Diary - April to June 2013


30th June 2013 – I went to Nagshead RSPB reserve this afternoon and walked down to Cannop Ponds.  There was a Grey Wagtail near the outfall at the back of the Stoneworks.  On my way back up the Gloucestershire Way, I found my second Golden-ringed Dragonfly of the year.  I had a look at the Nursery Pond.   There are two duckings of various ages and of various parentages.  There were also at least 3 Broad-bodied Chasers and a host of Azure Damselflies.  A lizard species scurried across the path near the site of the old information centre. 

          On my way home, I checked the cycle path near the northern end of Cannop Ponds for White Admiral butterflies.  I found none, indeed no butterflies at all.  Earlier in the day I had seen 2 butterflies, both being Speckled Wood.  It may be too early for the Admirals but it would seem to be a poor year for them generally.

There were a family of Mute Swans on the northern  pond, several Tufted Duck and at least 2 Little Grebe among the various Mallards. 


29th June 2013 – I made a short visit to Ashleworth Ham this morning  There was a Cuckoo calling and around the scrapes there were 5 Grey Heron, 1 male Wigeon, 2 families of Canada Geese and a number of Mallard.  I checked the sluice and found that there are some boards in there which is holding the water level at 7.2m and this seems ideal for the birds as shown by the various breeding successes this year. 

          Back at home, there were 5 Small Tortoiseshell butterflies were on the Red Valerian.  This is the biggest number of this species that I have seen in one place for a long time. 


28th June 2013 – A Coal Tit was near my home this morning, a relatively scarce bird here.  Near Milkwall, when walking my friend’s dog, we flushed a Golden-ringed Dragonfly, the first that I have seen this year. 


27th June 2013 – A fine morning but rain came in during the afternoon.  A Wild Boar and at least one boarlet were feeding in the tall bracken alongside the Gloucestershire Way near the Stoneworks at Cannop.


26th June 2013 – I had a short walk from Brierley to Crabtree Hill.  There was a Tree Pipit still singing in display flight on the hill and back in the open area to the south east of Brierley there was another one in an area I had not seen them before. 


25th June 2013 – I made a short visit to Ashleworth and from the hide there were 19(8) Canada Geese, families being of 3 and 5.  There were also 3 Grey Heron, 10 Lapwing, 23 Mallard, 2 Coot, a Chiffchaff singing in the copse and a male Wigeon.  There was an amazingly coloured and skilfully built wasp nest nearby. 


24th June 2013 – It was another pleasantly warm and sunny day at Slimbridge.  There were 2 Green Sandpipers with 2 Redshank on Rushy Pen where the Mute Swans still have their 2 young.  The Oystercatcher young one is nearly as big as its parents and the Avocets have one hatched from one nest and two from another.  The single hatchling was wandering around on the shingle spit where the nest is and it was either tripping on the stones or more likely was being blown over in the fairly brisk wind.  There were 5 Green Sandpipers from the Kirk Hide and at South Lake, 31 Redshank and 41 Black-tailed Godwits, the former being the best count of the summer for me.


23rd June 2013 – I had a wander around the short trail at RSBP Nagshead.  It was fairly quiet but a single Fallow Deer was near the divergence of the long and short trails.  It was quite a dark individual with a very shiny coat. 


21st June 2013 – It was a warm day at Slimbridge.  No Avocets on Rushy Pen have hatched yet.  There were, however, 2 Green Sandpipers there, a sign of migration.  The nesting Mute Swans have 2 cygnets on that lake and there are a pair of swans with 4 cygnets in the pond by the butterfly garden.  A Spoonbill was on South Lake with possibly a different bird with no yellow wash on the breast sides overflying Rushy Pen. 


19th June 2013 – There was a Wood Warbler still singing along the Gloucestershire Way at RSPB Nagshead and the female Redstart was foraging near the gate beyond the far end of the short trail.  A Boar and several boarlets were feeding where the long trail rejoins the short trail.  At the Nursery Pond there were at least 3 Broad-bodied Chasers and a multitude of Azure Damselflies on a very warm day.


18th June 2013 – Red Kite was over the train to London in the Reading area.


17th June 2013 – Again at Longhope the Swifts and House Martins were around the tops of the nearby trees for about 6 hours this morning and early afternoon in periods of light rain and low temperatures.  They appear to be favouring Horse Chestnut trees.  In the mid-afternoon, the sun came out, the day brightened up and the temperature started to rise.  This prompted insects to take to the wing and the hirundines and Swifts dispersed.


16th June 2013 – A damp day with some rain.  At Longhope there were a good number of Swifts and House Martins flying around some trees not far from my home for quite a while this morning.  Later when I went out, I found more around trees not far away.  The birds appear to be foraging close to the foliage and trying to find food since there seems to be no insects on the wind on this cold and dreary day. 

