Diary - April to June 2006

For other quarter year diary archives, go to the Diary page by clicking here and scroll to the bottom of the page.

24th June 2006 - A morning visit to Symonds Yat Viewpoint to learn that the Peregrines have fledged 4 young. Several birds seen including 3 juveniles at the same time and the adult female at a different time. A Goshawk was airborne over the viewpoint as well as several Buzzards. A Painted Lady Butterfly was also present.

23rd June 2006 - A Hobby was over the lake at Woorgreens, Forest of Dean and by Cannop Ponds, an unknown animal had dug up a Bees nest by the roadside path.

22nd June 2006 - Yet again a Painted Lady butterfly was in the same region of the track near Nagshead Lodge. Bird of the day was a Little Owl which was on the golf club sign along Lords Hill, Coleford.

21st June 2006 - A Painted Lady butterfly was again near Nagshead Lodge.

20th June 2006 - I managed to get within 25m of a Fallow Deer at Burnt Log, near the New Fancy View viewpoint. Many odonata were on the wing today. See the Odonata page for full details

19th June 2006 - This morning at 0650, a Marsh Harrier overflew the Cannop Valley. There was not much wind and the day was cool at that hour and the bird was flapping heavily to gain height and was occasionally harassed by corvids. On a walk to Coleford, there was a Painted Lady butterfly near Nagshead Lodge.

18th June 2006 - A very short walk to Nagshead early this morning revealed 'fountains' of Long-horned Moths on the wing. Last year this phenomenon occured at this reserve on 21st June.
I then went to Woodchester Mansion near Stroud. In the unfinished building were nesting Swallows, a Pied Wagtail and a Spotted Flycatcher.

17th June 2006 - After noting that a Red-backed Shrike had been seen at Tidenham Chase which is just down the road, I went down there with the hope of seeing the bird. There appeared to be plenty of bird activity when I arrived with several Stonechats, Whitethroats, a Yellowhammer feeding young and Willow Warblers still singing. However, I did not see the shike in the two and a half hours that I was there on a lovely warm and sunny day. Additionally, there were many dragonflies and damselflies on the wing on what appeared to be a perfect day for them. Surprisingly, with the news apparently out late the previous evening, I only met two Hampshire birders who were passing but no local birders did I see.

11th June 2006 - An early morning walk through Nagshead RSPB Reserve and some general observations. The woods now are a mixture of happenings. On the one hand there appear to be single birds of several species such as Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler and Wood Warbler singing, presumably to attract a mate and there are other birds with newly fledged young on the wing and the parents of these are working hard to feed their offspring. There does not seem to be many Grey Squirrels in evidence after the large numbers that were about some months ago. Jays seems to be numerous and it could be that Wood Warblers have had a good year in terms of the numbers heard singing in May. Pied Flycatchers seem to be relatively easy to view this year suggesting that they are more numerous this year compared to the last two years at least whereas Spotted Flycatchers seem to be very few and far between this breeding season.

10th June 2006 - A walk through Naghead area of the Forest of Dean on a very hot day revealed the first Painted Lady butterfly of the season on the drive to Nagshead Lodge. The Redstarts are still feeding young as is the Nuthatch in its natural nest hole.

7th June 2006 - The first juvenile Blue Tit of the season was noted clinging momentarily to the wall of the building today.

6th June 2006 - A short evening walk at Nagshead RSPB reserve. Yet another Slow Worm noted today but unfortunately it was dead on the drive to the reserve. In Parkend village a Dipper was near the bridge by the post office. The woods were full of song tonight on a glorious, sunny and warm evening.

3rd June 2006 - A walk through Nagshead again en route to Cinderford. The Nuthatch and the Wood Warbler were near their nest sites but I did not linger as I passed along the footpath. On my return over Crabtree Hill, I noted 2 Tree Pipits singing from a couple of song posts and I could hear but not see a Turtle Dove but I did not have time to search for this bird.

2nd June 2006 - A short walk through Nagshead RSPB Reserve again this afternoon was very fruitful. A sunny, warm day brought out the birds and the insect. I found a Great Tits nest in a Rowan Tree, the Nuthatch in the Oak Tree is still feeding as is the Redstart in another Rowan Tree and the Coal Tit in the base of the Oak Tree is also doing well. Further along the path I found a Wood Warblers nest right alongside the Gloucesteshire Way. It was calling which drew my attention to it and then it showed me the nest which was a little surprising. On the Odonata front there were over 50 individuals of Beautiful Demoiselle along the Cannop Brook, more than I have ever seen in one place and an early Golden-ringed Dragonfly, a very big and imposing yellow and black insect. See the Odonata page for fuller details. What a great day.

