Diary - August to October 2002

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31st October 2002 - I spent the day out of the county in Herefordshire and Powys looking for Whooper and Bewick's Swans in the Wye Valley but to no avail. I had my lunch in the hills near Hay Bluff where a Raven wandered the car park looking for food scraps in the swirling mist and drizzle.
I called in at Ashleworth Ham in the dark at 7.00pm to see if any Canada Geese had come to roost but I could hear no calling and I could not see any with the night vision equipment. I had my dinner at Haw Bridge and upon leaving at 0830pm, a Tawny Owl was calling somewhere up river. I checked Chosen Hill on the way home for presence of owls but I heard none.

30th October 2002 - Ashleworth in the morning in pouring rain. There are now well in excess of 250 ducks, mainly comprising Mallard, Teal and Wigeon. Also present were 2 Gadwall and 1 female Shoveler and 1 Grey Heron. On the electricity pylons were a Buzzard and a Peregrine. the water level on both the reserve and on the river was higher than on 28th October.

29th October 2002 - Slimbridge in the late afternoon. There is no change in the goose and swans situation. No Bewick's Swans present and the same number of White-fronted Goose with the single Pink-footed Goose. The Red Fox put in another appearance on the Dumbles. The Starling roost is building and tonight a Peregrine put in an appearance over Rushy Pen which sent the Starlings into a panic although they all seemed to survive.

28th October 2002 - On a quieter and beautiful sunny morning I visited Ashleworth briefly. Shoveler are there again in the Teal/Wigeon/Mallard flock and the Canada Goose flock numbered 39 at 0830. A Curlew was heard but again no sign of the Whooper Swans even after checking the Leigh Meadows from the top of Wainlode Hill, the former being one of their favourite haunts. Along Stank Lane I found the body of a juvenile Red Fox freshly dead. There appeared to be no injuries and it is unlikely to have been hit by a car because hardly any cars use this 'Unsuitable for Motor Vehicles' cul de sac and those that do go slowly for obvious reasons.
A quick check on the work at Coombe Hill Canal revealed much completed and a Kingfisher swept through the car park at the Wharf end of the canal.
I passed by Ashleworth at 5.00pm and checked to see if many Canada Geese had come into roost on the water but I saw none and when it was fully dark I went home. I thought there was a slight possibility that the Whooper Swans may have been spending the day at an unknown location nearby and may also come to roost here but not so. The only other animals of note was a Tawny Owl hooting in the distance, at least one, maybe two mice in leaf litter by the hide. I suspect Wood Mice but it too dark to make an exact identification. In the almost complete darkness at 5.40pm I made out a mammal moving through the grass of the roadside verge but this turned out to be a domestic cat far from home. I did notice that the river had risen considerably since this morning.

27th October 2002 - A bit of a blow today. This morning I went down to Severn Beach which is just out of the county. I wanted to see what the wind might bring up the estuary. Although very strong, the wind was across the water rather than up the estuary so many birds were probably not pushed into the river mouth but a handful of Kittiwake, a couple of Fulmar and a Great Skua graced the spume filled morning. A local anemometer reading at 0930 gave a steady wind speed of 55mph with gusts to 75mph.
I move onto Slimbridge but the grounds were closed with trees down, one of the old tower hides severely damaged and it was generally unsafe. There has been a single Pink-footed Goose which has joined the White-fronted Goose flock and the Black-tailed Godwit numbers are still good with over 30 noted today. There was a Red Fox on the Tack Piece, scratching away at itself and obviously suffering with mange. Out on the Dumbles, the Lapwing flock had many Golden Plover in with them but they were all huddled down in the vegetation.

26th October 2002 - Ashleworth on a blustery but sunny morning. I couldn't find the Whooper Swans today but the duck numbers have increased since 23rd Oct although Shoveler were not seen. Precise counts did not take place today. The bird of note was a Common Buzzard that I have not noticed before. This bird has a rufous tail which is reminiscent of the sub species vulpinus or Steppe Buzzard.

25th October 2002 - A day spent mostly out of the county on the Somerset Levels looking for Bewick's Swans but to no avail. I did check the southbound Michael Wood service area on the M5 motorway for the Ring-billed Gull that has spent two winters there but I did not find that either. I called into WWT Slimbridge on the way back to drop of the data gathered and noted the Ferruginous hybrid duck on Rushy Pen again. A day of frequent and exceptionally heavy showers.

