Diary - April to June 2005

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27th June 2005 - Warm and sunny but not too humid. A Dipper at the bottom of the waterfall by the Stoneworks at Cannop Pond may have been a juvenile but it was difficult to see the detail in the darkness of the stream and the overhanging vegetation. If it was a youngster, it may well be a different bird to that seen a few days ago further to the north. Also on the southern ponds as they have been for some days now are a pair of Mute Swans, one has an orange darvic inscribed 'AAEJ' which may well have been ringed at the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust at Slimbridge. Finally, at the bottom of Bixslade, a Silver-washed Fritillary butterfly was rushing around the bracken and this was a first for me for the summer.

26th June 2005 - A sunny, but pleasantly fresh day with a breeze. I walked to the Linear Park near Cinderford. A Ringlet butterfly was the first of the year for me at Nagshead but more of them were on the wing in different parts of the Forest. 4 Ravens and a Kestrel were soaring over the park and among the birds singing or calling along the trails were Willow Warbler, Wood Warbler, Song Thrush, Blue Tit, Great Tit and Chaffinch. Butterflies on the wing at the park included a pair of Small Tortoishell, a species I have not noted of late, Red Admiral and Marbled White which is another first of the year for me. I wanted to cover the old railway area of the park in more detail looking for butterflies and ladybirds but the stench from one of the local factories was so overwhelming and nausious that I did not linger. On the homeward leg in various spots around the Speech House area were examples of Golden Ringed Dragonfly, a fantastic insect, imposing and beautifully marked.

25th June 2005 - Ashleworth on a damp and drizzly morning which was much cooler than of late. The first bird of the day from the hide was a Grey Heron which came winging its way over from Hasfield Ham. In the same area a few minutes later a Curlew was observed for several minutes doing a 'switchback' display flight and calling. Later two of these birds were noted at Hasfield Ham on a cut field. In Dirty Lane a female Great Spotted Woodpecker was feeding but the air was full of House Martins and Swallows which were both very vocal. A small Starling flock of about 60 birds were in a cut field to the south of the lane and Willow Warbler and Reed Bunting, the latter species being represented by at least 3 different indivduals, were along the lane. On Ham Road a Treecreeper, with a metal ring on its right leg, was a more unusual species. Over at the back of the field opposite Dirty Lane, some Blackbirds were mobbing something in and around the Willow trees. Eventually the object of the commotion flew and it was a Tawny Owl, seen in this area now on two consecutive visits. From the hide again, one Coot with one well grown juvenile, probably the only survivor of the many nesting attempts.
There may be a problem with some of the Willow trees on the reserve because many of them, particularly the smaller ones, have turned brown. Most seem to be in one line along the rhine one field across the reserve from the road but there are other trees similar in the distance on the bank of the river. I have only scoped the trees in question and have not investigated them thoroughly but they are very noticable from the hide against the lush green of the other specimens. Hopefully, there is no major problem.

24th June 2005 - At just after 6 o'clock this morning a violent thunderstorm commenced and ended the extended spell of dry and hot weather. The storm went on for some time and the rain continued for most of the morning but the humidity did not decrease. The forecast was for a lull with some dry weather before more rain for the late afternoon. I decided to take advantage of the lull and walk to Cannop Ponds in the hope of finding some odonata and coccinellidae but not long after I set out, the rains started again. I decided to continue the walk anyway and was not expecting much in the way of wildlife to be out and about. At Nagshead, about the only bird of note was a Spotted Flycatcher, not the most numerous at all in the Forest. The rain was making a noise on the leaf canopy and any calls were hard to hear. Between the two ponds at Cannop at the bottom of a shallow waterfall was a juvenile Dipper which was also a good find and proof that breeding has taken place somewere near. With the ducks on the northern pond was a single Greylag Goose with a metal ring. On the other side of the road was yet another Spotted Flycatcher, moving through the branches parallel to a Jay and occasionally mobbing the bigger bird.

23rd June 2005 - A Red Admiral butterfly was by Nagshead Lodge on this warm and sunny morning as I passed by on a supply trip to Coleford. This is the first one of this species that I have noted for some time. The return trip, howoever, produced a highlight in the form of a male Lesser Spotted Woodpecker which I watched for a minute or so as it foraged in saplings where the Long Trail makes its last left handed corner (SO600093). I have not had a sighting of this speceies for a long time. The open area to the south of Nagshead Lodge seems to be home to a Tree Pipit just as most of the newly cleared areas in the Forest appear to be to the liking of this species.