1st June 2006 - I walked through Nagshead RSPB Reserve this afternoon and discovered a couple, on a public footpath (The Gloucestershire Way), photographing a pair of Redstarts which had a nest in a natural hole in a Rowan tree. While watching them and not disturbing them with their long lens, I noted a Coal Tit approaching with food which it took to its nest which was surprisingly in the trunk of an oak tree and the entrance was right at ground level and the soil had been scraped away from the hole by the toing and froing of the birds.

31st May 2006 - I passed along a public footpath this morning which is a few hundred metres from a Peregrine eyrie here in the Forest. I could hear an adult calling in the distance which suggests that all is well in that they are still in the area. I hope to be seeing young on the wing in a few weeks.

28th May 2006 - A short stop at Ashleworth this morning en route to a business meeting in Coventry. In Stank Lane there were 2 Red-legged Partridge who seemed reluctant to fly. From the hide, 3 Mallard, and unknown duck species not seen very well with 8 ducklings, 2 Mute Swans with 3 cygnets, 1 Wigeon, 2 Shoveler, 2 Coot and a Buzzard and Cuckoo overflying.

27th May 2006 - Rain again this morning but a walk to Whitecroft was made in a relatively dry afternoon and surprisingly another Slow Worm was seen, this time on the path by the railway line near Whitecroft. Sadly, a dead Red Fox was noted in the water near the old sluice gates in the stream near the church at Parkend.

26th May 2006 - A walk to Coleford after a wet morning again. The only thing of note was of a Slow Worm on the cycle track in Parkend. The second one I have seen in the last two weeks (the other being in Scotland) and prior to that, it is many months since the last sighting.

25th May 2006 - A day which started and ended overcast but which in between became pleasantly warm and sunny. The woods around Parkend were fairly quiet but Wood Warblers are still singing and a Cuckoo was still calling. Many other songs were from Song Thrush, Robin and Blackbird. A generally quiet day but at least it was dry.

24th May 2006 - I don't usually write about natural history events outside of the county but today was exceptional. I had visited the Isle of Porland for business reasons and called into the Observatory where they had been reporting many Storm Petrels lingering off the Bill of Portland since some rough weather a few days ago. Indeed, this species seemed to be breaking records at many other coastal locations. I scoped the area and in addition to many passing Manx Shearwater, Gannet, Kittiwake, Guillemot and various gulls, I managed to find two or three birds but the views were not great. I moved down to the Trinity House obelisk at the very point of the Bill and found many more birds very close inshore and sometimes my scope view would hold 6 birds. They were showing down to about 50m. and had been doing so all morning. I watched them for more that half an hour. Excellent views and a spectacle which is not likely to be repeated many times in a lifetime if ever again. The weather conditions of a few days ago coincided exactly with the passage of this species which brought them close to land in the first place. A very fruitful trip.

23rd May 2006 - A walk through Nagshead RSPB Reserve again today and yet again there were heavy showers. The 6th day running that I have had a soaking while out and about. On the short trail, two years ago, there was a Redstart nesting in a natural hole in a tree right beside the path. Last year this hole was used by a Blue Tit and this year, it is again being used but this time by a Nuthatch.
Of note with the rain and water, the Gloucestershire Way from the short/long trails to Cannop Ponds is really a steady but shallow stream. I have never seen it like this and the whole of the reserve is wetter than it is in most winters. More rain is forecast.

22nd May 2006 - I had to go to Birmingham today. Although out of the county, an owl species almost hit the windscreen of the truck as I was returning in the dark at about 10.30pm somewhere in Worcestershire. I noted that the home area had over an inch of rain today.

21st May 2006 - Torrential rain again this morning. I expect to get wet for the 4th day running. A short walk through Nagshead RSPB Reserve but the rain kept coming in showers although it was a warm day. I showed some people around a few of the old mine workings in the Bixslade Valley. With the weather conditions as they were, there was not much song and as it was getting late in the afternoon, much of the woodland was quiet. A pair of Buzzards were soaring over the valley.

