Friday 8 March 2024

Forest of Dean & Somerset Levels with Oriole Birding - Day 1 - 8th March 2024

Unlike last year the drive across county from Great Ryburgh to Newport was smooth and largely trouble free.  I even had company this time with Marilyn on board.  Red Kites were seen in amazing numbers as we headed west and while going through the western Fens we saw a herd of Whooper Swans and six Cranes including two that glided low over the van in glorious sunlight!

Most of the party we picked up at Newport station and we met the remaining two at Speech House in the Forest of Dean and before too long we were all back out in the field and walking up the track to New Fancy View in the slim hope of a late afternoon Goshawk.  It was cool and breezy and we did not see one but the local Ravens put on a show with tumbles and rolls but were strangely silent.


A couple of Buzzards were up and about and Siskins buzzed past us in bouncy dabs of green and yellow.  A Common Crossbill called as it came to in to land behind us and even began singing but soon dropped into the pines and was lost.  The pesky sun was also in our eyes and three more calling birds back near the van similarly eluded us.  As expected there was ample evidence of Wild Boar in the verges.

We looped around to Cannop Ponds and immediately stumbled onto a female Brambling down on the feeding station boulders where she was consorting with a few Chaffinches which was an unexpected bonus. The regular Tits were coming down including Coal and dapper Marsh Tits and several Siskins were hogging the niger feeder.

There were 28 gaudy Mandarins paddling around with sails up and colours gleaming despite the lateness of the day and a pair of Grey Wagtails were commuting to and from the slipway and stream.


We ambled along the lake edge listening to the evening chorus warming up with Song Thrushes, Blackbirds and Robins while Dunnocks and the odd Chaffinch and Tit joined in. A pair of Treecreepers played chase around a mossy oak and a small party of Redwings were calling softly in the canopy. Not long now till they start to move off.

Blackbird - one had random white feathers

We had driven past verges covered in blooming Celandines and Daffodils but there was not one flower around the lakeside and only the Wood Spurge was attempting get things started. 

Wood Spurge 

Chromatomyia aprilina

Lovely Lichens

We retraced our steps and got better Wagtail views with a pair of Pieds now joining the Greys along with pointy two Nuthatches. Marilyn pointed out a raptor overhead and although going away from us it was clearly a male Goshawk.  Hopefully we shall get a better chance tomorrow morning.

Grey Wagtail

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