22nd June 2005 - A morning visit to Ashleworth Ham and plenty of song on a sunny and warm day. A Cuckoo was calling not far from the hide and just across the road in the hedgerow, Bullfinch song could be heard as well as Sedge Warbler not far into the reserve. Chaffinch, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Common Whitethroat and Reed Bunting were all vocal along Ham Road and Dirty Lane. When I returned along Dirty Lane to Ham Road, an unfortunate find on the grass verge was the remains of what I thought was a Tawny Owl (investigation of feather samples later proved that I was correct). Not much remained as the carcass had be scavenged but the bird may have been the victim of a road accident. Strangely, after a bout of mobbing by birds of several species, I noted a Tawny Owl perched nearby in the nearest tree at the corner of the lane by the bridge. Perhaps this was the mate or parent of the dead bird?

21st June 2005 - Nagshead RSPB Reserve on a sunny but much fresher day than of late. The woods are certainly quieter now as the breeding season begins to come to a close. There were many clouds of Long-horned Moths bubbling up amongst the bracken. Juvenile birds included Great Spotted Woodpecker again near the information centre. A Marsh Tit appeared to be gathering nesting material just inside the woodland on the part of the old nature trail from the old information centre. On a general note, although nationally, the population of Song Thrushes seem to be declining, here in the Forest there seems to be quite of number of them, both in song and generally moving around foraging in the leaf litter.

19th June 2005 - A Turtle Dove was singing in the woods just across the main road to the east of the Linear Park at Cinderford this afternoon.

18th June 2005 - A warm and humid day which just become hotter. I arrived at the hide at Ashleworth Ham reserve at 0825 and it was already 20 degrees C., it would rise to 31 degrees C. by the middle of the day. Because of the conditions, there were swarms of insects all around the reserve which made for some unpleasant stops to view birds and other wildlife. A surprise of the day was the result of some rustling around the steps to the door of the hide. This noise was made by a Common Toad. Around the hide, the Blackcap continues to sing. Juvenile Great Tits were in evidence in the hedge across the road from the hide and in the far Willow trees a Cuckoo could be seen and heard.
Along Stank Lane, the insects were particularly bad but there were plenty of juvenile birds including Great Spotted Woodpecker, Common Whitethroats and Collared Dove. Amongst the songsters were Willow Warbler, Sedge Warbler and Reed Bunting. A Curlew overflew the lane and also on high were Herring Gulls and Lesser Black-backed Gulls, the maximum seen at any one time to be about 10. Some fields have been cut for hay already and these gulls seem to be frequenting these areas and are looking out for food which may include any small wader chicks that have survived.

12th June 2005 - A juvenile Great Spotted Woodpecker near the Information Centre at Nagshead RSPB Reserve suggested successful breeding in the area.

10th June 2005 - A walk to Laymoor Quag and return revealed the highlight of a Turtle Dove 'purring' in the region of Birch Hill to the west of the Quag. At the open area of the Quag the usual Common Blue and Small Heath Butterflies were present including a solitary specimen of a Grizzled Skipper as well as several Burnet Companion moths.

8th June 2005 - A very short morning wisit to Ashleworth on a brillianty sunny and pleasantly warm day saw at least two Lapwing on Hasfield Ham. It was not possible to see in the long vegetation whether there were any young present.
In the evening I joined a Gloucester Naturalist Society (GNS) walk at Coombe Hill Canal. Among the passerines present were many Reed Buntings, some Common Whitethroats, Willow Warbles, Chiffchaffs, Sedge Warblers, a possible lone Reed Warbler. The waders on the scrape as seen from the first hide included, 2 Black-tailed Godwits, Redshank and Lapwing. A Grey Heron and two Little Egrets represented the larger birds as did a flock of non breeding Mute Swans. The pair of the latter on the canal have 4 cygnets. Other breeders on the canal include Mallard and Coot.

7th June 2005 - A walk on a pleasant cool but brilliantly sunny day to Laymoor Quag near the Linear Park at Cinderford. At least three Redstart were in the area, one at each end of the Quag and one at the base of Birch Hill. Several Odonata (see Odonata page) were around the pond to the north of the Quag . Back at Parkend, Swifts appear to be nesting in a building near the garage in the village centre.

