Diary – April to June 2014


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30th June 2014 – At Westonbirt Arboretum, there were many butterflies on the wing.  Included were lots of Meadow Brown and Ringlet.  Also in fewer numbers were Small Tortoiseshell, Skippers, Silver-washed Fritillaries and a White sp. 


29th June 2014 – At Nagshead RSPB Reserve, the woods were very quiet in very calm conditions and post fledging times.  Near the Information Centre, a Blackcap and two Chiffchaffs were still singing.


27th June 2014 – The only thing of note today was the biggest Slowworm that I have ever seen which was on the gravel track at Bixslade Tramway. 


26th June 2014 – I spent some time watching the Swifts, House Martins, Swallows and the many Sand Martins swirling around Wilton Bridge at Ross-on-Wye at lunchtime.  A Sparrowhawk was over Greytree Road in the heart of the town. 


23rd June 2014 – The Sand Martins are still nesting at Wilton Bridge, Ross-on-Wye and parties of Swifts were screaming over the rooftops of the town itself. 


22nd June 2014 – I was again at Nagshead RSPB Reserve and found another Spotted Flycatcher, almost certainly a different bird to yesterday as it was a long way from the other sightings along the shale track at the rear of the Information Centre.


21st June 2014 – I walked the short trail at Nagshead RSPB Reserve on a hot day today and found one, possibly two Spotted Flycatchers. 


20th June 2014 – A Elephant Hawk Moth was in my veranda tonight.  


19th June 2014 – A Southern Hawker dragonfly on the Gloucestershire Way at Nagshead RSPB Reserve was a first for the year for me as was a Ringlet Butterfly near the Information Centre.  On the western ridge of the Cannop Valley there appeared to be several Willow Warblers singing.  This species seem to be very low in numbers this year so this find was a pleasant surprise.  Of note, this area is getting very high in terms of the newly planted conifer trees and is no longer a very open area. 


17th June 2014 – A warm day and I walked over CrabtreeHill and found a large number of ‘blue’ and Large Red Damselflies along the shale tracks.  A Fallow Deer near the dragonfly pond at Kensley Lodge was of note.


15th June 2014 – I found a Redstart nest in a natural hole at RSPB Nagshead today.  The male and female were feeding young of which at least two came into sight at the hole entrance.  They must fledge any day now.

I suspect that the Redstart that I saw yesterday may have been the male of this pair as the sighting was not that far away. 


14th June 2014 – A male Redstart was foraging as a flycatcher would do on the short trail at RSPB Nagshead this afternoon.  A Treecreeper was foraging on several trees on the outward short trail at Nagshead in an area I have often seen them before.  I suspected then that there was a nest high up under some decaying bark on a tree which is almost dead.  I think that they have bred successfully there. Along the shale track which eventually appears behind the information centre there were several Red Admiral butterflies as I have seen in years before.  It is a regular stretch of track for them. 


10th June 2014 – As expected, the Sand Martin colony at Wilton Bridge, Ross-on-Wye is still progressing.


9th June 2014 – I was surprised to find a House Sparrow colony at the western end of Eastgate Street, right in the heart of Gloucester city today.  They were in a large clump of ivy on the side of a gable end near the pavement.  The whole of the ivy was brown and dead, probably by cutting through the stems.  Once the leaves fall, the House Sparrows will have no habitat and a cursory look on Google Earth does not appear to show any nearby gardens which might be suitable for them. It is quite probable that this colony will either die out or move on.  I will try and monitor the situation. 


7th June 2014 – At dawn there was a thunderstorm which produced almost continuous lightning for a short time followed by torrential rain also for a short while.  I could hear the storm coming for about 10 minutes before it hit.  Thereafter it was not a bad day with some sunny intervals. 


5th June 2014 – The Sand Martins are still busy around Wilton Bridge at Ross-on-Wye this morning with nesting well established under the bridge.  I logged a few House Sparrow territories along the A40 from The Lea in to Ross town. 


4th June 2014 – It was one of those rare days when it rained for all of the daylight hours here in the Forest of Dean.  18mm of rain was recorded today. 


3rd June 2014 – At WWT Slimbridge, the two Cranes still have one chick and they were out and about on the Tack Piece.  The vegetation is quite high and the youngster could only be seen when it stretched its neck up.  A pair of Avocets still has a nest on the Rushy Pen. 


