Diary - January to March 2010

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31st March 2010 – Symonds Yat again today.  At least it was dry but blustery and cold.  A pair of Mandarin Duck were on the river which was a nice surprise.  From 1240  when I arrived until 1345, there was no sign of the Peregrines and then both were noted in the right hand nest hole of the left hand cliff.  A little later, three birds were seen overhead and then two returned to their perches near the nesting cliffs.  Perhaps the local pair were seeing off an intruder.  The two local birds are still using the perches as they did yesterday, in other words the new perches relative to last year.  Other notes include several Buzzards in various locations, the Nuthatch is still working on the nest box and a Marsh Tit was a newcomer to the birds around the information board.


30th March 2010Symonds Yat on an overcast day with some rain.  There were 3 Goosander on the river when I arrived.  The two apparently resident Peregrines were on view and during the day they moved around some perches.  The interesting thing is that the male when perched looks very dark and may well be a new bird.  In addition, both birds appear to be using perches that have not been used recently such as during the breeding season last year.  This also suggests that at least one of the birds and maybe both are new birds.  3 Swallows cruised past, heading north, in front of a line of rain coming in.


29th March 2010 – A Carrion Crow has just started nesting near my house at Longhope and a Chiffchaff was singing in a nearby garden. 

Slimbridge on an overcast day with some rain.  I was there between 1250 and 1530.  A Mute Swan is nesting on Rushy Pen and there were 20 others on the lake. There seems to be much less aggression between members of this species than of late.  Another Chiffchaff was singing along the Holden Walkway.  Spring sounds are really getting going now over the past 3 days.  At least 8 Swallows were over the scrape by the Halfway Hide at 1415 and a Reed Bunting was present.  There was still at least 14 Wigeon left but the last 2 of the Bewick’s Swans seem to have departed.  From the Holden Tower, I could see the lone Pink-footed Goose among the feral Barnacle Geese.  6 Golden Plover were on The Dumbles, all of these birds were showing some summer plumage in various stages of completion.  Back at the Halfway Hide at 1500, there was at least one Sand Martin with the Swallows and this former species was a first of the year for me. 


28th March 2010Symonds Yat.  1220 to 1400.  A Goshawk was soaring over the left of the summit of Coppet Hill with Buzzards.  A Sparrowhawk first seen to the right of Coppet Hill flew around to the right and disappeared behind the trees near the Peregrine nesting cliff.  2 Peregrines were flying near the nesting cliff at 1247 and then began to soar very high overhead. There was no sign of the short primary on either of these birds as noted on Friday 26th March.  The feather may have grown and filled the gap which was not too great but this would seem unlikely over two days or were these two birds different to those seen on the 26th?  2 Buzzards were giving a ‘rollercoaster’ display over the airfield and then a few minutes later, a Peregrine went into the right hand hole on the rock face.  A short time later,  I noted a Pergrine harassing a bird which was perched in a tree below the nesting cliff.  This was an unusual location for a perching bird and not one of the regularly used perches.  This bird was still in situ when I left at 1400.  The bird doing the harassing may have been a juvenile as there seems to be an amount of brown on its upperside.  A moment later, there were two Peregrines in flight overhead and they again went very high with the perched bird still there, thus there being 3 birds present.  Is there a territorial battle going on here?  A Chiffchaff was singing below the viewpoint which was a first for me for the year. 

          A short visit to Nagshead between 1740 and 1810 was now under overcast skies and calm winds and the area was very quiet as expected at this time of day.


27th March 2010Strumble Head between 1115 and 1255.  There were sunny periods, sea state was 3 and the wind was in the north going around to south west by mid afternoon.  2 Swallows came along in front of the observatory and were almost the first birds of the seawatch and the first for the year for me.  There were no porpoises seen during this one hour and forty minutes seawatch.  There were two dredgers moving north which disappeared over the horizon and one was working several miles to the north.  I walked to the beach area to the east of Strumble Head between 1445 and 1745.  One porpoise was noted at 1440 with the tide now running.  3 Wheatear (1 male) were on the grass slope on the western promontory of the beach inlet.  These were the first of this species of the year for me also.  Two Pergrines were interacting along the coastal path but they eventually disappeared behind a headland.  5 Linnet were of note on my return walk.


26th March 2010Nagshead, between 1015 and 1245 was overcast, breezy and cool.  It was very wet underfoot after the rain last night (3mm).  At the Lower Hide between 1200 and 1225, there were only 2 pairs of Mandarin Duck.

          I moved on to Symonds Yat for a short visit between 1330 and 1415.  Both resident Peregrines were on view and for a few minutes both birds gave a magnificent flying display all around the viewpoint.  The male bird appears to have a gap on the right wing at approximately primary feather number 7 which is just growing after a moult of that feather.  A Sparrowhawk flew past as I was leaving.  It was generally a day of sunshine and some showers, with a particularly heavy one at 1130.  The afternoon was sunnier than expected.


25th March 2010 – It was an overcast but calm day in the Forest of Dean with rain starting at 1415.  At Cannop Ponds, there were several Mandarin Duck near the Stoneworks with at least 4 Siskin on the feeders.  The 3 Greylag Geese were still present as seen yesterday. 

          At Nagshead, Lower Hide between 0930 and 0950, there was only one pair of Mandarin Duck present but they flew off in the direction of Cannop Ponds.  Other birds included a pair of Stock Dove in the trees in front of the hide as was a Jay.  There was also plenty of Song Thrush song around the woods and along the lower short trail, there was a Blue Tit going in and out of a nest box several times.  Prospecting for nesting I think. 

          Symonds Yat, 1255 to 1420.  At least 4 Buzzard in the air, 2 Raven and the 2 local Peregrine.  A Goshawk was over Coppet Hill which then flew fast and low to the left and disappeared behind some high ground to the north.  Of note which surprised me was that there is still tree felling in the woods opposite the viewpoint.  I saw a Common Buzzard taking sticks into this wood, presumably starting to build a nest.  I hope that the tree that the Buzzard is building in is not going to be felled. 


24th March 2010 – A damp day with a constant but at times, very light rain.  Nagshead between 1200 and 1355.  There were many frogs again in the Nursery Pond near the information centre and plenty of spawn.  The frogs appear to come in many colours! 

          At Cannop Ponds just after lunch, there were plenty of birds around the feeders at the Stoneworks.  There were 3 Greylag Geese including the one with the stump which is a bird that has been around this area for well over a year. 

