Diary - April to June 2009

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30th June 2009 - Another warm but slightly cooler day with the maximum temperature on the Gloucester Weather Website registering only 26.3 deg. C..

29th June 2009 - A very hot day with 28 deg. C. at 1500 and 30.9 deg. C. as the maximum on the Gloucester Weather Website. At Nagshead in the afernoon, I went to look for White Admiral Butterflies near Cannop Ponds but found none. Back along the short trail, the female Pied Flycatcher was back at box 96 and entered it and the male was nearby and singing loudly.

28th June 2009 - A warm and humid day with a maxmimum temperature on the Gloucester Weather Website of 27.7 deg. C..

27th June 2009 - Warm, sunny and humid. Nagshead pond near the information centre had, Common Blue, Large Red Damselflies, Emperor Dragonfly, Broad-bodied Chaser and Black-tailed Skimmer. Along Cannop Brook behind the stone works, there were plenty of Beautiful Demoiselles and a Golden-ringed Dragonfly but I could not find a Banded Demoiselle or White-legged Damselfly. A Dipper was also along the brook.
Upon my return, a first of the season was a Silver-washed Fritillary at the end of the Gloucestershire Way near the main Cannop Valley road. The Pied Flycatcher was again at box 96 and there seemed to be a lot of action suggesting that the eggs have hatcher.

26th June 2009 - An overcast start to the day. The forcasted heavy rain started at 1040 and 14mm of rain was recorded on the Gloucester Weather Website for this morning when there was a thunderstorm. At Nagshead in the afternoon it was generally overcast with a few sunny periods. In the lower meadow with one 360 deg. sweep, I counted 40 butterflies although there were many more. They were mainly Ringlets with a few Meadow Browns. The Common Spotted Orchids are in profusion there. At the pool by the information centre, there were toadlets/froglets about. Odonata were represented in the dull conditions by Azure Damselfly and Emperor Dragonfly. Along the long trail, there were one each of Wood Warbler and Chiffchaff which were very vocal. A Pied Flycatcher was still at box 96.

25th June 2009 - A warm, sunny and humid day. At Nagshead in the afternoon, a number of Broad-bodied Chaser Dragonflies around the pond near the information centre together with a Black-tailed Skimmer, Brown Hawker and some unidentified blue damselflies. A Mandarin Duck has young. Around the long trail, 2 Grey Wagtails on the track was a surprise. A butterfly transect produced Speckled Wood, Ringlet, Meadow Brown and Red Admiral.

24th JUne 2009 - A warm and sunny day. A walk around the long trail revealed a Wood Warbler still but the song is very half hearted now. There were plenty of Song Thrushes foraging in the leaf litter. A good sign.

22nd June 2009 - A warm and humid day. At Nagshead there were many Ringlet Butterflies in the lower meadow, the first I have seen this year.
An interesting note from the ringer to say that the Pied Flycatcher that I had noted at box 96 is sitting on 4 eggs. This is a late date and a further note from the ringer is that this bird was an earlier breeder at another nest box near the lower hide as told from the ring number. Box 96 was previously used this year by a Blue Tit.

19th June 2009 - A day at Symonds Yat helping at the Peregrine viewpoint. The Peregrines have failed to hatch any eggs this year but there was some activity at various times during the day with one bird perched up in view for a while and two fairly long flights around the area. Down in the river valley, there were Fallow Deer, one with a very young one nearby which was very gangly and somewhat unsteady on the legs. This must have been a recent birth. The Sand Martins are still visiting their hole in the river bank and at the telescope point, at least 3 Wood Miceand a Bank Vole seen many times during the day.

18th June 2009 - Dry, generally cloudy with some sunny intervals. 16 deg. C. at 1430. Nagshead in the afternoon was quiet as expected. 3 Wood Warblers were still singing at various points around the far end of the long trail. The female Pied Flycatcher was still entering box 96 as noted on 16th June.

17th June 2009 - An overcast start to the day. It was the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust AGM which I attended. In spite of the overall state of the economics of this country, the Trust seems to be progressing well and appears to be well managed.
Nagshead in the afternoon. It was windy with some rain and this lead to a quiet hour of so in the woods in the damp conditions. I flushed three Buzzards from the trees at various points around the long trail and each time, a smaller passerine moved on too. The first of these was a Wren and the other two were unidentified. With the first it seemed odd that one of the larger birds and one of the smallest in the UK were together.

16th June 2009 - A warm, dry and sunny day with the temperature at 20 deg. C. at 1800. Nagshead in the late afternoon. A notable record was of a Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly in the carpark. This is a rapidly declining species which I have only seen on two or three occasions so far this year. A female Pied Flycatcher was noted entering box 96 which is where I sometimes sit for a short while and I have not noted this species at that box before. A Willow Warbler and at least one Wood Warbler still singing along the long trail. A very dark Fallow Deer between the short and long trail was unusual in both the colour form and the location.