24th October 2002 - Slimbridge. At lunchtime, 40 grey geese were in the distance on the Dumbles. These were the White-fronted Goose flock but they were too far away to check each bird individually but there is one more than on 19th October. A Peregrine turned up, landed on the Dumbles and immediately looked skywards. The reason was a Raven flying over. This was eventually mobbed by Carrion Crows and Jackdaw. All 3 species were at one time perched in a distant tree and the three sizes of bird were well defined. The Golden Plover flock was sitting out on the river mud.
On South Lake in the early afternoon, the counts were, at least 76 Black-tailed Godwit, 7 Ruff, 9 Common Redshank, 1 Spotted Redshank and 2 Knot. Finally, on Rushy Pen, an escapee Blue-winged Goose which was fully winged and unringed but not a Slimbridge bird. It was associating with a lone Canada Goose.

23rd October 2002 - Ashleworth on a cool, breezy but sunny morning. The water level is yet higher and more ducks were present. They included, 42 Teal, 20 Wigeon, 21 Mallard, 3 Shoveler and 2 Canada Geese. The Shoveler are the first of the autumn and also in this category were Fieldfares (Redwings appeared on 19th Oct.) but the highlight of the day and another first of the autumn were 5 Whooper Swans (3 adults and 2 juveniles) on a very early date. Also of note were an overfly of 2 Raven and a flock of 16 Goldfinch in Dirty Lane.

22nd October 2002 - The Bewick's Swans had departed Slimbridge over a week ago but some had been seen overflying Epney on the east bank of the River Severn just to the south of Gloucester. On the west bank at this point is a flood meadow known as Minsterworth Ham and I decided to check this out for any swans that may be in the area. I had no luck but moved onto the Forest of Dean. I had lunch in the forest at Nagshead and in the 50 minutes or so while I 'dined', a Grey Squirrel spent most of that time either sitting or lying on a cut off tree stump not 20m from me. The woods were alive with much calling of these creatures today. In the frequent rain showers on this very mild day, the woods were quiet in terms of bird life with some mixed flocks of roving tits adding to the squirrel calling. I disturbed a Fallow Deer just to the north of Nagshead trails and on Cannop Ponds, the male Mandarin Ducks are in fine plumage. The southerly pond was clear but a low mist engulfed the northerly pond where Little Grebes graced the water. In the late afternoon, I returned to Nagshead as a low mist descended upon the Forest. This cleared away and was replaced but heavy rain. A pleasantly mild and typical autumn colours day.

21st October 2002 - Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust Slimbridge. At lunchtime, 39 White-fronted Geese were on the Dumbles and a Red Fox sauntered past. The geese included a neck collared bird - Black collar with 'U04' inscription on it. On the river, an unusual large number of 9 Grey Herons together was of note.

20th October 2002 - Highnam Wood during the afternoon. I went on a fungal foray around the woods for two hours in continuous, heavy rain. A variety of species was encountered but the majority of the specimens were quite small and it was difficult to find them in the presence of newly fallen leaves. A quiet afternoon in the fast forming autumn colours and waters from the heavens.

19th October 2002 - The first frosty morning of the autumn (-1.8 degrees C.). Ice was on some of the pools at Ashleworth but first I checked Coombe Hill Meadows to determine the extent of the work to create the scrapes on the reserve. There is extensive work being carried out between the small withy bed and the Long Pool with more work to be done behind the small withy bed as viewed from the canal. The machinery is there but there is a lot of work still to do. Let us hope that it is finished soon and that it will not disturb the wintering birds.
There was evidence of visible migration overhead at about 7.40 am with both thrush species flocks and smaller passerine flocks high overhead. Along the canal, a variety of birds were quite vocal on this cold but sunny morning. Goldfinch and Bullfinch flocks roamed the canal side vegetation. A pair of Mute Swans were on the canal, one ringed AAGX(orange). A flock of 8 Canada Geese overflew as did 2 Grey Herons and a lone Grey Wagtail graced the wharf end of the canal.
At Ashleworth, the water level was much higher than on 16th Oct and the Mallard numbers were about 80 with 8 Wigeon. The first thrush species flock of the season was also present with at least 100 birds in one flock and some Redwings positively identified in the trees.
Finally, at Slimbridge in the afternoon, about 100 Golden Plover were on the Dumbles with at least 14 White-fronted Geese but there may have been more. They were near the edge of the river and many may have been out of sight just over the river bank. A Peregrine mobbed a Buzzard several times in the afternoon also in the same area. By late afternoon, there were 4 Ruff, 4 Snipe and 38 Black-tailed Godwits on South Lake. I spent a short while towards dusk looking for a Night Heron which had been reported in the Rushy Pen area on the previous evening but I could not find it. Also unusual on the lake at Rushy Pen was what looked like a hybrid Ferruginous Duck/Pochard.
On the way home in the failing light, I noted a Barn Owl at the usual place in Haresfield.

