Diary - April to June 2004

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12th June 2004 - Ashleworth on a sunny and warm day. On a short visit, the only sighting of note was that the Mute Swans which bred to the south of the hide now only have one cygnet.

11th June 2004 - Nagshead RSPB Reserve. On the short trail this afternoon I found a Redstart nesting in a natural tree hole (as opposed to a nestbox). This was a different tree in a different part of the short walk although it could be the same bird as the one which nested in a natural hole last year. In a straight line, the two nest sites are not that far apart.

9th June 2004 - Ashleworth. The Peregrine, Curlew were again present and the Canada Goose goslings appear to be growing well and are now probably too big for a gull type predator.

5th June 2004 - Ashleworth, this time in the morning. A Lapwing was harrying a gull this time. It seems that with this evidence there may well have been breeding taking place somewhere in the area. The Curlew continues to be present, yet again in the same field but as I watched, it took off and went on a display flight. 4th June 2004 - Ashleworth in the afternoon again. A Cuckoo was seen several times during the short stay that I made today. A Lapwing was harrying a corvid over the reserve, suggesting that there may be breeding in another area for that species.

3rd June 2004 - Ashleworth in the afternoon. The Curlew was in the same field as usual and Linnets were present with young along Stank Lane. A careful search along the lane revealed at least 3, maybe 4 breeding pairs of Redstarts. The surprise of the day was of a Quail which called three times near the far end of Stank Lane.

2nd June 2004 - Coombe Hill Canal in the afternoon. The two Mute Swans which are nesting near the car park still have 2 eggs showing. It must be that they will not now hatch as they should have done so by now.
At Ashleworth, the Mute Swans seen from the hide have 3 cygnets and my thoughts that there was more than one when I saw them yesterday have come true. Common Whitethroats are carrying food to a nest in Ham Road near Stank Lane, a sign of yet more breeding. The Curlew was in the field along Stank Lane which frequently has cows present. A female Mallard led 2 ducklings through the whole width of this field as she threaded her way through the cows which at one time seemed to take a note of this movement, went to investigate but did not harm the birds.

1st June 2004 - Ashleworth on an overcast but mild morning. More breeding has taken place with the Mute Swans which had a nest to the south of the hide have now at least one cygnet but they were only seen briefly and I suspect that there may be more young present. The Canada Geese also have young. The pair, often noted directly in front of the hide have now emerged from the dense vegetation with 5 goslings at least. Meanwhile, in the rhine which crosses Stank Lane, there is another Mute Swan family with 5 cygnets. Other regular sightings were of Peregrine on one of the pylons and a Lapwing was mobbing a Buzzard. The Curlew was in its usual field.

30th May 2004 - Nagshead RSPB Reserve. I noted my first Wood Warbler of the year today.

29th May 2004 - Ashleworth on a sunny and warm morning. A Redstart appears to have young as it is now ferrying food to a tree hole in Stank Lane. A Curlew remains faithful to one of the fields on the south of Stank Lane.

26th May 2004 - Nagshead RSPB Reserve. The Tawny Owl was still present and eventually I noted it fly and feed its owlet.

23rd May 2004 - Nagshead RSPB Reserve. A Tawny Owl was perched in a tree near the spot where the long and short walks diverge.

22nd May 2004 - Coombe Hill Canal on a sunny and cool morning. 6 Shelduck were an unexpected find. A Lapwing chick now has a short crest and is growing nicely. Also of note were 3 Redshanks of which one had a chick present which has added to the record of breeding species this year.
At Ashleworth, the first Reed Warbler for the site was logged. A Peregrine, which has not been seen in recent weeks, was soaring over the reserve. Sadly, there were no Lapwings at all at the breeding field near the river, not even adults.

19th May 2004 - Coombe Hill Canal. The first Reed Warbler of the year was noted and the breeding Lapwing are still present. Curlew and Redshank were the other wader representatives.

18th May 2004 - Ashleworth. The Lapwings near the river still have their chicks. Over Barrow Hill, I noted a Kestrel hunting. This is a species that I have not noted in the area in the immediate past, although it was a common sight earlier in the year.

16th May 2004 - Nagshead on a quiet day but a Garden Warbler was singing the the shrubbery near the gate to the old information centre.

15th May 2004 - At Slimbridge, I walked out to Mid Point for the first time this year for a short visit. 3 Little Egrets and 3 Ringed Plovers were of note.

13th May 2004 Ashleworth. Included in the 46 species noted this morning at this site, a Wheatear was noted as somewhat unusual for this location. Linnets have bred in the Stank Lane area with juveniles present and a lone Starling has a nest near the bend in the lane and appears to have young as it is shuttling food to the site.