15th June 2009 - A very short visit to Ashleworth on an overcast and warm lunchtime. 3 Canada Geese, 7 Mallard, 1 Chiffchaff singing in the copse, 1 female Pintail, 1 female Wigeon and a Buzzard on the pylon.
At Nagshead at 1730, it was very quiet in the woods with overcast skies, very slight drizzle and distant thunderstorms.

14th June 2009 - A day trip to Strumble Head in Pembrokeshire. It was fine, sunny and warm with a light south west wind and the sea state was between 2 and 3. The idea was to look for Harbour Porpoises which had been reported on the internet to be generally missing from the area in the last few weeks. Other than days of stormy weather when it is very difficult to see the fins, they have been present since I have regularly been visiting the observation point over the last 10 years and before that on infrequent visits it was usual to see them. It took me some time to eventually find some and over a period of about one and a half hours I had 4 sightings of no more than 4 animals at any one time. All of these sightings and one more very brief sighting mid afternoon were in approximately the same location on the far side of the tide race. This suspected me to believe that I was seeing the same animals. I attended the Sea Trust Porpoise watch in the afternoon and we had two brief sightings between 2pm and 3.30pm. I was told that the watch on Friday afternoon last had had no sightings and this had never before happened on one of these watches. It seems definite that there are very few of these animals in this location now. Noone seems to know why but the one factor which has happened over the winter and which has not be ongoing in this area for many years is scallop dredging which took place, quite legally in this area, over the winter. Whether this is a contributing factor, probably noone will know. I will keep a close watch for this species on my next visits.
Painted Lady Butterflies were in great abundance and probably were in greater numbers than I have ever seen them before. Other birds noted today include, Fulmar, Kittiwake, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Great Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Manx Shearwater, Chough, Rock Pipit, Gannet, Guillemot, Razorbill, Shag, Oystercatcher, Swallow, Common Scoter, Swift, Common Whitethroat, Dunnock, Stonechat and Peregrine.

13th June 2009 - A warm and sunny day. At Symonds Yat in the afternoon, there was some Peregrine activity this time including a changeover at the nest!? The Club-tailed Dragonfly was again present and there was some passage of Painted Lady Butterflies later in the afternoon.

11th June 2009 - Dry with sunny periods. At Symonds Yat between 1130 and 1350, there were no Peregrines noted but both Spotted Flycatcher and Kingfisher were seen down by the river. The Painted Lady Butterfly passage was particularly noticable, much more so than recent days. It seems like a second wave are coming through. A Club-tailed Dragonfly on the ivy on the rock wall was noteworthy as this is quite a rare and localised species.
Nagshead between 1500 and 1730 was quiet but the Pied Flycatcher was still busy with a nest box full of chicks I suppose at box 99. Green Tiger Beetles were again prominent on the bare track near Nagshead Lodge.

10th June 2009 - Nothing of note today except 3 very heavy thunderstorms. 13mm of rain recorded on the Gloucester Weather Website.

9th June 2009 - On the Gospel Pass Road, high above Hay-on-Wye, there were several Wheatears, Meadow Pipits, Buzzards, Ravens, Carrion Crows, Rooks, Jackdaws and both Cuckoo and Willow Warbler were heard in the valley were the tree line starts. 2 Painted Lady Butterflies passed through along with some 'Whites'.

8th June 2009 - An overcast day and cool. A Painted Lady Butterfly was on the same plant as a Small Pearl-Bordered Fritillary at Gorsty Knoll. At Nagshead, the Pied Flycatcher was still at box 99 but generally it was quiet in the woods on a cool and overcast late afternoon.

7th June 2009 - 23mm of rain reported from the Gloucester Weather Website. At Ashleworth, it was cool and overcast with some sunny periods. 17 Mallard, 2 Cuckoo, 2 Canada Geese, several Reed Bunting and a Sedge Warbler heard. A Blackcap was singing in the copse and a Cormorant overflew. Along Stank Lane, a Hobby flew over from the north and a Peregrine was on one of the pylons and was later seen flying. There were at least 2 Common Whitethroat along the lane and a Curlew overflew and one flew out of field 18 again. 3 Grey Herons flew towards the river and other passerines included Blackcap, female Redstart, 3 male Reed Buntings and a Willow Warbler. Back along Ham Road, a Great Spotted Woodpecker flew out of a tree near the turning to Hasfield, calling loudly. Throughout my visit, butterflies included Painted Lady, Brimstone, Speckled Wood, Green-veined White, Large White and 2 Tortoiseshells, the last in the field at the end of Dirty Lane in long grass. It was especially nice to see what is a declining species. On Ham Road with the junction with Dirty Lane, there were 2 male Redstarts. Back at Longhope, there was more rain and House Martins were flying among the trees, hawking insects no doubt.

6th June 2009 - Heavy rain in the early morning. 10mm of rain reported on the Gloucester Weather Website. At Nagshead, it was quiet in the woods on a cool day but the Pied Flycatcher was still present at box 99.

4th June 2009 - A much cooler start to the day. I went to Ashleworth in the evening at 1845 to try to find the reported Common Rosefinch. Although I thought that I heard it twice, I could not locate the bird. Present were a male and female Cuckoo, 2 Canada Geese, 27 Mallard, 1 Wigeon, 2 Grey Heron, a male Redstart and several Reed Buntings.

