Diary – April to June 2011

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29th June 2011 – A walk around the short trail at Nagshead in the very late afternoon was a quiet one and much like my findings of 19th June. 


28th June 2011 – Went to Stumble Head for the day.  Did a short seawatch 1500 to 1530.  Very quiet really with wind in the north and a sea state of two.  A number of Gannets, Kittiwakes and auks passing by but generally very quiet with only one Manx Shearwater noted.


21st June 2011 – Noted a juvenile Great Spotted Woodpecker in Longhope today suggesting breeding nearby.


19th June 2011 – I had a walk around the short trail at Nagshead in the late afternoon.  It was amazingly quiet.  I only saw one Robin and a Nuthatch although Blackbird and Song Thrush were singing.  Even though it was flat calm with no wind noise, it was eerily quiet when I thought that breeding birds would be busy foraging.  Of note, however, I noted probably more Grey Squirrels in the time I was there than I ever have.  They seemed to be everywhere.  Of note, two of the Yew trees on the lower part of the short trail are looking very yellow and unhealthy.  I wonder what the problem is with them?


16th June 2011 – I had to go to London on business.  I had a look around Paddington canal basin.  2 Canada Geese were expected but I thought that a pair of Red-crested Pochard were unusual here.  I may be wrong. 


14th June 2011 – I made a very short visit to the canal north west of Newent near Oxenhall.  There is also a large lake, probably used for fishing.  I have not been here before but it looks interesting habitat.  A pair of Mute Swans have 2 cygnets, Canada Geese were present on the lake as were a couple of Grey Herons fishing.  I need to come back here for a longer look.


12th June 2011 – A very unusual situation today because it rained for just about all of the daylight hours with 9mm logged by 2000.  I do not remember this happening since at least February.


3rd June 2011 – About 1700, I was walking in the woods to the south west of Soudley village where I happened upon a number of Wild Boar.  They were spread about on both side of the road and I counted a minimum of 15 animals but there were probably many more including boarlets.


2nd June 2011 – A large number of Swallows were very low and hawking insects over the village green of Devauden, south of Monmouth.  Swifts were present and are probably breeding in the village. 


30th May 2011 – Rain fell for most of the day.  At Staunton, there were a number of Swallows flying low and hawking insects over the crop fields just after the rain had stopped.

          A juvenile Great Tit momentarily came into my veranda in Longhope this evening suggesting that breeding of this species had taken place nearby.


28th May 2011 – A very short visit to the hide at Ashleworth. The water levels seem higher than recently.  Birds noted from the hide included 7 Mallard, a Mute Swan and a Canada Goose which looks to be injured.  A Grey Heron was trying to fish and a Cuckoo was heard in the distance.  There were a number of Swifts overhead and as I was leaving a few House Martins turned up.


24th May 2011 – Coombe Hill Canal.  The water level in some parts of the canal is understandably low after the very dry months of March, April and much of May.  I walked across the northern meadow where I could hear a Cuckoo calling.  A Sedge Warbler was singing near the hide, and from the footpath I could see a pair of Canada Geese with young and a pair of Mute Swans with cygnets.  Two Egyptian Geese and two Shelduck were present and two Lapwing were running about on the edge of the scrape but I could not see any young.  One of the Lapwing did have a stint of fending off a corvid so whether they have bred or not is uncertain.  To the east, at least one Curlew was calling and seen flying around several times.  Have they got young two fields away?  On my return I was pleased to see a species that I have not seen for a while, that is, a Yellowhammer which flew across the canal near the bridge.  


23rd May 2011 – After a few days of inactivity on the natural history front, I made a visit to Slimbridge from lunchtime to the middle of the afternoon.  It was a very windy day which was progressively more overcast and in the middle of the afternoon, it came on to rain quite heavily.  From the Holden Tower, there were at least 150 Dunlin on the river.  They were in fine summer plumage.  Several Curlews were taking shelter, one each behind tussocks of vegetation.  A Jackdaw is nesting inside the Holden Tower and looks down on people as they climb the stairs to the middle level.  On Rushy Pen, it looks like a pair of Common Terns will breed.  The female is spending a lot of time on an island and the male is bringing fish to her.  Oystercatchers are very prominent on this lake too.  There was a steady Swift passage with many low over the Top New Piece presumably hawking insects.  The rain cleared through as forecast as I got home at about 1600 to give a glorious late afternoon and evening.


13th May 2011 – A very short visit to Symonds Yat.  There were many House Martins moving through, mostly below the viewpoint.  A Sparrowhawk and several Buzzards were soaring but there was no sign of the Peregrines this afternoon.  I suspect one was incubating and the other perched up somewhere out of sight.


12th May 2011 – The only bird of note today was a Kingfisher flying under the M5 Motorway along a brook with a public footpath also beneath the road at Damery. 


10th May 2011 – Far few showers today and in the late afternoon, I was again at Lower Lydbrook and again there were a small number of Swifts over the river.  On the field footpath up to the western end of the site of the old viaduct there were hordes of Mayflies. In a field on the opposite bank of the river at the ‘T’ junction in the village, there were 7 Fallow Deer.


9th May 2011 – A showery day.  I walked the short trail at Nagshead RSPB Reserve.  The wind had dropped out a little and there was a bit of song even though it was late in the afternoon.  Nuthatches seemed to be very busy and easy to find but no sign of any flycatchers.

          At Lower Lydbrook, by the river, there were a number of Swifts sweeping overhead with an odd Martin or two.