16th October 2002 - Coombe Hill Meadows. After about 3 inches of rain in four days, I went to the Coombe Hill Meadows to see if there was any standing water on the flood plain and to see if there were any wildfowl there as in the past two years at this time, there had been an influx of wild swans. I was dismayed to find large engineering works there which was a delayed implementation of the new scrapes. In view of this work, there were no birds present. I then moved on to Ashleworth Ham but here again work was going on. This time it was pollarding of willows which was the disturbance. Nevertheless, there were noticably more ducks present than on October 11th, but they were flying around quite a lot.

11th October 2002 - Ashleworth. This was a delayed monthly wildfowl count. Apart from a Grey Heron flying around and a Moorhen and Common Snipe flushed by a walk along the ponds, the only other wildfowl were 4 Wigeon, 4 Mallard and 2 Teal. Raptors included a Peregrine and Kestrel on the same electricity pylon. Almost in the hide were a Song Thrush, breaking open a snail, and a Dunnock and Wren looking on! I accidentally frightened off a Squirrel which was on the roof of the hide when I went to see what was making a noise above me.

10th October 2002 - Slimbridge. A dull day with a little morning drizzle. 8 Black-tailed Godwits were on the Robbie Garnett Hide scrape mid morning. The bird of the week at the same place was a very obliging Jack Snipe which spent some time right in front of the hide and was so close I could not get all of the bird into the frame of the camera on the telescope. Nevertheless, I managed to get a picture as a record shot.

9th October 2002 - Slimbridge. Yet another mild day. No sign of rain and during this Indian Summer, the European White-fronted Geese numbers have gone up to 12 today.

7th October 2002 - Slimbridge. Another mild and sunny day. The European White-fronted Geese 'flock' has risen to five today.

3rd October 2002 - Slimbridge. A beautiful, sunny, autumnal day. 118 Black-tailed Godwits were on the Long Ground. This number must be close to a reserve record. At Middle Point in the afternoon, the Ringed Plover flock seemed well spread out and very few Dunlin were with them. Also scattered were 16 Golden Plover and a handful of Lapwing. A lone Little Egret was up river and 2 Redshank were in front of the point.

2nd October 2002 - Last night it rained, (2mm) which was the first since September 9th. Consequently, it was a damp and slightly misty morning at Ashleworth. There were a number of flattened Newts on Ham road. They had probably set out hunting Slugs etc. in the first real dampness for sometime and were the victims of the few cars which travel this road. They were too badly squashed to idenfify the species.
A generally quiet morning. A solitary Snipe was on the small patch of mud. At Stonebow Farm, there were still Swallows around the buildings but I could not see any House Martins.
Another feature, but not exclusive to Ashleworth is the really plentiful berry crop this autumn. It won't be long before the winter thrushes etc. will be feeding on them.
The new hide screen at Ashleworth has sprouted a new brass plaque to Wally Gonsalves. I must look up the details.
Finally, I was stopped by a horse rider who asked me if I had seen the Eagle. When I replied that I had never seen an Eagle at Ashleworth, she told me where she regularly sees it perched on a dead tree. This was in Stank Lane. She then rode off before I could reply although I did suggest a recent escapee before she said the word 'regularly'. This bird is undoubted a Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo) which in Scotland is known as 'the tourists eagle'.