3rd June 2009 - A cooler day but now very pleasant. At Ashleworth at 1915, I looked for the reported Common Rosefinch but I was unable to find it and move on to Flat Farm at 2045. Before I left I had noted 2 Redstarts and a female and male Cuckoo.
At Flat Farm, Yellowhammers were singing at 2100. I moved down to the copse and eventually, with the aid of my bat dectector, located a number of bats which were possibly Pipistrelle Bats, flying around the copse and hedgerows. Two different Red Foxes roamed the fields at various times in the hour that I was there. A Tawny Owl started calling from the copse and may have roosted there.

2nd June 2009 - Hot and sunny again. Moseley Green at 1010 until 1115 was the destination to find Small Pearl-bordered Fritillary again. I was successful eventually in that I found one specimen. There were many Small Heath Butterflies on the wing. I found the very small but very deep pond which held Azure Blue Damselflies, Broad Bodied Chaser Dragonflies and Large Red Damselflies. In the water were Newts.
At Nagshead, the Pied Flycatchers were still at box 99. I had expected them to be gone. They must fledge any day now. It appeared to be generally quieter in the woods today and this may be as a result of the continuous heat. On the western ridge of the Cannop Valley to the north of the reserve, there was a Tree Pipit singing on one of the 'Christmas' trees that have been planted this year. A female Beautiful Demoiselle Damselfly was on the wing along the Gloucestershire Way.

1st June 2009 - Nagshead and warm and sunny again. 19 deg. C. at 1000 and 25 deg. C. at 1630. There was a Nuthatch family on the early part of the short trail. The Pied Flycatchers were still in residence at box 99 and several Blue Tit families have fledged along the trails. I found a Great Spotted Woodpecker nest down on the Gloucestershire Way on the way to Cannop Ponds. At the ponds, there were both Pied Wagtails and Grey Wagtails. I was surprised to see that several trees have been cut down at the back of the stone works and a large mechanical digger is parked and ready for action. I noted a planning application on the gate post which details that a micro hydro electric plant with a stream bed is to be set up on the run off slope from the pond to create 'green' electricity for the stone works. Upon my return to the car park I was surprised to see a bat flying around the information centre initially trailing a cobweb which eventually fell away. I took a picture of the creature and from the sharply demarcated white underside, I deduced that it was a Natterer's Bat.
In the afternoon, I walked around Gorsty Knoll and found Small Pearl-bordered Fritillaries at their known site. Also noted were Speckled Wood, Small Heath and Peacock Butterflies.

31st May 2009 - Hot and sunny again with the temperature in Gloucester being again 26 deg. C.. A very short visit to Symonds Yat viewpoint was rewarded with exceptionally close views of a Hummingbird Hawk Moth on the wall. Only a Buzzard was the raptor representative and the Peregrines were not showing.
At Nagshead, there was the most noise from newly fledged birds in the woods today. A Common Whitethroat was an unusual species on the long trail. Some Painted Lady Butterflies were on the move again but the numbers seem to have dropped off today.

30th May 2009 - Sunny yet again with the maximum temperature in Gloucester being 26 deg. C.. At Ashleworth, the Painted Lady Butterfly migration was steady again. 11 Canada Geese, 1 Barnacle Goose, 2 Wigeon, 1 Pintail, 15 Mallard and a Cuckoo was heard. There were 3 Curlew on the muddy area in front of the hide but they flew. One was later seen again in field 18. Also noted along Stank Lane, a female Banded Demoiselle Damselfly. Several Willow Warblers were singing strongly and also noted along the lane, Redstart, Reed Bunting, Common Whitethroat and Chiffchaff. An unusual species for the area was a Collared Dove in Ham Road.

29th May 2009 - Sunny and much warmer with the temperature at 24 deg. C. at 1500. The Gloucester Weather Website recorded 27 deg. C, today making it the warmest day of the year. The Painted Lady Butterfly migration was in evidence at Longhope and when I arrived at Nagshead, I was not surprised to see the phenomenon progressing there also. The male Pied Flycatcher was still at nest box 99 and I think that they must be getting close to fledging now. The was extensive boar tillage along the lower part of the short trail which I had not noticed yesterday.

28th May 2009 - A sunny day and warm and 20 deg. C. at 1630. Nagshead and there were still a number of Painted Lady Butterflies passing as they were at Longhope when I set off at 1600. Wood Warblers were still singing at the furthest point of the long trail. At Gorsty Knoll at 2000, there were still a few of the migrant butterflies passing and 2 Great Spotted Woodpeckers were fighting on the lawn.

26th May 2009 - Nagshead over lunchtime. Spotted Flycatchers were in evidence along the lower part of the short trail and along the long trail there were at least 4 Wood Warblers. The Green Tiger Beetles were still in the area of Nagshead Lodge. There were also Painted Lady Butterflies still passing with 7 noted during a walk along the long trail.
At Symonds Yat in the afternoon, there were more of these butterflies but the numbers were much less than on 24th May. The area was relatively quiet of raptors with just an occasional sighting. There was a nest change over for the Peregrines at 1543 and at 1550 there was some flying activity apparently involving 2 birds.