20th May 2006 - I checked a Peregrine eyrie I had not visited since the late winter. I was very pleased to find both the adult birds in attendance. I did not approach and consequently have not seen any young but by the very presence of the birds, they must have young. A wecome sight in yet more rain.

19th May 2006 - This afternoon, I walked the short trail at Nagshead for a bit of exercise. There was still a lot of rain in the air and surprisingly considering the lateness of the day and the weather conditions, the birds were still singing strongly. Conditions underfoot are more akin to the middle of winter with much mud and the little streams that run through this part of the reserve, like all in the Forest at the moment, are running strongly.

18th May 2006 - I did the same walk to photograph the topped Beech Tree and then walked on to Coleford on a supply trip. There were some torrential rain showers throughout the afternoon and the birds were singing strongly throughout the woodland.

17th May 2006 - A walk through Nagshead RSPB Reserve to Cannop Ponds. Nothing unusual on the trip but the woods seem to be alive with bird song even late in the morning and it was by far the 'noisiest' this year. There was a thunderstorm in the area last week when I was away and at the bottom of Bixslade Tramway, there is a mature Beech Tree that has been broken off on the main trunk about 20 feet up. This is an enormous tree well in excess of 100 years old and it has been snapped like the proverbial matchstick, no doubt as a result of a lightning strike. It was certainly intact 2 weeks ago.

16th May 2006 - Ashleworth. The growth of the leaves on the many trees and the general plant growth of the flood plain is very noticable after a week away. From the hide, 2 Grey Heron and 2 Shelduck were on the marshy area. 4 Mallard and a Wigeon were the only other water fowl with the exception of the Mute Swan which was still on its nest. I walked up Stank Lane and on the way there, I noted the very reliable Sedge Warbler at the entrance to Colways Farm. At this time, a Cuckoo was heard. This species seems to be very vocal this year. In the lane itself, I found Chiffchaffs singing along with Willow Warbler. Silent were Redstart and Bullfinch while Lesser Whitethroat and Common Whitethroat were scolding me for passing close to them. 2 Canada Geese were on the pool at the side of the lane and on Hasfield Ham there were at least 6 Mute Swans, 8 Lapwing giving the impression that some of them were nesting. A Curlew was heard to the north of the lane and a Peregrine was soaring overhead for some time.
Weather at 1030 was, wind 250 deg., 3.5 mph., temp 18 deg. C., dew point 14 deg. C., and humidity was 63 %.

15th May 2006 - After being away for a week, it was very noticable how green the Forest of Dean is now looking. The trees have broken out into almost full leaf in this short time. I walked through Nagshead RSPB Reserve en route to Coleford on a supply trip. It was a cloudy and overcast day with odd spits of rain. The greyness of the day made the under canopy seem quite dark and with the leave cover, it was a different world than a week ago.

7th May 2006 - A made a relatively short trip to Symonds Yat Peregrine viewpoint this morning to confirm the chick sighting of two days ago. When I arrived, there was one bird on the eyrie and the other nowhere to be seen. This was on a pleasantly sunny and warm day at 0920. At 0936, the male arrived with some prey which he took into the recess. This appeared to be a small mammal with a tail. He left almost immediately and went and perched on a nearby tree. He flew again later and returned at 1105 and appeared to be tearing prey on the ledge with the female still sitting. He left shortly after and at 1110, the female got up and started to render some prey and proceed to feed the chicks of which there were three. This continued for about 5 minutes and then she covered the chicks and that was the show of the morning over and I departed.

6th May 2006 - Ashleworth. From the hide, a Snipe in the marshy area with 3 Grey Herons nearby. A Buzzard was on one of the pollarded willows and a Chiffchaff was singing strongly in the copse. Duck numbers included, 7 Wigeon, 3 Teal, 6 Mallard and 2 Shelduck. The second one of these flew in and a chase ensued with the male chasing the female but there was no mating. A male Gadwall was seen later in the morning and this is a species which has not been seen for sometime. Is there a pair breeding here? When a particularly noisy motorbike came along the lane, the Wigeon which were feeding on the grassy area nearer to the road than the water, returned to the safety of the latter. Most flew the short distance but at least two were seen running and one had been seen with a drooping wing, thus there are injured birds here which will partially explain the remnants of this migratory species being still here. 2 Coot were mooching around and on the 'island' with the dense willow trees, a Water Rail appeared and fed for some time before melting away into the vegetation. 3 Lapwing seem to have taken a liking to the wet area directly in front of the hide. The Mute Swan is still on the nest in spite of the continually lowering water level and the mate is never far away. 2 Stock Doves were around the willow trees in the near distance and a Lesser Whitethroat was again in the hedge not far from the hide. Along Stank Lane, again the stunning male Redstart graced me with his presence and a Cuckoo was heard. Male Reed Buntings appear to be more on show than earlier in the spring and on Hasfield Ham, there were 2 Mute Swans, 1 Canada Goose and 2 more Shelduck.
Temperature was 19 deg. C. and Dew Point 9 deg. C. at 1300.