30th September 2002 - Nagshead in the morning. A beautiful, still and warm morning in hazy sunshine. A small Siskin flock was in the birch trees which line the track to the information centre and in a beech tree just outside this building, Great Tit, Blue Tit and Coal Tit were all feeding on the beech mast.
At Slimbridge on an equally beautiful afternoon, a Jackdaw was perched on the face of a sheep on the Tack Piece. I watched it pecking insects from around the face including inspecting the nostrils and around the eyes of this sheep. On the Long Ground, in addition to the 21 Black-tailed Godwits, there were 3 European White-fronted Geese. They arrived yesterday and are the first goose winter visitors.
At Middle Point in the mid-afternoon, the usual Dunlin and Ringed Plover flock were present as well as 1 Sanderling, 3 Golden Plover, 1 Grey Plover, 3 Little Stint and 2 Little Egret, one of the latter being much bigger than the other. The difference was easy to see as they walked together and fished together.

30th September 2002 - I received a bit of sad news late last week and it is only now that I have been able to look up the details. The Ross's Goose which was an escapee from somewhere (not WWT Slimbridge) and which first appeared in the area of Slimbridge and Frampton in 1993 has had to be put down. It was found recently at Frampton with a shattered leg. This bird was a regular winter visitor to Slimbridge since that year and maintained company with the Canada Geese. Although, as an escapee, it was not 'tickable' it was a lovely bird which will be missed this winter.

28th September 2002 - An interesting observation at 0815 on the Brockworth bypass was the sight of a medium to large sized white raptor sitting on one of the many roadside fences. Unfortunately it is a clearway and no stopping is allowed. I turned at a roundabout and passed again for another look and did the same again but on the third pass it had gone. Identification unknown.
Frampton Sailing Lake was quiet except for over 200 hirundines (Swallows and House Martins) sitting on wires. At Slimbridge, the following were noted, Middle Point - 6 Knot, 7 Pintail, 4 Curlew Sandpiper, 2 Little Stint, 8 Grey Heron, 1 Sanderling and 4 Golden Plover with the Lapwing flock. Unfortunately the occasion was spoiled somewhat when the foot hunt came through and went back which caused some disturbance to the birds as did a Peregrine which flew downriver later.

26th September 2002 - Slimbridge at lunchtime. The usual selection of waders were present. 2 Snipe were at the Robbie Garnett Hide. On the Long Ground, 30 Black-tailed Godwits, with 1 Spotted Redshank and 1 very large Ruff were present with a number of Common Redshank. The Peregrine was still frequenting the Dumbles and from Middle Point, the usual Dunlin and Ringed Plover flock held at least 2 Little Stint and a Sanderling. About 20 Black-tailed Godwits were noted flying high up river and seemed to descend beyond the trees in the distance in the area of Frampton Lakes. Finally, a Chiffchaff was in full song in the car park.

25th September 2002 - Slimbridge. At lunchtime, 10 Black-tailed Godwits were on the scrape at the Robbie Garnett Hide, later 20 flew up river and a handful were on the Long Ground pool. At the latter, the Redshank flock was present as well as 2 Greenshank, 1 Ruff and a Spotted Redshank. On the river in among the Dunlin and Ringed Plover flock were at least 2 Sanderling, 2 Curlew Sandpiper, 12 Little Stint and the usual number of Curlew. A larger number of Wigeon than of late were on the reserve. The only other bird of note was the local Peregrine which was settled on a fence post on the Dumbles. I kept a good lookout for the first of the European White-fronted Geese to arrive but I could not find any. The first ones should arrive any day now.

11th to 19th September 2002 - I have been away over this time and therefore there is nothing to report in Gloucestershire.

8th September 2002 - Ashleworth and the monthly wildfowl count. A quiet day in terms of wildfowl but the following is a list of species encountered during the session. Woodpigeon, Chaffinch, Peregrine, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Blackbird, Pheasant, Pied Wagtail, Rook. Starling, House Martin, Swallow, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Willow Warbler, Kestrel, Greenfinch, Grey Heron, Chiffchaff, Blue Tit, Robin, Bullfinch, Wren, Great Tit and Buzzard. In Stank Lane, I watched a Red Fox scratching itself profusely. It had a case of mange. The other noticable feature of the hedgerows at the moment is the apparent bumper crop of fruits.

