Diary – January to March 2013

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28th March 2013 – At Cannop southern pond today, there were 11 Greylag Geese, a good number for this pond and 2 Canada Geese, an unusual species here.  I walked towards the Boys Grave area and at one point I found a group of birds foraging which included 3 Brambling and 5 Hawfinch and later 2 Great Spotted Woodpeckers together.  Also present were Great Tits, Blue Tits, Coal Tits, Chaffinch, Robin, Blackbird and Nuthatch.


27th March 2013 – Around Nagshead RSPB Reserve, there were many Blackbirds, mainly males foraging in the leaf litter.  There were also some Song Thrushes with them and the odd Robin or two also feeding on this cold day with frequent but very light snow flurries.  At Parkend there were at least 18 thrushes on the cricket pitch feeding voraciously.  Both Mistle and Song Thrushes were present.


26th March 2013 – Walked over Penyard Hill over lunchtime in a cold easterly wind.  There was still some snow on the tops and in parts the drifts in the exposed fields were about one foot deep.  I flushed a Red Fox and a few moments later a Woodcock which may have been flushed by the Fox. 


25th March 2013 – At Slimbridge in the afternoon, it was cold with a blustery north east wind and 2 deg. C. The 24 White-fronted Geese were still there with the Bean Goose on the Dumbles and the 7 Bewick’s Swans were occasionally on the Rushy Pen.  At the Zeiss Hide there were some Wigeon and Teal and a Little Egret. Several Black-tailed Godwits in the small flock were in fine orange breeding plumage.  On the South Lake, the Godwits there were in similar plumage.  On the Tack Piece there were 2 Little Egrets and one was very close to the hide which gave really good views of the fine breeding season plumes. A Snipe was just about on view from the Martin Smith hide as almost usual.  On the Rushy Pen there are still good numbers of Pintail and some Pochard whose migration has been held up by the adverse winds. 


24th March 2013 – I had a walk over May Hill at lunchtime.  There was about 2 inches of snow on the top and a very cold easterly wind.  The temperature on this grey afternoon was -3 deg. C. on the hill.  On the lower west slopes there were a number of Redwing, Mistle Thush and some Goldfinch.  Generally in the conditions there were not a lot of birds showing but I did log 24 species for the walk. 


23rd March 2013 – A half inch of snow this morning at dawn. 


22nd March 2013 – At Slimbridge, the Bean Goose was still present with about 22 White-fronted Geese.  A Little Ringed Plover was a surprise migrant around the scrape in front of the Holden Tower.  7(6) Bewick’s Swans were still there too and 3 Sand Martin battled the very cold north east wind in damp conditions over the Dumbles.

          By 2300, there was slush on the doorstep and some of the grass was white over.  A very cold night.


21st March 2013 – I made a short visit to the Nagshead RSPB reserve area of the Forest of Dean.  A Treecreeper was of note on an otherwise quiet and cold day in the woodlands.  It was 4 deg. C. at 1200.  At the Stoneworks at Cannop there were a good number of Mandarin Duck, three Greylag Geese, two of which had darvic rings on them (these have been reported).  There were a great number of Chaffinches and a few Siskins around the works feeders. 

          A pair of Great Spotted Woodpeckers were mating in a tree near my house today.


19th March 2013 – I made a very short visit to Slimbridge.  The one parent family of six cygnets are the only Bewick’s Swans remaining. 


16th March 2013 – I went to Slimbridge to do a count of the remaining Bewick’s Swans.  None were at The Moors or other nearby fields but I caught up with them on the Rushy Pen and the Tack Piece at Slimbridge Centre.  There were a total of 32(16) including the family of 6 cygnets.  There were 39 White-fronted Geese on the Dumbles and with them was a Bean Goose.  There is still a good number of Pochard remaining and many more Pintails with at least 150 birds on the Tack Piece.  Also there were 13 Redshank, some Lapwing, Black-tailed Godwits and Dunlin with a flock of Golden Plover to the south on the Dumbles.  In the Butterfly Garden, the Snowdrops are still in flower but almost over but there are newly opened Daffodils and the Hellebores are still going well.  The temperature dropped at about 1700 as I drove back along the A40 in torrential rain which had some sleet in it.  The temperature continued to decrease throughout the evening and at 2100, 13mm of rain had fallen today.


