Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Surely not?

The promise of a dry day prompted me to head for the Forest of Dean again. I tried Woorgeens Lake for the first time, in the hope of finding some lesser redpoll or goosander. Wading along the rivers of mud that passed for paths - thank God I bought some wellies - I reached the Lake and was aware of a strange sensation affecting my eyes. Dredging back through my memory I realised with a start what it was. I was squinting because the SUN was shining. There were SHADOWS on the ground and the sky was visible and BLUE. And it felt good.

Other than the swans there were nine goosander and a kingfisher, but all out of range. No redpoll yet though. Back at the car I had some more good views of a nuthatch, but I think we've had enough pictures of them by now.

A tip from a local birder took me to the Church at Parkend.

Looking over the rather quaint graveyard, scanning the tops of the hornbeams (with a little help from a couple of very friendly GOS members) I found them. Sadly a long way off, and out of digiscoping range, but there was no doubting that bull neck and huge bill. Half a dozen Hawfinch - one of my target birds for this year.

I did get some reasonable views last year, given how shy they are, but these shots are heavily cropped and not the frame fillers I want this time.

(Did you notice the brambling peeking over the horizon? That's another I'm after in 2007.)

Three things you didn't know about hawfinch (unless you also have Birds Britannica)

  1. The nominate race, scientific name is the longest for any British bird - Coccothraustes coccothraustes coccothraustes
  2. Its ability to crack cherry stones with that stunning bill means that it is is delivering a pressure more than a thousand times its own weight - a load of up to 95 lbs. The equivalent force in a human would be more than 60 ton(ne)s.
  3. They eat peas

The good news is I think I know where they might be ground feeding and there was loads of cover, so maybe, just maybe, I'll snap them.

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