          Back at Nagshead between 1450 and 1650, I went to the Lower Hide to look for the reported Pied Flycatchers.  I found none. It is a little early for them.  There were 3 pairs of Mandarin Duck on the ponds in front of the hide.


22nd March 2010 – Rain in the morning which cleared at about 1500.  I walked the short trail at Nagshead.  It was really quiet except for the song of Song Thrushes which as I have mentioned before seem to be doing well at this site.


21st March 2010 – A fine and mild day.  New Fancy View between 1235 and 1445 was full of life.  At least 3 Adders were alongside the path to the viewpoint and near the top there was a Lizard basking in the sunshine.  There were several Goshawks in the air, the maximum at any one time being 2 but there was generally one to be seen in the sky at any one time at some point of the panorama.  Also aloft were displaying Raven and some Buzzards.  2 Fallow Deer were in the clearing below the viewpoint. 

          At Nagshead later in the afternoon, it was very quiet in the woods as expected but there were still good numbers of Song Thrush as previously noted.  At least 2 Grey Heron were seen flying into the area of the pool by the information centre, presumably to feast on the many frogs present there.


19th March 2010 – The day had an overcast morning and a very wet afternoon.  A short visit to Ashleworth between 1200 and 1230 revealed the reported Great White Egret.  This bird was colour ringed with orange over lime green on the left and orange over metal on the right.  Apparently it was ringed in France in May 2009 and has been seen in Lancashire.  There were still approximately 100 duck to be seen from the hide.  The species were mainly Teal and Wigeon with some Mallard and Shoveler.  There were also 2 Tufted Duck, 2 Grey Heron, at least 6 Snipe and some Lapwing. 

          At Slimbridge in the afternoon, it was quiet, with the Pink-footed Goose still present as were the two Bewick’s Swans.  A flock of 8 Golden Plover appeared on The Dumbles and they were bathing in the fresh water and suggested that they were passage birds.  One bird at least had black underparts, a forerunner of the breeding plumage.  From the Holden Tower, I noted at least 80 Rook nests in the copse near the Zeiss Hide.  There must be more nest on the other side of the copse.  A Peregrine flew off the river and after a fly around, landed in the Turkey Oaks, one of the usual perches. 

          Of note this morning at home, I noted a Long-tailed Tit with nesting material.  I have seen a pair around the house for the past 3 days so it looks like they are now preparing to nest in the vicinity.  I will have to watch for more sightings.  This species seem to have come through the cold winter in good numbers for I am seeing them in many places over the last few weeks. 


18th March 2010Nagshead – mid afternoon.  Slight rain but mild.  It was quiet in the woods as expected but there was some song.  There was much frog activity again in the pool near the Information Centre and there is a tremendous among of spawn.


17th March 2010 – An overcast but fine day at Slimbridge.  I was expecting that all of the Bewick’s Swans would have left on migration. This was almost the case.  Only left were two adults, one was the traditionally long staying bird which in the past has left in April and the other is a sick bird showing signs of lead poisoning and now the bird is probably too weak to fly far.  The Pink-footed Goose was on the Dumbles with the Greylag Geese now that all of the White-fronted Geese have departed. 

          I walked along the canal towpath to the south from Patch Bridge.  There are now 48 nests in the rookery at the first bend on the west bank of the canal (cf 37 nests on 15th March).  Another rookery on the opposite side of the canal at the rear of the camping site near Patch Bridge, there are 29 more nests.  Along the canal on the east side to the north of Patch Bridge is at least another 29 nests thus making a total of 106 nests along the canal.  Note that the long established rookery near the Zeiss Hide at Slimbridge is not that far from the first rookery mentioned here.


16th March 2010 – Another fine and mild day.  I went to New Fancy View for a short visit between 1110 and 1200.  Two Adders were along side the path to the viewpoint and many Ravens were in the air, some were displaying with various aerobatics including some rolls.  At least 7 Fallow Deer were in the clearing below the viewing area.  At least 2 different Goshawk were on the wing and a male Bullfinch was perched in a tree at very close range.  A Grey Wagtail overflew and at one point, there was a Sparrowhawk, a Goshawk and 2 Buzzard interacting with each other. 


15th March 2010 – It was sunny and mild at Slimbridge.  I walked down the canal to the south and in the first field was the unusual sight of a Little Egret lying flat but upright.  The rookery in the trees on the west bank of the canal on the first bend to the south of Patch Bridge has 37 nests.  Back at Slimbridge Reserve, there were 30 Mute Swans on Rushy Pen.  This high number is a result of all of the big landscaping work in big pen where they usually gather and which is very disturbing to them.  There were also 8(3) Bewick’s Swan on Rushy Pen with one more on the Tack Piece.  These are all of that species that remain.  All of the rest have begun their migration. 


14th March 2010 – Nagshead RSPB Reserve between 1720 and 1850.  Sunny periods and mild in the late afternoon.  It was very quiet at the end of the afternoon but of note was the presence of at least 4 Song Thrush on the open meadow.  In both the meadow and under the trees in the leaf litter seems to be a good place for this species which is doing well in this site.  At 1850, just as I was arriving back at the car near the entrance barrier, I noted a very bright light in the sky which moved away from me to the east.  It was the International Space Station.


13th March 2010 – Ashleworth at 1100 was overcast with some sunny intervals and mild and with a light wind.  However, in the early afternoon, the sun came out and it turned into a glorious, mild day with the temperature reaching 12 deg. C. mid afternoon.  There was a selection of dukc, Lapwing and Snipe on the receding water.  Along Stank Lane there were 3 pairs of Long-tailed Tits at various locations and another pair near the hide.  From the hide, a minimum of 12 Snipe but the vegetation is growing and these birds are getting more difficult to see than on 25th February when I noted a far larger number.  Duck numbers were about 400  birds as seen from the hide which  included mainly Wigeon and Teal with fewer numbers of Shoveler, Mallard and Pintail.  2 Canada Geese, 1 Grey Heron and 1 Little Grebe were also present, the geese probably being the injured ones which have been present for many months.


12th March 2010 – Overcast, breezy and cold yet again at Slimbridge.  The wind was in the north and gusty at times.  There were 33 White-fronted Geese on the Tack Piece which included 2 Greenland White-fronted Geese which were reported yesterday for the first time.  Again, the Pink-footed Goose was present.  48 Bewick’s Swans were present on Rushy Pen at 1730, thus there has been some departures of geese and swans overnight. 