14th March 2013 – Another day at Slimbridge.  I checked The Moors and Lightenbrook Lane for the Bewick’s Swans but could not find any.  Not only that, I could not find them in the road fields approaching Slimbridge Centre and I drew a blank on Rushy Pen, Tack Piece and the Dumbles.  They were all on the river but I could not count them all as some were under the lip of the river bank.  Later in the day, they all flew from the river and most landed on the Tack Piece.  There must have been over 100 birds in the air.  I have photographs which show 55 birds and there were many more outside of the shot.  At lunchtime, I walked south along the canal to check for swans and noted that the wind, which was still in the east  in the morning as I drove along the A40, had now turned into the south and was in my face for the first time in a couple of weeks or so.  In the evening, the sky was relatively clear and this could be the opportunity for the swans to make their migration flight back to the north east.


13th March 2013 – I was in Ross-on-Wye today and found a male Goosander on the river again just outside the town. Also noted were at least 3 flocks of the much rarer House Sparrow in the town itself. 

          Back at home, the pair of Long-tailed Tits, which I have been watching on and off for a number of days now (since late February), were back in the same shrub and in the same part of the shrub. There is no sign of a nest being built but the shrub has a lot of lichen on it and they may be collecting this for a nest nearby?


12th March 2013 – A less cold day but not exactly warm! I went to Slimbridge and as yesterday, I checked The Moors but today there were no swans. However, a Kingfisher flew up the rhine and the Grey Wagtail was present again.  There were at least 3 and maybe 6 Chiffchaffs foraging deep in the rhine which was unfrozen and out of the wind.  (An hour or so later there was a tweet from Portland Bird Observatory to say that ‘there were Chiffchaffs everwhere’).  It would seem that there is a movement of this species.  I found 171 Bewick’s Swans today with the majority (161) on the Tack Piece.  Many, therefore, have still not left on migration.  Of note also was the sighting of the four Common Cranes on the Tack Piece as seen from the Martin Smith hide.


11th March 2013 – A bitterly cold day with a strong north easterly wind and frequent snow flurries.  The temperature at 1130 was 0 deg. C.  Later at 1800 it was -1 deg. C. but much colder in the windchill.  I went to Slimbridge but called in at The Moors where I found 40 Bewick’s Swans in the usual field along Penny Lane.  Also along the lane, a Reed Bunting was in the hedgerow with some Chaffinches and a Grey Wagtail was moving along the running stream which forms a rhine alongside the lane.  Unsurprisingly, at Lightenbrook Lane there were no swans present.  I had lunch and noted the four Common Cranes at the back of the Rushy Pen which otherwise was quite empty.  I then walked south along the canal but I could not find any more swans.  The snow flurries became more frequent and the wind appeared to increase and thus it was very cold indeed.  Back at WWT Centre, there was a Reed Bunting on the bird feeder at the new hide and many of the Bewick’s Swans (approximately 126 birds) were on the Tack Piece and most were asleep.  Also on this field were a small flock of White-fronted Geese with a Bean Goose with them. 


8th March 2013 – A damp and misty dawn brought Siskins and Redpolls to Longhope again today. 

          I went to Slimbridge via Lightenbrook Lane where I found 27 Bewick’s Swans.  I expected to see plenty of swans again today as the previous 24/48 hours had not been good for migration.  I was correct and there appears to be just as many there as were there during my last visit two days ago.


6th March 2013 – The Bewick’s Swans will depart soon, so I made an afternoon visit to Slimbridge and found many swans still present although there were none in the fields at Lightenbrook Lane.  Last night following a bright day was not good for migration because of a headwind and misty conditions which have continued today.


5th March 2013 – Another day spent at Slimbridge.  Along Lightenbrook Lane, there were a number of Bewick’s Swans and many more at Slimbridge Centre.  During the afternoon I was outside the Halfway Hide and heard the steady calling of the Bewick’s Swans on the Tack Piece rise to a crescendo.  I hurried into the hide and was surprised to see 183 swans in the air heading towards the river.  Also surprisingly, the other birds present did not fly.  The swans appear to be very jumpy and are exhibiting a great deal of pre migratory restlessness.  They landed on the river sand and from the Holden Tower, I was able to ascertain the numbers.  At the Zeiss Hide, a Water Rail gave really close views as it foraged just outside the reedy vegetation.  At the Van de Bovenkamp Hide, I found the local Bittern in a tiny patch of reeds. 


