Diary – April to June 2015

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30th June 2015 – It was a very warm day today with the temperature being over 30 degrees C. at about 1600.  I visited Garway church where the Swifts were still going to their nests suggesting that they still have young there.  They gave some close flying displays and at times it was possible to hear the wind through their wings.  At least 3 Buzzards were present and overflew together and a number of Lesser Black-backed Gulls were soaring very high over the area and drifted to the north west. 


28th June 2015 – I did a stint at RSPB Nagshead reserve this morning.  There was constant drizzle until 1500.  I had a walk around the short trail but it was very quiet in the damp and dull conditions.  There were at least 2 Blackbirds picking cherries from a tree in the middle of the short trail.  The cherries are only just beginning to show red but the birds must like them even though they are not completely ripe.  At the Centre, there was a Chiffchaff foraging quite a number of times in front of the building while a second bird was singing in the trees behind the building.  The ‘car park’ Carrion Crows have one fledged young which was soliciting food from its parents. 


25th June 2015 – At RSPB Nagshead, there were several species of odonata on the wing during the very late afternoon.  Four-spotted Chaser, Broad-bodied Chaser and Azure Damselflies were there.  On my return towards the Stoneworks at Cannop, a large family of Wild Boar were moving through the bracken near the Gloucestershire Way and parting the vegetation like a broad Mexican wave!


24th June 2015 – I went to Garway Church to photograph the Swifts that I had found there on a previous visit.  The churchyard is very wildlife friendly and has good habitat for small mammals, butterflies and moths.  Ravens, Buzzards and Kestrels were overhead. 


23rd June 2015 – I went to Ross-on-Wye and walked from Weston-under-Penyard.  In doing so, I found a Scarlet Tiger moth in the undergrowth at the side of the main road.  I went down to Wilton Bridge to photograph the Sand Martins which breed in the area and was delighted to see a Little Egret and Kestrel there too.


22nd June 2015 – I made a rare visit to Ashleworth Ham NR today.  There were only 7 Canada Geese on the scrape and no other wildfowl.  Blackcap and Chiffchaff were singing near the hide.  I found a male Redstart and several of Common Whitethroat along Stank Lane.


21st June 2015 – I walked up to RSPB Nagshead Centre from the Stoneworks at Cannop.  There was a Wood Warbler singing along the Gloucestershire Way and another was at the junction of the short trail.  A Spotted Flycatcher was where the long and the short trails diverge and the same bird or more likely another was where the two trails come back together again. At the Nursery Pond a Broad-bodied Chaser was on the wing and there was a warbler which appeared from the scrub to the east of the pond and was obtaining food from in the plants on the island on the pond.  It made at least three visits while I was there.  It may have been a Garden Warbler. 


20th June 2015 – While walking along the paths of the Forest of Dean near Speech House, I came across a Buzzard on the ground but all was well when it flew off strongly.  Also of note on another path was a Stoat which initially came running towards me and then it suddenly realised that I might be a predator and did an about turn and ran away. 


18th June 2015 – After yesterday’s episode with the Hornet, I noted another or the same one in the garden area.  It would seem that they are active at the moment.


17th June 2015 – A Hornet came into my home this afternoon.  It was quite docile and gave me no trouble.  Eventually, I opened a window and let it out. 


16th June 2015 – I briefly walked over the top of Chosen Hill from the car park.  A Green Woodpecker appears to have bred near the trig point.  The topography on top of the trig point is now redundant because the view is obscured by the vegetation. 


15th June 2015 – I visited Garway church near Ross-on-Wye.  It is a very old church with a square tower.  There were several families of Swifts breeding under the roof of this structure. 


14th June 2015 – At Russell’s Inclosure there was a Sparrowhawk overhead, a Wren family in the woods and a Tree Pipit in the open area.   I was disappointed to see that a lot of logging has just taken place in the middle of the breeding season.


13th June 2015 – It was a day of drizzle but when it was very light in the afternoon, the sky was full of House Martins.


12th June 2015 – It was a humid and overcast day with some rain.  In the evening at Longhope after the rain had stopped, the sky was full of hirundines and Swifts.