11th March 2010 – Another visit to Slimbridge on an overcast, cold and breezy afternoon.  When I walked along the canal to the south, a Little Egret which had been in the rhine alongside the canal flew up and landed on the towpath where it remained for a while until I got close.  The rookery on the first bend to the south of Patch Bridge was noisy with the birds busy building nests.  Because there are clumps of the Willow trees which have been pollarded the rookery is now comprised of several small ones separated by 20 or 30 metres.  On the south south middle  field ( 2  fields from the road to the south ), there were more than 150 Woodpigeons and some Greylag Geese.  At Slimbridge Centre, there were 98 White-fronted Geese on the Tack Piece and the Pink-footed Goose was still with them.  Wigeon numbers seem to the be same as yesterday as were the numbers of Bewick’s Swans.  The reason for the non movement of birds is the constant north easterly wind.


10th March 2010 – Slimbridge.  In the afternoon, it was cold, overcast and breezy with a north east wind and as the afternoon wore on, the sun appeared.  There were 41 Bewick’s Swans on the Rushy Pen and 55 more on the Tack Piece but there was some movement between the two locations and I may have missed some.  About 10 White-fronted Geese were also on the Tack Piece and have therefore not yet migrated.  Good numbers of Wigeon were still present with about 500 present on the Tack Piece.


8th March 2010 – Another sunny day and a short visit to Slimbridge where there are still a good number of Bewick’s Swans present (approximately 100 reported).


7th March 2010 – A beautiful sunny day with not a cloud in the sky.  Up in the Cotswolds there appeared to be a number of thrush species in the open fields as if there is some movement back north for the spring.  In Westonbirt Arboretum there was much song including that of Siskin. 


5th March 2010 – A visit to Strumble Head in west Wales on a beautifully sunny but cold day.  The wind was in the north east and the sea state was between 2 and 3.  There were quite a number of Gannets, some feeding not far from the observatory and associated with them were Harbour Porpoises.  A sweep from inside the observatory revealed 19 animals over a wide area.  One had a notch in the dorsal fin about one quarter of the way down the fin from the tip and the notch was about half of this distance into the fin.  I have seen a picture of a Porpoise on one of the blogs of a similar looking individual which was seen in the same general area.  Two flocks of 5 Common Scoter each passed to the west and a Red-throated Diver was on the sea in front of the viewpoint.  Along the coastal path to the east, two Peregrines were very vocal and I flushed a Common Snipe from the path beyond the beach. There was a large fishing boat with ‘arms’ out on either side which may have been a scallop dredging boat which may well disturb the Harbour Porpoises which are resident in the area.


4th March 2010 – Slimbridge.  A sunny, but cold day with a north east wind.  There were still many Bewick’s Swans  and White-fronted Geese present.  All birds, including the ducks seem agitated.  This is probably migratory restlessness playing a part.


3rd March 2010 – I went to New Fancy View and arrived at 1140.  It was cold, breezy and overcast.  There were several Raven and a Buzzard on the wing and a Goldcrest was in a tree near to the viewpoint on my short stay there.  At least 2 Fallow Deer were in the clearing below.  A mixed flock of Siskin and Crossbill were of note near Speech House Ride on my walk around the local area. 

          I moved on to Nagshead RSPB Reserve between 1550 and 1630.  The sun was shining in the afternoon.  Of note were 172 frogs at least in the pond by the information centre along with frog spawn.  Spring has arrived!


2nd March 2010 – I went to Haw Bridge to see the effect of the Severn Bore.  At this point on the river, there is no wave because the weir at Maisemore breaks up the bore.  However, I arrived at 0950 and the river level was 8.16m.  At 1020, it had risen to 8.7m and at about this time, the river which had been running downstream became calm and eventually began to run back upstream and this was most apparent in that a log which had floated downstream at about 1000 reappeared and was moving upstream at 1050 when I left and when the river had risen to 8.99m.

          At Ashleworth, the water level was much higher than on 26th February with the top end of Stank Lane being flooded.  The waterfowl numbers were also lower than this last date with about 260 birds being present compared with the last count of 400 to 500 birds.   90 gulls were in front of Colways Farm, these comprised one Lesser Black-backed Gull, several Common Gulls and the rest were Black-headed Gulls.  Along Stank Lane there was a small flock of Redwing/Fieldfare/Starling.  On Hasfield Ham which is flooded again, there were no wild swans but 5 Mute Swans and 2 Shelduck and  a few other ducks. 

          Slimbridge in the afternoon was bathed in sunshine and there were still about 100 White-fronted Geese with the Pink-footed Goose with them on the Tack Piece.  Good numbers of Bewick’s Swans are also still present. 


1st March 2010 – Nagshead  between 0950 and 1120.  A sharp frost this morning but the day developed into a beautiful sunny and mild day.  1 deg C. at 0930 rising to 9 deg. C. at 1230.  One of the pair of Carrion Crows which are often seen near the car park was carrying nesting material.  A Great Tit was investigating one of the nest boxes near the information centre.  It is a little early for this species to be nest building but it will only be three or four weeks to commencement depending upon the weather.  The sheep in the Forest have had lambs for a week or so but today there were many lambs in the Nagshead reserve particularly around the short trail.  Sheep at this location are an unusual sight. There was a lot of song in the woodlands this morning and several Song Thrushes were seen.  Also noted was more fresh boar tillage. 

          A short visit was made to WWT Slimbridge.  I noted 174 Bewick’s Swans (203 have been reported) so not many have left on migration (probably about 30 birds over the weekend).  This evening looks good as it is a clear night, not much wind and a nearly full moon (full yesterday).  It will be interesting to see how many remain tomorrow. 


27th February 2010 – Nagshead in the late afternoon between 1615 and 1815 was beautiful and mild.  There were sunny periods after some showers in the morning.  Three species of mammal were observed, Fallow Deer, Rabbit and Grey Squirrel.  In general, it was quiet in the woods but very wet under foot.