25th May 2009 - It was a humid and overcast day with occasional drops of extremely light rain at Symonds Yat. It was a quiet day especially after the activity of yesterday. I did not see a Buzzard for quite a while and the Peregrine movement was minimal. It would appear that the latter have failed to hatch the eggs this year given that the RSPB staff have estimated that they should have young by about the first to the second week of May. I have been very optimistic and given them until this weekend in case the laying date was inaccurate but now at the end of the weekend I believe that there will be no young Peregrines here at Symonds Yat in 2009. A male Sparrowhawk was seen a few times including being perched up below the viewpoint. This bird has a white primary feather which makes it distinctive. Spotted Flycatchers were very active in trees just under the viewpoint.

24th May 2009 - Nagshead was sunny and warm. It was a day of high activity. Along the trails there were numbers of Spotted Flycatchers, Pied Flycatchers, Willow Warblers, Chiffchaffs and Wood Warblers. A Buzzard/Raven interaction was a noisy affair. Near Nagshead Lodge on the bare earth there were many Green Tiger Beetles and some were mating. Around and in the pond near the information centre, there were Frog tagpoles, Toad tadpoles, Dragonfly larvae eating some of them, Broad-bodied Chaser Dragonflies were about and a Small Copper Butterfly was near the pond. In the meadow there were a number of Burnet Companion Moths and another dragonfly flew by, a Golden-winged Dragonfly. The highlight of the day was the constant passage of Painted Lady Butterflies which were logged at an approximate rate of 1 every 2 minutes for most of the afternoon. I probably saw more of these creatures in one afternoon than I have seen in total all time. A search of the internet revealed that there is a mass invasion across most of the country and in certain areas there have been much higher numbers reported.

23rd May 2009 - Ashleworth on a sunny and warm day. 2 Shelduck noted from the hide with Canada Geese and Mallard also present with a Great Spotted Woodpecker in the copse by the hide. Along Stank Lane, a Cuckoo was heard and a Curlew was in field 18 yet again. 2 Curlew were seen in field 23 later and one of these birds could have been the earlier bird noted. Many Lesser Black-backed Gulls of varying age with 2 Black-headed Gulls and a Herring Gull were in the ploughed field being worked by a tractor in front of Colways Farm.

22nd May 2009 - I spent most of the day at Symonds Yat on a day that was dry and with sunny intervals. 28 Fallow Deer was a maximum count in the field opposite the viewpoint and a Red Fox was near its den on the hill. The highlight of the day was an immature Osprey which drifted north below the viewpoint at 1205. During the afternoon, there was intermittent Peregrine activity including a flight in the area which lasted probably over 5 minutes. A Hobby went north at 1630.
At Nagshead in the early evening it was generally quiet late in the day but I was surprised to see a large domestic cat with a huge, fluffy black tail.

21st May 2009 - A dry day with sunny periods at Nagshead in the very late afternoon. There was a male Blackcap with food in the field by the information centre. A male Pied Flycatcher was near the gate to the open woodland along the short trail with a female further along the track. There was a Nuthatch feeding young in a natural nest hole yet further along. 3 Wood Warblers along with Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff were at various points along the long trail. 1 Fallow Deer by Nagshead Lodge.

20th May 2009 - It was dry for a change. It was a quiet start to the afternoon at Symonds Yat and then there was some Peregrine activity with one eating on the wing like a Hobby. There was an interaction between a Buzzard and a Corvid and then a Peregrine attacked them. The former two species moved quickly into the woodland on the other side of the river to the watchpoint and the falcon swept up and returned to a perch near the nest site. 18 Fallow Deer were in a field below and on the river, the Canada Geese have 5 goslings. Sand Martins look to be excavating holes in a sandbank on the river but I think that they may be disturbed by canoeists stopping on the beach below them. Moth trapping at Nagshead saw over 50 species caught and there were many Cockchaffers present. This must be good for a species said to be in decline.

19th May 2009 - Rain all morning with 10mm by 1700. At Ashleworth in the early afternoon there were 8 Canada Geese, 2 Shelduck, 2 Wigeon, and 4 Mallard. There has been 32mm of rain recorded on the Gloucester Weather Website. Operated the moth trap at home for an hour for the first time tonight as a test. One moth, a Green Carpet Moth caught.

18th May 2009 - Heavy rain showers in the morning. At Symonds Yat there were rain showers but less so in the afternoon. One Peregrine was noted down river but this may have been a juvenile otherwise there was no activity with these birds between 1400 and 1430. However, there were many Swifts, House Martins and Swallows.
At Nagshead between 1700 and 1800 there was a male Pied Flycatcher on the lower part of the short trail but there was little activity in the wood at this time of day. 4mm of rain today.

17th May 2009 - Very heavy rain showers with some sunny intervals all day and 10mm of rain recorded by Gloucester Weather Website.