5th May 2006 - I went along to the Peregrine watch point at Symonds Yat this morning on a lovely sunny and pleasantly warm day. I arrived there at 10.45 and one of the adults could be seen sitting on the nest. Not a lot happened for a while but then a second bird flew in and then flew out straight away. It was difficult to see the size of the birds as the one on the nest was partially obscured and the one which momentarily appeared, very soon disappeared from sight and therefore it was not certain which sex was sitting. Meanwhile, Sparrowhawk and Goshawk and Raven put in an appearance. Finally, at 13.05 in came the other bird and there was a change over and the male flew away and began soaring to the north. For the few seconds when the nest area was in full view with neither bird obscuring the view, it was possible to see something moving further back in the nest hole. This must have been one or more hatched chicks. The first sighting this spring. Later the male returned and did not change over but flew away and followed the exact path as he did after having been relieved by the female and he once again proceeded to soar for a time. Earlier in the day, what turned out to be the male could be seen on the nest with rather jerky head movements which did not suggest moving of the eggs as this movement appeared to be too violent for that. This movement may have been the rendering of some prey from a carcass or part carcass prior to feeding the chick(s) or maybe himself.
During the morning, 51 Fallow Deer put in an appearance in the field below the viewpoint.

4th May 2006 - I returned to Ashleworth to get some GPS grid references for the Mousetail plants seen yesterday. I checked some other gateways and found two more sites containing these plants. They appear to prefer fairly dry ground that has been very wet and well trodden by cattle. There may be more sites on the reserve.
Noted also on this short visit were 4 Lapwing in front of the hide, a Cuckoo calling, a Lesser Whitethroat in the hedge near the hide and in Stank Lane a Linnet was again noted and more predictably, a Redstart flying around the pollarded willow trees. On the raptor front, both Buzzard and Kestrel were on the wing.
Weather on a hot and sunny day was, temp 25 deg. C., dew point 22 deg.c., humidity 67% and wind, 070 deg., 5 mph, gusting 12 mph at 1200.
A late update for the day. At least 4 Swifts were over the village this evening, the first of the returning birds of this species which breed here.

3rd May 2006 - I went to Severn Beach this morning in the hope of some forecasted breezy weather but it turned out to be almost flat calm. Seabird movement was non-existant and the only birds of note were a mixed flock of 21 Dunlin and 13 Ringed Plover and a Curlew on the foreshore. Temperature was 14 deg. C. and the maximum gust of wind was only 14 mph.
I moved on to Slimbridge. There had been reports yesterday of a Redhead duck. I had to search around for a while but I eventually caught up with it on Rushy Pen. It was a female. I had been shown a photograph of it on the screen of a digital camera before I saw it and it reminded me of a female Tufted Duck/Scaup. My notes which I took are as follows. Overall a brown to ginger colouration with this colour on head, head sides, flanks and breast with slightly darker wings. A dark eye with a hint of brown, fairly light cheeks leading to the bill, black terminal band on the bill but the lighter subterminal band peters out further up the bill and is not nicely demarcated above and below. There were no rings on dark legs. The underwings were white and the underbody very light with some mottling. The overall colour was slightly lighter than 3 female Tufted Ducks which were nearby. The undertail coverts were light but with much mottling. There was a very light wingbar across both secondaries and primaries and the bird is fully winged. Head shape is reasonably typical of this species in that there is a flattish look to the head with a steep forehead.
I checked several captive birds and they generally show all of the features noted with the exception of the light cheeks which appear lighter on the digital photographs than live. I need to consult more literature before I can make a judgement as to whether this is a female Redhead or a hybrid.
In the evening I moved on to Ashleworth and attended a Gloucestershire Naturalist Society field meeting. A male Reed Bunting was by the hide and several were found around the reserve as were Sedge Warblers and Lesser Whitethroats. In Stank Lane there was a stunning male Redstart and both Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs were in good voice on a very pleasant sunny and warm evening. A Shelduck and Green Sandpiper were showing from the hide along with a few lingering ducks. A Smooth Newt was by the sluice gate and nearby a hunting Barn Owl wafted by. 2 Curlew were airborne as were Lapwings and 16 Mute Swans were on Hasfield Ham. These seem to have become the resident none breeding flock but the nesting swan seen from the hide was on the nest as usual this evening. A Cuckoo was calling for quite a while and later at least two species of bat were noted on the wing. The botanist found a relatively rare plant, the Mousetail in one of the gateways which was probably the highlight of the evening.