26th February 2010 – It was overcast and breezy at Ashleworth between 1145 and 1300 with the temperature at 1130 being 6 deg. C.  The Lapwing flock were again in front of the hide as yesterday.  There were about 300 birds.  A Skylark was singing in the air near Colways Farm which was a first for the year.  No Snipe were seen today but the Curlew was calling again also as yesterday.  Duck numbers were again estimated at about 400 to 500 birds.  Of note were 5 Tufted Duck (2 females) and a Little Grebe.  The water level was slightly higher in the rhine at Dirty Lane with  10 bricks showing whereas there were 11 bricks showing yesterday. 

          Slimbridge between 1330 and 1745.  The clouds cleared somewhat and the afternoon was breezy, cool but beautifully light.  There has probably been no loss of migrants overnight but conditions for tonight look good.  The swans and geese are becoming overdue for departure because of adverse weather and now it would appear to be a clear night with a favourable wind direction and almost a full moon.  Almost perfect conditions except that it could be quite windy. 


25th February 2010 – Ashleworth between 1200 and 1325.  It was mild with sunny periods with the temperature at 1130 being 7 deg. C.  About 600 Lapwing were in front of the hide and a first for the year was a Curlew calling nearby.  There were about 400 waterfowl, which is less than that present on Tuesday (23rd February).  Of note, 2 Greylag Geese, 1 Grey Heron, 8 Tufted Duck (3 females).  An amazing 63 Snipe were near the second screen hide.

          Slimbridge between 1400 and 1700.  About 245 Bewick’s Swans were reported and there was a good spectacle at the feed.  About 100 White-fronted Geese were on the Dumbles and the Pink-footed Goose was still with them.  Have some of the geese migrated?  South Lake was very quiet with few birds but 2 Black-tailed Godwits were of note.


24th February 2010 – A damp day with some rain, but probably the mildest day of the year so far.  Maximum temperature about 11 deg.C.


23rd February 2010 – Ashleworth between 1025 and 1200 was overcast, cold and breezy.  En route to the site, I noted a Red-legged Partridge crossing the road near Buttersend, Hartpury and near Ashleworth village I followed a Sparrowhawk along the lane at a steady 25 mph for a few hundred metres.  At Ashleworth, there was another Sparrowhawk opposite Colways Farm.  Along Stank Lane, there were about 200 Lapwing in various fields to the south but they were very spaced out.  Overall, there were less duck than on Saturday (20th February)  with about 500 waterfowl present.  Of note, there were 3 Greylag Geese, 5 Tufted Duck which included 2 females (this species is relatively scarce at this site) and a Shelduck. 

          At Slimbridge in the afternoon, the rain set in.  The Pink-footed Geese was with the White-fronted Geese on The Dumbles at 1530.  About 20 Bewick’s Swans have been reported to have left on migration.  There are, however, still a good number present and the feed is still a spectacle.  At dusk, there was a large number of Jackdaws flying in, presumably to roost.


22nd February 2010 – Yet more snow overnight but it did not amount to any great depth.  It melted during the day.  At Nagshead between 1501 and 1625, it was overcast and cold.  There was about an inch of snow on the ground in certain parts of the reserve.  It was very wet under foot on the trails.  There appeared to be a lot of Wild Boar tillage around some of the trails and nearby roads which is something not seen of late. 


21st February 2010 – Some more snow fell overnight but as the day passed, the snow melted under a blue sky.


20th February 2010 – Ashleworth between 1230 and 1820.  It was sunny and cold with some snow still on the ground.  Ashlworth Ham which was flooded had some ice on it at first but there was extensive open water maintained by about 800 waterfowl.  Teal were displaying and Pintail were paddling to disturb underwater food.  Other species present included Mallard, Wigeon, Shoveler, Gadwall and Canada Geese.  41 Snipe were around the edges of the flood.  Hasfield Ham was slightly different in that there was not very much water left but all that was there was ice free.  About 300 Lapwing were on the field alongside Stank Lane which has the permanent scrape on it.  This number increased to about 500 birds which came to roost on the mud in front of the hide at dusk.  Also on Hasfield Ham, there were about 100 gulls.  The water level on the bridge at Dirty Lane showed 7 bricks, and while I was walking in that area, I became aware of at least 40 Woodpigeons around the trees but I suspect that there were more than I noted at any one time.  Other duck noted later were 5 Tufted Duck which included 5 females to the left of the hide. A Buzzard was on a pylon but no Peregrines were noted.   At 1655, 3 adult Whooper Swans flew into Hasfield Ham.  I waited until dusk to see if any Bewick’s Swans came to roost as had been mentioned over several previous days in the log in the hide.  By the time it was dark and difficult to see the full area of water, none had arrived and I left.  Other notes today included a Robin inside the hide. 


19th February 2010 – Slimbridge at 1230.  It was 4 deg. C. at 1230 with some snow still on some ground.  There were still good numbers of White-fronted Geese and Bewick’s Swans and it would appear that none have started their migration.  Waders seen today were Oystercatcher, Lapwing, Golden Plover, Ruff, Dunlin and Redshank.  Some of the Golden Plover have acquired part of their breeding plumage in that ‘black bellies’ are now noticeable.  A Peregrine spent a lot of time in the Turkey Oaks at the back of the Tack Piece as usual.


18th February 2010 – The very cold winter continued to dominate the weather news.  It started to snow at about 1100 in Longhope and continued throughout daylight hours and about 2 inches had formed at dusk.


17th February 2010 – No news of natural history today but it was a damp day with some rain, sleet and a little snow which soon melted.  However, some of the snow settled on the high fields of Plump Hill, Micheldean.


16th February 2010 – Sunshine and sleet showers today.  New Fancy View was the destination today in the early afternoon.  At least 2 different Goshawk and 5 Buzzard were on the wing.  Many Chaffinch were in the car park around the feeders.  Several Fallow Deer were in the clearing below the viewpoint again.  At Nagshead RSPB Reserve later in the day, the woods were quiet.


15th February 2010 – Slimbridge at 1125.  It was overcast and cold with a slight drizzle.  100 Bewick’s Swans were on Rushy Pen at 1140 and 82 were on the Tack Piece at the same time.  The female Pochard with the bill saddle with the inscription ‘HP-C’ was still present and appears to have been so all winter.  Waders noted today included Curlew, Lapwing, Ruff, Dunlin, Redshank, Golden Plover and Oystercatcher, making 7 species in all.  Raptors included 2 Peregrine, Buzzard and Sparrowhawk.  One Peregrine chased a Ruff for a while with the wader outflying the predator with lots of twists and turns and apparently having a greater top speed in level flight.  Eventually both birds disappeared over the top of the hide and were lost to view.  The outcome of the chase was unknown.