4th March 2013 – I made another visit to Slimbridge today but first checked the fields along Lightenbrook Lane for Bewick’s Swans but none were found.  At Slimbridge, there were still a good number of Bewick’s Swans.  The constant wind blowing from the east or north east over the past week or so has halted just about all migration of these birds and thus over 100 remain for the time being.  It was a lovely bright day but the wind is still not good for migration to the east. 


2nd March 2013 – I went to Symonds Yat this lunchtime to see how the resident Peregrines were faring. They gave a great display of flying and saw off a female intruder.  A little later a pair of Goshawks was on the wing for quite a while.  A visit with plenty of action!


1st March 2013 – I was in Ross-on-wye this morning and at lunchtime when I was walking near Wilton Bridge, I found a flock of 40 Waxwings in a tree near the main road.  They flew in and remained there for a few minutes before moving off to the west.


28th February 2013 – The Redpolls seem to have moved into the area near my house as they were present again this morning.

          When I checked The Moors near Slimbridge for swans later, I found a Grey Wagtail foraging along the ditch and a good flock of Chaffinch moving through the hedgerows.  Along Lightenbrook Lane, the Bewick’s Swans were using one field further away from the lane today.  More swans were near the Centre at Slimbridge and it appears that few if any have gone on their migration.


27th February 2013 – Yet another day very similar to the past two days.  The Bewick’s Swans in the field at Lightenbrook Lane numbered 49 today and there were 4 Common Cranes flying over Slimbridge village.  I found more swans on the river and a few in a field down the canal towpath to the south.  Unfortunately, they departed when two riders from the local hunt came into view.  Later in the day, the Cranes reappeared over the Tack Piece at Slimbridge.

          Yet again the Lesser Redpolls were at Longhope.


26th February 2013 – A day very similar to yesterday.  This time there were 121 Bewick’s Swans at Lightenbrook Lane.

          Lesser Redpolls again at Longhope.


25th February 2013 – I went to Slimbridge via The Moors where I didn’t find any Bewick’s Swans but on the drive up Lightenbrook Lane, I found a good flock of 40 birds. 

          Lesser Redpolls were again present near my house as yesterday.


24th February 2013 – A Lesser Redpoll was over the road from my house in Longhope this morning on a very cold day. 

          Later in the day, I went to the Forest of Dean and noted a pair of Goosander on the southern pond at Cannop and some Siskin on the feeders at the Stoneworks.  Deeper in the woodland, I found several birds feeding together including 2 Nuthatch, Chaffinch and a Brambling.  4 very dark Fallow Deer were nearby and they just melted away into the trees. 


23rd February 2013 – I made a Saturday visit to Slimbridge and found the reported hybrid American Wigeon/Eurasian Wigeon in the Wigeon flock on the Tack Piece.  There were no Bewick’s Swans at this location all afternoon.  Some were on the Dumbles late on and I also found some in a field to the east of the Van de Bovenkamp hide as seen from the canal towpath where I had walked south after lunch.  There were 209 White-fronted Geese out on the river sand mid-afternoon confirming that there appears not to have been any migration with these geese and the Bewick’s Swans so far this year.  On the Rushy Pen at the feed time there were three hybrids.  One was a Canada Goose/Greylag Goose hybrid, there was what appears to be a Pintail/Red Crested Pochard hybrid but I am not sure of the species present in this bird and finally there was a female Mallard with a jet black bill and bright red legs and feet which looks odd.  I am not sure of the origin of this bird in terms of species.


22nd February 2013 – After a bitterly cold night, it was a bitterly cold day with a noticeable wind from the north east.  This wind is keeping the Bewick’s Swans here in the Severn Valley and holding up their migration.  I made a short visit to Slimbridge and as expected there was a good number of swans in various locations.


20th February 2013 – I went to Slimbridge again on a very cold day.  I checked The Moors for Bewick’s Swans and found 133(29) on the ‘normal’ field at The Moors.  There were no swans in the roadside fields near the Centre and after lunch, I walked south along the canal towpath but found no swans.  Back at the Centre there were a number of Bewick’s Swans present and the 4 Common Cranes were on the Dumbles. 

