Two-barred Delight

Today I was honoured to be Chauffeur-driven by Pete to the Forest of Dean. Leaving home at around nine we picked John up at the Gateway Centre and headed initially, to Park Corner to have a look for the Great Grey Shrike. We stayed for around half-an-hour but it did not show. Two or three Skylarks were singing overhead and eventually one was seen.The first of may year-ticks.  Then it was onto the Forest for a second attempt at the elusive Two-barred Crossbill flock. Serridge Ridge near Brierley is where most recent sightings have been. We parked the car and grabbed a quick snack before walking on. Blue Tit and Song Thrush were seen here. It was fairly quiet when we arrived at what we hoped was the correct location with just a few Chaffinches, Blue and Coal Tits seen. Marsh Tit and Brambling were soon added and a raptor was calling in the background. Suddenly a small flock of what to me sounded like Common Crossbills appeared, they flew around noisily but failed to settle. A Sparrowhawk gliding over explained why. As lunchtime was a favoured time for sightings, more birders were arriving including Lee Evans. Nice to meet a birding legend. The calling raptor was identified as a Goshawk which was then seen by a few people but unfortunately not by me. The Goshawk was quickly forgotten when some more Crossbills appeared. Pandemonium ensued when they were confirmed to be the Two-barred. It was auspicious for all present that they settled, contentedly feeding on cones near the top of a Larch in full sun. This allowed all present superb views of their glowing red plumage and prominent wingbars. In all there were fourteen birds, twelve males  and two females. Despite the distance and jumble of branches around the birds I managed some (to me) half-decent record shots. Then it was time to move-on with Cannop Ponds the next stop. No sign of Mandarin here but another half-dozen species were added to the list including a somewhat out-of-place House Sparrow. Due to a road closure we couldn’t get to the Stoneworks from here so instead headed for Parkend, where a bit of time by the church failed to provide the hoped for Hawfinch. However the back-up site of the Parkend triangle came up trumps with two Hawfinch flying-in and giving good views. With the river running high and fast we dipped on Dipper at the usually reliable spot by the Fountain Inn http://www.fountaininnandlodge.co.uk/index.html. With no time for a consolation Pint we moved on to the Cannop Stoneworks, approaching from the opposite direction. There were loads of Blue Tits on the feeders here along with Coal Tit, Great, Tit, Nuthatch and a few Siskins. No Mandarins on or around the water here either, but Greylag, LBB Gull and Kingfisher were. Pied Wagtail and Raven were also seen. By now it was time to head home with brief stops made in the car park at New Fancy View and the lay by at Speech House adding Mistle Thrush. Despite a fairly small species total of thirty-three I managed one lifer and eleven year-ticks which has taken my 2014 total to an excellent hundred-and-one.  Many thanks to Pete for taking me and to John for his company.

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3 responses to “Two-barred Delight

  1. Fantastic Crossbills, still to be added to our own tick list. Love the blog!

    • Hello Tony,
      Thanks for your kind comment.
      Hope you don’t mind but I have added link to your blog. As you may have noted I am originally from West London so it is always good to keep up with the happenings up there.
      Despite spending a fair bit of time in Cranford Park in my younger days I have never been birding there.
      Malcolm.

      • Hi Malcolm, many thanks for adding us to your blogroll. Have returned your gesture in kind 🙂 all about sharing experiences and sightings. All the best,
        Tony

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