Diary – April to June 2017



21st June 2017 – At Cannop Ponds, the Coot young are still progressing well and there was a good number of House Martins and Swallows foraging over the water.


19th June 2017 – I made a very short visit to WWT Slimbridge in the afternoon.  The highlight of the visit was of a Mediterranean Gull on the Rushy Pen. Also there were a number of Black-headed Gull chicks and Avocets a plenty.


18th June 2017 – I made a short visit to Gloucestershire Airport and once again there was Kestrel hunting over the long grass near to where the old main entrance used to be.  It seems that this species is regular there.


17th June 2017 – I checked Cannop Ponds again and the lone Greylag Goose gosling is very much grown.  The 2 Tufted Ducks are still present.


15th June 2017 – A Great Spotted Woodpecker was calling by the main gate to the rowing club here in Ross-on-Wye.  I have not seen or heard one in this location before. A Jay was in the garden which was a first for my newish location.


14th June 2017 – At Cannop Ponds, the Coot young are growing well and there are now 2 male Tufted Ducks. They are building up in numbers for the winter!


12th June 2017 – Sand Martins are busy at their nest holes on Wilton Bridge today.


4th June 2017 – Near to the Gloucestershire Way at RSPB Nagshead, I found a Great Spotted Woodpecker nest in a tree that they have used in previous seasons.  The calling of chicks attracted my attention.  They are in a different hole to the last year that I noted them here.  I believe that there are bats using one of the old holes.

          At Cannop Ponds, there is a lone Greylag Goose which is very well developed but there was no sign of any adults. A lone male Siskin was on the feeders.


3rd June 2017 – I went to Cranham to try to find the reported Hoopoe.  It was a fine morning when I arrived and the bird was apparently perched in a tree but was out of view.  Suddenly it flew and gave a long flight view where the black and white plumage stripes stood out brilliantly in the sunshine.  I could not relocate the bird after this flight but the short trip was worth it to see such a bright and scarce bird.

          At Gloucestershire Airport there was a Kestrel flying above the long grass which has been left around the old and no longer used entrance road.  It flew off but returned not long after and I saw it drop into the grass and out of sight and to re-emerge a few seconds later with a small mammal.  It took it out of sight to the short grass beyond the long grass.  After a few minutes, it flew again to the south still carrying the prey and was lost from sight.

          Later in the afternoon, I called in briefly at Cannop Ponds.  There were Swallows flying through and the Coots have chicks.  A lone male Tufted Duck was of note.


2nd June 2017 – The Sand Martins are still busy at their nest sites at Wilton Bridge which was to be expected.  They have no problems with river levels, which happen to be very low, because of the height at which they are breeding on the bridge structure.  A Jay was a first for the year in Ross-on-Wye town.


31st May 2017 – At Cannop Ponds, the returning Swallows were low over the water and the Mandarin Ducks have ducklings out and about.


24th May 2017 – I made a visit to Garway church today and found that the Swifts are back there and attending nest holes in the town.  It was nice to see them back.


22nd May 2017 – I found Sand Martins nesting in pipes set into a wall in Wilton Street in the town opposite the sandstone wall where I found them breeding last year.  It seems odd to see them in this habitat away from the river.


21st May 2017 – The Sand Martins were very busy around their nesting sites at Wilton Bridge.  A Sparrowhawk flew through while I was at the bridge.  A first for the year was a singing Willow Warbler singing near the Rope Walk with Chiffchaffs nearby.  The former seem to be declining in recent years.


19th May 2017 – At Cannop Ponds there was at least one Swallow and this time the bird was hawking insects low over the water.


12th May 2017- I stopped at Cannop Ponds again and once more there were hirundines there but as on the 8th May, they were very high.


8th May 2017 – I stopped at Cannop Ponds late in the afternoon and found my first hirundines of the year for that site but they were very high and needed binoculars to see them.  It looks like the Greylag Geese are down to only one gosling today after 3 were seen on the 6th May. House Martins are back on their breeding territories at Pigmy Pinetum nursery in the Forest of Dean.


7th May 2017 – Still the Swifts are screaming around the roof tops of the town again.


6th May 2017 – There were many Swifts around the sky of the town as yesterday.


5th May 2017 – There were a lot of Swifts around Ross-on-Wye today.  It would seem to suggest that there has been a big migration movement of this species.