          I had a short trip to Nagshead RSPB Reserve and went down to the Lower Hide where a Treecreeper was feeding young and three male Pied Flycatchers were on the ropes which demarcate the path to the hide. 


15th June 2013 – I made a short visit to Ashleworth Ham this afternoon and was pleasantly surprised to see that there was still a nice amount of water with a Coot on a nest and a Wigeon was present with the Mallards and also a brood of well-developed Mallard duckings.  Two broods of Canada Geese goslings of different ages were also proof of breeding at this site. 

          The screen hide has been repaired after the floods of last year had lifted  and damaged it.


14th June 2013 – I drove to Severn Beach but first called in at Newnham which was very quiet with the tide out.  I arrived at the Beach expecting to be buffeted by the wind but it was strangely calmer than expected and not really as forecasted.  The tide was coming in but it was generally quiet. 

          At WWT Slimbridge, the Mute Swan has hatched 3 cygnets on the Rushy Pen with two eggs still in the nest.  The three Avocet pairs are still incubating and later in the day 2 Green Sandpipers were present with a number of Black-tailed Godwits, some of the latter coming quite close to the hides.  On the Tack Piece there was the unusual summer presence of 43 Barnacle Geese.


13th June 2013 – I made a similar walk from the Stoneworks at Cannop with all of the same birds present as yesterday including this time the female Redstart which I did not see on the 12th June.  I went down to Parkend and looked for a Dipper in the brook by the Fountain Inn.  I did not see one there but there was a Grey Wagtail foraging.  I exited the village along the cycle track towards the Stoneworks and then followed Cannop Brook to the same location.  Along this watercourse I found a breeding Grey Wagtail with its beak full of food and I had two views of Kingfisher, one sighting flying downstream and another flying upstream later.  I suspect it was the same bird.  Finally, nearing the works, I came across a Dipper which I was able to follow for a few yards before it flew past me downstream.  At the northern pond at Cannop, the resident Mute Swan is on a nest as were 2 Coot and 3 Little Grebe were also present.


12th June 2013 – I made a short visit to Symonds Yat rock and found that there were two Peregrine fledglings on the nesting ledge with the male perched in a tree above them.  Later the male flew off and one of the young had disappeared into a crevice.  There were many House Martins and Swifts milling about too. 

          I then walked up the Gloucestershire Way from the Stoneworks at Cannop.  A Great Spotted Woodpecker appears to have a nest near Bixslade Tramway.  An adult was giving an alarm call as I walked past and young could be heard deep in a nest hole but I couldn’t locate it.  Along the Gloucestershire Way, Wood Warbler and Pied Flycatcher were in evidence but I did not see the Redstart which has a territory around the gate to the north of the short trail.  At the Nursery Pool, the Garden Warbler was still singing.


11th June 2013 – An overcast but warm day with the temperature reaching about 20 deg. C. at 1700.  At Slimbridge there were 38 Black-tailed Godwits on Rushy Pen and sometimes they were very close to the In Focus shop.  The 3 Avocet nesters are continuing to sit the Oystercatcher chick is growing well.  From the Holden Tower there were a number of Lapwings on the river mud.  Are they failed breeders?  The sIeasons are changing.


10th June 2013 – I walked up from the Stoneworks at Cannop to the Information Centre at Nagshead RSPB Reserve and back.  There were 3 Wood Warblers singing between the former and the gate near the short trail where there was the female Redstart still in residence.  The singing Garden Warbler which has been vocal for several weeks now continues to sing at the Nursery Pond where there are a tremendous number of tadpoles in the pond as well as several newts which surface regularly.


9th June 2013 – I had a quick visit to Nagshead on another fine and pleasantly warm day.  Pied Flycatchers were foraging under some of the Yew Trees along the lower short trail.  I looked in the Nursery Pond and definitely saw a fish.  I was under the impression that there were no fish in this pond and it does not appear to have a stream feeding it.  I have never seen them before.  I wonder where they have come from?


8th June 2013 – At RSPB Nagshead, there were 3 male and 1 female Broad-bodied Chaser dragonflies and Large Red and Azure Damselflies mating on a fine day at the Nursery Pond.  A Blackcap was there too and a Garden Warbler was singing not far away in the Nursery Field.  Spotted Flycatchers and Pied Flycatchers were along the short trail and the pair of Redstarts was again at the gate area just to the north of the short trail turn.  I thought I saw fish in the Nursery Pond which I have never seen in this body of water before but I could not be certain. 


7th June 2013 – At WWT Slimbridge, there were 32 Black-tailed Godwits on the Rushy Pen and unusually they were on the near pond to the buildings.  The three pairs of Avocets were still on their nests.   5 Common Cranes were on the Dumbles at mid-afternoon.   Back on the Rushy Pen I found the Oystercatcher pair which had one chick with them. 