16th May 2009 - A short visit to Ashleworth during the late morning. From the hide, 26 Mallard, 6 Canada Geese, 2 Wigeon, 1 male Teal, several Sand Martins and Swifts passing.

14th May 2009 - Overcast but dry until 1600 when it started to rain and then it continued on and off until after midnight. At Slimbridge during lunchtime, there were 2 Little Egrets on Rushy Pen which was somewhat unusual.
In the evening I went to a mothing evening where over 30 species of moth were caught and some Bats were on the wing and Common Toads and Common Frogs were about in the wet conditions.

13th May 2009 - A damp day. It was calm but there was drizzle nearly all day. At Symonds Yat in the early afternoon, the mist or clouds were swirling and the Peregrine nesting cliff could sometimes be seen and sometimes not. It was generally quiet at the Yat but in the wood surrounding, there were many vocal Blackbirds and Song Thrushes.
In the late afternoon at Nagshead, the mist was swirling around the trees and it was fairly dark in the slight drizzle. Again, Blackbirds and Song Thrushes were the most vocal.

12th May 2009 - Nagshead was sunny, cool and still windy with the temperature at 15 deg. C. at 1700. At least one Wood Warbler just past the gate on the Gloucestershire Way beyond the short trail turn. Near the lower hide there was a female Pied Flycatcher on the fence posts and occasionally on the top wire.

11th May 2009 - A sunny day but it was very windy from the east. At 1430 it was 15 deg. C.. At Symonds Yat, a juvenile Peregrine approached the area but there was no response from the resident birds and the whole area was quiet. I suggest that the eggs have not yet hatched.

10th May 2009 - Sunny and warm at Nagshead. A Garden Warbler was seen and heard just inside the gate on the track to the site of the old information centre. The is a traditional place to within a few yards to see this species most years. Along the short trail, I found a Treecreeper, the first of this species noted for some time. A Wood Warbler at the start of the newly cleared area at the far point of the long trail, was a new bird. I noted apparently many more Grey Squirrels than of late.

9th May 2009 - Sunny periods, cool and breezy. Ashleworth before and after lunch. 3 Lapwing, 4 Shelduck, 6 Canada Geese, 26 Mallard, 1 Wheatear near Colways Farm, 2 Wigeon, 1 female Pintail. There was some notable Swift passage and along Stank Lane, at least 1 Redstart and 1 Curlew in field 18 yet again.

8th May 2009 - A blustery day with two short, sharp showers but otherwise there were sunny periods. At Nagshead there were at least 2 Pied Flycatchers along the Gloucestershire Way which forms part of the short trail. Along the straight portion of the long trail where it diverges from the short trail there was a particularly vocal Wood Warbler.
In the evening I went to Highnam Woods RSPB Reserve to look for Nightingales. There were reports of a high number being present this year and indeed there were at least 4 different individuals heard including one very close and which gave a prolonged exhibition of a wide reportoire of song. An excellent evening with at least 19 species noted in a very short time.

7th May 2009 - A fine day again. Nagshead, where 2 male Pied Flycatchers were around the short trail.
At Symonds Yat, the Peregrines were still sitting with a changeover noted mid afternoon. A juvenile bird was seen to fly around the area for a few minutes early in the afternoon but this did not elicit a response from the resident pair.

5th May 2009 - A fine, warm day with the temperature around 19 deg. C. at 1330. On a very short visit to Slimbridge, a Common Sandpiper from the Robbie Garnett hide. There were several pairs of Oystercatcher around the area which is very different to, say, 15 years ago when these were a scarce species away from the river.

4th May 2009 - Slight drizzle today and around the short trail at Nagshead, there were at least 3 different Pied Flycatchers.

3rd May 2009 - Sunny periods on May Hill. Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs were in the woods surrounding the hill. In the smaller trees on top of the hill, there were some Linnets and Meadow Pipits were around the gorse as usual. On the north side, near Bearfoot Wood, there were at least 2 Redstarts.

2nd May 2009 - Ashleworth was cool and overcast. From the hide, 4 Canada Geese, 2 Mute Swans (one on the nest), 15 Mallard, 4 Shelduck, a Cuckoo heard and a Peregrine was on a pylon. On the field by Colways Farm was a Whimbrel, a very grey individual feeding alone. This species is a scarce one at this site. Also there were 2 Wheatear and 4 Lapwing, one of which were displaying and on the other side of the road over the reserve were 4 Swifts. Along the hedgerows of Ham Road, there were Common Whitethroat and Lesser Whitethroat. Along Stank Lane, there were 2 Curlew in field 18 yet again and along the whole lane there were at least 4 different Redstarts. Back at the hide, 2 Grey Herons had turned up.

1st May 2009 - A Swift over Longhope this morning at 0830 was the first for the year for this location.
At Nagshead RSPB Reserve, during walks along the Gloucestershire Way and the Long Trail, 2 different malePied Flycatchers, 2 Wood Warblers (Gloucestershire Way) with a possibility of 2 more birds and 2 Siskins were at the far point of the Long Trail. Quite a number of Grey Squirrels were in the reserve. Butterflies recorded on the reserve included Small White, Large White, Green-veined White, Brimstone, Orange-tip and Speckled Wood.

