A Last Minute Change of Mind

My original plan for today was either Longleat area and Langford Lakes for Firecrest and YL Gull or the Forest of Dean for the Two-barred Crossbills. Both of these would have entailed an early start and having had a few early starts for work over the last few days and needing to be home by four I decided that I couldn’t face another pre-dawn alarm call. So after a chat with Pete the plan was changed to Daglingworth for the Great Grey Shrike ad then onto Shorncote in the Water Park. Having picked Pete up en-route we soon arrived at the Old Quarry. There were some other birders here and a quick chat with Gary Chalker from Swindon gave the news that the Shrike had not yet put in an appearance. We were just getting back in the car to move a little further along the road when the other two birders called the Shrike. After a quick look from here we moved along and watched the bird for a few minutes as it moved around the quarry. Time to move on so we left Gary busily taking photos and headed off. Approaching the Park Farm junction a last-minute decision saw us turning right instead of left for the Water Park and heading for the Forest of Dean. In less than an hour, with no maps and only a vague idea of where to go we arrived at Woorgreen. A quick look at the lake gave us several Coots and a male Goosander. Then it was off along a muddy track in the general direction of the Crabtree Hill. Thanks to the excellent navigational skills of my companion we were soon in the right area along with several other birders. After chatting to some of them we found that neither the Two-barred Crossbills or the Great Grey Shrike had been seen today. We headed off for a circuit of the area, initially seeing very little. The Crossbills apparently favoured Western Hemlock trees which I am ashamed to say I had never heard of despite them being one of our commonest conifers. IMG_2798 (1024x768)Wrens were heard in the undergrowth and several Jays were noisily flying around, a Buzzard soared and three Ravens passed overhead. Another birder had seen a flock of Common Crossbills but we didn’t. Dropping down from the hill there were a few more birds around with Siskin, Goldcrest and various tits seen. Also a couple of larger finches briefly appeared above us. Initial thought was Grenfinch  but after they had gone Pete wondered that they may have been Hawfinches. Maybe the miss of the day! We then headed back off up the hill with the only sighting of interest being a Toad that crossed the path ahead of us.  IMG_2797 (1024x742) After just over three hours of wandering we arrived back at the car with the final sighting being three Bullfinches and another small flock of Siskins. It was now time to head off home having had an enjoyable but disappointing visit. We stopped off briefly near Cricklade to check the fields by the Thames for the Bewick Swans. We could see twenty-three Mute and two Egyptian Geese but some other swans that were behind some trees remained unidentified.

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