Diary – April to June 2016



30th June 2016 – Again, the Sand Martins were very busy around Wilton Bridge at 0800 this morning in weak sunshine.  I could not be sure but there may have been juveniles flying around as well as adults.  Further to the street sighting yesterday of this species, today I noted a few birds entering holes in a large wall in the town and it would seem that they are nesting.  As noted yesterday this is not really typical habitat for this species although the river is not far away.


29th June 2016 – The Sand Martins were very active around Wilton Bridge at 0745 this morning.  A Kestrel flew up river and over the bridge and I lost sight of it around Wilton Castle.  I have seen this species around here on a number of occasions and it may be that this is a breeding range.  Strangely, I noted Sand Martin flying along one of the streets of Ross-on-Wye town this morning.  Not really typical habitat for this species.


28th June 2016 – Near Wilton Bridge, Ross-on-Wye there was two Great Spotted Woodpeckers together.  One was possibly a juvenile but they were too far away to get enough detail to be sure.


27th June 2016 – At Gloucestershire Airport, I found my first Hummingbird Hawk Moth and Marbled White butterfly of the year on quite a sunny day. 


26th June 2016 – At RSPB Nagshead, I noted quite a number of Dor Beetles on their backs but still alive with their legs moving.  They were concentrated in several places.  I righted many of them but some of them promptly flipped themselves onto their backs again.  This seemed strange behaviour to me.  Also very odd was Siskins feeding on the bare ground of the trail in two places. I noted a Dunnock doing the same but deep in the woodland which seemed out of place for this species.


25th June 2016 – At Symonds Yat Rock the 2 resident Peregrines gave some close flying displays on several occasions during my 2 hour stay.  On one occasion their sole chick joined them on the wing.


24th June 2016 – I visited WWT Slimbridge again today.  A few days ago I noted that the Common Terns were not on South Lake, but today I found that there is a pair of this species which are apparently nesting on the Rushy Pen.  Also present there was an adult and a juvenile Mediterranean Gull. On South Lake there was a good number of Gadwall and at least 60 Avocets.  As noted a few days ago, juvenile Black-headed Gulls were plentiful.


23rd June 2016 – On May Hill today, there were quite a number of Swifts and a few Swallows over Bearfoot Wood.  On the open parts of the hill there were several Meadow Pipits doing display flights with lots of singing.  Linnets and Goldfinches were also present.  At the pool on top of the hill, Broad-bodied Chaser, Emperor Dragonfly, Large Red and Azure Blue damselflies were present. Of note, there were several Painted Lady butterflies present.  I wonder if there had been a small influx into the country as a whole?


22nd June 2016 – I was again at the White Lion at Wilton.  The species present was similar to yesterday and the Mute Swan with the cygnets was still there.  The hirundines and Swifts were hawking insects low down on this humid evening and thus gave exceptional flying displays to people sitting at the outside tables at the pub.

          There was a single Mute Swan with 5 cygnets on Rudhall Brook in the centre of Ross-on-Wye.  This was in a very confined situation.  I don’t know where this bird nested but it may have come up the brook from the river.

          There was a party of Long-tailed Tits in my garden today including many juveniles.  I estimated that there were about 12 birds.  This was the 40th species noted from my new dwelling.


21st June 2016 – At the White Lion public house at Wilton, there were nesting Swallows and House Martins while the Sand Martins nest under Wilton Bridge.  Swifts were present too. There was a Mute Swan with 3 cygnets on the river bank near the pub and the adult was hissing at anyone who came near.  House Sparrows seem to be thriving around the picnic tables adjacent to the river bank by the pub.

          A Peregrine was over Penyard Hill today.  This was the first I had seen of this species here. 


18th June 2016 – I had a walk over Penyard Hill near Ross-on-Wye.  There were at least 2 Blackcap noted and one of them was feeding young.  I also found a Raven nesting territory.  There appeared to be juveniles present in an area I had seen this species before.  In fact they were perching in the same tree.