30th April 2009 - Rain most of the day, some heavy with 5mm being recorded on the Gloucester Weather Website.

29th April 2009 - A sunny day with a light breeze. Another trip to Newport Wetlands. A female Goldeneye was of note as were 2 Linnets and, near the information centre, 2 Little Ringed Plovers. A Hobby was hawking insects over the big reedbeds to the north, that and the plover were new birds of the year for me.
Late in the afternoon at Goldcliff Reserve, I noted 153 Dunlin, all in summer plumage and at least 9 Avocet.

28th April 2009 - A bright day at Ashleworth. 18 Mallard, 6 Canada Geese, 2 Shelduck and 2 Mute Swan with one of the latter on the nest. 1 Teal and 2 Snipe also from the hide and a Blackcap singing in the copse. A Chaffinch appears to be nesting in the hedge opposite the hide. Along Stank Lane, both Goldfinch and Whitethroat were carrying nesting material. A Curlew, seen flying from the hide earlier, was in field 18, then a minute or so later, 2 flew, calling, from the north of the lane and landed out of sight in field 18. One of these birds could have been the one that I had seen in that field. A Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly was in Ham Road near Colways Farm again.

27th April 2009 - Rain first thing giving way to showers. I went to the Newport Wetlands at Uskmouth today. Lots of Reed Warblers, Sedge Warblers and Swifts and all these species were a first for the year for me. Several Cetti's Warblers, Common Whitethroats and a Cuckoo were heard.
Nagshead RSPB Reserve late in the afternoon and into a beautiful evening. A male Pied Flycatcher on the short trail was chasing a female Redstart from the area.

26th April 2009 - Nagshead RSPB Reserve in the morning on a day of sunny periods but with some overcast times. En route to the reserve, I noted a Great Tit on the Cannop Road apparently feeding on a road kill of a Grey Squirrel. I assume that it was plucking fur for nest lining. At Nagshead, a male and female Pied Flycatcher on the short trail and at least 2 Wood Warblers on the long trail/Gloucestershire Way. 2 Fallow Deer were near the latter trail.

25th April 2009 - Ashleworth on a sunny day with a very few light showers. 29 Mallard, 2 Pintail, 2 Wigeon, 1 Teal, 7 Canada Geese, 2 Lapwing, 4 Shelduck, 5 Snipe and 2 Mute Swans with one being on the nest. There were a family of 8 Mallard ducklings proving breeding at Ashleworth. A Curlew was heard in the distance and a Blackcap was singing very strongly in the copse around the hide. Swallows and Sand Martins were on passage. On a walk up Stank Lane, there was one Curlew noted in field 18 and one flew up from field 21 to see off an overflying Herring Gull.

24th April 2009 - Slimbridge in the afternoon on a warm day. 18 deg. C., at 1600. A Red Kite came over the Rushy Pen at lunchtime where there was a Common Sandpiper. 5 Whimbrel were of note on the Holden Scrape.

23rd April 2009 - A sunny and warm day at Symonds Yat in the afternoon. The 2 resident Peregrines were on show at intervals and a Mallard is nesting in a tree only just below the viewpoint! A Sparrowhawk circled overhead and at one point 5 Buzzards were in the air.

22nd April 2009 - Overcast day with some sunny intervals late in the afternoon. At Nagshead RSPB Reserve, I walked the short trail, the Gloucestershire Way and the long trail, but it was quite quiet in the woods with no summer migrants on show.

21st April 2009 - A sunny and warm day like yesterday with similar temperatures of about 20 deg. C. during the afternoon. At Ashleworth, 1 Little Egret, 2 Lapwing, 2 Shelduck, 7 Mallard from the hide, a Mute Swan on the nest, 1 Grey Heron, 2 Pintail, 6 Snipe and 3 Canada Geese. Along Stank Lane, 2 different Tortoiseshell butterflies and another along Ham Road later. It was particularly nice to see this species which is apparently in very deep decline. A Curlew was heard from the hide.
I made a very short visit to Coombe Hill Canal and was amazed and disappointed to see that the large bramble patch at the end of the car park has been removed. This was the breeding area for at least one warbler in past years. I expect and hope that a fence will be put up as now anyone with a 4x4 will be able to drive around the barrier and down the towpath and cause disturbance.
Finally today, I made a short visit to Chosen Hill, near where I used to live and found that the bird life on the hill was quiet but it was late in the afternoon. I will have to make another prolonged trip there soon.

20th April 2009 - A sunny and warm day at Ashleworth where a Cuckoo was heard again. 6 Canada Geese, 2 Shelduck and a Lapwing were noted from the hide. Although a Curlew was heard calling from the hide, there were no Curlew in the fields along Stank Lane probably because the farmer was working there with machinery. A male Redstart was near Ham Road junction and a Common Whitethroat was near the Hasfield 'T' junction.

19th April 2009 - A sunny day at Nagshead where there were 3 or possibly 4 Pied Flycatchers along the short trail and a warbler taking nesting material into a thicket near the information centre.