2nd May 2006 - Ashleworth on a cool and breezy morning. 3 Grey Herons were wandering around the low water in front of the hide and the Mute Swan was still on the nest with the mate nearby. A Shelduck directly in front of the hide was unusual but the usual ducks were still around. They comprised, 9 Wigeon, 2 Teal, 7 Mallard and in addition there were still 3 Coot with a Chiffchaff singing in the copse by the hide. There followed a walk along Stank Lane where several Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs were vocal. Sedge Warblers are now here in increasing numbers with at least 3 along the lane. Also now present are a number of Whitethroats. A Great Spotted Woodpecker was up a tree while on the ground 2 Red-legged Partridges ran away from me. A male Reed Bunting put in an appearance at the top of the lane where at least 8 Lapwing were present on Hasfield Ham along with 2 more Shelduck and 11 Mute Swan. Finally back near the hide a Cuckoo started calling and there was a short burst of Swift and Swallow passage. Probably the funniest thing noted today was a caterpillar rolling out of control along Ham Road in the ever increasing wind. It appeared to be traversing the road when for some reason, it lost its footing and was blown along towards Tirley!!
Weather at 0950, temp 10 deg. C., dew point 4 deg. C., 62% humidity, wind, 190 deg., 7.5 mph, gusting 15 mph.

1st May 2006 - Another walk around the Nagshead area. The Swifts that breed in the village have not yet put in an appearance but there were plenty of House Martins and Swallows on the wing. In the village there appear to be at least three flocks of House Sparrows, a declining species. I must try and track down others. At the reserve there were several Blackcaps singing and along the short trail I came across a female Pied Flycatcher, apparently foraging in the leaf litter like a Blackbird. I eventually worked out that it was not feeding but searching for nesting material as it flew off with a beakful of material. Several other males of this species were noted in many parts of the reserve including near the timber company in Parkend, along both short and long trails and down by the Lower Hide. Also along the short trail was a pair of Treecreepers, foraging together and another bird below a Yew tree also feeding was a close quarter Hawfinch. I walked along the first part of the long trail and noted at least 5 Wood Warblers before I cut back to check the cleared area for Tree Pipits but found none. The vegetation has grown up quite alot and the habitation may not be the best for this species although there are newly cleared areas which they can take advantage of. Generally, there seemed to be more song in the woodland than of late and the number of Pied Flycatchers that I am finding seems to be encouraging after the low numbers of recent years. Whether these are all potential breeders for the reserve or some of them may be staging through remains to be seen.
Weather - after heavy overnight rain the day was a bright sunny one with the occasional shower. Details taken within the woodland were, temp 15 deg. C., dew point 8 deg. C. and 61% humidity at 0855.

30th April 2006 - A morning walk at Nagshead. There were plenty of visitors on this bank holiday weekend in cool by dry weather. At least 2 Pied Flycatchers were again flycatching over the ponds at the Lower Hide. I saw my first female of this species with the male in tow and carrying nesting material at box 96. Also a first for the year was a Garden Warbler near the information centre. This appears to be a good habitat for this species as I see them a within a few metres of this place each year. There may be a case for returning adults to select the same location and/or offspring returning to the place of birth. This is just a theory but this species is so predictable every year.

29th April 2006 - This evening at dusk, I saw my first bat at my new residence. It was in flight and was almost certainly a Pipistrelle bat.

