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Friday, 13 March 2015

To The Forest of Dean and 2 Year ticks and Three Couples!

From Slimbridge I cycled along the Gloucester Ship canal until almost dark when I pitched the tent for the first time and slept 11 hours solid!
Early morning decamped. Making sure the place looked exactly like it did before my arrival and rode the bumpy muddy ship canal towpath. Now why would someone throw away a plastic container of muffins> I fed the ducks.
Around to Highnam Woods RSPB reserve with its closed gate and backless hide, I birded whilst having a bit of breakfast. Nuthatches and great spotted woodpeckers with the titmice at the feeders. Not really the best time of year for this large woodland reserve; that would be in May when the nightingales arrive.
Next a long cycle to Cowper Lakes in the Forest of Dean, with a chance meeting with a motorcycling birder, Mark Bonner on the way. Thanks for the donation to the WWT.
As I went down to the lakeside to look at the Chinese ducks, mandarins, a Chinese girl was pretending to be a dog for her partner! They were having a hilarious time “Here girl, come here.” I remembered an interview with Frank Zappa years ago where he said the opening lyric to a new song was going to be ….....  
"There is a new piece we're working on in the soundchecks at the moment, it's called "Lady," although-I only have the first few words of it, it goes something like, "I've been looking for a woman I can treat like a dog / So I can call her lady, lady, lady, lady / Lift her leg." It's one of those sort of things that suits Bozzio's voice." 
It's amazing how one can find the interview on google! As they saw me through there laughter and her yapping, they came over and so I met Tony and 'Vanessa'. A fantastic, never stop laughing Chinese girl whilst viewing a new bird for the year Chinese duck. Another strange coincidence. She wrote her real name in my notebook and told me she had chosen Vanessa because she liked the name. They told me how they met, whilst they he had been walking his dog to which I joked that I had to get a dog if one could meet such a sunny personality. They'd been together for a couple of years and were the happiest couple I had met so far this year, obviously crazy over each other.
The mandarins did what ornamental ducks do, looked gorgeous and swam around the lake. Bird number 157.
The big push next, up a very steep and long road to get to Speech House corner and take the road to the New Fancy viewpoint. Another push got me and the bike to the viewpoint top. Immediately siskins flying around and a birder, Gareth Jones from Bristol, reported that the hoped for goshawks had been flying along a distant ridge.
Another couple, this time John and Julie came over to me and told me that we'd met before when I was cycling back in 2010. We had met at Holkham, Norfolk and that John had been in the same year group as my brother, Paul at the same school that I had attended in Redditch back in the late 60s/early 70s, Abbey High School, now Trinity School. Another example of a small world.
A female goshawk then flew along the ridge giving everyone views and then was seen again flying low over the conifers. Bird number 158.
Next to look for hawfinches at Parkend with scribbled maps of where they'd been seen earlier in the day.
With football time aproaching, Aston Villa, my team, where about to play (and beat!) West Bromwich Albion (Get in there!), I cycled around the yew trees next to the cricket pitch, no hawfinches. Then, after checking in at The Fountain Inn, I walked up to the church. Once again no hawfinches but the final lovely couple for the day who saw crossbills as I searched behind the church.

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All the very best everyone as always. Love to you all xx

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