7th September 2002 - A short visit to Ashleworth this morning. The vegetation has been cut on some of the reserve and at the edge of this cut, three birds were making their way along the taller uncut vegetation. Two were Common Whitethroat and the other was a Whinchat, the first that I have seen here this year. On one of the pylons, two Buzzards were lazing. Several Reed Buntings were flying around the Willow Trees in the uncut vegetation and a Chiffchaff was singing by the hide.

5th September 2002 - Slimbridge. At Middle Point I managed to find the Avocet. Apart from a lone Bar-tailed Godwit among the Curlew, the Dunlin and Ringed Plover flock was again distant to the north. On South Lake, 26 Common Gull were among the Black-headed Gulls which was unusual in terms of numbers. The Common Tern with youngster was still present.

4th September 2002 - Slimbridge at lunchtime. There were no passage waders from any of the hides leading to the Holden Tower. It seems that the Green Sandpipers and the Wood Sandpipers have all moved on. There was a solitary Common Snipe very near to the Robbie Garnett hide and I watched it probing for food. Several times it found tiny worms or other food but I noticed that the bill was getting very muddy and suddenly it became clean again. I could not see how this was happening especially as it seemed to be probing to the same depth on each insertion and a 'ring' of mud was building up about half way up the bill. By careful watching I discovered that as it walked it appeared to make a longer step than usual ever now and again and there didn't seem to be any obstacle to force it to make such a move. I then noticed that when the longer step was taken, the bill became clean. What was happening was that during the long step, the bird was using the middle digit of its foot to clean the bill by wiping the bill with the digit. This happened very quickly and it took several attempts to actually observe what was going on.
At Middle Point, things were quiet, the mixed flock of Dunlin and Ringed Plover appeared to be much smaller and although there was a Little Egret present and one Curlew Sandpiper, there were no other passage waders present. Curlew and Black-headed Gulls and a couple of Grey Herons were the only other birds of note although some bigger gulls were in the far distance. The local male Kestrel was on one of the fence posts and a lone Pintail was on the river.

3rd September - Got the information back on the ringed Mute Swan at Orchard Pool, near Severn Beach on 20th July 2002. It was ringed on 23rd December 1997 on the River Severn at Worcester.

29th August - Middle Point, Slimbridge as the tide ebbed just after 1.00pm, a Little Egret turned up and the mixed Ringed Plover and Dunlin flocked included 3 Curlew Sandpiper and 12 Knot.

28th August - 2002 - Ashleworth. A Peregrine was on one of the pylons this morning. I have not seen this species at this location for a few weeks. Both Spotted Flycatcher and Redstart were in Stank Lane and a large number of hirundines, mostly House Martins and a few Swallows were in a feeding frenzy over the water. At Wainlodes, Mute Swan orange ring 3OJ and metal ringed U8455 were present with 5 cygnets

27th August 2002 - Slimbridge - Middle Point at midday when the tide was going down. The Ringed Plover and Dunlin mixed flock held a Sanderling, Little Egret and Greenshank as well as the usual Curlew and gulls plus a Wheatear on the fence. At Robbie Garnett hide, 1 Green Sandpiper and 52 Black-tailed Godwits. From the Knott hide, a further 3 Green Sandpipers. Finally, on South Lake among the Common Redshank and Lapwing were the sole Spotted Redshank, 4 Ruff, 35 more Black-tailed Godwits (making a total of 87!), a Common Sandpiper and a juvenile and adult Common Tern.

26th August 2002 - Tried again to see the Pectoral Sandpiper and this time I was successful at pit 87. The bird flew towards the new hide and I located it again much closer from the hide at South Cerney sewage works. The light was good and the markings were very sharp. Upon returning to the car I looked in at pit 87 again and the bird had returned to that lake. I couldn't find the Great White Egret today or the Blue-winged Teal which had been reported at Waterhay, pit 68. Also noted today was a Clouded Yellow butterfly near the Thames path

24th August 2002 - I went to the Cotswold Water Park to look for the Pectoral Sandpiper which had been reported yesterday. I failed to find it but I noted in the region of pit 87 and Shorncote area, Green Sandpiper, Little Plover, Dunlin, Greenshank, Common Sandpiper and Golden Plover. I called in at pit 57 and the Great White Egret was still present and much closer. I was able to see the colour rings more closely. What appeared to be at long range the following - large red over smaller yellow above the tarsus on the left and a metal ring above the tarsus on the right is in fact, orange above red above yellow above the tarsus on the left, all three rings being of equal size and the right as above. I can now submit this to the ringer.

