Saturday, 10 April 2010

Harwood Forest and Friends!

Coltsfoot Tussilago farfara reflecting the sun.

10th April. I’ve just realised I’ve recently past my first birthday on Bird North East. My ramblings in this blog would never had occurred if I had not been encouraged to join in by my friend Cain (Holywell Birding), so you will have to blame him. I'm certainly glad I joined up.

Today took me (or should I say another friends car took me) to Harwood Forest in search of the Great Grey Shrike. Passing Angerton Lake brought back some memories of my visit to Hartburn last year. I must get back up soon. On this occasion only Mute Swans, Greylag and Canada Geese were seen fleetingly as we passed by, with a couple of Yellowhammers in the hedgerow. To be honest, I was hoping as much for good sightings of Crossbill as much as Great Grey Shrike today. In the event, that was just as well!

On arrival at Harwood who should I bump into, but another good friend Andrew (Foghorn) who had given me directions the evening before. I thought, if an ardent twitcher like Andrew was appearing there must be every chance of finding the target bird.

As we left the village it wasn’t long before I was hearing Crossbills, but not getting any sightings. A Goldcrest was soon found and soon after, numbers of Siskin. It was good to have the sun out today but it made the trek a bit on the humid side, but best not complain of a little heat I suppose. I found three Common Buzzards flying in the distance but saw no other raptor species today. One Tree Pipit was seen on the outward walk. We soon joined the small group on the lookout for the Great Grey Shrike which had apparently been last seen at 9.00am. It was now approaching 1.00pm. Well we all hung around for quite some time and I just don’t believe that the shrike was still in the same area. I was determined not to leave before Andrew, and then read about an excellent sighting later in his blog. We never did see the shrike. There was another couple of Tree Pipits in the area and we heard Snipe, Great Spotted Woodpecker drumming, Song Thrush and the endless calls of Chiffchaff. Anther Common Buzzard called and gave a better sighting than the earlier faraway birds.

I took a short walk to look across another likely looking area for shrike and caught sight of a Crossbill flying overhead. I took a walk back in that direction again later after Andrew said he had seen a Crossbill at close range. The highlight of the day was when I found the male and female Crossbill lit by the sun just a few yards in front of me. The colour in this bird is really stunning and I appreciated that today, more than ever before. We made back to the village soon afterwards, shrike-less but unbowed and everyone had had good sightings of Crossbill by the time we got back. A couple of Mistle Thrush flew near the village..
The heat of earlier in the day had dissipated which made for a more comfortable walk. There had been a number of butterflies around today, but I had only identified Peacocks. There was lots of Coltsfoot Tussilago farfara which I had been looking for on patch recently and had not found in the usual area. A good day, with a little help from my friends, and a good way to begin year two of my blog. A Red Squirrel was seen as we drove out of the forest.

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