14th February 2010 – Nagshead 0915 to 1105.  After an overcast start to the daylight hours, the sun had come out by the time I had got to Nagshead.  It was slightly milder than of late with the temperature at 5 deg. C. by 1330 and no wind.  The sound of bird song around the woods in the morning was probably the loudest and most frequent so far this year. 

          At New Fancy View between 1135 and 1300, Buzzards, Ravens and Goshawks were all on the wing as was a lone Sparrowhawk.  Two of the Goshawk sightings were particularly good in the good light and sunny conditions.  3 deer were in the clearing below the viewpoint.  This is the ninth day without rain and the maximum temperature noted today was 8 deg. C. 

          On a general note, I have logged at least 4 dead badgers on the roads this last two or three days.  It seems that they are on the move now and are coming into conflict with traffic.


13th February 2010 – Another cold day.  It seems that this is a colder than average winter and the coldness is continuing for a long time. 


12th February 2010 – A cold day with sunny intervals.


11th February 2010.  It was a bright, but cold day at Slimbridge.  Unexpectedly, there were at least 20 Mute Swans on Rushy Pen at lunchtime.  I suspect that they have been disturbed from their usual haunt of Big Pen by the large civil engineering project which has now started in that and the surrounding area.  A cold night last night with the temperature at one point being down to -5 deg. C. produced a frozen back pond here today.  The Tack Piece, although it did have plenty of standing water is now also frozen up and consequently there were few birds on this area.  However, many of the Bewick’s Swan flock were there but most of those were sleeping but a transient flock of Dunlin was of note too.   The Holden scrape held a good number of Wigeon and the geese on the Dumbles included the White-fronted Goose flock.  Later in the day on Rushy Pen, I noted once again the male Pochard with the bill saddle ‘3=’.  Another cold night was in prospect.


10th February 2010 – At the Cyril Hart arboretum near Speech House, there is a feeder at the edge of the car park.  There were many birds there including Chaffinch, Blue Tit, Coal Tit, Great Tit and Nuthatch with Redwing on the ground. 

          At Nagshead, later in the day between 1720 and 1810, it was quiet in the woods towards dusk as would be expected but there were Tawny Owls hooting at dusk down in the Cannop Valley. It was a fine day with occasional snow flurries and the temperature had already dropped to 0 deg. C. by 1800.  Of note, there was still some ice on the part of the pond by the information centre.  This has been the case to a lesser or larger extent since around Christmas time 2009. 


9th February 2010 – At Ashleworth, it was overcast with slight sleet and rain showers and a cold north east wind.  I was there between 1100 and 1210.  About 150 Lapwing were in the air over Hasfield Ham but when I walked up Stank Lane, 540 were in the extended field which has the pond in it.  There were some swans  in the distance on Hasfield Ham.  There were Mute Swans present but I could not identify all of the birds at long range. 


8th February 2010 – I was at Ashleworth between 1110 and 1230 where the weather was overcast with slight drizzle/sleet and it was cold, the temperature at 1100 being 2 deg. C.  I could see 22 Tufted Duck and 1 male Pochard from the hide.  There were many Canada Geese but quite of few of them were hidden behind hedges and trees which has extensive floodwater around them.  Hasfield Ham was still flooded and held many Wigeon.  There was a total of 23 Mute Swans and 5 adult Bewick’s Swans.

          Slimbridge in the afternoon.  There were 2 Oystercatchers on South Lake and a single Black-tailed Godwit.  From the Holden Tower, there seemed to be less birds generally present overall compared to Friday (5th February).  There were still many Wigeon and certainly more Golden Plover than were there last Friday.  There were also many Lapwing and some Ruff and Redshank but many of the latter two species were hidden in ditches and low lying areas on the field. 

          I managed to read the metal ring on one of the Bewick’s Swans which researcher, Julia Newth did not recognise.  The ring read ‘Z70655’ and after referring to the database, I found that this bird was named Derek and was hatched in 1989.  He had a mate called Dorrie and was last seen in January 1998, 12 years ago.  He is now 21 years old and his current mate is not Dorrie as shown by the bill pattern.  So, where has this bird been wintering during the last 12 years.


7th February 2010 – An overcast, calm and cold day with the temperature at 1830 being 3 deg. C.  I was at Nagshead RSPB Reserve between 1640 and 1810 but it was understandably quiet in the woods but Tawny Owls started to call and duet at 1725 and the sound resounded around the Cannop Valley.  There was still a little bit of ice on the pool near the inforation centre and the tracks were very muddy which must be as a result of the thawing ground.


6th February 2010 – A misty start to the day in Longhope and generally it was an overcast and dampish day.


5th February 2010 – A fine day.  At Slimbridge, the Tack Piece and The Dumbles were full of birds.  Waders on the former included Lapwing, Golden Plover, Snipe, Dunlin, Curlew, Ruff (about 20), Redshank (about 20) and Spotted Redshank.  An Oystercatcher was on South Lake making a total of 9 wader species in total.  The birds in general were very jumpy, Rushy Pen being deserted when I arrived at 1130.  This was probably due to the sound of the mechanical diggers which are doing a lot of work in Big Pen.  It is unfortunate that this work is going on at this time.  It would have been better if it was started in about 2 weeks time when many of the birds would have left on migration.


4th February 2010 – A damp day with some rain but milder than of late.


3rd February 2010 – I arrived at Ashleworth at 1045 and it was overcast and cold with the temperature at 1030 being 2 deg. C.  There were several Chaffinch flocks along Ham Road and Stank Lane.  There was certainly some movement of this species.  There were approximately 130 Lapwing over Hasfield Ham.  Interestingly at the top of Stank Lane, the water in the rhine was flowing strongly to the north which is a very unusual direction.  There were no wild swans to be seen but 5 Mute Swans were on Hasfield Ham.  7 Tufted Duck which is an uncommon species here, were in front of the hide.  The river level at Haw Bridge was 8.12m. 

          In the afternoon, I went to Slimbridge.  An Oystercatcher on South Lake was the first for me at that site.  The Dumbles were covered in a lot of water from the recent very high tides, and there were many duck, mainly Wigeon, on and around the scrape in front of the Holden Tower.  This was quite a spectacle.  161 White-fronted Geese were on the Tack Piece.  There were fewer birds on Rushy Pen than usual after a morning catch and other unavoidable disturbance.  There was drizzle by dusk.


