A Day of Two Halves!

The original plan today was to go to Rhiwderin to look for the Common Yellowthroat that has been around for a while and then head to The Blorenge to try for Red Grouse. However as the Yellowthroat had not been seen all week the plan was changed to start at Blorenge and the head for the Forest of Dean. So six a.m. saw myself and Steve heading off to South Wales in the fog. To avoid paying to get into Wales I decided to go via Gloucester. First stop was Highnam Woods where we saw a few of the commoner woodland birds. Into Wales and now in lovely sunshine we then headed up the long and steep road to The Blorenge.

What a fabulous place, stunning scenery, historic interest and plenty of birds. An amazing amount  of Skylarks along with plenty of Meadow Pipit were singing continuously. Fantastic.We made our way up to the summit with frequent stops to scan the Heather for our target bird, Red Grouse. As usual Steve saw the bird first with, at first just a head poking from the Heather and then as the bird became aware of us and stood up, great views of a fine male Grouse (a life tick), which eventually flew off giving us a great view. We then headed for the Forest of Dean with the first stop being Speech House where we didn’t find Hawfinch. Then onto New Fancy where we had reasonable views of five soaring Goshawk and also a family group of Wild Boar. Next stop was Cannop Stoneworks where we saw Greylag, Geese, Mandarin, Grey Wagtail and Siskin. Parkend was next for Dipper but not a sign. Then to the Church for another try for Hawfinch. A probable but not definite sighting was frustrating as was a heard, but not seen Crossbill. On the plus side were several more Goldcrest and Siskin along with great views of many Buzzard. Also seen was a Red Admiral butterfly, happily basking in the sun. We then headed to the Severn Estuary at Lydney to find the tide out and hardly any birds. A final stop at Aust Warth for Short Eared Owl and Merlin was also unsuccessful. In the end, to misquote the football phrase “it was a day of two halves”. Enjoyable and frustrating in equal measure. Unsurprisingly, on checking Birdguides back at home, we saw that the Yellowthroat had reappeared!!

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