Thursday 10 March 2022

BIKING BIRDER VI 2022 February 24-5th To The Forest of Dean and Nag's Head RSPB Reserve


          Early morning I am awake and up due to heavy hail showers hitting the west side of my overnight accommodation, a bird hide. Between the showers I look out of the shutters and see a very close and locally famous Barn Owl.

          Not the best photograph, another National Geographic calendar photographs as I call them, but it does show the bird. One of my most likely impossible aims of the year is to photograph and video every bird specie I see. I want to have evidence for every bird specie. Therefore, every bird photograph and video is important no matter how good or bad they may be.

          Eventually I am ready, inflatable mattress and 4-season sleeping bag are packed away. Out into the strong westerly, I am heading north-east.

          Siri, via Google Maps on my Iphone, tells me which way to go and after a couple of miles she sends me down a pot-holed bridleway, which after a half a mile or so, declines into a muddy bog! 

          I will have to more careful in the future when Siri asks me to go down some rather questionable cycle paths!

          Time flies by when you're riding on a bike and I arrive mid-afternoon at Parkend, Forest of Dean, back in England once more.

          Feeling confident that I will see my three target birds for this location; Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Hawfinch and the not too far away, Goshawk, I call into Dean's Forest Cycle shop and cafe for a coffee and tyre pressure check. Lovely, friendly staff and one superb soya milk coffee later, I am outside and heading towards the stand of Yew trees by the side of Parkend cricket pitch.

          No sign of any Hawfinches there, I go to the nearby church.

          Bird photographers have put some seed out in a car parking area and finches, including Brambling, Blackbirds, including a spectacled one, Nuthatch, Pied Wagtail, Dunnock and a Robin all come down to feed but no Hawfinches.

          The rest of my afternoon is spent at Nag's Head RSPB reserve and a few Roe Deer show themselves as darkness falls.



          Up early once more, I hide my bike and possessions near to the RSPB vistors centre at Nag's Head RSPB reserve and walk the trails hoping to hear, preferably see, a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker.

          At this early hour, it is not yet 8.00 am, birds are singing, Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush, Robin and Blackbird. Greater Spotted Woodpeckers are drumming and Nuthatch are calling belting out their strident staccato notes but no Lesser Spot.

          By 10 I have walked a lot of the reserve and I find my bike undisturbed. Cycling back to the church car park, a bird photographer looks like a large piece of shaggy moss.

          A young couple, who turn out to be from one of my home towns, Redditch, are less well camouflaged and together we watch as the same species as yesterday arrive at what bird seed is left.

          Looking over the nearby cememtry, a Hawfinch flies into a nearby tree but is difficult to see as it lands in a spot with the sun behind it.

          Never mind that, another good bird goes onto the BIGBY bird list.

          Eventually a Hawfinch does come down to the seed and even I get a decent photograph!

          Bird on the list, utb so to speak, I head off for New Fancy Viewpoint and on arrival there find around a dozen birders looking over the forest ridges, searching for Goshawk.

          Two hours or so of searching and chatting, eventually a Goshawk flies past almost level with us all and so Goshawk goes onto the BIGBY bird list.

          A Common Lizard out in the sunshine is my first of the year.

          Two out of three target birds seen, I will need to find an alternative location for a Lesser Spot; Wyre Forest in Worcestershire maybe or Santon Downham in Norfolk.

          I cycle to my accommodation for the night and relax in the evening, knowing that tomorrow will be a challenge if I am to cycle the fifty miles or so to Upton Warren Nature Reserve in Worcestershire. Jack Snipe has been seen there recently, an important target bird.

           Sleep comes easy as I feel that the BIGBY bird list is progressing nicely.


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