-winged Teal Top New Piece
I eventually caught up with this little duck that Gord Youdale discovered. I saw it among the thousands of Teal on a couple of dates.

Green winged Teal, MJMcGill

5 November 2013 A Barn Owl near to home in Whitminster, always nice.



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