Forest Birds

Saturday 10th January 2015
Hawfinch, Forest of Dean
A trip out to the Forest of Dean this morning with Andy and Mark was very productive, despite the initially unpromising weather. Early rain gave way to sunny conditions, although the NW wind kept temperatures down. The highlights were a Dipper at Wenchford, 12 Hawfinches at another site, the Great Grey Shrike, a pair of Stonechats and a Goshawk at Crabtree Hill, and seven Goosanders at Woorgreens.
Great Grey Shrike, Crabtree Hill
Drake Goosander, Woorgreens
Early on around Quedgeley near the canal / Clearwater Drive area I saw two Little Egrets, a Chiffchaff and a Grey Wagtail.
Little Egret, Quedgeley
A Coal Tit on the garden feeders is the first I've seen in the garden for some time. A male Great Spotted Woodpecker has replaced usual female this weekend; the male Blackcap continues to be almost ever-present at the feeders.
Coal Tit, garden
After making the most of the day with a 3-mile walk around the National Trust's Brockhampton Estate in Herefordshire with Linda, we got back in time for me to pop down to Court Lake to see the Scaup I dipped last weekend; the Tawny Owl was in its usual tree and a Kingfisher was another highlight in the fading light.
Scaup on Court Lake, Frampton-onSevern (left)

Tawny Owl, Frampton-onSevern


WWT and Dartford

Saturday 3rd January 2015
Dartford Warbler, Pittville Park, Cheltenham
With Andy this morning at WWT we had some good birds for the New Year, despite the damp and gloomy conditions,  including a male Merlin hunting on The Dumbles (thanks Jake for the shout on that one - I didn't see one all last year), a Little Stint on the edge of the Holden scrape, a Whooper Swan in fields to the NE of the centre viewed from the Sloane Tower, a Marsh Harrier on a kill on the Tack Piece, and the Ferruginous Duck still in the Asia Pen.
Distant view of the Merlin at the Dumbles edge
Marsh Harrier on kill, with attendant corvids
Ferruginous Duck - photo taken yesterday morning in brighter conditions
Another pic from yesterday
A Water Rail was showing very well from the Holden Walkway through the viewing-gaps in the wall.

I returned to Cheltenham this afternoon for the Dartford Warbler at Pittville Park where it is still keeping company with a pair of Stonechats in the wildflower-seeded area east of Tommy Taylor's Lane (top photo).


WWT Fudge Duck

Wednesday 31st December 2014
Another good find by Martin and another county tick for me yesterday in the form of a female FERRUGINOUS DUCK. I returned today for a second look and experiment further with my new Nikon P600. It was on the Asia Pen again, but less cautious than yesterday, asleep at first, but later actively feeding down to a few feet.
The fully-winged RUDDY SHELDUCK was there too, skating on the ice.


WWT Goodies

Sunday 21st December 2014
Rudy Shelduck, in captive company
I spent a welcome break from fatherly duties (a.k.a. Paul's Removals and Junk Disposal) with Andy and Mark at WWT Slimbridge where we caught up with some nice birds. First, we found the Whooper Swan in the first field on the right after the canal bridge; on its own at 8.30am, but later at 11.30am with Bewick's. A mystery duck of apparently very mixed origins was at Martin Smith hide, with features recalling a few species including Red-crested Pochard and Pintail.
Who are you ... who who, who who ??
A Water Rail was showing well at Willow Hide, swimming right in front of us, though poor light excused the poor photos I got. From Holden Tower, a Marsh Harrier flew past from the direction of Middle Point and towards the Top New Piece, where it was seen to take a hapless Black-tailed Godwit for breakfast. We watched a Barn Owl hunting distantly beyond, and entering an opening in one of the pill boxes. On South Lake two Avocets were present, and also a Ruff, among the Black-tailed Godwits and Lapwings. We looked in the Asia Pen for a Ruddy Shelduck seen the day before, and there amongst the captive birds was a fully-winged, un-ringed female bird. We took the loop past Hogarth Hide and looked through a tit flock, finding a Goldcrest and, the one that got away for the day, possibly a Firecrest which only Andy saw anything of.
Water Rail, WWT (Andy Chapman)
Whooper Swan, Slimbridge
I recently found this interesting Sessile Earthstar at Lower Rea, not rare, but still nice to stumble across locally.
Sessile Earthstar, Lower Rea, Quedgeley
Finally, a Noon Fly which Mark spotted and ID'd at Bourton Pits last weekend in our fruitless search for Willow Tit there.
Noon Fly (photographed 11.19am)


Dartford Warbler at Cheltenham

Friday 19th December 2014 
Dartford Warbler
I popped over to Cheltenham this afternoon to see the DARTFORD WARBLER at Pittville Park, found by John Sanders on Wednesday. It showed very well at times and kept company with a pair of Stonechats. Just a couple of record shots here - looking forward to Christmas and getting my hands on my P600. I noted at least one other Stonechat on site, also small groups of Goldfinches and Meadow Pipits were around.
Always a treat to see one - especially in Glos


Rose-coloured Starling at Bristol

Saturday 29th November 2014
Rose-coloured side-by-side with Common Starling
The adult ROSE-COLOURED STARLING in Bristol showed well for around 10 minutes on Saturday afternoon from 3.08pm.  I waited for approximately 1 hour 20 minutes in Friary Road, in the Bishopston area of Bristol, almost thinking of giving up as it hadn't been seen for 3 hours. At last it showed, in flight with a small flock of Common Starlings, alighting on a tree top and then on St. Bonaventure's Church roof. A pesky Sparrowhawk then flushed everything, but not before I got some very nice views of a cracking bird in the afternoon sun.
And another
A lovely sunny afternoon showing up the starling's stunning attire nicely
Rear view
Handy starling perch on the roof of St. Bonaventure's
Sparrowhawk - don't go for the one in the hi-vis vest!


Barred Warbler and Fungi

Saturday 1st November 2014
Fly Agaric, Silk Wood, Westonbirt
At a range of 250m and with only a cheap back-up scope I have no photo, but what a superb bird the first-winter BARRED WARBLER at Frampton was. Well done and thanks again to Martin for a brilliant find at the Marsh Sandpiper site. The Barred Warbler showed occasionally on Saturday morning in the sunshine as it fed on Hawthorn fruits. The photo below of the view from the canal towpath looking out towards the bushes near the sea wall defences, with the river beyond. The scene was enhanced by two juvenile Marsh Harriers and a pair of Stonechats among the supporting cast and also two late Common Darters still on the wing in the unseasonably warm weather.
The view toward 'Barred Warbler Bush' as it will now be known, 250m away
The afternoon was spent with the family enjoying the autumn colours at Westonbirt Arborteum. I always enjoy looking for fungi here at this time of year and was pleased to find Fly AgaricCommon Puffball and Shaggy Parasol fruiting bodies, among several others not so easy to identify.
Sun through leaves
Common Puffball, Silk Wood, Westonbirt
Shaggy Parasol, Old Arboretum, Westonbirt