About Graham Clarkson

Born & brought up in Marshside, I started birding there in the mid 1970s & made my first birding trip to Martin Mere in 1977. I've lived, worked & birdied in Abu Dhabi, Northern Ireland & Gloucestershire & I've spent time working in Kazakhstan & Madagascar. I enjoy birding my various West Lancashire patches, making frequent birding visits throughout the north-west of England and North Wales. I stray elsewhere in the UK & enjoy birding abroad from time to time. I'm particularly interested in wildfowl (especially pink-footed geese) with an interest in waders & raptors, bird counts & surveys & conservation. I'm trying to get the hang of photography & digiscoping - I'll get there eventually.

My degree from Edge Hill University is in conservation biology. I've guided on numerous birding days out & trips & guided birding holidays to Lesvos, Andalucia, Extremedura, Majorca, Camargue, Hungary, Finland & Florida. I enjoy showing people birds & habitats & helping them learn more about birds & enjoy birding. I'm currently involved with the Birdwatching and Beyond course at Edge Hill and a brand new venture; Skein Birding.

As well as birding I'm interested in captive breeding & reintroduction projects & zoos, how they're managed & how they contribute to conservation. I'm a proud Lancastrian & love the Lancashire countryside & landscapes. I'm an Evertonian & also keep up with what's happening at Southport, PNE & Bristol Rovers. Gardening, dogs (I have a Labrador & a Tibetan Terrier) and keeping chickens (especially Marsh Daisys & Scots Dumpy Bantams). Ruth & I have two marvellous boys who both love nature too. I hope you find the blog and subjects covered interesting; please feel free to leave a comment.

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Forest of Dean on Easter Saturday

Seeing as Ruth is from Hereford we spend a fair amount of time there during holiday periods and this Easter was no exception. On Easter Saturday I headed out to the Forest of Dean (only 40 minutes south of Hereford) for some lone birding. First stop was Speech House, where in 20 years of visiting I've never failed to see Hawfinch; two duly obliged, however I was more impressed by the 23 Song Thrushes on the primary school playing field. A disciple of the raptor spotting 10 o'clock rule I arrived at the well known Goshawk watch point at New Fancy View in good time. I was immediately rewarded with a displaying male over the western ridge and then a distant perched female was picked up by a fellow birders  non-birding wife! A pair of Ravens entertained by displaying around us in ice cold conditions.

Raven displaying at New Fancy View
Post Goshawk spotting I needed a warming walk and headed off to Cannop ponds for a trudge around to see if I could pick up Marsh Tit and Kingfisher. I saw neither but did see plenty of Siskins, a couple of Nuthatches and Treecreepers and counted 46 Mandarins; stunning birds in this almost 'wild' setting. As I trudged round the ponds enjoying a couple of Grey Wagtails and a trilling Little Grebe I noticed some movement at the far end of the pond and thought I'd better scope the movement - I was surprised and delighted to see three drake and a duck Garganey, they were confiding and I managed some reasonable record shots.

Pair of Garganey, Cannop Ponds, Forest of Dean. 30/03/13
Four Garganey, Cannop Ponds, Forest of Dean. 30/03/13
After the excitement of the Garganey I headed over to Symond's Yat to see if the famous Peregrines were showing from the watchpoint; indeed they were, a pair and an intruding male all showing well and putting on a display for the RSPB 'prospects' enjoying them. A displaying Sparrowhawk and numerous Buzzards were the only other raptors on show in the hour I spent there - again freezing cold. I was glad to get back to Hereford for a warming brew. 

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