6th June 2013 – I walked from the Stoneworks at Cannop up to Milkwall and back via different routes.  There were at least 6 different Wood Warblers noted as well as at least, one and possibly two Foxes near Point Quarry.  The singing Garden Warbler was still in voice at the Nursery Pond at Nagshead and at the gate beyond the turn of the short trail there was a Redstart pair in evidence. 


5th June 2013 – Had a walk on Hay Bluff this afternoon.  When I arrived, a pair of Red Kites drifted north.  The overcast morning gave way to a beautiful afternoon.  From the ridge, there were Meadow Pipits and Skylarks around the tussocky grass.  Below me Swallows and at least one House Martin were flying below me. 


4th June 2013 – A walk around RSPB Nagshead from the Stoneworks at Cannop was the order of the morning.  It was a warm day with the temperature reaching about 21 deg. C. in the afternoon with still a northerly breeze.  There were at least 3 Wood Warblers around the short trail/Gloucestershire Way.  In the middle of the short trail there were at least 2 male Pied Flycatchers and a single Spotted Flycatcher.  Around the Nursery Pool, a Garden Warbler was still singing and Broad-bodied Chaser and Azure Damselflies were on the wing again today.  The warbler has been singing here for some time. 

          A very short visit to WWT Slimbridge resulted in a quick look at the Rushy Pen where the 3 pairs of Avocets are still sitting on eggs. 


3rd June 2013 – I went to WWT Slimbridge on a warm day with a pleasant northerly breeze.  Amazingly, after the sighting of a Common Scoter on June 1st, I was hardly expecting to see another one.  This time it was a female type which floated up river on the turbulent incoming tide.  Several Dunlin were at the waters edge as this happened and later from the Knott Hide I noted a Reed Warbler apparently dropping down to a nest by a tree in blossom and an out of context Spotted Flycatcher.  There were a pair of Avocets on the Top New Piece in addition to the six (three nesting pairs) on the Rushy Pen. 


2nd June 2013 – I went firstly to Ruardean Hill to look for Turtle Dove.  I walked several of the trails behind the cricket pitch but found none.  A Bullfinch and a Fallow Deer were near the pitch but the most noticeable thing of that area was the trees.  Many of the small pines trees are dead or dying and many have very few green needles.  Some of the Sweet Chestnuts have bare branches and some of the other conifer trees look good with healthy shoots except for the top 10m of tree which is dead.  There has been extensive clearing of many trees but whether this is because of disease or cropping I do not know.

          In the afternoon, I had a walk around the long trail at RSPB Nagshead from the car park.  There were at least 2 Garden Warblers and 1 Blackcap again singing near the Nursery Pool where two firsts for the year appeared.  They were Broad-bodied Chaser and Azure Damselfly.  Along the lower short trail, a new Wood Warbler was in song and along the straight section of the long trail, 2 Fallow Deer were in residence.


1st June 2013 – Today was a warm day but with a noticeable cooling breeze from the north.  I went to WWT Slimbridge.  The Common Crane was missing from the nesting area and it seems that they have not hatched a youngster and have abandoned the nest.  There were 6 Avocet on Rushy Pen and two of these pairs are on nests.  The Sedge Warbler is still singing at the back of the orchard car park.  From the Holden Tower, I could see 3 Common Cranes on the Top New Piece.  The nesting pair had overflown the Rushy Pen earlier and had headed in this direction so it would seem that two of these birds are those birds, joining another single bird.  Two Oystercatcher were at the side of the Holden Scrape.  From Middle Point, there were over 100 Shelduck, a few Dunlin and Ringed Plovers, the latter two species appeared to be sleeping/resting among small rocks on a muddy ridge just off the Point.   I returned to the Point after lunch with the tide by then being well in.  A Peregrine and two Buzzards were separately soaring very high over the river and as the tide turned at about 1500, I noted a Common Scoter floating downstream. 


31st May 2013 – A warm and generally sunny day with the highest temperature of the day being in excess of 20 deg. C.  I went up to the Symonds Yat viewpoint for a couple of hours in the afternoon.  There was one of the Peregrine pair flying around occasionally and a Kingfisher was fishing below the viewpoint.  There were also 8 Fallow Deer near the woodland on the other side of the river and in the car park there were a further two animals. 


30th May 2013 – It was a generally dry day and I went to WWT Slimbridge.  The Common Crane was still sitting on the nest on Rushy Pen and an Avocet appears to be on a nest too.  There were at least 40 Black-tailed Godwits and 4 Avocets on this lake.  From the Holden Tower, I could see a Red-necked Phalarope on the Top New Piece which is a first for the year for me. 