28th April 2006 - Ashleworth this morning. The Bluebells are out in force in the copse by the hide. The Mute Swan is still on the nest with the mate nearby even though the nest must be high and dry with the water level dropping even more. Duck and waterbird counts are as follows:- Mallard 5, Teal 11, Wigeon 4, Pintail 1, Coot 2, Grey Heron 2. A Peregrine was on the pylon. In Stank Lane there were two Redstarts, a singing Linnet, 2 Canada Geese on the pond, 12 Mute Swans on Hasfield Ham with a least one Lapwing being very aerial. My first Orange-tip Butterfly of the year was in Stank Lane.
Weather at 1130 was sunny, temp 16 deg. C., dew point 8 deg. C., 59% humidity and wind 060 deg., 3 mph, gusting 5 mph.

27th April 2006 - Nagshead RSPB Reserve. Quite a bit of song in the woods but not much from spring migrants. Several Blackcap were singing near the information centre. At the lower hide, 2 male Pied Flycatchers were catching flies over one of the ponds and a different bird was investigating box 96, and a pair of Stock Doves appear to be nesting in one of the old trees. Mandarin Ducks appear to have paired up but not as much activity as I was expecting.
Weather in the woods was overcast with sunny periods, temp 16 deg. C., dew point 10 deg. C., 58% humidity and wind calm at 0910.

21st April 2006 - A very quick to Ashleworth before moving out of the county for the day. Surprisingly there were 2 Peregrines on the pylons today instead of the usual one. Duck numbers were, from the hide, 21 Teal, 4 Mallard, 9 Wigeon, 1 Shoveler, 1 Pintail and 27 Coot but none of the Coots were on a nest and it seems that they have failed because of dropping water levels. 3 Mute Swans were there including the one on the nest. 1 Grey Heron was loafing over the back of the water and a Cuckoo was heard.
At a site out of the county as a matter of interest, there was a steady passage all day of Swallows and House Martins. Other birds noted at this site during the day were 2 Short-eared Owls, a Red Kite, 2 male Montagu's Harrier and the first Whitethroat and Grasshopper Warbler that I have encountered this spring.

18th April 2006 - Ashleworth. A Blackcap was singing in the copse, the Coot that laid first is still sitting as is the Mute Swan and the pair of Tufted Duck are still present. This is what greeted me from the hide at 0920 this morning. 2 Canada Geese were calling and later in the morning departed but there were 13 Teal, 6 Wigeon, 18 Shoveler, 5 Mallard and 2 Grey Heron on the rapidly decreasing water. The sluice boards were taken out at the weekend to attain the summer water levels. On Hasfield Ham there were 9 Shelduck the ususal 6 juvenile Mute Swans and at least 3 Lapwing. A Curlew was heard during the walk along Stank Lane and a Sparrowhawk was hunting along the hedgrows. 3 Little Grebe were present on Ashleworth Ham and the Peregrine put in an appearance on a pylon. The first Ladybird of the season was noted on some nettles along Ham Road but it dropped down into the vegetation beforeI could identify the species concerned. I suspect that it was a 7-spot. A Brimstone butterfly, possibly two were on the wing in Ham Road. The hedgerows are now turning green rapidly and the bigger trees are not far behind them which is contrast to the Forest of Dean which is about 2 weeks behind, being just that bit higher.
Weather was generally overcast with some sunny intervals during the morning giving was to heavy rain at the start of the afternoon. Temp 13 deg. C., dew point 6 deg. C., 54% humidity, wind, 270 deg., 10 mph, gusting 14 mph.

17th April 2006 - A short walk on an industrial archaeological mission and so I was not paying all of my attention to the natural history of the Forest. However, there were far more butterflies about than at any time of the year so far. There were several of Comma, Peacock and Small Tortoiseshell. Late note from yesterday was of a Brimstone.
Weather was of sunny periods and temp 13 deg. C., dew point 5 deg. C., 49 % humidity and wind 230 deg., 6 mph, gusting 11 mph at 0840 in Parkend.

16th April 2006 - Nagshead. My first Pied Flycatcher of the year, a male was noted between International Timber Factory and the reserve information centre this morning at about 0900. It was calling very like a nearby Chaffinch. At the Lower Hide, there was another male, this one investigating a nest box in front of the hide. Up in the trees nearbly were a pair of Mandarin Ducks, and a possible tree nest site for them was visible and also in the trees over the ponds were a pair of Stock Doves. Dor Beetles were on the move across many of the paths, this being another first for the year as the weather has warmed. I checked for Tree Pipits on the cleared area at the far side of the Long Trail but I didn't find any.
Weather, sunny periods, temp 17 deg. C., dew point 10 deg. C., 53% humidity at 1110. Wind speed not taken in the shelter of the trees.

