Early on Thursday morning I went a little mad and decided to get out of my comfort zone again and head off to deepest Gloucestershire.I was influenced by the weatherman telling me Thursday was going to be much better than Friday (he was wrong as usual) and my good friend Pete Walkden telling me the exact location of where I could get some shots of a Hawfinch and of some Crossbills (Parkend a few miles east of Chepstow).
Set off not long after 8.15 AM and got caught up in local school traffic straightaway and also had to stop for petrol so 20 minutes later I was still in Dorridge.Good start then.The next problem I had was when I was nearing journey's end I got the first inkling that the road atlas I'd bought cheaply on the internet might not be that good because the road shown on it to Parkend didn't exist.
Finally got to the site at 10.30 AM and joined a couple of other birders there.They had not seen the Hawfinch.Nearly an hour later we got our first glimpse of it under the very gloomy canopy of a Yew tree.It showed on and off for the next hour but the so and so never ever came out into the open so getting decent shots was impossible.
Although I'd seen one before many years ago in a coppice not far from the old car park at Draycote Water I hadn't got any shots before so I was pleased to get some however disappointing.
I gave up at 12.30 PM as the light had become pretty poor.I then headed the short distance to Parkend Church where I hoped to see some Crossbills.There were a few birders there in the car park where the high elevation overlooked the tree canopy but they weren't after Crossbills they were after Goshawks.They didn't see any and only one Crossbill showed and it was a long way off high up in a tree.
At 1.15 PM I left and headed off to the SE Owl site I visited earlier in the week.The route I'd planned using my new road atlas took me along the Gloucester ring road which turned out to be nothing like what was shown and I got into a hell of a mess.God knows how I got through and ended up on the A436 the right road.
Got to the site at 2.30 PM and found only two birders there.One had been there since 8.00 AM and the other one who I knew (John) had been there for 30 minutes and both had drawn a blank.After chatting for half an hour I went on a walk to try and warm up and think I spotted some Ravens but wasn't sure.
For some reason I decided to check out the land the other side of the road and blow me down there was a SE Owl cruising around.Just as I shouted to the other two it flew right over their heads and into the set aside field.It was 3.00 PM.
It then showed on and off for an hour never coming close but great to see.What cracking birds.The light was pretty awful becoming very gloomy at times.Here is a shot unedited showing how the camera caught the light.
Here a my best shots picked out of a massive collection of crappographs brightened up in the editing.