2nd February 2010 – At Nagshead, I walked the long trail but it was very quiet in the woods.  Of note was a very small Grey Squirrel which must have been a young one and which has survived the recent snow and the very cold weather.  There were rain showers this morning but brighter later.


1st February 2010 – At Slimbridge, it was overcast with some sunny intervals.  The birds of note were on South Lake where there was a female Ring-necked Duck and a female Ruddy Duck.  The White-fronted Goose flock were on the Tack Piece but I could not find the reported Pink-footed Goose.  A female type Red-crested Pochard was also on South Lake but the bird looked odd and was almost certainly a hybrid.


31st January 2010 – Nagshead.  At 1230 it was bright but overcast and this turned to blue sky later.  It was very cold with the ground frozen and the lakes also.  On the long trail there was a finch flock with some Siskin and maybe some Redpoll.  Crossbills were heard to overfly.  Later, two Goldcrests graced the edge of the track.


30th January 2010 – It was sunny, cold and crisp with a blue sky at Ashleworth and the temperature at 1030 was 0 deg. C. Hasfield Ham was flooded and ice free.  Ashleworth Ham was generally ice free and the water is no longer over the road.  Along Stank Lane at 1100, there were 70 Lapwing on the ice on the crater field where there was some duck too.  Gulls and ducks were also scattered over Hasfield Ham.  In the afternoon, there appeared to be more Canada Geese present.  I flushed a Snipe along Stank Lane and then found 3 adult Whooper Swans on Hasfield Ham.  A Long-tailed Tit flock was a pleasure to see along the lane.  The water along the lane was lower than this morning.  It is draining away quite quickly.  Meanwhile, a Grey Squirrel was eating a green apple near the hide.  At 1654, 5 adult Bewick’s Swans flew into Hasfield Ham, which I saw from the hide.  There had been shooting to the north of the reserve and this made all of the swans wary and the Canada Geese took flight but most returned.  The swans began to settle and I left at 1740 in the dusk and I believed that they would roost.  9 Tufted Duck including 2 females were disturbed by the shots but remained in front of the hide.


29th January 2010 – It was overcast with a cold breeze at Ashleworth at 1100.  The flood water is still just over Ham Road at Dirty Lane and at Stank Lane crossroads.  A Little Egret was near Stonebow Farm.  From the hide, I could see at least 88 Canada Geese but there was almost certainly more on the extensive floodwater.  The river level was ‘only’ 8.32m and the floods should be going down. 

          At Slimbridge in the afternoon, there was quite a number of Pochard on the Rushy Pen at lunchtime including the one with the bill saddle ‘3=’.  The White-fronted Geese were predominantly on the Dumbles.  There was a snow shower in the middle of the afternoon which cut the visibility dramatically but the snow did not really lay.  There were no swans on the roadside fields or the canalside fields to the south.  There was another snow shower at 1730 on the A38 to the south of Gloucester and the roads around Longhope were very icy with snow on the grass.  The temperature at 2000 was 0 deg. C.


28th January 2010 – I went to Gigrin Farm Red Kite Feeding Station to try to find the reported Black Kite.  First, I walked along the path alongside the reservoir above the visitor centre at the Elan Valley.  Here it was very quiet in slight drizzle and a very cold breeze.  Only birds noted were 2 Goldfinch in the small trees alongside the water and a pair of Mallards flying up the reservoir.

          When I arrived at the farm at about 1320, there were about 150 kites in the air above the buildings.  The Red Kites appear to come into the feed, which is set out at 1400 GMT, in waves.  The third wave appeared to congregate at about 1500 and thus I estimated there to be about 400 to 450 Red Kites.  The staff estimated the total today to be of the order of 400 birds. Among these kites was a leucistic Red Kite with wing tags which is a well known bird.  On or around the feeding field, there were 4 Grey Herons enjoying the meat, 22 Buzzards, several Ravens and other corvids and amazingly on the ground at times in the middle of the feeding melee, 24 Pied Wagtails.  I was checking through the swirling mass of kites and at about 1430, I noted the Black Kite above the hide.  It appeared to stay for about 20 minutes and then eventually swept in low and grabbed some meat from the field.  I watched it feeding in the air and not long after, I lost sight of it and it appeared to have departed.  This bird was smaller than the Red Kite, having a much squarer tail.  The under body was streaked with cream and the undertail was very slightly rufous but certainly not anywhere as bright as some patches on the Red Kite.  The wings were quite dark on the undersides with just a small light cream patch at the base of the primaries and some light barring on the underside of the wing in general.  The upperparts were dark and lightly spotted with cream.  This bird is undoubtedly a juvenile and it was a pleasure to see it.  The overall sight of the several hundred kites was a fantastic spectacle which was still going on after nearly 2 hours when I left. 


27th January 2010 – It was overcast and cold at Slimbridge with the temperature reaching 2 deg. C. at 1100.  In the south middle field, (field 12) alongside the road running into the Centre, there were 67 Curlew.  Along the fields to the west of the canal near to Cambridge Arms Bridge, there were about 700 Lapwing.  From the Holden Tower, on the Tack Piece there were 24 Redshank in a tight, small flock.  Most of the Bewick’s Swan flock were also in this field.  Highlight of the day was at 1615 where I found a Stoat in the grass car park mooching around a parked car tyres and reaching up on its hind legs to look into the wheel arches. 


26th January 2010 – Nagshead.  Nothing to report except that the ice covered pools now have patches of open water which is probably for the first time since the first few days of the year.


24th January 2010 – New Fancy View.  At lunchtime, the blue sky which was in abundance earlier in the morning had disappeared somewhat.  The ground around the viewpoint was still frozen and there was still a bit of ice in the car park.  A Grey Heron was perched in  a distant tree and a flock of Crossbills flew over and three times later, a flock flew into  nearby trees and gave excellent views in the ‘scope.  No Goshawks or Buzzards were seen but Ravens were noted several times.  At Nagshead later in the afternoon, I walked around the long trail but the woods were quiet.  At Cannop Ponds Stoneworks almost at dusk, there were Mandarin Ducks on the ponds but generally it was quiet. 


23rd January 2010 – Sunny periods and calm but cold tonight.  There have been reports of the floods at Ashleworth being over the main road at Tirley.  I decided not to go to the area.