9th June 2015 – I sat by Wilton Bridge, Ross-on-Wye.  At one point, Swallows, House Martins, Sand Martins and Swifts were all in the air together.  A Kingfisher was ‘hover fishing’ nearby.  A female Blackbird was cracking a snail shell to get at the food.  I have never seen this species doing that.


8th June 2015 – A Garden Warbler was singing in Ross-on-Wye today and eventually, I was able to see it.  Swallows and Sand Martins are still busy at their respective nests at Wilton Bridge. 


6th June 2015 – It was a very windy day and a visit to Wilton Bridge at Ross-on-Wye saw the Sand Martins keeping low over the river to avoid the weather.  The Swifts are still around the town.

          A Peregrine jousting with a Buzzard was fairly unusual over Longhope when I left this just before lunch time.


5th June 2015 – At Ross-on-Wye, the Swifts are wheeling around the town but I have not pinned down where they are nesting.


4th June 2015 – I made a visit to Ross-on-Wye this afternoon.  The Sand Martins at Wilton Bridge are very busy around their nest sites.


24th May 2015 – Today was a day of short rain showers.  I staked out the nest box at Cannop Ponds where I had seen a Pied Flycatcher taking a keen interest.  I watched for 20 minutes and did not see the flycatcher.  However, a male Great Spotted Woodpecker appeared on a dead tree nearby and then moved on to the nest box tree.  It pecked at the tree, then at the nest box and took a peek inside.  I suspect that the flycatchers are not now using the box.  I came back a short time later and as before, I did not see the flycatcher.  This time, the female woodpecker appeared and spent quite some time on the dead tree and she did a lot of preening. 


23rd May 2015 – It was a fine, warm day.  Grey Wagtails are feeding young at Cannop Ponds.  Along the Gloucestershire Way towards RSPB Nagshead, at least 2 Wood Warblers were singing.  I sat on a bench at the end of the short trail and a family of Wild Boar came trotting up close to me and then they became aware of me and moved around me and disappeared up the hill towards the long trail. 


17th May 2015 – I spent the morning at RSPB Nagshead.  There were quite a number of people around the reserve including two coach parties.  Birds and mammals kept a distance but during a quick walk around the short trail, it was quite easy to find obliging Pied Flycatchers.

          At Cannop Ponds, the Swallows and House Martins were giving great aerial displays over the southern lake and over the Stoneworks.


14th May 2015 – There was heavy rain today.  Indeed, it was one of those rare days when it rain continuously during the daylight hours.


12th May 2015 – At Symonds Yat, the resident Peregrines would seem to be incubating in that only one bird was on show at any one time. A Sparrowhawk put on an extended flying display below the viewpoint.


8th May 2015 – I had a short walk in the Forest of Dean this afternoon and on the Bixslade Tramway, I found a Red-legged Partridge which was unusual in this location.


7th May 2015 – I made an afternoon visit to WWT Slimbridge today and saw the Little Gull or another one on South Lake and where there was my first Tern of the year in the form of a Common Tern. 


3rd May 2015 – I found a Pied Flycatcher using a private nest box (as opposed to one put up by a national organisation) in the Forest of Dean today.  I need to key an eye on the progress of this pair of birds. 


2nd May 2015 – I found my first Swift of the year at Symonds Yat Rock where the resident Peregrines were hunting and eventually brought in a kill.


1st May 2015 – I had a wander around the Forest of Dean today and ended up at WWT Slimbridge.  70 species noted plus a White Wagtail.  The highlights included Peregrine, Pink-footed Goose and Little Ringed Plover.  Pied Flycatcher, Redstart and Little Gull were also on the menu. 


30th April 2015 – At Wilton Bridge, Ross-on-Wye the Sand Martins were flying high on a fine day with puffy cumulus cloud. 


29th April 2015 – I found my first Wood Warbler of the year on the Gloucestershire Way at RSPB Nagshead.  Also new for the year for me was the sight of a Garden Warbler near the Nursery Pool.  Strangely a deer leg was on the short trail.