22nd August 2002 - Slimbridge just before lunchtime on a warm and sunny day. At Middle Point, the highlight of the day was an Osprey, which had been seen earlier, return an do some fishing in the channel in front of the hide. It tried three times in the same place with a wide sweeping flight in between. It was successful on the third attempt and then it took its prize off downstream and was lost from view. Also present were the resident Kestrel, 3 Little Egrets, about 13 Sanderling in with the mixed flock of Ringed Plover and Dunlin. The lone Bar-tailed Godwit was also present with the Curlew. At the Robbie Garnett hide, 7 Green Sandpipers and 1 Ruff were present.

21st August 2002 - Ashleworth on a sunny, calm and warm day. There appeared to be warblers everywhere including numerous Chiffchaffs, Common Whitethroat and Redstart. Added to these, in Stank Lane was a Lesser Whitethroat and 4 Buzzards overhead.
In the afternoon, I went to the Cotswold Water Park to try to find the Great White Egret. I parked at pit 57 and immediately found a Little Egret and then a Grey Heron and finally, there was the Great White complete with its colour rings which appeared to be red over white above the tarsus on the left leg and a metal above the tarsus on the right. I may have missed some detail here as the bird was at long range. The Grey Heron was giving the large Egret quite a lot of hassle even though it was dwarfed by the latter. It was quite flighty and eventually disappeared over the trees in the direction of pit 58. Also not helping was the presence on the far side of pit 57 of some people playing football on a mini pitch complete with goalposts. I suspect that this is the beginning of the recreation area which will include the lake for the residents of the new houses which are springing up at quite a rate. I looked at those on the opposite side of the River Thames to the drive to pit 57 and I think that they have been built at a level similar to this drive. What happens when the Thames floods? We will have to see. Another noticable feature here at the waterpark was the abundance of odonata compared with an almost lack of them at Ashleworth.

20th August 2002 - A warm and pleasant day at Slimbridge. At lunchtime from the Robbie Garnett hide, there were 4 Green Sandpipers and 1 Ruff. At Middle Point, 181 Dunlin, 94 Ringed Plovers were approximate counts. Also present were 5 Sanderling, 1 Bar-tailed Godwit, 1 Whimbrel among the Curlew, 2 Little Egret, 4 Redshank and a Kestrel. In the distance on the river was a lone grey goose but I could not identify the species as the distance and heat shimmer made it not possible. I would guess that this was one of the Greylag Geese. After lunch, at the Knott Hide, 8 Green Sanpipers were the total but some of these may have been those present off the Robbie Garnett scrape earlier. The injured Wood Sandpiper was also present. On South Lake by mid afternoon, 18 Black-tailed Godwits, 1 Spotted Redshank, 2 Ruff and many Common Redshank, Lapwing and Black-headed Gulls. A single adult Herring Gull and a Common Gull were the only other gulls present.

17th August 2002 - A quiet but hot day at Oldbury Power Station. Plenty of Linnets but little else. At Slimbridge, a Wood Sandpiper, the same injured individual of 13th Aug. and 8 Green Sandpiper with a Little Plover from the Robbie Garnett Hide. At Middle Point, plenty of gulls and a Little Egret. On South Lake, 1 Spotted Redshank amongst many Common Redshank, 2 Ruff, 13 Black-tailed Godwit and 1 Dunlin.

13th August 2002 - Slimbridge late morning. 1 Wood Sandpiper, 10 Green Sandpiper and 1 Ruff from the Robbie Garnett hide. The former seems to have an injury on its right flank in front of the wing. At Middle Point, at least 160 Dunlin on the river and over 30 Linnet on the sea wall.