28th May 2013 - Rain started at about 2000 last night and as I type this, it is 2000 this evening and the rain is still falling and thus Gloucestershire has been subjected to over 24 hours of continuous rain.  For the most part it has not been particularly heavy but it has accumulated over this time.  I went to WWT Slimbridge and scanned the Rushy Pen for evidence that the Common Crane had hatched a chick but there was no sign and as expected in the wet conditions, the adult spent the afternoon hunkered down on the nest.  There were still a good number of Black-tailed Godwits and the 4 Avocets still there and the latter appear to have started the rudiments of a nest on one of the tiny islands.  A first summer Little Gull put in an appearance late in the afternoon.   Also of note today was the numbers of hirundines, almost solely Swallows foraging for insect food low down over the pools and vegetation.  Late in the afternoon, still in now heavier rain, they were foraging ON the Tack Piece.  They were landing on very short stalks of old vegetation and on cow pats and then flutter to another spot just a few feet away and they would be picking at the vegetation or the ground.  The temperature most of the day was only 10 deg. C. and constant rain and these birds were taking unusual action to find any food in these conditions.  As I write there appears to have been 17mm of rain so far today. 


27th May 2013 – I went to RSPB Nagshead late this morning on a blustery day.  I first went down to the Lower Hide where I found a pair of Pied Flycatchers, the male of which had a green caterpillar.  Both birds eventually flew off and I lost sight of them.  I wonder if they have hatched young?  A second male was singing not far away and a Spotted Flycatcher was seen from the hide.  Along the short trail there was another male Pied Flycatcher and along the long trail, I found two lots of Fallow Deer, a party of 6 in the woodland and 2 together on the shale track.


26th May 2013 – It was a fine, warm day with very little cloud in the sky.  I went to Brierley this morning to try to find Willow Tits.  I didn’t find any this time and I think that they may be incubating.  There were other birds singing including Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Chaffinch, Song Thrush, Blue Tit and Long-tailed Tit. 

          I moved on to RSPB Nagshead after finding my first Large Red Damselfly in a friend’s garden at Coleford.  At Nagshead there were many more of these species at the Nursery Pool.  Around this pool there were two Garden Warblers and a Blackcap all continuously singing. 

          I went to Slimbridge in the early evening for a double session of Common Crane nest guarding and again by the early hours of the morning, there were no untoward events.  However, as on 23rd May, the Sedge Warbler at the back of the car park continued to sing all the while that I was ‘on duty’.  Over 30 Black-tailed Godwits were also on the Rushy Pen along with 4 Avocets.


25th May 2013 – There were many hirundines, some quite high, over my house today at Longhope.  The Long-tailed Tits continue with frequent visits to their nests. 


24th May 2013 – The Long-tailed Tits at Longhope continue to fly back and forth to and from their nest.  I feel sure that the young have hatched.


23rd May 2013 – It was a showery day with a hail shower at one time.  The Long-tailed Tits at home are very busy at the nest as they were yesterday.  I am wondering if they have hatched their young. 

          I went to WWT Slimbridge to arrive by 10pm to do a late night/early morning Common Crane nest guard.  It was a beautiful sunset and a moonlit night and I am glad to report that nothing untoward occurred.  A Sedge Warbler at the back of the car park was singing all the time that I patrolled past.  I suspect that it is singing all night. 


22nd May 2013 – A beautiful afternoon at Slimbridge.  At Middle Point, the tide was out and the river was quiet but from the Holden Tower there was a pair of Lapwing near the scrape in front of the tower and they had 4 chicks.  2 Egyptian Geese were also present.  Along the Holden walkway, a Mole was moving around near the surface of the bone dry ditch and it occasionally surfaced and was momentarily visible.  From the Sloane Tower, in the late afternoon, I was able to watch the Common Cranes on the Rushy Pen perform a changeover of nest duties.


21st May 2013 – I had a trip to the National Memorial Arboretum at Alrewas, near Lichfield.  It is a beautiful place with a nature reserve nearby with lakes and a river passing through it.  The highlight of the day was the presence of many Swifts continually overhead at several different heights.


19th May 2013 – Today was a warm day but not hot.  I had a walk around the long trail at Nagshead.  I could hear Pied Flycatcher around the short trail and also found at least 4 Wood Warblers at various points around the long trail.  Back at the Centre during the mid-afternoon, 2 Hobby passed by quite high up.  This was a first for the year.  I then walked the short trail again in the late afternoon and found a Spotted Flycatcher on the lower part of this trail.


18th May 2013 – I visited the woodlands around Brierley this morning.  I did not find any Willow Tit.  The whole area including Serridge Ridge was very quiet.  On the ridge are some very old Sweet Chestnut, Oak and Beech and there an extensive open Beech forest but no bird song late in the morning. 

          I moved on to Nagshead where the woodlands were fairly quiet.  On the heath, a large Wild Boar moved away.  I suspect that there were some small ones with it as the vegetation was moving around it.  However, I did not see any young.  Along a main track I found my first Red Admiral butterfly of the year.  This track is the one on which I find several individuals of this species regularly.