12th May 2004 - Coombe Hill Canal in the early morning. Cuckoo and Redshank are still very much in evidence and the Lapwings continue to have their chicks, none being predated.
At Ashleworth, there is a least one Lapwing chick near the river which is of note for a breeding record.

8th May 2004 - Ashleworth. The Lapwings still are sitting near the river. There appears to be three birds involved. 7th May 2004 - Ashleworth. Lapwings appear to be sitting near the river. From the hide, 3 Tufted Ducks have turned up and the Curlew still is very vocal.

5th May 2004 - Coombe Hill Meadows. The Lapwings still have their chicks.

2nd May 2004 - I went to see the reported Red Rumped Swallows at Lydney today. Eventually, after a long wait, I managed to view one bird in the distance over the lake using a scope. The Swifts present, in particular, were giving really close up aerial views. Lesser Whitethroat was a new bird for me for the year.
At Nagshead, Tree Pipits were back in the cleared area near the long trail.

1st May 2004 - Coombe Hill Canal on an overcast and cool morning. In addition to the usual sightings of Cuckoo, Curlew, Little Ringed Plover, the Lapwing have chicks. The notable sightings of the day were of a mulitude of House Martins, Sand Martins, Swallows and Swifts over one of the scrapes which was indeed a sign of passage movement but the best was of a flock of 85 Artic Terns overflying very high to the north east. These birds looked to be flying directly and purposefully as if on a long migration flight. There is evidence in some books on the birds of the county to suggest that many 'sea' birds migrate overland between the River Severn and The Wash by flying through the lowland gap between the northern end of the Cotswold Hills and the southern slope of the Midland plateau. This seemed to be what these birds were doing. Subsequently, a large number of this species were reported from several points along the lower Severn Estuary today.

30th April 2004 - At Ashleworth, there are now two Coot families. Several Redstarts and Sedge Warblers were noted and the first of the year bird was a Swift.

28th April 2004 - The nesting Coot has now build a temporary nest which is really a platform of bent over vegetation. It is using this to brood its young as the original nest had be consumed by the nesting Mute Swans. Curlew, Lapwing and Little Ringed PLovers were the waders on the meadows and also of note was the numbers of Common Whitethroats singing.

25th April 2004 - Nagshead RSPB reserve. At least 5 different Pied Flycatchers were noted of which one was a female and a possible Redstart was heard suggesting further immigration for the season.

24th April 2004 - Coombe Hill Canal. A warm and sunny morning greeted 5 Coot young which had hatched from a nest near the Mute Swans nest. With the Coots no longer needing their nest, the swan was thieving material from it to build up its own nest. 5 eggs were seen to have been destroyed on the towpath. It is believed that these were Pheasant eggs. Little Ringed Plover, Curlew and Redshank were all present with Lapwing still sitting. Cuckoo, Sedge Warbler and Common Whitethroat were the first of the year for that site.
At Ashleworth, Redstart, a female, a Sedge Warbler and a Hobby over were the first of the year for that site as well.

23rd April 2004 - Slimbridge. Two Tawny Owl chicks were dozing in a tree near the sustainable garden.

22nd April 2004 - Ashleworth on a dry, sunny, mild and calm morning. A Coot which was nesting to the right of the hide has hatched at least 3 young, the first of the year. Two Sparrowhawks were seen several times and on one occasion, their presence caused much commotion from one of the Curlews. Common Whitethroats were seen along Stank Lane.

17th April 2004 - Coombe Hill Canal Meadows. 4 Black-tailed Godwits were the highlight of the morning, with more than a hint of summer plumage on some of them. Curlew and Redshank with the Lapwing were the usual waders but Wheatears, Sand Martins, Willow Warblers and Swallows were evidence of futher migration. On this theme, a Pied Flycatcher was further evidence and a very unusual bird for this site.

14th April 2004 - Ashleworth on a sunny and mild morning. Of note today was the fact that there were Willow Warblers everywhere!

12th April 2004 - At Nagshead RSPB reserve, the bird of note was a Pied Flycatcher near the Lower Hide.

10th April 2004 - Coombe Hill Canal on an overcast morning. At least 3 Lapwing are sitting and Curlew are in evidence with calling. Redshank complete the wader presence and 2 Hares were running on the meadows.
At Ashleworth, the reserve was quiet but several Willow Warblers, Swallows and a Sand Martin were seen.