12th August 2002 - A cool and overcast start to the day yielded a brilliant blue sky afternoon. My first stop was at Nagshead where I quickly checked for Adders in the field by the information centre. None were seen but a Slow-worm was there instead. The trees leading to the centre held a tit flock which also included some Siskins. I descended from Nagshead to Cannop where on the way a Willow Warbler was still singing strongly. At the southern end of Cannop Ponds, the usual Grey Wagtails were flitting around the waterfall. On into Russell Enclosure where I came across a Fallow Deer doe and very young, almost black juvenile. The mother was aware of me and started 'barking' before moving off into the undergrowth with the youngster in tow. I walked to Beechenhurst but did not linger as there was lots of noise and many people there. Overhead I could hear Raven calling. I went on up to the Woorgreens area, took a picnic lunch and watched Chaffinch, Robin, Nuthatch, Blue Tit and a bird that I couldn't identify because it was too distant. All of these were on the ground on one of the shale tracks. I walked around Speech House and then onto Staple Edge Wood where Linnet and Redstart were prominent as were 4 Buzzards and a Kestrel. From there I went to New Fancy for my 'threeses' and noted a pair of Raven soaring, calling and indulging in a bit of display by rolling inverted and 'tangling'with each other. From there I moved back in the direction of Nagshead. I noted near Burnt Log that there is a Holly bush which is resplendant with lots of bright red berries. I noted this in July. It must be Christmas!! I skirted Cannop Ponds and crossed between the two pools. There are plenty of Mandarin ducks on the lower pond. I climbed up the ridge to the west of the ponds and intercepted the long trail to return on a glorious afternoon and over 13 miles covered with 37 species of bird noted.

11th August 2002 - Wildfowl Count day at Ashleworth but the only ones of note were the single Canada Goose and a Grey Heron. Other birds included 2 Raven and a very large number of Swallows and House Martins in a feeding frenzy over Ham Road. Also of note was a very, very large, but not fat, Grey Rabbit in the copse by the hide?

10th August 2002 - The Grasshopper Warbler, was still reeling at Ashleworth on this cool and very grey overcast morning.

8th August 2002 - More waders at Slimbridge today. On the Robbie Garnett scrape in the morning, at least 10 Green Sandpipers, 2 Common Sandpiper and a Wood Sandpiper. In the afternoon on South Lake, 4 Ruff, 16 Black-tailed Godwit, 3 Snipe and many Common Redshank and Black-headed Gulls.
A body in the gutter on the A38 to the north of the village of Cambridge that I noted a couple of days ago has been identified as a Polecat by Slimbridge staff

7th August 2002 - On a warm, humid and calm morning I went to Ashleworth to try to find the Grasshopper Warbler that had been reported reeling there over the past week or so. Eventually, persistence paid off and I heard the bird but in spite of careful searching I could not see it. Of the summer breeders, Redstart, Common Whitethroat, Sedge Warbler, Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff were all noted, the last two singing as if it were spring. In Stank Lane a Great Spotted Woodpecker with a tiny bit of red on top of the head which suggested a juvenile female was accompanied by an adult male. These added to a Green Woodpecker heard earlier. On the Severn Way, just to the north of Haw Bridge, Mute Swan, orange ring AALH was feeding with 3 well grown cygnets but no sign of a mate.

6th August 2002 - Slimbridge on a very warm, humid but breezy day. At lunchtime from Middle Point, as well as the Black-headed Gulls and Curlew, there were a mixed and very scattered flock of Ringed Plover and Dunlin. Also present on the river were two Little Egret and 2 Grey Heron. The Whimbrel was still there but no other waders were noted. At 15.00 from the Robbie Garnett Hide, at least 14 Green Sandpipers, 1 Wood Sandpiper and 1 Common Sandpiper were there along with a 'washed-out' young looking Little Plover.

5th August 2002 - The morning was unseasonally foggy at 06.00 but this soon lifted. A trip to Frampton and to Slimbridge was made to see what species might have been moving through and which might have been delayed by the weather. In the event, 11 species of wader were noted excluding the usual Oystercatchers and Black-tailed Godwits which are usually seen but not today. Frampton Sailing Lake at 08.30 yielded 2 Common Tern. The Robbie Garnett and Knot hides at Slimbridge had 12 Green Sandpipers between them. On the river at Middle Point, there were 1 Redshank, 1 Bar-tailed Godwit, 1 Whimbrel with the many Curlew, 1 Little Egret, a mixed flock of about 130 Dunlin and Ringed Plover with 2 Little Stints mixed in. A Raven was heard to the east. On South Lake, there were 4 Common Tern including the juvenile. The Lapwing and Redshank flock included a Spotted Redshank and 3 Ruff.