17th May 2013 – I had a walk up May Hill this morning.  A Green Woodpecker was yaffling along Barrel Lane and a Garden Warbler was singing near the car park on the western side of the hill.  There were plenty of Swallows in the area too.  A male Redstart was near the top of the hill and another was found later near the chalet style house.  I heard my first Cuckoo of the year also near the top of the hill.  The trees on top of the hill are showing signs of some sort of needle blight in that the pine needles are going yellow in parts.  Linnet, Meadow Pipit and Mistle Thrush were the birds on the top of the hill. 

Along the lane on my return, I found my first Green-veined White butterfly of the year.


16th May 2013 – I walked through Nagshead RSPB Reserve today and found Redstart, several Pied Flycatcher, Garden Warbler and Spotted Flycatcher, the latter being a first for the year.  Willow Warblers and Wood Warblers were also noted although the former were thin on the ground.  Butterflies noted were both firsts for the year, Small White and Speckled Wood.  Three different Fallow Deer were seen including 2 males with tiny antlers still in velvet.  Of note along the long trail was a second very large beech tree which has snapped off and fallen down the slope towards the Gloucestershire Way.  It appears to have become hollow with rot which has caused the collapse. 


15th May 2013 – Yesterday and overnight, there was a total of 19mm of rain in the Gloucester area and possibly more in the hilly areas of the Forest of Dean. 

          I went to Slimbridge for a short while.  There was a large number of waders on the river with the tide out but at long range from the Holden Tower, I could only positively identify Dunlin and Ringed Plover.  On the Tack Piece, there was a Greenshank which was a first for the year for me.  The other happening of note was that although there were plenty of Swallows passing though again, it was a big movement of Swifts that caught my eye.  There were big numbers around the hedge at the eastern end of the orchard car park and also over the scrape in front of the Holden Tower. 


12th May 2013 – I called into the car park at Nagshead late morning on my way to Coleford and noted a Firecrest singing very quietly in the trees at the top end of the car park.


11th May 2013 – I had a walk over Painswick Beacon at lunchtime but heavy rain showers blew in and limited the activity of the birds although there were some Meadow Pipits flying around the long grass on the tops.

          I moved on to Severn Beach in the mid afternoon.  Although the tide was well out, a Great Skua appeared and passed quite close and this was followed later by a single Arctic Tern.   The flock of approximately 30 Kittiwakes were present throughout the afternoon and later into the evening this group increased to well over 100 birds.  Also at this time, a dark phase Arctic Skua gave beautiful views in the low sunshine and then the highlight of the trip was a group of 4 Pomarine Skuas which appeared over Steep Holm, came close and then flew off together down river.  Turnstone, Dunlin, Ringed Plover, Oystercatcher and Whimbrel were the waders on the shoreline of the incoming tide.


9th May 2013 – My first Swift of the year was over my house in Longhope this morning.

A day when the wind blew and in the afternoon there was quite a bit of heavy rain.  I arrived at Slimbridge at noon and found that there were Swallow, House Martin, Sand Martin and Swift over the Rushy Pen together.  Later, I went to the Holden Tower and for over an hour, a large number of Swallows were flying around the corner of the Tack Piece nearest to the tower.  They were in the shelter of the hedges and perhaps there were insects there.  A number of Swallows seemed to be over several of the ponds as well as over the Tack Piece and there must have been a big movement of this species in the wind today.  I scanned the river and found an adult Gannet with a group of Herring and Lesser Black-backed Gulls.  This was the first Gannet that I had seen at Slimbridge. 


8th May 2013 – A little bit of overnight rain led to a cooler day and a more noticeable breeze.  I went to the Stoneworks at Cannop again and walked up the Gloucestershire Way as yesterday.  There was a female Wild Boar with 7 boarlets on the Way.  I watched they foraging for about 10 minutes.  The big one appeared to be eating small rotten branches but I suspect she was getting some insect larvae from inside.   I slipped away and left them to their foraging.  A female Pied Flycatcher was on the return short trail and the Dor Beetles were everywhere today, undoubtedly being brought out after the rain. 


7th May 2013 – A warm and sunny day and I spent an hour and a half at Symonds Yat viewpoint where at least one Peregrine was on show all of the time.   This was the male but later, I saw the female flying away from the nesting cliff and I believe that a changeover on the nest had taken place.  A Sparrowhawk and several Buzzards were the other raptors present.  As I was about to leave at 1420, the air ambulance appeared and flew around for a while and the road fire and rescue teams arrived.  I left as they were preceeding to the cliffs. 

          I moved on to Nagshead RSPB Reserve.  A Wood Warbler and Redstart were on the Gloucestershire Way as I walked up from the Stoneworks at Cannop.  A Firecrest was in the conifers at the top end of the car park and a Garden Warbler was seen and heard to be singing strongly near the Nursery Pond.  The Bluebells are just starting to show a little bit of blue at this reserve but they are slightly more advanced around the Symonds Yat woodlands.