22nd January 2010 – A very wet day with 18mm of rain today.


21st January 2010 – Overcast and dull.  A new bird for the house today in the form of Redpolls in the trees opposite at lunchtime.


20th Jauuary 2010 – Snow again fell overnight but the thaw soon set in and a total of 14mm of rain fell today.


19th January 2010Slimbridge.  Sunny periods and mild again.  The female Goldeneye and the other Pochard with the bill saddle ‘3=’ were on Rushy Pen.  At 1455, there were 161(22) Bewick’s Swans on the Tack Piece and another 4(2) flew over and 4(2) were on the Dumbles.  This made a total of 169(26) birds.  There were none on the Ox Piece although they were using this field on the 15th January.


18th January 2010Slimbridge.  Again it was a mild day with the temperature reaching 10 deg. C. at 1230.  The ice has gone from the Rushy Pen.  The female Goldeneye and the female Pochard with the bill saddle ‘HP-C’ were again noted.  The reserve has returned to somewhere near normality with plenty of birds on the ice free Tack Piece and Dumbles.  There were far fewer birds at the feed on the Rushy Pen at 1600 partly because it was a sunny afternoon and therefore very light at this time and with the thaw having taken place there was grazing available on the fields around the reserve. There was no sign of the Todds Canada Goose on the Rushy Pen as the darkness gathered but the Starling flock was a fantastic spectacle with a Peregrine in attendance. 


17th January 2010 – It was a mild and sunny day at Ashleworth.  I arrived at 1305 and the temperature was 8 deg. C.  En route, I noted that the River Leadon near Highleadon had burst its banks, a legacy, no doubt, of the sudden thaw and the melting of the copious amounts of snow which has now disappeared.  At Ashleworth, the water level is high but is yet to reach the road.  The top of Stank Lane is flooded and on Ashleworth Ham itself, the water is still iced over with a little open water to the south.  Hasfield Ham is flooded but here there is no ice at all.  Later in the day, on my way home, I noted that the River Severn is very high near Maisemore.  At Ashleworth, the counts of waterfowl were as follows – 341 Wigeon, 165 Teal, 19 Mallard, 3 Shoveler, 3 Gadwall, 12 Pintail, 2 Greylag Geese, 9 Canada Geese and 3 Mute Swans.  Also present,  5 Black-headed Gull and 3 Common Gull on the east side of Ham Road opposite Colways Farm and on Hasfield Ham, there was a Great Crested Grebe, this species being unusual for this site.  In the crater field along Stank Lane there were 25 Fieldfare, 2 Redwing and 2 Blackbirds.  Also along the lane was a flock of Long-tailed Tits and another flock was in front of the hide.  This latter flock had one bird with a ring on it.  This was almost certainly put on at the constant effort ringing site based here and suggests that this bird has not roamed far in the very cold weather or if it has been away, it has returned now that the temperature has risen.  It was nice to see these two flocks which suggest that this species has coped with the cold snap well.  Raptors seen today include a female Kestrel and a Peregrine on different pylons and at least one Buzzard. 


16th January 2010 – The thaw continued with still some snow covering some of the fields at Longhope.  The disappearance of the snow was helped not only by the rise in temperature but by very heavy rain overnight which amounted to 4 mm.  There were some further, short but very heavy rain showers in the afternoon.


15th January 2010 – Again it was an overcast and grey day but much milder than of late with the temperature reaching 7 deg. C. at 1300 at Slimbridge.  There were some Bewick’s Swans on the south middle field which is an area alongside the road leading to the car park.  There were 17 birds including 3 cygnets in one family.  At 1445, I noted 18 Bewick’s Swans including one cygnet on the far side of the Tack Piece near to the hedge dividing it from the Ox Piece where there were at least 60 birds and probably more since some must have been hidden behind the hedge.  This is the first time this winter that I have seen these swans using that particular field. 

          At feeding time on Rushy Pen, I checked through the Canada Geese which had come in for the feed to try to find the reported possible Todd’s Canada Goose.  A bird was pointed out to me and this was a slightly smaller individual with a slightly smaller bill reminiscent of a Pink-footed Goose bill.  There was a white eye ring and the primaries were very dark and these contrasted with lighter secondaries.  There was a dark patch under the chin which the other birds seemed not to have and the flanks were very dark ending with a ‘C’ shape where there was much contrast with the lighter rear.  Under the belly there was a sharp demarcation between the dark lower breast and the white undertail feathers.  I realised that this bird had been pointed out to me yesterday but it was not easy to see the whole bird as it was among many tightly packed individuals and before a good look could be had, the feed had started and the bird was lost from view.  However, I had noted some of the aforementioned features including the fact that the bird had a limp as did this bird and which clinched the fact that I was looking at the same bird today.  This bird, with so many differing features, albeit sometimes subtle, from the nominate race may well be the subspecies, interior – Todd’s Canada Goose.


14th January 2010 – It was an overcast and very dark and grey day.  A thaw has set in but there is still a lot of snow at Longhope but less at The Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust at Slimbridge.  There is a little bit more open water on Rushy Pen and the female Goldeneye was seen just before lunch.  After lunch I went down to the fields near The Moors to the south east of the reserve where the Bewick’s Swans often use a field alongside Penny Lane.  There were none in that field but beyond the copse along the lane, some birds were heard and finally they were located further to the south.  There were 110 Bewick’s Swans in field 335 and 4 in an adjoining field.  With the big flock of swans were 257 White-fronted Geese which explained why they did not seem to be around the reserve on the Dumbles area.  This is understandable since the latter area is frozen and covered with snow whereas some of these fields are much greener than others and offer easier feeding.  A Little Egret moved up the rhine along Penny Lane as I moved along it in search of the swans and geese. 


13th January 2010 – More snow overnight at Longhope and it finally stopped at 1600 but not before there was another 3 ½ inches on the patio.


12th January 2010 – At Slimbridge today it was overcast yet again but this time there was a strong breeze which made the cold seem even worse even though the temperature was just above freezing as a slight thaw was taking place.  The Cherry Blossom which has come out on a tree in the car park before Christmas is now gone which is not a surprise.  It will be interesting to see if there is another burst of bloom.  The snow has largely gone off the sandbanks of the river.  It was there yesterday but today, there are large slabs of ice which have floated down the river and grounded themselves on the sand/mud.  A female Kestrel took refuge from the icy wind in the vegetation in front of the Holden Tower.  The Tack Piece and Dumbles are an icy white mass.  A party of Long-tailed Tits were on the feeders on the Holden walkway, a species which sometimes struggles to survive in prolonged cold weather, so this sighting was particularly pleasing to see.  Other bird numbers and distribution were similar to yesterday.