15th April 2006 - Ashleworth. My first Cuckoo of the spring was 'gowking' in the copse at Meerend Thicket this morning. Also there was a Chiffchaff in full song, as was a Willow Warbler and 2, maybe 3 different male Blackcaps were moving through. 2 Tufted Ducks remain on the receding water and a handful of Wigeon, Teal, Mallard, Shoveler and Pintail were still present as were the two nesting Coot along with many others of this last species. Little Grebes were trilling and a pair were seen. No Gadwall were noted. Mute Swans continue to nest and along Ham Road, Reed Buntings were seen yet again. Up Stank Lane, a pair of Treecreepers were together with one of them remaining motionless on a tree trunk for several minutes with only a tiny bit of head movement as a Wren and Blue Tits called out in alarm. I could not see a reason for the alarm other than myself being there!! At least 3 Lapwing were displaying over Hasfield Ham where the 6 juvenile Mute Swans remain and at least 2 Shelduck were on the damp field by the pylon. Skylark activity was also noted and 5 different Willow Warblers were singing at regular intervals along the lane.
Weather was overcast, temp. 17 deg. C., dew point 8 deg. C., 52 per cent humidity, wind calm.

11th April 2006 - Ashleworth. A Chiffchaff is still singing by the hide and a Little Grebe trilling in the background. There appears to be three sets of Mute Swans attempting to breed, one to the south of the hide, one to the north and one not far from Colways Farm while on Hasfield Ham, there are 6 juvenile birds making up a non breeding group. Also there are 6 Shelduck. In spite of the breeze and rain there was a Skylark in the sky singing. At least 20 Shoveler are still on the diminishing water with a few Wigeon, 4 Canada Geese (3 more on a field to the north of Stank Lane) and at least one Greylag Goose on Hasfield Ham.
Weather at 1100, Rain, temp 6 deg. C., dew point 1 deg. C., 65 per cent humidity, wind 200 deg., 14 mph., gusting 20 mph.

10th April 2006 - A walk through Nagshead RSPB reserve this morning looking for early summer migrants. The woods were very quiet and no migrants were logged. This was to be expected with the cool weather and somewhat of a head wind this morning. The first warblers in the woodland must only be days away now. A Marsh Tit at the feeding station at Cannop Ponds was the scarcist bird of the day.
Prior to that, Bramblings were still in Parkend and today joined by a Siskin, a new bird for the apartment list.
Weather was sunny with temp 11 deg. C., dew point 0 deg. C., 45% humidity, wind 070 deg. 4 mph, gusting 11 mph at 1010.

9th April 2006 - At least 3 Brambling in my neighbours garden this morning. Later, I went to Ashleworth. From the hide, there were 5 Mute Swan, 4 Canada Geese, 2 Greylag Geese, some Sand Martins and Swallows, a Little Grebe trilling in the distance, a Grey Heron overflying, a Chiffchaff singing in Meerend Thicket, 2 Stock Doves perched on a pollarded willow and a Redshank on the edge of the floodwater. On Hasfield Ham there were 3 juvenile Mute Swans, 10 Shelduck including the possible Australian bird and 3 Lapwing.
Partly cloudy, with temp 13 deg. C., dew point 1 deg. C., 42 % humidity, wind 335 deg., 3 mph gusting 5 mph at 1115.

8th April 2006 - A very short visit to Ashleworth where there were at least 7 juvenile Mute Swans on Hasfield Ham. Is this a build up of a non breeding flock? 4 Shelduck including the possible escapee Australian-type bird.
Sunny spells today with temp 10 deg. C., dew point 1 deg. C., 45% humidity, wind 250 deg., 13mph, gusting 22mph at 1115.

7th April 2006 - Parkend. At least 3, possibly more Brambling at a feeder in my neighbours garden. The feeder is new although they have been ground feeding for some time. The birds were on the ground underneath the feeder and were noted from my window.

6th April 2006 - After dropping someone off at Lydney railway station and noting several hirundines nearby, I went to the lakes just to the east. There was a flock of at least 200 birds, mostly Sand Martins with one or two Swallows and the same of House Martins. I could only count 40 birds at any one time in the air over one of the lakes but there were many more than that with other birds over the other lake simultaneously and the air was full of their sounds.