6th June 2005 - As on the 4th June, the Swifts were still there as was the Odonata but of the latter there appeared to be more species present (see Odonata page). A brilliant red Cardinal Beetle (Pyrochroa coccinea) spent some time crawling over my car.

4th June 2005 - A lunch stop at the fishermans carpark at Pit 57 Cotwold Water Park West heralded in excess of 100 Swifts wheeling around the River Thames and the nearby lakes.

10th May 2005 - A walk at mid morning on a bright and cool day at Highnam Woods RSPB reserve revealed at least one Nightingale singing with short bursts but in general the area was quiet.

9th May 2005 - A walk to Coleford from Parkend on a frosty morning with bright sun revealed a Tree Pipit at the open area near Nagshead Lodge. (See note for 8th May).

8th May 2005 - A walk from Parkend along the ridge to the west of the Cannop Valley and return along the western side of the valley in cool but sunny conditions revealed at least 2 Tree Pipits. These birds have appeared in the recently cleared areas of the forest as I had thought. Birds colonised the newly felled area near the long trail at Nagshead some years ago in the first spring of the new habitat and this appears to be what is happening here. Also along the west ridge there appeared to be a heavy passage of House Martins mid morning and a Goshawk flew over to the east at the same time although the most numerous raptor is Buzzard. Grey Wagtails were present on Cannop Brook in the middle of Parkend and at the entrance to the free mine in the Bixslade Valley.

7th May 2005 - A bright, warm, sunny but breezy day at Ashleworth. At least 18 Mallard were present which seems a high number for this time of year and they were nearly all males. One of the females had a clutch of ducklings with her. 4 Wigeon were still there as well as 5 Mute Swans and 3 Shelduck, the latter two species being on Hasfield Ham. Lapwings numbered 3 in various parts of the reserve. Curlew were also present in two places and seeing off corvids suggesting that a nest is in the vicinity. Raptors included Buzzard and Kestrel. The strong wind overshadowed most bird song but Redstart was seen in Dirty Lane and Sedge Warblers were located by sound around the reserve.

5th May 2005 - A morning walk along the ridge to the west of Cannop Ponds in the Forest of Dean provided views of a pair of Common Buzzards mating. Nearby in a large pool alongside the forest track there were some unidentified newts which moved away quickly into the debris within the water and thus made the identification impossible.

4th May 2005 - One or more Wood Warblers singing in Wimberry Slade, near Cannop Ponds, Forest of Dean this morning.

3rd May 2005 - Many House Martins and Swifts hawking insects over Parkend village in the middle of the afternoon on a warm but damp and showery day with sunny intervals.

2nd May 2005 - The highlight of a short walk around the trail at Nagshead RSPB reserve this morning was of my first Swift of the season over the Marsh Sidings in Parkend en route to the reserve and a Wood Warbler singing along the short walk. A Tawny Owl was again calling during the day, this time at about 0815.During the middle part of a warm and pleasant day, I was walking around the Woodchester Park valley in the Cotwolds were the bird life was very quiet with little song or movement.

30th April 2005 - Ashleworth on a cloudy but dry and warm morning. Plenty of song with several Chiffchaff singing as well as numerous Willow Warblers. Sedge Warblers here are new on my list for the year and Redstarts were both in the vicinity of Stank Lane and Dirty Lane. Numerous House Martins were flying around their prospective nesting sites at Stonebow Farm and 3 Dunlin were a feature on Hasfield Ham where there were also 3 Curlew in the area, 2 Shelduck and 2 Lapwing. There was no sign of a Peregrine today but a Kestrel was a frequent sight over the reserve. Finally a Tawny Owl was calling mid morning. Generally speaking, the arrival of summer migrants is almost complete and the breeding season is getting underway.

26th April 2005 - A morning stint at the RSPB Peregrine watch point at Symonds Yat. Heavy rain fell during the morning and raptor movement was slight with just one bird showing for a while before it went off hunting. Otherwise all was quiet in the abysmal weather except that there was a noticable passage of Swallows heading north fairly constantly during the morning.

