It was a mixed day today with a very brief and uneventful visit to Slimbridge and several lifers on the way back. Notable sightings at Slimbridge included 39 Black Tailed Godwit and 13 Barnacle Geese, both near the River Severn.
We didn’t really know where to go on the way back, Sandwell RSPB was talked about and a text from Mike suggested maybe Conway RSPB but we thought it would be a bit out of our way. We’d decided to head home and then spend a few hours down at Brockholes late afternoon to see if we could catch some waders when a second text came through from Mike letting us know 70 Crossbill had been sighted at Hanchurch Woods. Know idea where it was but a quick look on Birdguides (isn’t mobile internet great?) and a quick Google for the place and we soon had our satnav heading in the wrong direction. After ending up at the entrance to a farm on the wrong side of Stoke I re-Googled and found some directions and we where soon parked up at the Dog Lane entrance to the woods. Crossbill are our bogey bird having turned up at Meresands Wood on several occasions to be told ‘they were here five minutes ago’. Well we thought it was going to be deja vue as 3 people walked back to the car park having seen them less than 15 minutes ago but we persevered and after a brief chat letting us know where they had been seen we headed off. After about 20 minutes we spotted Reeces first lifer of the day when a Wood Warbler flew out of the woods perched on the branch of a nearby tree, noticed we were watching it then flew off. (Update on the Wood Warbler sighting: our ID was incorrect, Nick who birds the patch regularly has pointed out it was probably a juvenile Willow Warbler. Many thanks Nick for the correction). Another birder arrived and we continued to move down the path listening and searching the tree tops for at least another half hour. It was when we decided to head back to see if they were nearer the car park when about 30 Crossbills flew in. They were hard to spot at first but as they moved further up the path they became visible and we watched them feed for about half an hour. Whilst watching the Crossbill a Raven called as it flew in the distance soon to be joined be a second.
Before we left Reece spotted another bird and though he nagged me to take a look I only saw it as it flew off. Luckily a guy who had joined us had seen it and let us know it was a Spotted Flycatcher. Hanchurch Wood looks a good place to bird and we'll certainly pay it another visit when we have more time to look around. Thanks again Mike for the tip on the Crossbills.