1st June 2014 – The Great Spotted Woodpeckers on Ruardean Hill are still calling from their nest hole but they should be fledging any day now. 

          One or more Turtle Doves were at a location to the west of the River Severn today.          

          At RSPB Nagshead, a Slow Worm was on the path to the Nursery Pool.  I photographed it and then put it in the grass so that it would not get trodden on.  6 Broad-bodied Chaser dragonflies along with some Large Red and Azure Blue damselflies were present at the Nursery Pool.  A Pied Flycatcher was on the lower short trail and a Wood Warbler was on territory at the point where the long and the short trails diverge.  This would appear to be a new territory.  A Tawny Owl was perched in the sun just off the shale trail behind the information centre. 


31st May 2014 – Again, the Sand Martins were around the bridge at Wilton, Ross-on-Wye and appear to be nesting under the bridge.  Nearby, my first Banded Demoiselle damselflies of the year were on riverside vegetation.


30th May 2014 – At Wilton Bridge in Ross-on-Wye, there were a good number of Sand Martins flying around constantly. 


28th May 2014 – At pit 26 in the Cotswold Water Park today there were well over 100 Swifts plucking insects out of the air.  There seemed to be a single House Martin with them.  The day was warm but with almost constant very light drizzle with occasional bursts of heavy rain.  Several Common Terns were also present.


26th May 2014 – I walked over Crabtree Hill today.  On the way to the hill, I found a Wood Warbler singing near the dragonfly pond at Kensley Lodge. It seemed a strange place for this species as the vegetation is quite thick and dark and nearby there are a close plot of very young trees.  It seems to be in sub optimal habitat.  At the top of the hill, there was a Wood Warbler singing in the oak tree plantation where I had heard two some days ago.  Back at the dragonfly pond, Emperor and Broad-bodied Chaser dragonflies were on the wing together with Large Red, Azure Blue and Common Blue damselflies


25th May 2014 – I went to Nagshead again today and it was much drier with some sun.  Around the short trail, I found 2 Pied Flycatchers and a Redstart and on the long trail, I caught up with a Wood Warbler.  There were two Red Admiral butterflies on the shale track leading from the long trail back to the information centre as I have seen in previous years. 


24th May 2014 – Another wet day which eventually dried up in the middle of the afternoon.  I made a short visit to Nagshead RSPB and found a Song Thrush nest on the side of an big oak tree.  The bird was sitting and was very well camouflaged in the tiny sprigs of new shoots on the bark of the tree. 

          At the car park near the causeway at Cannop Ponds,  a Great Spotted Woodpecker was flying around frequently.


23rd May 2014 – It was a very wet day.  The rain lasted all daylight hours.  Sometimes it was a light drizzle, sometimes, steady rain and occasionally a heavy downpour.


21st May 2014 – I made another trip to Ruardean Hill in search of Turtle Dove and again I did not find any.


20th May 2014 – I made a short visit to Ashleworth Ham where there were 41 Mallard, 2 Tufted Duck, 3 Shelduck, 2 Coot, 2 Grey Heron, 4 Canada Geese (one pair with 5 goslings), 1 Mute Swan, 2 Lapwing and 1 Curlew.  A male Mandarin Duck here was a rare sighting.  One of the Canada Geese and the Mute Swan appeared to be injured.  They had one wing sticking out and the feathers were reduced to shafts with wear.  I believe this to be a case of angel wing.


19th May 2014 – I walked all over Ruardean Hill in search of Turtle Doves on this warm day.  Unfortunately, I did not find any.  I met another person doing the same and they had had no luck either. 


18th May 2014 – A walk over May Hill on a warm day produced a Spotted Flycatcher on the southern slopes and a Redstart on the northern.  In various ponds there were at least 4 Broad-bodied Chasers, Large Red and Azure Blue Damselflies.  A Small Heath butterfly was a first for the year.


17th May 2014 – I was in Suffolk in business and found several Yellowhammers in song around the area centred on the village of Wixoe.  There are more of this species there than I have seen in Gloucestershire.


15th May 2014 – I found another Roe Deer in Birdwood Coppice this morning.

In the evening at home in Longhope there were a number of Cockchafers flying around, more than I have ever seen in one place before. 