4th August 2002 - Just a walk today up onto Churchdown Hill ( Chosen Hill ). This lower slopes of the first field are about 15 mins walk from the house. Bird life on the hill was generally quiet on this, a fairly humid and slightly misty morning. The Malvern Hills at 18 miles distant were only just visible, yet surprisingly, May Hill in the Forest of Dean at about 12 miles was out of view. Two Ravens were soaring over the hill to the SW and one Great-spotted Woodpecker was atop one of the metal transmitter masts which adorn the top of the hill. Not much song as to be expected but the resident Green Woodpeckers were 'yaffling' and a handful of Dunnock were scampering about. Other than an odd call here and there all was quiet.

3rd August 2002 - A quiet morning at Ashleworth where the only birds on the water were 3 Grey Herons and the injured Canada Goose. A Raven passed over and Willow Warblers were singing. This species or Chiffchaff with Chaffinches and Reed Buntings were dropping out of the hedgerows into the heads of newly grown maize and then returning to the hedges. There must be some form of food source there. Bullfinch and juvenile Redstart were in Stank Lane with a number of warblers most of which only gave a fleeting glimpse. What is worrying is the condition of many of the trees in the area. One of the large Ash trees is completely dead. Many of the Hawthorns have had very little leaf growth this summer and the Willows are showing the same. Some of the latter, although new growth is evident to some extent, have older green leaves which are withering and dying quite fast such that they are now a very dull green. The Poplars seem at first sight to have healthy leaves but the leaves are few in number. I don't know why this is happening but the overall condition of many species seems to be very poor.

2nd August 2002 - Late yesterday a Sparrowhawk overflew the house quite low. I have not noted this resident raptor recently. This morning as I stepped out of the house, another overfly but this time a pair of Mallards which are fairly unusual here.
A morning at the Middle Point Hide at Slimbridge. The river was quiet and the high tide at 1400 was a lowly 5.9 metres. Nothing much moved but there were 9 Ringed Plover with a sole Dunlin and 1 each of Bar-tailed Godwit and Whimbrel. A pair of Kestrels put on a display overhead several times and 3 Oystercatchers turned up as did one Little Egret which flew in from down river. This was a different individual to the "yellow socks" one of a week ago last Saturday. This one had conventional yellow feet only. In front of the hide were approximately 900 Black-headed Gulls and 2 Common Gull. On the scrapes around the Robbie Garnett hide, a nice number of Green Sandpipers were present but I could not find the Wood Sandpiper. Over the canal at Purton in the late afternoon, 4 Buzzards were in the air together.

1st August 2002 - Slimbridge just after lunch. A cooler day after the torrential downpour yesterday (nearly an inch of rain). On South Lake, 2 Ruff, 4 Greenshank , 1 Common Gull among over 400 Black-headed Gulls and many Common Redshank . The Common Tern chick that was fledged at this location continues to thrive and is regularly seen flying. From the Robbie Garnett Hide in mid-afternoon, at least 11 Green Sandpipers were there and the Wood Sandpiper remains.

Today I received news of the ringing details of the colour ringed Black-tailed Godwit that I saw at Slimbridge on July 18th. Details are reproduced here or can be seen in the diary archive.
"On South Lake in the afternoon, 3 Black-tailed Godwits included an individual with a set of colour rings - White above Red above the joint on the right leg and a single white below the joint whereas on the left leg only a white ring below the joint".
The details, courtesey of Dr Jenny Gill, are as follows:- Long white ring on left leg above joint White over red on right leg above joint Long white on right leg below joint. was ringed on 30.8.96 at Holbeach, the Wash, Lincs as an adult male. Also seen 1.4.98 Oakenholt Marsh, Dee, Cheshire
12.4.99 Inner Marsh Farm, Dee, Cheshire
4.4.00 Inner Marsh Farm, Dee, Cheshire
21.4.01 Breydon Water, Norfolk
7.10.01 Snettisham, the Wash, Norfolk
1.4.02 Ouse Washes RSPB reserve, Cambs
6.7.02 Gaustsdalur, Kroks-Fjadarnes, W Iceland
18.7.02 Slimbridge, Gloucester
20.7.02 Slimbridge, Gloucester.
The most fascinating is that this bird was seen in Iceland on 7th July and then at Slimbridge on the 18th.

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