Sunday turned out to be a wonderful spring day. We had thought about going down to the south coast, but guessing that it would be popular, decide to go and see the wintering Bluetail not far from Bristol. Most of the birders that I know have already seen it, often in rather poor weather, and it has proved to be very popular.
We got down to the site fairly quickly, and parked in the designated lane. Blue skies, warm sunshine, singing Skylarks and Yellowhammers were a great boost as I had not had a very good night.
The river valley was not as muddy as expected, though I guess it must have been far worse earlier in the year, and we soon joined the small crowd on the footpath by the river. Told that it had been seen in one of the small Hawthorns but lost to view it took a few minutes before I picked it up and most got onto it before it flew out and fed on the ground for a minute or so. Clearly the behaviour and lighting suggested we would be better off on the slope and look down on the bushes. Over the next hour the bird performed extremely well, sitting in the bushes and coming out and feeding from time to time. My 5th Bluetail, the first in spring, and the only thing that would have made it better would be if it was a male bird. Still its a Bluetail and you cannot complain.
One of the reasons for heading west on a fine spring day is to go to the Forest of Dean and displaying Goshawks. The New fancy View watchpoint is a popular destination at this time of year.
On the way up from the car park everyone stopped off to see the sun bathing Adder, and there was plenty of evidence of Wild Boar activity as well.
One Goshawk had been pinned down in a tree-it was very distant and a barely discernible blob. I picked up a bird flying far to the right-in the scope it looked brown and heavily barred so presumably juvenile, and soon after I got another two birds displaying over the wooded ridge to the right. Later in the same area two birds were seen soaring with two Buzzards, and much later another two birds were located in front of us. Two Ravens flew over, and one or two other Buzzards were seen.
We stopped off at the Adder on the way back, and while talking to a newcomer in the car park Colin and others got very excited as a Goshawk flew over the watchpoint-turned out that most up there missed it. Not a very good image, but the best I've managed of this usually elusive bird.
We finished the day in the northern end of the Forest on Serridge Ridge. The flock of Two Barred Crossbills were still being reported in this area. Hard to know where the best spot would be, we drove up unto the ridge, and seeing Larches to our east slowly made our way along the ride. Bumped into a couple of groups, the first had had no luck, the second had seen one male bird. We got directions and spent a bit of time in the area. Crossbills were heard occasionally but proved very hard to pin down, and no-one was successful in locating any birds.
Butterflies were out in force, with several Brimstones, Peacocks and a couple of Tortiseshells.