23rd April 2005 - Ashleworth on an overcast day during which rain spread in. 4 Shelduck, 3 Lapwing, newly arrived Common Whitethroat, more Redstart, some Swallows passing through were all noted from Stank Lane. Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff, particularly the former appear to have increased in numbers in the last few days. Curlew were heard several times and a pair overflew to the south and were seen to land several fields away. At the hide, a Peregrine was on one of the pylons and a few duck, including Wigeon and Shoveler remain. A Cuckoo flew over the hide and landed in the tall trees opposite and became very vocal. Finally a Grey Heron had a walk through the mud produced by the lowered water lever.

22nd April 2005 - A long walk from Parkend to Lydbrook, Symonds Yat and return produced a few interesting observations. Several Orange Tip Butterflies were on the wing near the River Wye at Lydbrook as were some hirundines moving through. A Buzzard which was being pestered by a corvid carried out several flick rolls indicating considerable aerobatic expertise.
The sighting of the morning was of something hawking insects over the river to the west of the bridge at about 1.00pm in fine sunshine. At first I thought that it was a Woodcock with flittering flight and the size seemed right. But upon getting the binoculars onto it, I was surprised to find that it was a large bat which I watched for some considerable time. Once it had to take some evasive action to avoid a Jackdaw which came close. Unfortunately, apart from the fact that I could see protruding ears, it was not possible to get much more detailed information such as colour as it was effectively silhouetted against the sky, however the wings were very deep and well rounded. It may well have been a Horseshoe Bat species.

21st April 2005 - A short stint at the Peregrine watch point at Symonds Yat produced both Peregrines. They are still on eggs and as the morning went on, a couple of incubation change overs took place and the outgoing bird, although perched for a while spent much of the time away from the area. The Ravens were vocal as usual and the local Sparrowhawk put in an appearance,

19th April 2005 - An afternoon walk from Parkend to Dilke Hospital produced few migrants but on the return at about 1517 alongside the cycle track/railway track about 1 km SW of Lightmoor Colliery buildings, I encountered a small flock of Waxwings in a tree alongside the trail at Great Saintlow (GR - SO635116). A bright end to the day in the showery afternoon sunshine.

18th April 2005 - A short trip to Slimbridge on a sunny day with the odd shower after torrential overnight rain. A surprise on the Tack Piece was a White-fronted Goose. Nearby was a Common Sandpiper and 2 Little Grebes and a colour ringed Lapwing was on the Dumbles along with a large unidentified falcon. On South Lake there were 40 immature big gulls of both Herring Gull and Lesser Black-backed Gull species. There was a small passage of House Martins and Swallows around mid morning.

17th April 2005 - Another short walk at Nagshead RSPB reserve this morning which turned out to be sunny but cool after an overnight frost. Spring migrants have yet only arrived in small numbers but there are at least two Pied Flycatchers on the reserve, one around box 176 but this bird may not be occupying that box. The location is before the first gate into the open woodland. The box is situated on the left. The other, box 257 is on the right just before the outward short route forks to the right at the junction where the return route rejoins. Again, this bird may have competition for the occupancy of this box. Undoubtedly, there will be more migrants in the next few days as many are reported on the south coast.

16th April 2005 - Ashleworth on a sunny but cool morning. There has still not been a great influx of migrants but Willow Warblers are singing as are at least one Redstart. The first Cuckoo of the year was calling also. Most of the winter duck have departed and the most numerous present are Shoveler. Wigeon, Mallard and 4 Canada Geese were present and 2 Mute Swans are attempting to nest. A handful of Swallows passed through without stopping and the raptors included a male Sparrowhawk in Stank Lane, 8 Buzzards in the air at the same time and a brown phase Tawny Owl flying down the lane and later perched in the ditch. 3 Shelduck, a Lapwing and 2 Curlew were on Hasfield Ham.

15th April 2005 - Another short visit to Nagshead RSPB reserve. A quieter morning with the weather being overcast and the temperature lower than yesterday. There was still quite a bit of song but no large numbers of migrants yet. Blackcaps were in evidence along the track to the site of the old information centre and along the short trail, pairs of Song Thrush, Tree Creeper, Nuthatch and other resident birds were busy with the process of nesting.

14th April 2005 - A short visit to Nagshead RSPB reserve gave me my first view of a Pied Flycatcher this year. A male was roaming the trees near the benches on the return of the short walk.
At Symonds Yat Peregrine watch point the male Peregrine perched in various locations throughout the day but the female was not seen. She is probably on eggs at the moment. A Sparrowhawk put in an appearance overhead and the nesting Ravens and several Buzzards put in many appearances. three Goosander, two males and a female turned up on the River Wye and at least 31 Fallow Deer were in one of the fields below the viewpoint.