18th April 2009 - Ashleworth on an overcast start to a day which became sunny but which also had a cool moderate northerly wind. There was a steady passage of Swallows and House Martins all over Gloucestershire today as I drove to the site and at the site itself. Also passing through today at Ashleworth were small flocks of Racing Pigeon heading north.
The Mute Swan has a nest as seen from the hide and its mate was busy warding off Canada Geese which got too close to the nest. There were 6 of these geese. 26 Mallard, 9 Teal, 2 Wigeon and one Little Egret were of note. A Blackcap was singing again in the thicket at the back of the hide. A Lapwing was over Colways Farm and 6 Buzzard were over the wood at the back of Hasfield where I had noted 11 on 11th April. 2 Curlew were in a field with one possibly sitting. There were a second pair in another field with 2 Shelduck. This latter pair of Curlew and the Shelduck were disturbed by a horse rider and the Shelduck ended up on the water in front of the hide and the Curlew moved on to another field. Along Stank Lane, at least 4 Willow Warbler and 1 Redstart and near Ham Road there were 2 Bullfinch. Back at the hide, a Grey Heron joined the Egret. 2 male Reed Buntings were noted together and finally for today, the Bluebells in Meerend Thicket are now out in profusion.

17th April 2009 - A damp day with some slight drizzle. At Nagshead, I walked the long trail and found a Pied Flycatcher only about 50m from where I thought I heard song on the 13th April. Possibly a second bird in the more open area of the short trail.

15th April 2009 - Some heavy rain showers today. The heaviest rain for some time.

14th April 2009 - Ashleworth at 0945 until mid afternoon. Overcast and cool with slight rain to start. 3 Little Egret is probably a record number for the reserve. 30 Mallard, 2 Wigeon, 11 Teal, 2 Mute Swan (one on nest), 5 Canada Geese and a Willow Warbler in Meerend Thicket for the first time this year. A Skylark was over Colways Farm. A Curlew was heard north of Stank Lane which was possibly in addition to the 2 seen in field 20 which is the next field to field 18 which is the field that they are normally in. There was a farmer in the latter field removing the piles of soil which were made when the new scrapes were dug last autumn. It has been too wet until now for the farmer to get machinery onto the field to move the earth. At the top of Stank Lane, there is still a good flow of water from the north which is unusual but has been going on for two or three weeks. It is difficult to believe that this flow continues when it is normally not much of a flow and additionally there has been no appreciable rain over the past month. I wonder where this water is coming from? 4 Willow Warblers along Stank Lane, 2 Goldfinch and a Long-tailed Tit, The latter species may well be breeding. On my return to the hide, a Stoat crossed Ham Road near Colways Farm. Back at the hide, a pair of Mistle Thrushes were noted several times and I think that they are breeding nearby. In front of the hide in the afternoon, at least 2 Snipe, a Curlew bathing, 4 Lapwing, 2 Shelduck and a pair of Buzzards in a distant tree were mating.

13th April 2009 - Sunny day after a misty start. Nagshead RSPB Reserve at 1005. 2 Greylag Geese on the small pond by the information centre was unusual. There was possible Pied Flycatcher song on the early part of the short trail but I could not be sure and will not claim it. I was doing a butterfly transect around the long trail and the only one noted was a Peacock just off the shale track to Nagshead Lodge on the long trail. 2 Willow Warbler and 2 Chiffchaff en route.
On May Hill in the afternoon, 5 different Willow Warbler and 3 Kestrel together.

12th April 2009 - Flat Farm, Tirley at 0800. This was the second visit and one which I had intended to do after an initial sortie a few days ago. An overcast start to the day with some sunny intervals. 15 Fieldfare were the first birds of note, lingerers of the winter. Green Woodpecker and Great Spotted Woodpecker were present and a whole host of prospective nest holes could be seen in the trees within the copse. A Chiffchaff was singing in the copse and at least one Yellowhammer was doing the same in the hedgerow. Skylarks were singing in the air over the two fields either side of the footpath. 2 Treecreeper together were noted and one was carrying food. A Song Thush was also singing. Blue Tit and Great Tit could also be breeding nearby. There was a hole in a tree which looked to me to be a bat roost.
At Ashleworth, it was much as yesterday. 2 Curlew were in field 18 again and 2 in the field north of Stank Lane where the public footpath runs through. The Little Egret was still in front of the hide where there were 5 Canada Goose and 3 Lapwing. A Cuckoo was also heard again. Along Stank Lane, 3 different Willow Warblers, one Common Whitethroat at the footpath junction with the lane at the back of the reserve.