11th January 2010 – At Slimbridge, it was overcast and very dull with a slight thaw.  The car park, however, was still iced over.  The only two bits of open water were on Rushy Pen by the swan pipe and on South Lake away to the left of the hide in the deep water area.  There appeared to be quite a number of birds on Rushy Pen but in reality they were nearly all in the one place of open water and therefore there appeared to be more there were in reality.  Having said that, it was still quite a spectacle.  There appeared to be smaller numbers of Pochard than pre freeze dates and there were certainly less than the 300+ Bewick’s Swans that had been reported a few days ago.  A female Goldeneye on the Rushy Pen was a little unusual but the Pochard with the bill saddle with markings ‘3=’ was still present. 

          Back at home at 1900, I heard a scratching outside of my window in the veranda.  When I went out, a male Great Tit flew into the kitchen.  I put the light on in the veranda and ushered the bird out. The bird then spent some hours in the relative warmth of this area.   The veranda has wrought iron gates at the end so the bird was free to go as and when it pleased.  I suspect that it roosted in there but was gone the next morning.


10th January 2010 – A slightly warmer day with a little bit of a thaw but there is still a thick layer of snow on the ground here at Longhope.  Most of the snow in the trees has now gone.  There is a lot of activity with the birds locally.  Greenfinch, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Great Tit and Blue Tit feeding voraciously in the trees around my garden and they seem to be picking off the start of any new buds for food.  A lone Bullfinch, Robin and Dunnock were foraging likewise on the ground under bushes and searching everywhere.  Song Thrush, Redwing and Blackbird were all in numbers and again were looking for food. 


9th January 2010 – Another cold day with the temperature not rising above 0 deg. C. all day. 


8th January 2010 – Another cold night with a similar temperature to the night before.  It was a slightly warmer day in that the temperature almost got to 0 deg. C.  There is still lots of snow cover.  I walked to Five Acres.  Along the way, there were a lot of Blackbirds and Thrush species in peoples gardens where there were bird feeders or bushes with berries.  There were many deer tracks in the snow which came out of the woods and although the main road was clear of snow, it was possible to see the tracks on the other side of the road after they had crossed it.  Of note in several places were the sight of brand new mole hills poking out of the three or four inches of snow on some of the verges.  Even though the ground appears to be frozen, these animals are still on the move underground.


7th January 2010 – Amazingly the temperature dropped to -11 deg. C. and then rose to a maximum of -2 deg. C. during the day.  There is a lot of snow in the trees.


6th January 2010 – At dawn this morning, I woke to six and a half inches of snow. 


5th January 2010 – The temperature fell to -2 deg. C. overnight.  Snow started to fall just before lunch and started to lay immediately on the cold ground.  There was a good covering of the white stuff by dark.


4th January 2010 – Yet another blue sky day.  Nothing of real note to report but on passing the Stone Works at Cannop when I was on foot, a Siskin on the feeders was of interest.  This species appears to be regular here.


3rd January 2010 – Another blue sky day but very cold with the temperature only reaching 0 deg. C. at 1100 and a maximum of about 2 deg. C. for the day.

  At 1130, I was at New Fancy View.  There were 2 Buzzards, 2 Ravens interacting and rolling and a Sparrowhawk in the air but no Goshawks were seen.  Crossbills overflew a couple of times and once they descended into the trees by the car park and 2 females gave good views. 

          At Nagshead, it was quiet in the woods again with a lone Redwing near the cave and a Goldcrest with a tit flock near Nagshead Lodge. 

          By 2000 this evening the temperature was approaching -4 deg. C. so a cold night in the offing.


2nd January 2010 – A very cold day again with the overnight temperature falling below -1 deg. C.  It was 0 deg. C. at 1000 and rose to 4 deg. C. by 1330.  Ashleworth between 1015 and 1200.  Both Ashleworth Ham and Hasfield Ham are flooded and frozen over with some patches of open water.  On the former, there were Pintail, Wigeon, Teal, Gadwall, Shoveler, Mallard and Canada Goose with many of these birds asleep on the ice.  There were approximately 500 waterfowl.  102 Lapwing were on the ice on the east side of Ham Road near Colways Farm with some Black-headed Gulls.  Along Stank Lane, there was a Redwing and Fieldfare flock on a south side field (field 2).  On Hasfield Ham, there were 7 Mute Swans of varying ages, some gulls and a few duck.  On my return along Ham Road, near Colways Farm, a Red Kite was circling and this then flew to the north. It was in immaculate plumage and did not have any wing tags.  At noon, I noted 3(1) Bewick’s Swans fly into Hasfield Ham and I confirmed this from the hide. 

          After lunch, I went to Coombe Hill Canal.  Here, conditions were similar to Ashleworth.  The fields around the hide are flooded and frozen over but there is a large section of open water in front of the hide and this whole area can be viewed from the towpath where a Bullfinch was of note.  The swans present included 25 Mute Swans, both juveniles and adults and 2 adult Bewick’s Swans.  Also present, and a delight to see, were 3 adult Whooper Swans. There were also many Wigeon, Teal, Canada Geese and Greylag Geese and 2 White-fronted Geese.  There were also a lot of gulls including Great Black-backed, Lesser Black-backed, Herring, Black-headed and Common Gull.  There were well over 1000 birds present. 


1st January 2010 -  A Happy New Year to my visitors and good natural history in 2010.

          The first bird of the year was a Tawny Owl heard at Longhope not long after midnight.

          A clear, blue sky day for the start of a new year.  The temperature dropped to -5 deg. C. overnight and was only -1 deg. C. at 0930.  At Slimbridge, there were at least 90 Curlew on the first right hand road field after the canal bridge.  There were more of this species in the field beyond.  There were plenty of birds present including 281 White-fronted Geese on the Tack Piece in the morning.  A Mute Swan with a none Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust darvic ring (Orange ‘N87’) was on the canal between Patch Bridge and Cambridge Arms Bridge.  Total number of species for the day was 59 including Redpolls on the Holden Walkway.



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