6th May 2013 – I had a walk along some tracks at Brierley which I had never been along around lunchtime and noted Brimstone, Orange-tip and Peacock butterflies and a Willow Warbler building a nest. 

          I then moved on to Nagshead for a short visit.  The warm, sunny day produced a lot of traffic and many people in the Forest generally today but in the woods it was less busy.  I am trying to track down a Green Woodpecker along the short trail.  I have heard it calling on several days and several times today but I have yet to see it.  Also singing along this trail was Pied Flycatcher but again I failed to see it.  I believe that not all of the early migrants have arrived as yet.  The woodlands are still a bit quieter than expected.  

          I moved down to Cannop Ponds (south) to see if there were any more hirundines and swifts but the only birds of note on the wing were solely Swallows.  2 male Tufted Duck on the pond were of note for the time of year. 


1st May 2013 – I made a short visit to Symonds Yat this morning and noted one of the resident Peregrines perched on the right hand cliff.  The other bird was not in view and may be sitting on eggs.  Buzzard and Sparrowhawk were the other raptors noted. 

          I moved on to the Stoneworks at Cannop and walked up to the Reserve noting a Pied Flycatcher on the short trail. 

          I then moved on to WWT Slimbridge and had a general walk around.  No new species for the year but the Cranes put in an appearance and at the new hide there were Sedge Warbler, Reed Warbler near the feeders and Reed Bunting on them as well as the usual other passerines species which regularly use this patch. 

          A total of 62 bird species noted today and Orange-tip and Brimstone butterflies. 


30th April 2013 – I visited Symonds Yat viewpoint over lunchtime and although it was quiet in the early afternoon sunshine, the two resident Peregrines gave an aerial display.  A possible third bird appeared but this looked long winged and long tailed and may well have been a hybrid which has been seen to frequent the area occasionally. 

          Later in the afternoon, I did a repeat of the walk that I did yesterday from Cannop but again the woodlands were a little quiet. 


29th April 2013 – I made a short walk up the Gloucestershire Way from the Stoneworks at Cannop to the Nagshead Information Centre in the late afternoon.  A male Pied Flycatcher was near the Meadow but at this time of day, there was not much song and was generally quiet in the woods.


28th April 2013 – Early evening, I stopped briefly at the small car park at Newnham on my way home and noted a small number of tern sp. feeding a and slowly moving up river near the far bank.


26th April 2013 – I walked from Weston-under-Penyard over Penyard Park to Ross-on-Wye on a day of sunny intervals but with a cool wind.  At the Park, I came across a Muntjac Deer which I stalked for about 10 minutes before I left it to its own devices and moved away unseen by the animal.  The woodlands had some song but I think the cool day was not conducive to a lot of song.  Wood Anenomes and Lesser Celandine were out in profusion. 


25th April 2013 – It was a foggy start to the day but the visibility soon improved.  I went to Beechenhurst Lodge and walked to the Woorgreens Lake and Crabtree Hill are.  The heathland is looking good and the first bird that I found upon reaching this area was a Tree Pipit.  I subsequently found at least 2 more.  There were several Linnets about that location and at least one Common Whitethroat.  The summer migrants are beginning to appear.  Willow Warblers seem to be everywhere in this part of the Forest.  I noted that some of the Larch trees which appeared last autumn to be suffering from disease have been removed for the west of the heathland.  However, several large conifers in that area appear to have large branches showing symptoms of dying off.  This needs to be monitored.  I returned to the lake in the hope of seeing a Hobby which have been reported as being in the county.  I did not see any but I did read several Greylag Geese darvic and metal rings.  I moved around the lake and to the east came across several Wild Boar adults with some tiny boarlets. 

          The Long-tailed Tits building the nest at home are still busy today.


24th April 2013 – The pair of Long-tailed Tits are still busy around their nest here at home in Longhope.

          It was a warm day today with the temperature reaching almost 17 deg. C.  I walked up from the Stoneworks at Cannop in the late afternoon and noted that there was more song in the woodlands than in recent days.  Not far up the Gloucestershire Way, I heard and then was easily able to see my first Wood Warbler of the year.  The reason that it was relatively easy was that there is no appreciable leaf growth on the trees yet.  The understory has not grown much at all and there is little generally to impede far reaching views. 


23rd April 2013 – I made another visit to Slimbridge.  My first Sedge Warbler of the year showed itself near the Halfway Hide.  Later I walked south along the canal and I found a Cetti’s Warbler on the east bank about half way to Purton. 


22nd April 2013 – I first went to Brierley on another attempt to find Willow Tit.  My first bird that I heard when I got out of the car by the petrol station was a Willow Warbler.  I walked up the main track and found off to the left a pair of Siskin foraging on the ground.  I turned right and moved on down the track beyond the metal barrier.  Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Long-tailed Tit were all easily logged.  It was quiet with only 5 people passing in the hour that I was there.  I heard a Willow Tit several times and finally got a brief glimpse.  This was a first for the year.