28th April 2015 – At Symonds Yat rock today, there was an overflying Red Kite which makes it my second visit running when this species has put in an appearance.  The resident Peregrines are almost certainly incubating because there was only one bird on show at any one time.  Sparrowhawks were also in evidence. 


27th April 2015 – I visited WWT Slimbridge after lunch.  The Pink-footed Goose is still present.  There were at least 8 Avocets on one of the islands in front of the Holden Tower.  There were 6 Common Cranes on the Tack Piece and at least 20 Sand Martins over the Rushy Pen.  A Green Sandpiper and a Redshank were on view from the Halfway Hide. 


26th April 2015 – I walked over Crabtree Hill just after lunch.  There were 3 Redstarts near the top of the hill which included 2 males.  Also there was a Grizzled Skipper Butterfly and both these species were new for the year for me and new to this site for me too.  There were many Willow Warblers, Linnets and several Tree Pipits. The only raptor seen was a Kestrel.


23rd April 2015 – It was another fine sunny day and with a little less breeze than yesterday, so I made another visit to Crabtree Hill.  The sighting were the same except that the Buzzard with jesses was not seen.  I saw the newly ringed Tree Pipit again and the highlight of the day was my first Common Whitethroat of the year on top of the Gorse near the top of the hill.


22nd April 2015 – I made another visit to Crabtree Hill again today.  The most surprising thing seen was of a Common Buzzard with jesses which drifted off to the south west.  There were two Tree Pipits with colour rings one of which had only just been ringed but the other was from 2013 and thus has been to Africa twice.  There were plenty of Willow Warbers and Linnets again and two Slowworms were seen under some corrugated tin sheets. 


21st April 2015 – I went to Wilton Bridge again this morning and managed to get one or two pictures of the Sand Martins.  Then, I went to Symonds Yat and again there was a nice selection of raptors present.  As yesterday, the list only lacked the Kite.  The Sparrowhawk passed several times and seemed to fly the same path to the right of the viewing point.  It may have a nest in that area. 


20th April 2015 – There was a good selection of raptors at Symonds Yat today.  They included Red Kite, Peregrine, Buzzard, Goshawk and Sparrowhawk.  There were hirundines passing here to as they were later at home where House Martins were overhead for the first time this spring. A Comma butterfly was a first for the home this year.


19th April 2015 – I did a morning stint in manning the visitor centre at RSPB Nagshead and afterwards I walked the short trail where I found my first Pied Flycatcher of the season at the far end of the trail where it turns left up the slope. 


18th April 2015 – I made a short visit in passing to the ponds at Cannop.  I found some Swallows hawking insects over the water.  I was very disappointed to see that the vegetation at the southern end has been cut down.  I know that there was a Blackbird nesting in there and I spoke with the water bailiff who knew did not know who had done it but did think that there was a Wren nesting in there.  I am assuming that it is legal to do this at this time of the year but I am at a loss to know why it was done.  It was not spoiling the view and the paths to the water that the fishermen use were not obstructed.  I cannot see the reason for this and that it was just a waste of money and effort and detrimental to lots of wildlife.


17th April 2015 – Today at Wilton Bridge at Ross-on-Wye I found at least 20 Sand Martins around their nest sites at the bridge.  Also noted several times, there were Orange-tipped Butterflies around the river banks.


16th April 2015 – It was a sunny day and on Crabtree Hill there seemed to be Willow Warblers and Linnets everywhere. Also very noticeable were a number of Tree Pipits and I heard my first Cuckoo of the season.  A Green Tiger Beetle was on some bare ground on one of the paths.  This creature has always been one of my favourites. 


15th April 2015 – I found 14 different Avocets at WWT Slimbridge this afternoon.  On the Rushy Pen there were at least two different Common Sandpipers.


14th April 2015 – Just after midnight I was outside doing a security check when I heard a ‘coughing’ noise from the front of the house.  Upon investigation, I found two hedgehogs having an altercation in the road. This is a dead end private road and at that time it was unlikely that there would be any traffic before daylight.  They were gone when I got up this morning. 