5th April 2006 - Ashleworth on a sunny and cold and frosty start to the day. About 220 Wigeon were in the open water and a pair of Canada Geese were conspicuous because one was much bigger than the other. The Chiffchaff was still singing by the hide and another was along Stank Lane along with a distantly singing Willow Warbler. Greenfinch, Jay (unusual), male Reed Bunting and Great Spotted Woodpecker were all along Stank Lane but the best bird of the day was a Barn Owl hunting the fields. In the strong sunlight it appeared at times to have translucent wings. I later refound it hunting over an uncut, weedy field in classic style further up the lane.
On Hasfield Ham there were at least 5 juvenile Mute Swans, 17 Lapwing, and 2 Curlew. 7 Shelduck included what looked like an Australian Shelduck but the details were difficult to see at long range. It looked superficially like a Ruddy Shelduck with a dark neck and head. I am sure that it was the same bird that I saw on the Dumbles at Slimbridge on Monday (3rd) but not noted in this diary. Finally, on the raptor front, 6 Buzzards were noted airborne at the same time but not all together.

4th April 2006 - Ashleworth on a fine, sunny but cold day. The Tufted Duck numbers were only at two but late in the morning after some disturbance when most of the duck were in the open, I obtained a figure of 220 Wigeon and single figures of Teal, Mallard, Pintail, Shoveler and Gadwall. Little Grebe were trilling again and 2 adult Mute Swans saw off 4 juveniles from in front of Colways Farm. The youngsters moved over to Hasfield Ham where there was already 2 birds. Two Greylag Geese were there and also 17 Lapwing and at least 7 Shelduck. 2 Curlew were with the Shelduck. 7 Snipe flew past the hide at noon and in terms of passerines, a female Reed Bunting was a notable sight in Stank Lane in as much as I have not noted this species at this site for some time. Warblers were represented by 2 singing Chiffchaffs and and one distant Willow Warbler at least three others who were remaining silent. 2 Sand Martins were flying purposefully north west at noon. One bunch and one bunch only of Mistletoe in Stank Lane is in full berry whereas all of the others are now devoid of same.

3rd April 2006 - A Hawfinch from the bedroom window was a fine start to the day at 6.30am.
A short trip to Slimbridge was on a quiet day. At least 6 Oystercatchers were on the Dumbles and a small passage of Sand Martins occurred at lunchtime but at high tide near noon, there was very little movement.

2nd April 2006 - A mid morning trip to Ashleworth on a blustery and showery day. On both the outward and return journey, there were hirundines of unknown species around Westbury Court Gardens along the A48 Gloucester to Chepstow road.
At AShleworth, the White Violets in the copse by the hide have bloomed. 3 Tufted Duck were present but were not seen yesterday despite extensive looking. The Coot was still nest building at the 11 o'clock position from the hide. The nest will probably be predated when the water level drops. Chiffchaff were singing in two places along Ham Road but conditions generally were not conducive to picking up bird song with the very strong wind roaring through the trees. Again by the hide, a Goldcrest was foraging in the opposite hedge and unusually for the site, a Jay was in Stank Lane and a Cormorant was on the water in front of the hide. 7 Lapwing were on Hasfield Ham and a Curlew was calling nearby. Surprisingly to me, a new sluice has been built near the top of Stank Lane. What effect, if any, on the waterlevels on the reserve remains to be seen.
General note was that there appeared to be a reduction in the duck numbers since yesterday.

1st April 2006 - I checked the River Severn at Haw Bridge and noted at least 3 Sand Martin near the breeding site south of the bridge.
At Ashleworth, there was a singing Chiffchaff by the hide and in Stank Lane. A Willow Warbler was also in song at the latter location and at least 3 birds were moving around and occasionally singing near the hide. For this species, it is a first for the year. Long-tailed Tits were nest building near the hide and in Stank Lane. The Tufted Ducks appear to have departed from the site. Frog spawn was noted for the first time this year in a ditch near the farm to the north of the hide.
Generally, there appear to be fewer duck than two days ago and this is in keeping with the continued milder weather and a favourable airstream which has persuaded these species to begin their journey north to breed and which has also brought some of the summer migrants.




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