          I moved on to Nagshead Reserve by parking at the Stoneworks and walking up the Gloucestershire Way.  I found a female Pied Flycatcher and then a male with a Willow Warbler near the Meadow.  These birds were still there when I returned from the Lower Hide which was generally quiet as the afternoon wore on.  However, from the hide, I found a male Redstart.  The flycatcher and the latter were also firsts for the year. 


21st April 2013 – I had a morning walk around the main fishing lake at the Northern Quarter of the Linear Park at Cinderford.  There was several Willow Warblers singing.  Even though the trees do not yet have leaves on, the area is very beautiful and lots of common wildlife was about.  It will be a very great shame if this area is redeveloped and the habitat destroyed which may happen if the project here goes ahead.

I moved on to Nagshead RSPB Reserve in the afternoon but the woodlands had much less song than this morning.  This may have happened because cloud cover had crept up and the temperature appeared to have dropped also.  Generally a quiet afternoon but there was a lot of people out in the Forest today.


20th April 2013 – I made another visit to WWT Slimbridge on a sunny and mild day.  I found a Common Sandpiper on the Rushy Pen and later there were three there.  At South Lake, there was a frenzy of activity with many Black-headed Gulls flying around but the greatest spectacle of the day was the Arctic Terns that were feeding there.  They appeared to be feeding both by taking insects from the air and picking food from the surface of the lake.  They gave very close flybys and the whole spectacle was at close quarters.  A Black-headed Gull with a white darvic inscribed ‘2P48’ was on the Rushy Pen.  At South Finger there was Kingfisher on show and the butterflies seen today were one Peacock and several Brimstone.  Finally, there were 5 Common Cranes on the Tack Piece in the late afternoon.


17th April 2013 – I went to WWT Slimbridge on an overcast and breezy day.  The temperature was 13 deg. C. at 1230 and thus was mild.  There were two stunning male Yellow Wagtails on Rushy Pen.  There was also a second summer Mediterranean Gull there.  I noted (by the leg rings) 10 different Common Cranes on site.  At the new hide, there was a Reed Warbler and this one and the gulls and wagtails were all firsts for the year for me.  Finally 2 Avocets were on the Top New Piece as seen from the Holden Tower. 


16th April 2013 – I walked up to Nagshead RSPB reserve again as yesterday in the early afternoon.  This time there was more song and near the Meadow I heard and saw my first Willow Warbler of the year.  A little later along the short trail I thought that I heard another one and a Pied Flycatcher but these two are not being logged as I was not certain.  A Green Woodpecker was heard in the vicinity of the lower short trail. 

          Later in the afternoon after 5pm, I stopped at the southern pond at Cannop and found a good number of Swallows and House Martins sometimes high and sometimes low over the water.  This was indeed a good sign of migration and the latter species was another first for the year, the second species in this category today.  Siskin was on the feeder as usual and today a Redpoll was with them. 


15th April 2013 – A warm day with the temperature maximum reaching 16 deg. C.  I walked up through Nagshead RSPB Reserve from the stoneworks at Cannop.  There was more song than usual on this warm day but I could not find any summer migrants but it was late in the afternoon and not the best time for listening for song.


14th April 2013 – A really mild day today with the temperature in the middle of the day at around 15 deg. C. and thus the warmest day of the year so far.  I made a short visit to Brierley to search for Willow Tits but did not find one.  I did, however, hear two Chiffchaffs in full song, one of which was making some hesitant calls in the middle of the song, a little bit like an Iberian Chiffchaff but it was in reality one of these Chiffchaffs which has two songs. 

          The Long-tailed Tits have added more to their nest and in spite of the heavy showers over the past two days are progressing well.


12th April 2013 – The Long-tailed Tits made some visits to their nest outside my door at home today after apparently being missing yesterday. 

          I had a walk from the Stoneworks at Cannop again but the woodlands were very quiet in the late afternoon, although at least one Woodpecker was drumming and there was some more song than of late.


11th April 2013 – I went to Slimbridge and again spent some time watching the Common Cranes on the Tack Piece.  One bird came in to the nest site by gliding very low across the field.  It came to the nest, added some vegetation to it, then dropped down on its haunches and finally sat down on the nest for a few minutes.  This was a different bird (looking at the multiple colour rings on the legs) to the one on the nest two days ago.  Then, the one on the nest was assisted by its mate in chasing off the other two birds.  Then, three more birds arrived including the two birds which were at the nest on 9th April.  They chased the bird off the nest and then set about tidying up the nest site and they took it over.  Later in very heavy rain, all four birds were seen standing on the Tack Piece looking miserable in the wet weather.  From the Holden Tower, I could see 2 Avocet on the Top New Piece and at least 4 Swallow passed over the scrapes in front of the Tower along with a probable Sand Martin.  Cetti’s Warbler were calling from in front of the Tower and I twice heard one at the back of the orchard car park. 