          At SymondsYat there was a Goshawk soaring for a time which is fairly unusual for this time of year.  A House Martin was the first of the year for me and the two resident Peregrines were seen.  One went into a hole on the second cliff and this would appear to be the one chosen for this year’s nesting attempt.  The bird was seen going into the same hole later by someone else.  Some Swallows passed the Rock and in the car park there were Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs singing.  Butterflies there included Brimstone, Peacock and Small Tortoiseshell and at the Rock itself, Holly Blue.  The maximum number of Buzzards in the air at once was five.  Later in the afternoon, a juvenile Peregrine appeared and flew around for a short time and then drifted off.  There was no reaction from the resident pair.


12th April 2015 – At 0930 today at Cannop Ponds there was a Common Sandpiper in the stream behind the Stoneworks and there were two Swallows hawking insects over the ponds.  There were Blackcaps, Chiffchaffs and Willow Warbler around the Short Trail or meadow area at RSPB Nagshead. 


11th April 2015 – Today I noted the first hirundine of the season over my house in Longhope.  It was very high and passed quickly.  I believe it to be a Sand Martin.


9th April 2015 – At RSPB Nagshead, I came across a Muntjac Deer at the far end of the short trail.  At the Lower Hide there was a single adult Wild Boar.  At Cannop Ponds I noted my first two Swallows of the season at that site. 


8th April 2015 – At lunchtime I was at Blaisdon Church looking over the woods to try to find sightings of Goshawk. None were seen but there were several Buzzards, a Sparrowhawk and Ravens in the air.  There was a Bullfinch in the orchard near to the church and a Greenfinch too.  This latter species seem to be getting scarce and it was good to see one. Many butterflies were on the wing on a warm and sunny day and several Chiffchaffs were singing along the lanes.  While scanning the hills with the binoculars, I picked up hirundines including Swallow passing through very high and out of sight without optical aids. 

          Later, I made a short visit to Symonds Yat Rock.  The local Peregrines were not on show much, indeed, I only noted two short flights while I was there.  I am still wondering what stage of breeding they are at.  Buzzards and Ravens were putting on many display flights.


7th April 2015- It was a beautiful, sunny day and I made a short afternoon visit to WWT Slimbridge.  There was a Goshawk soaring over the Rushy Pen.  This was causing the gulls and corvids to be spooked.  The Pink-footed Goose was still on the Tack Piece with the Greylag Geese and there were two Common Cranes present there too.  What was nice to see was that there were several Avocets on site.


5th April 2015 – I had a short walk around the Milkwall area and noted 20 species, the highlights being Bullfinch and several Chiffchaffs singing. 

          At RSPB Nagshead there were more Chiffchaffs and there were four species of butterfly seen today.  They were Brimstone (first for the year for me), Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock and Red Admiral.


4th April 2015 – I spent a couple of hours at Symonds Yat this Easter Saturday morning before the crowds arrived.  It was overcast and cold with a brisk north easterly wind.  For the first hour, I could not find a Peregrine and then for the second hour, there was only one perched up at any one time.  I am wondering if eggs have been laid and incubation has started.  Ravens were displaying for some time but there were no hirundines seen.


3rd April 2015 – A day of drizzle and some heavier spells of rain.  However there was plenty of song in the woodlands today.


2nd April 2015 – I had a walk over Crabtree Hill today before the rain came late this afternoon.  Of note were good flocks of Lesser Redpoll and of Linnet.  7 female Goosander were on Woorgreens Lake but no males were present.


1st April 2015 – There seemed to be Nuthatches everywhere at RSPB Nagshead today.  Two Buzzards were interacting just to the south of the Information Centre. I did not see a mating but there was some activity near the ground in the woodlands and one bird flew off to the east and one to the west.  It may have been a territory border dispute.  A Treecreeper was on a tree along the short trail which was one of a small group of trees where I frequently saw one last year.  This could be the same bird in the same territory.  A Chiffchaff was singing near the carpark between the ponds at Cannop.  This is first one that I have heard this year in full song.




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