Saturday 5 December 2015

Another Walk to the Village/Two Lifers

Dec 4 2015 Brockweir/Hudnalls National Nature Reserve. Gloucestershire UK.

Despite the winds and risk of a soaking I think I'll walk to the village again. The paper should have arrived by now. It's spotting with rain but nothing too serious, besides I want to see if there are good birds around.

As I come up the hill to the farm and pause by the apple orchard I notice a slight movement amongst the ripened apples, it's a Blue Tit having desert.

Blue Tit.
Then way above me I hear an unfamiliar sound, it's loud and raucous. The culprits are a pair of Mistle Thrush which land close-by in a large clump of Mistletoe. I am told they will defend the territory and berries throughout the winter. The old English name for the bird is 'Stormcock'. That goes a long way to explain where the nickname came from especially on a blustery afternoon like today. The shot below is from several hundred feet away, it does however give enough detail for a positive ID. For this trip I brought the Nikon D7100, Nikon 200mm-500mm, my Vortex bins and a Nikon P7100 point to shoot scenics and recordings.
The Mistle Thrush is a 'Lifer' and had I taken the car to the village I would have missed it.
Mistle Thrush.
Next up was the unmistakable Hawfinch. I cannot believe my luck, normally I would have to go to the Parkend or Nagshead in the Royal Forest of Dean to catch a glimpse. The Hawfinch is scarce and is 'Red listed' and is Britain's largest species of finch. It a very nomadic bird it is very difficult to track populations. Normally they stay in the treetops and are very wary. Only in winter do you see them coming down to the forest floor to feed on fallen nuts and other edibles. The two I spotted today were in an apple orchard and appeared to be feeding on the apple pips or on the fruit itself. I took this shot from about 200 feet away and necessitated a considerable amount of cropping .
As I have briefly mentioned the Hawfinch was a great addition to my UK list which now exceeds a hundred species.

Another 'Lifer' on my walk was the Fieldfare, a bird that migrates over from Scandinavia for the 'cooler' climes of the UK. A few have nested in Scotland but most return back north in the spring in the same way some of our Lower Mainland birds would return to the Interior. The Fieldfares are very timid so I am going to have to use quite a bit of stealth to get close enough for a decent picture.

Below is the Magpie, obviously looking for something on a calf's head, a behaviour I haven't noticed before and worthy of a shot despite the grainy image
I came across another flock of Long-tailed Tits today. They are frenetic feeders and the light was low so I had to shoot at 1600 ISO just to get a few so so shots. Then the postman sped by in his red van and the flock was gone, never to return. I'll keep trying and walk the back lanes which have far less traffic. My goal is to get better shot of this beautiful bird before my return, all I need is a little decent light and a bit of luck.

Long-tailed Tit
After yet another vehicle had sped by I noticed a slight movement deep in the woods. Not that familiar with the UK woodland birds I crept closer and after quite a few misfires managed to capture a Firecrest during one of its infrequent pauses. It looks very similar to the Golden-crowned Kinglet but even smaller.

And what walk would be complete without meeting my new friend the Robin. I am sure I will have names for all of them by the time my visit ends. Each of the four birds down the lane come out to meet me every day. They are so territorial and inquisitive. Voted as the UK's favourite bird it is often depicted on Christmas cards, children's books and like the Blackbird sings at night, even in winter!
                 Next Morning:
  I am just leaving for another walk to the village, I wonder what surprises lay ahead.

"It's never too late to start birding"
John Gordon
BC Canada with notes from the Forest of Dean


  1. Gorgeous congrats on your lifers! I love the long-tailed tits.


  2. Not much time for birding but another lifer today, a Green woodpecker.