14th June 2016 – This afternoon, I spent an hour or so at Symonds Yat Rock.  The resident Peregrine pair showed occasionally.  At the wall there were Blue Tits, Great Tits, a family of recently fledged Coal Tits and unusually, a Marsh Tit.  Also present were Nuthatch, Robin, Chaffinch, a juvenile Dunnock and a vole species.


13th June 2016 – At WWT Slimbridge there were many Avocets present, some with young.  The Common Crane chick is progressing and is well protected by its two parents.  They are spending a lot of the time at the back of the Rushy Pen in long vegetation and it is often difficult to pick out the youngster.  A Little Grebe was on the Knott Pool with a chick.  South Lake was a noisy place with many breeding Black-headed Gulls and there are many youngsters.  This species seem to have taken over the lake and there was no sign of any Common Terns which breed on the rafts which have been specially sited on this body of water for them. There was another Little Grebe here with a Great Crested Grebe here.  Also there were many more Avocets and some Black-tailed Godwits.  Some of the latter look in good condition in their brick red summer plumage. Finally, later in the afternoon there were 2 Green Sandpipers on the Rushy Pen.


12th June 2016 – I had a walk around the reserve at RSPB Nagshead.  I located a juvenile Nuthatch being fed by a parent near the nestbox that I had noted one of this species using on June 5th.  Along the Gloucestershire Way I found a Spotted Flycatcher and also a Great Spotted Woodpecker nest.  I heard the young of the latter from a long way off as they begged for food.


11th June 2016 – The Sand Martins are still active at Wilton Bridge.


10th June 2016 – I made a short visit to Garway Church to see if the Swifts were nested as last year.  Upon arrival, I was greeted with them wheeling overhead.  At times they were screaming and flying low so that I could hear the wind through their wings.  I spent about 20 minutes observing them before and after a look inside the church.  I did not see any bird to go or from any nest but it could be that incubation is in progress and perhaps another visit next week might see a change in behaviour if hatching has occurred.


5th June 2016 – I had a quick walk around the short trail at the RSPB Reserve at Nagshead.  It was fairly quiet on a hot day but I did note a Nuthatch which appeared to be nesting in a nestbox which is a neighbouring one to that noted a few days ago with a Redstart using it.


2nd June 2016 – I spent an hour at Ashleworth Ham nature reserve.  A Lapwing seemed to be favouring a very small area and may have young.  There was a Shelduck pair with tiny young and they were fending off other birds as was the Lapwing.  A Curlew could be heard calling and possibly that bird turned up at the scape for a wash.  A Cuckoo was calling in the distance.


31st May 2016 – I passed Gloucestershire Airport today and noted a Kestrel and on the way back home, a Buzzard was overhead Frogfurlong Lane, Innsworth.  All of my Gloucestershire raptor sightings go to the Gloucestershire Raptor Monitoring Group.


30th May 2016 – At RSPB Nagshead today I found a Spotted Flycatcher along the short trail and later I found a Redstart using a nestbox.  Near the Bixslade Tramway I heard a Wood Warbler and although I waited and searched for a while I could not see the bird.  They are very well camouflaged in among the bright green new leaves on the trees.  This latter species was a first for the year.  At the Nursery Pool there were not many odonata on the wing. Although the sun was shining and strong, there was a noticeable cool northerly wind which may have curtailed their flights.  I noted 3 blue damselflies which were too far away to make any identification.  There were also 2 Broad-bodied Chasers.


29th May 2016 – At RSPB Nagshead today, a male Pied Flycatcher gave extremely good views on the short trail.  It was giving very short burst of quiet song and a few contact calls.  I found the bird by sight because the sound was very quiet and no of any length.  A fine sight.


28th May 2016 – A Spotted Flycatcher was in the new garden today and true to its name it was sweeping out from a conifer, catching something and returning to the tree.  It repeated this several times.