          Back at home, more Swifts were overhead. 


8th May 2011 – At lunchtime, I noted my first Swift of the year over Longhope.  Fantastic birds.


3rd May 2011 – Had a short late afternoon walk over field footpaths to the north east of Upleadon.  There were a few hirundines overhead on occasion but they do still seem to the thin on the ground so far this year.


2nd May 2011 – A very quick walk around the short trail at Nagshead late this afternoon on a very breezy day yielded a Tawny Owl sitting in a tree at the far end of this walk.


1st May 2011 – I walked the southern part of the Brecon Beacons from south east of Pen y Fan.  Red Kite, Raven and many Meadow Pipits were around and about on a dry, partially sunny day but with a very strong wind on the top of the Beacons.

          Of note from the Gloucester Weather Station, only 3mm of rain was recorded in March and only 1mm in April.  Extremely dry and this was reflected in conditions underfoot on the Beacons today.  I don’t think that I have ever seen it so dry up there.


29th April 2011 – A small flock of hirundines around the trees at Longhope this morning was the biggest number of these seen this year.  They are certainly not in abundance so far this year.


24th April 2011 – A walk across the fields near Waterhay in the Cotswold Water Park was very pleasant on a fine and warm day.  Of note was the appearance of blue damselflies which were the first of the year.  Unfortunately I was unable to identify them before they disappeared.  At least one, possibly two Swallows were over the car park at Waterhay but in general there are very few hirundines around at the moment.


23rd April 2011 – A walk over the northern meadows at Coombe Hill Canal where there were at least 2 Curlew, 3 Lapwing and 1 Oystercatcher.

 At Ashleworth a little later at lunchtime, there were 2 Hobby hawking insects over the scrapes and these looked to be a male and female and maybe they are the local birds returning.


21st April 2011 – Another walk over Plump Hill and a Wood Warbler singing near the aerials was a first for the year.  Another fine warm day to continue the spell.


19th April 2011 – An amazing day in that I went and sat quietly in the woods in the Forest of Dean at a feeding site and I counted 20 Brambling, many of which were males in fine summer plumage.  There was more than that when they flew.  A Grey Squirrel seemed to have young in a nest hole in a tree nearby and in the distance there were at least 3 Fallow Deer and a Cuckoo heard in the far distance was a first for the year.


16th April 2011 – Went to Devizes today and at East Kennett there was a Corn Bunting singing on some wires when I walked by and was still there some time later,

when I returned. 


14th April 2011 – A short visit to Symonds Yat to see how the Peregrines were faring.  It may be that incubation has started in that one bird was almost continually sitting near the rock face and occasionally flying and giving very good flight views.  At no time were two birds seen together.  A Goshawk gave good flight views on two occasions. 


12th April 2011 –A lone Swallow was over Hartpury on the drive out this morning.   A walk up Coombe Hill Canal from the western end and over to The Leigh was productive in that there were several Speckled Wood butterflies along the towpath, these being the first of the year for me as were the few House Martins and Sand Martins at the outfall of the River Chelt into the River Severn.  Hirundines seem to be thin on the ground so far this year. 


11th April 2011 – Long-tailed Tits appear to be very busy and very frequent around the garden and they are apparently nest building nearby.


10th April 2011 – A walk over Plump Hill late afternoon.  Of note was a Willow Warbler singing near the main road at 1800.


9th April 2011 – Nagshead RSPB Reserve in the very late afternoon.  There were a number of Jays flying about near the Meadow where there was also a singing Willow Warbler. 


5th April 2011 – I had a short visit to the hide at Ashleworth just after lunch.  There appeared to be less birds present than on Saturday 2nd April.  The 2 Lapwing were still there, seeing off a corvid.  Only apparently 10 Coot, 15 Teal, 20 Wigeon and some Mallard. 

          I moved on to Coombe Hill Canal (Wainlodes Hill end).  A few Sand Martins flew down river, the first that I have seen this year.  A Kingfisher flew up and down the River Chelt to and from the River Severn 4 times at the spot where I parked by the sluice gate on the former. 


2nd April 2011 – I went to the hide at Ashleworth on a day of sunny periods and mild temperatures.  Between 1315 and 1345, there were 19 Coot which is a higher number than of late.  Wigeon and Teal were the most numerous duck and Shoveler and Mallard were present too.  Chiffchaffs seemed to be singing everywhere and also of note were 2 Buzzard over the reserve and 3 Lapwing, which appeared to be a pair in front of the hide and one of them seeing off an intruder.  Along Stank Lane there were at least 2 Curlew with much calling going on. 

          I walked along the Coombe Hill Canal from the western end to the footbridge.  My first Willow Warbler of the year was singing near the road and there were 2 Curlew over the fields on the southern side.  Butterflies noted today included, Brimstone, Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell and Orange-tip, the latter being a first of the year for me.


1st April 2011   Slimbridge.  From the Holden Tower, there were 6 White Wagtails, 2 Pied Wagtails, 2 Meadow Pipits  and a Lapland Bunting in a calm area out of the blustery wind on the shore of the main scrape.  From the Robbie Garnett Hide the Lesser Scaup was still there with the Tufted Ducks and on the Rushy Pen late in the afternoon there was a Black-headed Gull with a white darvic, ‘2N04’.  The Mediterranen Gull with the green darvic noted last Saturday, 26th March was ringed in France and has been seen in Spain. 





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