14th May 2014 – I made a return visit to WWT Slimbridge and after a morning of looking for the warbler, after lunch I was successful and had really good views of it feeding from the Halfway Hide and shortly afterwards it sang for quite a while from the reed bed from the Knott Hide.  A Spotted Flycatcher was a first for the year as seen from this hide too.  A bat species was flying over the car park when I left at 1500.


13th May 2014 – I made a visit to WWT Slimbridge to see the reported Great Reed Warbler but in spite of extensive searching I could not find it.  Of note was an Avocet with young wandering in the middle of the Dumbles.


12th May 2014 – At least 6 House Martins were around Kensley Lodge.  At Crabtree Hill a Cuckoo was calling and 4 Fallow Deer were along the east of the shale track.  Several Tree Pipits and Willow Warblers were in evidence.  In the wood at the top of the hill, a Great Spotted Woodpecker and at least 2 Wood Warblers were singing and a Roe Deer was an unusual find. This was a first for the year as was a Broad-bodied Chaser in the ditch near the two big rocks on the tarmac track near Drybrook Road Station.  Again a first for the year was a Four-spotted Chaser at the southern end of the tarmac track and 12 Fallow Deer were in this area.  A Goshawk was circling above the scrapes to the south of the shale track and a Large Red Damselfly, another first for the year was at Woorgreens Lake.


11th May 2014 – A short walk up the Gloucestershire Way on a showery afternoon from the Stoneworks at Cannop revealed 11 Fallow Deer including 2 very dark animals.  This is the largest herd that I have seen in this location. 


9th May 2014 – At RSPB Nagshead, a very dark Fallow Deer was near the Gloucestershire Way as I walked up from the Stoneworks and was still in the general area a couple of hours later when I returned.  At the Lower Hide, there was a male and female Redstart.  The floor of the woodland is covered in Bluebells.  It is certainly a fantastic year for these flowers.  There is a beautiful perfume in the air too. 

          At Longhope, I stopped to check the potential Swift nest site that I noted on May 7th and found that two birds were wheeling around in the area and occasionally approaching very close to the site. 


7th May 2014 – I found a single Wild Boar with some stripy boarlets in the area of RSPB Nagshead this afternoon.  Of note was the continuing presence of quite a number of Blackcaps singing.

          At Longhope, I noted a Swift fly close in under the eaves of a house suggesting nest prospecting.


5th May 2014 – I made a morning visit to Crabtree Hill today.  A Cuckoo was calling and eventually seen at the top of some tall trees to the west.  There were several Willow Warblers singing their descending song in various locations.  In the middle of the heath, a Garden Warbler was singing and seen and the usual Linnets were present.  The Tree Pipits here were displaying vigorously with possibly 4 different birds on the main heath and one more to the south of the shale track.  In the woodland at the top of the hill, there were at least 2 Wood Warblers, 1 being seen. 


3rd May 2014 – 3 Fallow Deer were the only animals of note near Boy’s Grave today. 


2nd May 2014 – I was in Ross-on-Wye today and at lunchtime, I noted my first Swifts of the year as 3 flew over the town.  Later, 3 were also over the river at Wilton Bridge along with a good number of Sand Martins. 


1st May 2014 – I had a short walk through Nagshead RSPB Reserve and noted two Pied Flycatchers on the short trail and both Fallow Deer and Wild Boar on the Gloucestershire Way down towards the Bixslade Valley. 


30th April 2014 – I saw my first House Martin for the year at Weston under Penyard while I was walking into Ross-on-Wye from The Lea.  This sighting was over the border in Herefordshire.


28th April 2014 – At Nagshead RSPB Reserve, I found my first Wood Warbler of the year along the Gloucestershire Way.  At the Lower Hide there were at least one and possibly two Pied Flycatchers.  Around the reserve there were numerous Willow Warblers and apparently there appeared to be even more Blackcaps singing.  It could be a good year for this species. 

          There were several hirundines around the southern pond at Cannop but as far as I could see, they were all Swallows. A brilliantly coloured Grey Wagtail was at the rear of the Stoneworks but it was chased from the stream by a Pied Wagtail.


