Monday 5 May 2014

UK 2014 Final Thoughts

May 2 2014  Higham Roundabout/Frampton-Upon-Severn/Forest of Dean

I had a few more locations to visit before my UK trip finally ended. The last few days were spent around the Forest of Dean and Severn Vale. As I travelled through Bream past Lydney and as I approached Highnam roundabout near Gloucester I suddenly spotted a Kestrel. It was perched on a branch above a pull-off or lay-by, another UK "Lifer" and my first falcon of the trip. It looks very much like our American Kestrel, it may even be the exact same species, i'll have to check my Sibley's when I get back to Vancouver. There are a few species that overlap like the Wren and Snipe which can make identification a little tricky.

Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus)
 UK and throughout Europe.

The next stop was to check out the Nightingales in the ancient woodlands at Highnam Woods, alas my birding skills were sorely lacking, unfortunately no signing nightingales . Never mind, that's all part of the birding experience and there is always next year.

                                                                  Highnam Woods

Next stop was Frampton-on-Severn. I saw quite a few species nothing new except a soaring Buzzard. Unfortunately one of the best locations was closed off to the public and the tide was out, leaving most of the birds (little egrets, sandpipers, various gulls etc) way out on the sandbars. I should have checked the tide tables first.
However, the historic village which in mentioned in the Doomsday Book was very interesting and picturesque. Public paths can be taken around the many lakes and dense forests provide habitat for many species of birds.

Record shot of a Long-tailed Tit (Aegithalos caudatus)
Resident throughout the year in most of the UK and Europe.

Back to the Forest of Dean and with the help of fellow birder Gary I was able to find and photograph the Long-tailed Tit, another "Lifer" to add to the growing list on the trip. 

May 3 2014 Forest of Dean Cannop Ponds and Nagshead Reserve

Jay (Garrulus glandarius)
A member of the crow family found throughout the UK and Europe. Like the Steller's Jay this bird raids bird feeders for nuts and then makes a cache. 
Finally I managed to photograph the Jay. I found them quite elusive, they don't stay still for very long, luckily I had my 1.4 extender on my 500mm and shot this from the car. In my opinion I think it's the prettiest crow you'll ever see especially when observed flying.


Along with the Robin the Kingfisher is the quintessential British bird, the bird of postcards, of book and magazine covers, framed prints, the magnificent Kingfisher stands just six and half inches or 16.6cm tall and weighs a meagre 38 grams.

Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis)
A Kingfisher surveys the pond in front of the Nagshead lower hide. 
Sometimes described as a flash of sapphire, the Kingfisher preys on small fish, water beetles, tadpoles, dragonflies and other aquatic life.

The brilliantly coloured Kingfisher one of my' 'target' birds on my trip.

Final Thoughts
The trip has been brilliant considering birding took a second place to more important family affairs. 
I would like to thank the generous support of the local birders who helped me on my quest including the 'Gloster' Birder Mike King for his suggestions I use Twitter to contact other birders and his site which keeps an up to date tally of new sightings. Thanks Mike


Finally, I wouldn't have such a rich experience had it not been for a number of other birders including Tim Fletcher who kindly toured me around the Speech House area where we found a Tree Pipit and Willow Warbler. John Lawson who showed me the Bearded Tits and Cuckoo at Newport Wetlands and Gary Thoburn who led me to the Pied Flycatcher, Grey Wagtail, Kingfisher and Long-tailed Tit. A huge thanks to you all.

The final tally for the trip was 75 species of which 41 were "Lifers".
My highlights of the trip included the Kingfisher sighting, watching several Skylark sing above the grassy fields of the Severn Estuary and finally catching a glimpse of a pair of Bearded Tits. Not far behind were the Lapwings courtship display and Avocet at Gibraltar Point.
There were far too many highlights to mention here but I was also lucky enough to watch a herd of  Roe Deer, a family of boar, a fox, numerous rabbit, some amazing butterflies, and a slowworm bathing on a rock.
I also shot some video, which if any good will be posted to my UTube site at a later date.

Once again a very big thanks and don't forget it's never too late to start birding!

John Gordon


  1. wow I thought our birds in BC were beautiful... I better head to england.

  2. I know, it takes time to find the birds and become accustomed to their behaviour .