13th April 2005 - Ashleworth on a dry but cloudy and mild day. A Swallow passed through but stayers included several Willow Warblers, a Redstart, Curlew, Chiffchaff, Reed Buntings and Little Grebe, all singing or calling and all seen except the Curlew which was distant. Teal, Wigeon and Shoveler are still present in small numbers.

12th April 2005 - A walk to Coleford on a warm and often sunny day produced a Brambling and the first Small Tortoiseshell butterfly of the Forest near Nagshead Lodge. Otherwise there is still no major influx of migrants.

11th April 2005 - An afternoon walk through Nagshead RSPB Reserve to look for migrants after the north-west/north wind of the last few days had died out did not produce many. There were more than one Willow Warbler on the Gloucestershire Way en route to Cannop Ponds from the reserve but apart from Chiffchaff and Blackcap that is all that there were. The other bird of note was the regular Grey Wagtail at Cannop Marsh.
On a general note, there seems to be many Grey Squirrels in the forest over the last few months than usual.

10th April 2005 - A Hawfinch was seen twice on a short visit to Speech House where 7 Buzzards were in the air together on a cool but dry day. 2 Raven and a Peregrine also showed. At New Fancy View, 2 Goshawks were seen, one at quite close range was in the air for some considerable time. Also, an Adder was basking in the weak sunshine alongside the path to the viewpoint.
A note from a trip out of the county during the latter part of the day. At one site, I was able to see a Stone Curlew flying which disappeared behind a small hill and when it came out from the other side, it was a Short-eared Owl, the former having landed behind the hill and found later. The story continues. While watching this owl gradually drifting over the landscape, it was mobbed by another bird which came into the binocular view and this was a Red Kite!!. Three species which I do not see every day were there within minutes. A memorable moment.

9th April 2005 - A short visit to Ashleworth on a dry but cool day produced more Willow Warblers singing, 9 Shelduck, and 2 Swallow went through.

8th April 2005 - A walk around the arboretum at Westonbirt was very quiet in cold and slightly blustery conditions.

7th April 2005 - The highlight of a walk from Parkend to Symonds Yat Peregrine watch point was a Crossbill by Naghead Lodge. On a showery day, the Peregrines were giving a good aerial display and a Goshawk turned up too.

6th April 2005 - A lot more Willow Warblers in evidence singing today in the Parkend area.

5th April 2005 - While walking in the Forest looking at some industial archaeology, Willow Wablers were noted for the first time singing. One was near the former site of As You Like It coal mine, near Parkend Church. At New Fancy View, a pair of Goshawks displayed for about 10 minutes, often giving quite close views. There were many Buzzards noted from the same place.

4th April 2005 - The first Brimstone butterfly that I have noted in the Forest was noted today just to the south of Parkend at Birches Lodge.

3rd april 2005 - A Goshawk flew over Nagshead RSPB information centre at 0845 and a Willow Warbler was singing along the Gloucestershire Way footpath which was a first for the season.

2nd April 2005 - At Ashleworth, the first migrants were in evidence along Stank Lane on a warm and sunny morning with a haze over the hills. A male Redstart was present and along with several Chiffchaffs singing, a Willow Warbler was doing likewise. 2 Kestrel were displaying and 3 Great Spotted Woodpeckers were interacting quite aggressively. A Curlew was heard at the top of the lane, another first for the year. Here, the heavy rain this week has caused some local flooding although the river has not overtopped its banks. Ducks include Wigeon, Teal, Pintail, Mallard, Shoveler, 4 Tufted Duck and 2 Shelduck. At least two pairs of Mute Swans are here and also a pair of Canada Geese. A pair of Long-tailed Tits were both collecting nesting material and in front of the hide, 2 Little Grebe were present for a while. A Peregrine was on the pylon, and another first appeared in the form of a Brimstone butterfly.
A Kestrel was noted entering a large hole in the side of a building at Ashleworth at lunchtime and this is undoubtedly a nesting site.

1st April 2005 - An overcast morning in damp conditions and a slight mist. As the morning wore on here in the Forest of Dean, a number of Buzzards appeared and were soaring throughout the middle of the day as the weather inproved to warm, but not hot, sunshine.

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