Sunday 8 February 2015

A Couple of Lifers

Feb 6/15 Parkend, Forest of Dean Gloucestershire UK Sunny and cold 4c

I had heard from birders twitching the Hawfinches that there were White-fronted Dippers behind the pub in Parkend. I had had a quick look before but didn't see it. This was my second try and it wasn't long before I was following a narrow pathway along the riverbank. What I didn't realize as I continued was this was no man made footpath but a trail carved out my boar. The trail became narrower and muddier. Just as I was about to turn around I spotted two dippers in the distance. The small river or creek was perfect for them. It ran through a forest canopy, there were long runs where small fish would likely hold up, gravel bars and the odd large rock protruding the water. It was on one of these rocks that I spotted the dipper. The bird is larger and more colourful than the North American species. The familiar stance is the same and the characteristic dipping motion was identical. It too "walks" underwater. It was quite far away but to move would spook the bird so I knelt on the muddy trail and fired off a few shots with my travel lens, the Tamron 150mm-600mm. Shooting wide open at F6.3 dropped my shutter speed down, miraculously I managed a few in focus. 

Another UK lifer, the White-fronted Dipper (Cinclus cinclus)

After spending an hour or so waiting for the elusive Hawfinches to arrive I decide to move on to Cannop Ponds to see what if anything new could be found.
The Long-tailed Tits that seemed to appear out of nowhere. They fed in small family groups and flitted from tree to tree using there tiny needle sharp beaks to pry out emerging buds. Among the flock was a Goldcrest, my second lifer of the day. The bird is very much like the Ruby-crowned Kinglet foraging in mixed flocks.

Goldcrest (Regulus regulus)

Following another muddy trail, the family of Long-tailed Tits flitted from branch to branch, sometimes hanging upside down, sometimes seeming to fall to a lower branch like an acrobat. Again I would have loved to have my faster lens and fill flash but as I mentioned this is not a birding holiday and these odd days out are just breaks in the action. I'm just happy to have time with family, the forest, stream and birds....and Six Nations rugby!

Long-Tailed Tit (Aegithalos caudatus) 
According to Collins the Long-tailed Tit is more closely related to warblers, swallows and larks than it is to the other members of the tit family.

Grey Wagtail (Montacilla cinerea) uses a park bench to survey the pond 

This wagtail feeds on an icy pond.

Moorhen ((Gallinula chloropus) is a common pond birds throughout the UK and Europe. Here it feeds on the ice or perhaps it looking at its own reflection.

Until next time

"It's never too late to start birding"

John Gordon


  1. Incredible photos and what great birding you are seeing! Hope you are feeling better.

  2. congratulatons John these are beautiful birds!