Twice now, I have wandered around the Wyre Forest, starting at Dry Mill Lane's car park, and strolling along the path towards Lodge Hill Farm, and beyond. I had hoped to see crossbills, but alas they failed to show for me. Buzzards a plenty though, and once I'd slid my way down to Dowles Brook, I spotted a dipper on some rocks downstream. Approaching quietly is almost impossible when the banks are strewn with dried ferns and you become entangled in brambles, but I seemed to be getting close enough for a shot, when I hear "BLIMEY, IT'S REALLY MUDDY HERE!!!!" shouted from a mountain biker, as though he was trying to communicate with someone half a mile away, instead of his mate, who was about half a yard back.
Needless to say the dipper flew off. Brilliant. After pulling various thorns from my legs, I followed, but it had gone. I had time on my side though, as I had been up very early, so opted to remain in the area, and it paid eventual dividends, when a pair of dippers flew back, and this time, without any foghorn-leghorn cyclists nearby, I managed to get some shots. Ok, so the setting isn't quite the mossy falls of the Dales, but lovely to see, and now I know where I can find them, I ought to be able to get better shots soon. Also around the woods were siskins, redpolls, woodpeckers and very distant, a hawfinch. Another woodland area I love to explore is a Worcestershire Wildlife Trust reserve, called the Knapp and Papermill. If you've never been, you're missing out. The orchard area beside the river is great for woodland birds, such as tits and finches, plus wagtails and apparently kingfishers, though I'm yet to see one there. I did see though, and a close quarters, a treecreeper, scurrying up trunks, and under and along branches, as they normally do.
However this one did something I've never seen before - it flew off the tree, and caught insects mid-flight, over the river. Maybe it's been watching flycatchers? Impossible to photograph, but fascinating to observe.
Last but by no means least, is Whitacre Heath. The feeder hide in the middle of the woods is a fantastic spot for woodland birds, especially in the winter, where the food on offer brings them in by the dozen. Here I managed to bag shots of redpolls, siskins, goldfinches, marsh and willow tits, plus a few shots of more common characters, like blue tits, after I spotted a shortage of decent images on my new website.
The highlight of the woodland session though, came out of the gloom like a bolt. I'd had to use just the 500mm lens without the TC, as the light was poor, but my goodness was I pleased with that move, when a sparrowhawk attacked, missed and then (at last for me) perched up nearby! Had I been using 700mm, he'd not have fitted in the shot, but at 500mm, it was full frame and glorious. He even stared right down my lens before flying off.