11th April 2009 - A curious sky this morning after the spectacular sunset last night. This morning, half of the sky was cloudy to the east and the rest was bright blue. The cloud was probably the back of the front which went through overnight. Ashleworth at 0855 and at 0830 it was 6 deg. C.. A Blackcap was singing in the copse and the first Cuckoo of the year was heard. 42 Teal, 19 Mallard, 2 Coot, 2 Wigeon, 3 Gadwall, 1 male Pintail and 2 Mute Swan, one on a nest and 2 on the rhine at the lower part of Stank Lane. 7 Canada Goose, 1 Mistle Thrush by the lower hide. A Curlew was heard from the hide and 2 were noted flying from the north of Stank Lane. A Meadow Pipit was by Colways Farm and at least 4 Willow Warbler were along Stank Lane. This was a first for the year at this site. Also, 2 Reed Buntings along this lane and where the tarmac ended, a Common Whitethroat which was also a first for the year. Singles of Treecreeper and Long-tailed Tit were also of note along the lane. 13 Buzzard were a high number together soaring over the wood at the back of Hasfield. Finally, along the lane was a male Redstart which was another first for the year and so it would be reasonable to say that spring has arrived. Back at the hide, 2 Shelduck and a Little Egret were added to the list.
At Nagshead in the afternoon, a Chiffchaff was noted but apart from this there were no migrants on show but there was plenty of song from the resident birds. At 1630, I did a butterfly transect around the reverse of the long trail but none were noted.

10th April 2009 - A wet day in part but a brilliant red sunset tonight.

9th April 2009 - A very short visit to Slimbridge on an overcast and dull day with some light rain. It was quiet.

8th April 2009 - A sunny and dry day. I did a stint as a volunteer at Symonds Yat Peregrine watch point. 11 Buzzards were seen together, 2 prolonged sightings of Sparrowhawk and Goshawk and at least 4, maybe 5 different Peregrines seen. At one time, the male was flying around the site of the nest and another bird of the same size joined him and the second bird flew off and the female emerged from the nest hole and the male went in and took over. Later, with the female back on the eggs, a large female came in for a short time. This looked to be an adult bird. Later in the afternoon, with the female on the nest, another large bird came in to temporarily join the male. This bird looked more like an immature with a more mottled grey brown back. This led me to believe that there were possibly 5 different birds present at times today. Swallows and Sand Martins were passing through and a Great Black-backed Gull meandered up and then down the river which is a species quite unusual at this site.

7th April 2009 - A sunny day with some showers in the afternoon and rain and wind in the evening. Ashleworth, 4 Lapwing, 17 Shoveler, 1 male Pintail, 2 Shelduck, 4 Gadwall, 1 Grey Heron and Wigeon, Teal and Mallard also present. A Mute Swan was in the beginning of making a nest in a similar place at 1100 to the hide as last year. No Tufted Duck were seen which is not unexpected with the water level now even lower. Along Stank Lane, 2 Curlew were in field 18 again. Surprisingly, there were 7 Redpoll along the lane. 5 Sand Martin were flying around in front of the hide.
After, I went to the public footpath to the east of Flat Farm, Tirley. This is the site of the proposed gas pressure reduction plant. The general habitat consisted of an old, high hedge leading to a small copse with at least one pool. There were a number of species of birds singing in the copse and a Chaffinch appeared to have a nest near the style by the copse. I need to make another visit to what could be a productive passerine area.

5th April 2009 - An early morning visit to May Hill. Calm, cold and eventually sunny. It was 0 deg. C. at 0630. Many Meadow Pipits, Blackbirds, some Song Thrushes, Linnets and a male Siskin were around the top of the hill. Near the car park on the north of the hill, my first Willow Warbler of the year was singing along with some Chiffchaffs.

4th April 2009 - A fine day and it was 14 deg. C. at 1400. Ashleworth at 0930 yielded water levels considerably down after the sluice boards had been taken out earlier in the week as scheduled. 66 Shoveler, 2 Shelduck, 39 Coot, 2 Tufted Duck, and Teal, Mallard, Gadwall and Pintail also noted. 5 Lapwing were on the mud and a Stock Dove and Grey Heron were also there. In Stank Lane there were a pair of Curlew on field 18 as I walked up. When I returned, I could not find them but could hear some calling in the fields to the north of the lane and then they flew over the lane and landed in field 2. A Peregrine was on a pylon and a pair of Linnet were in the area of the lane. Butterflies encountered today included Orange-tip, Peacock and Brimstone which were all a first of the year for me. A Little Grebe was on the water in front of the hide on my return and as I was driving away, a Swallow overflew Colways Farm.

3rd April 2009 - A misty morning. A pair of Nuthatches on my feeder this morning which was a first although I have seen single birds many times before. A first for the house were Siskins in the large trees opposite.
Very late this afternoon I went to the viewpoint at New Fancy View. It turned into a calm evening and no raptors were noted which was not surprising as it was at the wrong time of day but Greenfinches and Siskins were in the nearer trees and at least 25 Chaffinch were under the feeders in the car park at 1845. Lots of dog barking was heard to the north accompanied by squealing which I believe was a dog/wild boar encounter at about 1800.

2nd April 2009 - I walked the long trail through Nagshead RSPB reserve to see what changes had been made. It is much drier than it was and the trail has been made walkable again by being levelled. Many Grey Squirrels noted today as has been the case in recent weeks.

1st April 2009 - Overcast and mild with some sunny intervals. A Swallow passed through Longhope this afternoon which was a first for the year for this site. Also a first was some Siskins feeding on a neighbours feeder here in Longhope.




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