4th May 2017 – In addition to Sand Martins breeding at Wilton Bridge, I noted many flying around Kerne Bridge.  They are probably breeding there but my sighting was from the bus and I need a visit to confirm breeding.


2nd May 2017 – I went to WWT Slimbridge today.  One of the highlights was of two Bar-tailed Godwits on the Rushy Pen which is an unusual species for this site. Several Avocet pairs are breeding on this pen.  As I walked over to South Lake, I found an Oystercatcher chick on the boardwalk near the Gulf Oil Hide. This chick was the first of the year for me.  On South Lake I found another highlight. On that lake were 2 Cattle Egret there in fine breeding plumage. At Middle Point, I found at least 6 Wheatear and another first for the year was a Cuckoo heard.


1st May 2017 – Today over the football pitches near Wilton Bridge, I found my first Swift of the year.  Also new for the year in Ross-on-Wye was a Tufted Duck on the river which is a scarce species here.  At least 2 Chiffchaff were singing near the river again .


30th April 2017 – Again, there were no hirundines at Cannop Ponds but of note there were 3 Great Spotted Woodpeckers near the feeders at the Stone Works.


26th April 2017 – There were no hirundines at Cannop Ponds today.


23rd April 2017 – I checked Garway Church for Swifts but none have arrived as yet.  There were, however, 14 Raven and 3 Buzzards together overhead.


18th April 2017 – I made a short visit to WWT Slimbridge.  There was at least one Willow Warbler singing in the car park.  2 Egyptian Geese were of note on the Tack Piece.  A Spotted Redshank was on South Lake and this bird is in near full black summer plumage.  This is a very smart bird. Also on note on that lake was a pair of Great Crested Grebe and a ringed Avocet amongst the many of the latter species on the scrape.


17th April 2017 – I checked the lower pond at Cannop Ponds for hirundines but none were seen.


13th April 2017 – A fine, male Pied Flycatcher near to the Lower Hide at RSPB Nagshead was the earliest date that I have ever seen this species.


12th April 2017 – Swallows and Sand Martins were at Wilton Bridge and there were 4 Goosander on the river, 2 upstream from the bridge and 2 downstream of the bridge.


11th April 2017 – I had a walk at lunchtime to Wilton Bridge.  There were at least 15 Sand Martins which were very vocal with lots of twittering.  They were inspecting the holes in the sandstone for prospective nest sites.  It looks like it could be a very productive year.  Unlike nests in nearby sand banks on the river where they are susceptible to high river levels washing them out, they have no such troubles nesting on the bridge and are well above even the record river levels of past years. Also noted were two Goosanders on the river nearby.  Overwintering birds meet summer breeders.


9th April 2017 – The first hirundines to pass my window in Ross-on-Wye were at least three Swallows.

          No hirundines seen at Cannop Ponds so far this year after a check today.


8th April 2017 – The Willow trees outside of my window are nearly in full leaf.  Last year at this time there was no sign of leaves and they were not fully out until early May which suggests that for this species at least, the season is about four weeks earlier than last year.  However, last year may have been a late year and it was my first May in this area. I, therefore, have not prior data to 2016 to make any further comparisons.


7th April 2017 – I walked around the public footpath that encircles Gloucestershire Airport at Staverton.  Highlight on this warm day were 6 species of butterfly.  Orange-tip, Peacock, Small Tortoiseshell, Comma, Speckled Wood and a White sp..

          I stopped at Ashleworth Ham on the way back to H.Q..  I was pleasantly surprised to see that there was still a good deal of water on the scrapes which is very good considering that the rainfall of late has been very scarce.  There were at least 250 waterfowl there which were mainly Teal but with some Wigeon.  Four Little Egret and four Grey Heron were also of note.


5th April 2017 – Over the past two weeks or so, I have stopped at Cannop Ponds on my way past to check for early arrival of hirundines. So far, I have not seen any.  Today there was a Great Spotted Woodpecker near the feeders at the stone works and a good number of Chaffinch and Mandarin Duck.


4th April 2017 – There were at least five hirundines in the distance over the Hope and Anchor public house in Ross-on-Wye which I noted during a short walk in the town.


1st April 2017 – I walked down to Wilton Bridge, Ross-on-Wye.  There were Greenfinches singing near the rowing club again.  There were at least three Chiffchaff territories between the club and the bridge where there were many hirundines wheeling around in the distance.  Significantly, there were a lot of insects on the wing too which must have been good feeding for the newly arrived migrants.



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