The day started at Brierley in the Forest of Dean where we were greeted by plenty of calling birds. It was overcast but most crucially still so any movement was a bird and calls carried. We walked along with a tit flock with the usual suspects and were soon watching Brambling as they came out of the plantations to feed on the ridge. Many gave scope views before dropping to the ground. Siskin were seen throughout the morning, small flocks were regularly seen flying over along with a few Redpoll. A flock of c30 Crossbill flew through the plantation but were lost to view. I saw three Hawfinch flying along the ridge but they did not hang about. Eventually we located a party of up to five Crossbill feeding and enjoyed great views. Moving up and over the Serridge ridge we began a search of the larch plantation, Lewis Thomson was already on site and had been watching 7 Two-barred Crossbill, he kindly got us onto them, sadly they were obscured and eventually took flight but did call regularly whilst among us. A further 20+ Common Crossbill were in this area and we got more prolonged views as they fed. This party sent ‘helicopter’ seeds raning down on us as they prised cones open.
We left for a comfort stop and a coffee at Parkend passing c 40 Manadarin on Cannop Ponds before heading for Crabtree Hill. A party of c20 Lesser Redpoll feeding around the lake as well as Coot on it. Walking up the heath I located the Great Grey Shrike, it was festively settled on a christmas tree and busy hunting prey. We all had scope views but backed off, this to prevent interupting it, short winter days do not provide the birds with many opportunities for feasting. A smart bird to end the day with.