22nd May 2016 – At Wilton Bridge, Ross-on-Wye this evening, there were many Swifts, Swallows and Sand Martins, and a few House Martins.  Additionally, there was an unseasonal Goosander that flew upstream and a Kingfisher went in the same direction.


21st May 2016 – At Wilton Bridge, Ross-on-Wye the Sand Martins were very conspicuous today.


20th May 2016 – There were the usual Buzzards flying around the church at Garway today but in addition there was a Red Kite which made a nice addition to the sightings.

          Back in Ross-on-Wye, the humble Dunnock appeared in the garden and became the 36th species on the new home list.


17th May 2016 – I made a short visit to Slimbridge and a very noticeable event was the number of Avocets on site.  There were at least 50 birds covering several locations.  Even just a few years ago, this species would have been very rare here.  The Common Crane continues to nest on the Rushy Pen and a Greenshank and Ruff were on the Top New Piece. 


16th May 2016 – I walked over May Hill from the car park on the north-east side.  There were a number of Willow Warblers, Linnets and Meadow Pipits singing and displaying at various points on the hill.  There were two Spotted Flycatchers on the fence near Bearfoot Wood.  Along the same fence line there were several Wood Ant nests.  It was the first day that I have seen numerous butterflies.  Most were white but there was an Orange-tip or two.  Kestrel and Buzzard were the raptors sighted today over the hill.


15th May 2016 – At Wilton Bridge, there was Swifts screaming overhead and Swallows and Sand Martins were out in force too.  A Grey Heron was being mobbed by Lesser Black-backed Gulls on the river.


13th May 2016 – I spent an hour at RSPB Nagshead on my way back from Coleford.  A Garden Warbler was singing near the Nursery Pool and around the short trail there was a Redstart and a female Pied Flycatcher.  All three species were new for the year for me.


12th May 2016 – This afternoon, I went to try to find Turtle Doves at Ruardean Hill.  I failed to find any.  I suspect that they are no longer here. A Tree Pipit was a pleasant surprise in a clearing on the hill.


Note – there have not been many reports over the past week or so because I have been moving house.  The move is effectively complete now and I will be out and about more in the field.


6th May 2016 – There were many Swifts again over Ross-on-Wye today and a Sedge Warbler was singing this evening along the bank of the River Wye near the town centre.


3rd May 2016 – There were many Swifts and Swallows whirling around Wilton Bridge at Ross-on-Wye today.


1st May 2016 – There was a noticeable presence of quite a number of Swifts over Ross-on-Wye today. 


25th April 2016 – I noted my first Swift of the year over Ross-on-Wye.


24th April 2016 – There was a Sparrowhawk on a kill of a small unidentified passerine in the garden at my new home this afternoon.  The new house list now stands at 27 species and the 3 raptors on the list are Goshawk, Buzzard and Sparrowhawk.


21st April 2016 – There were two Red Kites drifting over Ross-on-Wye mid-afternoon.  They very gradually moved to the north-west.


18th April 2016 – A Mandarin Duck was the latest addition to my new house list.  There was a steady passage of Swallows there in the late afternoon and there was a juvenile Blackbird in the garden which was a first for the year.

          At Wilton Bridge, the Sand Martins were visiting their nest sites.


17th April 2016 – A Swallow over Longhope was a first for the year at my old home.


16th April 2016 – The first species on my new house list was Swallow and not long after I noted a Goshawk soaring over the nearby woodland.  This was an excellent start to the list which currently stands at 15 species.


14th April 2016 – I picked up the keys to my new home today and thus the start of a new house list!


13th April 2016 – There was a number of Sand Martins wheeling around the bridge at Wilton, Ross-on-Wye this afternoon. 


4th April 2016 – There were a good number of Siskins in a garden at Milkwall, Forest of Dean.


2nd April 2016 – A Skylark was singing at Gloucestershire Airport in the same place as on 31st March.


1st April 2016 – At Wilton Bridge there was a Chiffchaff singing in the bushes on the west bank.  This was a first of the year for me.  The only other bird of note was a hirundine flying over Ross town.




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