7th April 2004 - Coombe Hill Canal on a typical April showers morning. The first bird heard was one of the Curlews, away over somewhere on the Meadows. Surprisingly, there were 20 Black-headed Gulls and 25 Common Gulls with one Lesser Black-backed Gull on the Meadows which is unusual for this site. Migration is continuing even with the northerly wind as both Little Ringed Plover and Ringed Plover were present with the Redshank and Lapwing. Shelduck were again present.
At Ashleworth, the duck numbers have decreased further with just a handful or so of Wigeon and Teal and ones and twos of Pintail, Shoveler and Gadwall. The first Willow Warbler of this site this spring was near Dirty Lane as was a Sparrowhawk but the noisiest was a Great Spotted Woodpecker drumming vigorously in the copse and a calling Raven flying over.

6th April 2004 - Sailing Lake at Frampton. Three Little Gulls were hawking over the lake, one in almost full breeding plumage and sporting a hint of a beautiful pink front. A Common Tern was with the Black-headed Gulls and a large flock of Sand Martins with at least one House Martin and one Swallow were also over the lake. The reported warbler which could be a Willow Warbler or a Chiffchaff or a hybrid was present. It starts it song like a Chiffchaff and ends it like a Willow Warbler.
One disconcerting note was of at least 5 dead Black-headed Gull that were fresh at various parts of the lake. Is this a pollution or algal problem?

4th April 2004 - Coombe Hill Canal early on a beautifully sunny yet cool morning. Surprisingly two Canada Geese came and landed on the canal near The Wharf but after spending five minutes there, took off and disappeared. I have never seen this species on the canal before. Curlew, Lapwing, Shelduck and 2 Grey Herons were on the Meadows and a Willow Warbler was singing along the towpath.
At Ashleworth, there were very few ducks again but the species included Mallard, Teal, Shoveler, Wigeon, Pintail and 1 Tufted Duck. 3 Grey Herons were loafing over the back of the Ham and a male Blackcap was prospecting the hedgerow in front of the hide. The surprise of the visit was of a flock of 9 Redshank dozing on the mud.

3rd April 2004 - Coombe Hill Canal on an unexpectedly bright morning when the forecast was for heavy rain. The night was clear until at least 2.00am this morning but at dawn there had been some rain and these conditions looked good to produce some more spring migrants and so it proved. Chiffchaffs were singing everywhere, as indeed they have done for a few days now. However, near the small withy bed, I heard my first Willow Warbler of the year. Other first for the year for this site were 2 Little Ringed Plover and a Wheatear. 3 Redwing, 9 Lapwing, a Curlew, 26 Snipe and a Jack Snipe were representative of the waders. A Hare was noted yet again, sprinting across the Meadows. The total number of ducks were by far the fewest of the spring but 14 Shelduck and 2 Tufted Duck, the latter rare for this site were of note.
At Ashleworth I was treated to the spectacle of a Peregrine stooping on a Buzzard which it forced to the ground before the falcon departed over Sandhurst. 4 Sand Martins were a first for this site this year but as with Coombe Hill, the number of ducks has dropped dramatically over the last few days. A Curlew was again present on the fields opposite Colways Farm.

2nd April 2004 - This morning I went to Frampton to check on the habitat as the spring migration and breeding season is upon us. I noted that the Hundred Acre, as viewed from Green Lane, looks to be in good conditions for breeding waders with plenty of water present. Indeed, there seemed to be quite a number of Redshank and Lapwing present and 1 Ruff. A pair of Little Egrets overflew as I was leaving. In contrast, the Great Narles to the north of the main reedbed near the towpath at Splatt Bridge is, unlike the previous two years, completely dried out and looks very unsuitable for breeding. As I checked for signs of prospecting birds, I noted that there is an extensive covering of some sort of fungus which could not be identified at long range.

1st April 2004 - Late afternoon at Ashleworth with pleseant spring sunshine and mild temperatures. A good selection of duck remain if only in small numbers. Species noted included Wigeon, Teal, Mallard, Shoveler, Pintail and Gadwall. Two Grey Herons were standing about and 9 Canada Geese were loafing on the water. Little Grebe were heard trilling again. There may be a pair of Lapwing which are going to nest and a lone Curlew was in a field to the south of Stank Lane. At least 2 Red-legged Partridge were flushed from the ditch in the lane and 9 Fieldfare were still present nearby. A flyover Cormorant added to the aerial activities of a pair of Buzzard and the local Peregrine was still on one of the pylons. Meadow Pipits, Skylarks and Reed Buntings were on Hasfield Ham.

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