Trip reports

Nagshead and Symonds Yat - 17 May 2015

Nuthatch on branch

Sunday, 17 May 2015

We had an early start for this trip but the sun was visible, making us optimistic for the day ahead. Once across the Severn Bridge bi-lingual road signs and great banks of grey cloud indicated that we had put a "toe" into Wales, but turning east we soon left the threat of rain behind us.
Both venues were new to a significant proportion of our group, but the well-established paths through the woods at Nagshead make way-finding easy and people were soon branching off in different directions. I think that perhaps as a consequence of recent low temperatures the birds weren't as active as I have seen them there in the past. Perhaps they were sitting on eggs yet to be hatched. Many of the nest boxes, originally put up for pied flycatchers, were occupied by tits and nuthatches; I probably saw more nuthatches on the day than I see in most years! All managed to see pied flycatchers that were the prime target for the day, but the little group I was with had to wait until the last-knockings to find a nest close to the path with both adults making frequent visits, clinging to the front of the box in turn, a real treat. Other birds found around the reserve included song thrush (plentiful) mandarin duck, tree-pipit and great spotted woodpeckers but redstarts were heard more than seen and sadly it would seem that wood warbler was only represented by a possible/probable burst of song.
A short drive through some of the sheep-lined narrow roads of the Forest of Dean got us to Symonds Yat, which as usual was a revelation to those unfamiliar with its eyrie-like structure and spectacular views. A male peregrine falcon, once so unfamiliar to a lot of us, stood sentry-like on a cliff ledge while up to five buzzards soared over the winding River Wye, punctuated by colourful canoes far below us. After a quick refreshment stop at the on-site café we were on our way and despite a number of hold-ups along the busy motorways our driver Len got us back with the minimum of delay.
This was never going to be a day with a long bird list but I think for the people on our well-filled coach a definite pied-flycatcher "tick" was worth the effort