          At home, the nesting Long-tailed Tits were not seen today after a night of heavy rain.


10th April 2013 – I walked around Nagshead Reserve from the Stoneworks at Cannop.  It was a day of calm in the woodlands, at first, with the breeze picking up later in the afternoon.  There was no sign of any summer migrants but it must be only a matter of days before the first ones arrive.   On the southern pond at Cannop, there were two Canada Geese, 3 immature Mute Swans, one Cormorant and two male Tufted Duck with at least one Siskin on the feeders.  The recent snow has flattened down the dead vegetation such as bracken and some of the brambles and the woodlands look very open at the moment. 


9th April 2013 – I made a short visit to WWT Slimbridge and watched the Common Cranes on the Tack Piece.  They were nest building and at one time they mated.   Now it is a matter of time before eggs may be laid.


8th April 2013 – On my return on the bus from Gloucester, I got off at Huntley and walked along the Gloucestershire Way over Brights Hill.  This is an area of mixed woodland and may be worth a good look around when the summer migrants are here in numbers. 


7th April 2013 – The Long-tailed Tits nesting by my home are still building and defended their nest against a Grey Squirrel. 

          I went to Brierley to see if I could find a Willow Tit but although I was able to have a short search, I had forgotten that the rescheduled Forest of Dean half marathon was on today and when the runners came by there was quite a lot of disturbance and I was unable to find many birds. 

          Later, I went to Nagshead RSPB Reserve and walked the long trail.  This was in the afternoon and the woods were quite quiet.  There is an old beech tree at the end of the straight on the long trail which has snapped off half way down the trunk.  The falling half tree has knocked down a smaller beech tree, a holly tree and has taken off a major branch of an oak tree.  This must have been quite a crash in the woodlands.  Down in the Meadow, I found my first Small Tortoiseshell butterfly of the season and what a magnificent specimen it was as expected when just emerged.


6th April 2013 – I walked over Penyard Park to Ross-on-Wye.  It was a sunny day but cool and the wind of recent days had died down.  Kestrel and Buzzard were the raptors noted and a number of winter thrushes passed through in the form of Redwing although Mistle Thrush and Song Thrush were present.  The winter thrushes met a singing Chiffchaff as a summer migrant, the latter being a first of the year (in song) for me.  Wild Boars appear to have done a lot of digging since my last visit.  My walk became very pleasant as the day warmed up.  However, there were still tiny patches of ice and snow on the highest point of the park. 

          Back at home, a Comma butterfly in my garden was the first butterfly of the year for me.


5th April 2013 – I made a very short visit to Slimbridge.  There are still two adult Bewick’s Swans present and a number of Pochard, Wigeon, Teal and Pintail, all held up by this constant easterly wind.  I went to the Martin Smith hide to look for the nesting Cranes.  I found what appeared to be a nest but there was no sign of the birds.  It was another very cold day with a very strong easterly/north easterly wind. 

          At home, the Long-tailed Tits which I first noticed being very busy in an open bush by my front door on 27th/28th February now have a half built nest.  This is quite an achievement in the very cold and windy conditions over the past two or three weeks.  I will be watching to see how they fare.


4th April 2013 – A cold day with a slightly weaker wind but there were often some light snow flurries.  I made another trip to Brierley and although there was less wind noise, there was very little song in these conditions.  I did go up to the ridge at Serridge and have a look at the habitat, the open mature woodland and some young birch woodland. 

          Later, I caught up with the Garganeys at Cannop Ponds, this time 4 birds including 3 males and close enough for some reasonable photographs.


3rd April 2013 – I had a walk around the woods at Brierley earlier this afternoon in the hope of seeing one of the resident Willow Tits.  Although the day was bright with long sunny periods, it was cold with a strong easterly wind which blew through the trees and made quite a noise so that it was difficult to pick up the few bursts of songs this late in the day.  I did not see this species and generally it was a quiet half hour or so.

          I moved on to Symonds Yat and spent an hour or so there and was pleased to see the two resident Peregrines.  During my time there today, what appeared to be the male flew off to the north and disappeared from sight but the female remained perched on the cliff.  Later she had apparently gone by I relocated her on another part of the cliff and she was eating.  I did not see the male come back but he could easily have come back from a successful hunting trip. 

          At Cannop Ponds (north) very late this afternoon, I found the reported Garganeys.  There were 2 males and a female feeding in the weeds in the middle of the pond.


2nd April 2013 – I made a short visit by bus to Highnam Woods RSPB Reserve en route to Gloucester (Note that the car park is closed for the foreseeable future).  The various feeders were full and the birds of note were what appeared to be a pair of Marsh Tits. 


 1st April 2013 – At dusk, Little Grebes were trilling at Cannop Ponds (north).



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