Today was the only day this week that Pete and I could get out. Not ideal after my long day yesterday but it just had to be done. Plan was for a short visit to Slimbridge and then on to the Forest of Dean. Arriving at Slimbridge at half-eight we first checked out the Rushy where we soon found one of the Scaup amongst the hundreds of wildfowl on the water. Also here were a number of Bewick Swans. Next was the Holden Tower for views of the several thousand birds on the Tack Piece. Amongst the Dunlin, Golden Plover and Lapwings were a Black-tailed Godwits and a few Ruff. The majority of the wildfowl were Wigeon and Teal with a fair number of Pintail. At one point something put up the waders, an impressive spectacle as they wheeled around before slowly settling back on the ground. Final stop here was the South Hide for the couple of Avocet for the final year-tick of the visit. So on to The Forest of Dean where we headed straight to Parkend to stakeout the Yew Trees by the cricket ground. This spot is famed for good views of Hawfinch when they drop down to feed below the trees. Our initial visit was unsuccessful with just Great and Blue Tits coming down. We decided to drive up to area by the church to have our lunch and then to return. At the church were several Blackbirds feeding on the grass. A Great Spot paused briefly calling once and a Goldcrest flitted around a nearby tree. After we had eaten we went for a short stroll. I saw a small flock of birds land at the top of a tall tree and despite the poor light and cricked necks we soon identified them as Crossbills. Back at the Yew Trees we were soon rewarded with great views of three Hawfinches. They were easily spooked, flying back into the trees at the least disturbance.
Also coming down here were a couple of Nuthatches and a Treecreeper also put in an appearance. A walk down to the stream was next. The amount of water flowing was impressive but wasn’t conducive to finding a Dipper. Cannop Ponds were the next and final stop where we found a smart male Mandarin. The feeders at the stoneworks were busy. mainly with various tits but also three Nuthatches and some Chaffinches. Having decided to drive home via Chepstow and the M4 we stopped of at Aust Warth to look for Short-eared Owls. On arrival I checked out Twitter and saw that the Slavonian Grebe was still at Northwick Warth. So off we went parking at New Passage. After a few minutes of muddy walking we found the Grebe. Luckily it was on the nearest piece of water and gave great views. A scan of the grassland didn’t find any raptors and a quick look at the estuary turned up a few waders and some Teal and Wigeon. There were some quite impressive clouds building in the distance which added to the interest here.
After a few more minutes at Aust we set off for home with another sixty plus species day under our belts.