25th April 2014 – Ashleworth Hide.  Steady and sometimes heavy rain started mid-morning and was well established when I arrived.  Totals for the hour that I was there were :- 1 Cuckoo in a dead tree, 1 Chiffchaff in the copse, 17 Mallard, 1 male Wigeon, 2 Shoveler, 8 Mute Swan including one with an orange darvic ‘88C’, 5 Shelduck, 3 Canada Geese, 3 Coot, one on a nest, 2 Lapwing, 4 Swallow, 1 Moorhen, 1 Wren with a nest in the hedge, 2 Teal, 2 Sand Martin, 2 Snipe, 1 Grey Heron and 1 male Bullfinch.


24th April 2014 – Slimbridge.  When I arrived there was a second winter going to second summer Mediterranean Gull on Rushy Pen.  From various hides along the Holden walkway, both Sedge and Reed Warblers were heard and the latter seen.  7 Avocets were on the right hand island or in the water of the scrape in front of the Holden Tower.  On South Lake there was a first winter going on first summer Little Gull flying around and taking insects from the surface of the water.  The tail pattern was interesting in that it was wedge shaped with the central tail feathers white, having been moulted and these were longer than the outer tail feathers which had retained the black tip.  It was flying like a black and white bat! A pair of Common Crane are nesting near the Martin Smith Hide.


20th April 2014 – Today in the Forest I found my first 2 Pied Flycatchers of the year and not far away there was a Blackcap which was imitating the Pied Flycatcher song.  Today there was some heavy rain showers in the afternoon and after dark which is the first significant rain for a while. 


14th April 2014 – I made a trip into the Forest today and found a Tree Pipit, several Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs and some Linnets.  A Green Tiger Beetle on some tarmac was a first of this species for the year for me.  It seems to be early according to the text books. 


12th April 2014 – As I walked over the river bridge at Monmouth, I found a ‘swarm’ of Sand Martins over the river.  It was a lovely sight of spring. 

          I found a pair of Treecreepers in an area I have seen them often and I think that they may be breeding nearby.


11th April 2014 – There was a lot of song in the Forest of Dean today.  Several Chiffchaffs were singing in the woodland at Milkwall.

          On Crabtree Hill there were Chiffchaffs singing as well as Willow Warbler and at least 3 Tree Pipits were present but none had any rings on.  There were also a lot of butterflies on the wing on a sunny day.  The majority were Small Tortoiseshells with a few Peacock and Brimstone.  It is really good to see the first mentioned as they appear to be doing well after being very scarce for some years not that long ago. 


9th April 2014 – I went to the Brickpits at Sandhurst to see what the habitat was like.  It looks as if it will be good for odonata later in the year.  Birdwise it was quiet but a Marsh Tit was of note and a Speckled Wood Butterfly was my first for the year.

          I spent a few minutes in the hide at Ashleworth where there were 6 Little Egrets, 6 Shelduck, 6 Wigeon, 1 Shoveler and 2 Teal.  The Mute Swans appear to have deserted their nest.  Overhead there were a few Swallows and Sand Martins.


8th April 2014 – I made a short visit to WWT Slimbridge.  The two Bean Geese were on the spartina island with the Canada Geese and were thus a very long way from the Holden Tower.  Of note were an exceptional number of 11 Common Cranes on the Tack Piece in the late afternoon.  In case anyone is interested, the rings were (reading up the leg), Red/?/Red, Red/Yellow/Red, White/?/Red, Red/Yellow/Green, Blue/Red/Yellow, Green/Red/Blue, ?/White/Red, Blue/Red/White, Red/White/Red, Red/Green/Red,  Red/Yellow/White, ?/?/Red, Red/Green/Black.


6th April 2014 – A Sparrowhawk was over my home a couple of times this morning, a first of the year for this site.


5th April 2014 – I made a short visit to Ashleworth hide after some business in Cheltenham.  There were 2 Little Egret, several Mallard, Wigeon and Teal, 2 Shoveler, a male Gadwall and a Chiffchaff singing in the copse.  Overhead was my first Swallow of the year with 2 Sand Martin.


4th April 2014 – At RSPB Nagshead there was a Chiffchaff singing well along the Gloucestershire Way and my first Blackcap of the year singing near the Nursery Pool.


1st April 2014 – I went to WWT Slimbridge for another look at the two Bean Geese.  The sub species, fabalis, has not been seen at this site since November/December 1991 so it seems.  Therefore this is the first time for over 22 years!  I was rewarded with much closer views, this time on the Holden Scrape instead of 600m away on the southern Dumbles.  The two bill patterns are very different to each other.  The Hooded Crow was still present also.



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