19th February 2013 – I called into Slimbridge after a business meeting in Penarth.  The 4 Common Cranes came into the Rushy Pen at lunchtime.  After lunch, I walked down the canal but could not find the Bewick’s Swans on the field that they were in yesterday.  This walk was a double check as I had not found them when driving in from the south just before lunchtime. 


18th February 2013 – I went to Slimbridge today and found a number of Shelduck mobbing 2 Buzzards were had alighted on the grass at the back of the Rushy Pen.  I walked down the canal and found Lapwing and Black-tailed Godwits in the left hand roadside field along with a few Dunlin.  A Lesser Celandine was in flower on the towpath, the first that I had seen this year.  I found a large flock of Bewick’s Swans over a kilometre away near The Moors in a cut maize field.  This was a new field for them this winter.  Back at the Centre, there were more than 100 swans in various fields and ponds including the Tack Piece where there were also 4 Common Cranes.


17th February 2013 – A number of Siskins were flying around the neighbours gardens this morning at Longhope.

          I had a walk at Nagshead this afternoon but the woodlands were quiet although I did see a Wild Boar near the cycling centre in the Cannop Valley as I was driving home.


15th February 2013 – I happened to be in Cheltenham on business and I took the opportunity of walking up to Pittville Park to look for the reported Great Northern Diver.  I found it easily and took some record pictures.  It is a beautiful and big bird compared to the resident Mallards.  The bill is light grey and the front was showing very white in the bright sun.  The ‘collar’ was showing well and the back was very spangled with a slightly browner and duller rear end.  When it dived, it did so very gracefully with little effort, just slipping under the surface with no splash and apparently no effort.  It did cover quite a distance submerged on some occasions. 


14th February 2013 – A fine, bright but cool day after the temporary snow cover yesterday which soon melted here in the Forest of Dean.  I went to Slimbridge via The Moors where I had hoped to find and do a count of Bewick’s Swans.  I found none in the usual field and again drew a blank in the cut maize field or similar crop.  There were none in the roadside fields either as I approached the Centre.  It appeared from reports that they were on the Dumbles and the river and this is the direction that they came from when many flew into Rushy Pen towards dusk.  Another beautiful sunset.


11th February 2013 – A dull and damp start to the day with a tiny amount of snow on the highest of the hills here in the Forest of Dean.  It was quite cold with the temperature only rising to 2 deg. C. at 1300.  A female Blackcap was of note here at the house. 

          I went to Slimbridge where it was very dull but dry.  I walked up the canal to the Cambridge Arms Bridge looking for Bewick’s Swans.  There were none to be seen on any of the roadside or canalside fields but near the road was a good Lapwing flock with quite a lot of Dunlin with them.  Near the canal to the south of Patch Bridge, a Little Egret seemed to be the only bird in that area.  Upon my return, I found that the Lapwings had been joined by a small flock of Black-tailed Godwits.  When I returned to the Centre, I found a good number of Bewick’s Swans on the Dumbles and when I was leaving at around 1700, some swans flew in again from the south east as they did on February 8th.


10th February 2013 – There was heavy rain before dawn and the general rain continued all of the daylight hours.  It was cold too, with the temperature at 4 deg. C. at 1600.  There seemed to be a lot of activity with the local birds for most of the morning and again Siskins were noted and first for the house was a flock of 4 Brambling.


9th February 2013 – A dull, damp day with low cloud at times.  The highlight of the day at home was a fly over by a Peregrine, the first this year here.


8th February 2013 – I helped out at a swan catch at the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust Centre at Slimbridge early this morning.  13 Bewick’s Swans and some ducks and geese were caught.  After that, I walked up the canal to the north and found some swans in the roadside fields and near Cambridge Arms Bridge, a Peregrine overflew.  When I returned to the Centre, I went to the Holden Tower and noted a Bean Goose with a small flock of White-fronted Geese.  I returned to the Rushy Pen as the sun was setting which gave some beautiful light.  A Buzzard was on a kill on this pond.   I could not identify the prey but it was black, perhaps a Moorhen, Coot or Jackdaw.  As I was leaving, small parties of Bewick’s Swans were flying in from the south east which suggested that some of them had been spending the day in the area of The Moors.


7th February 2013. – I made another visit to Slimbridge on a cold overcast but sometimes bright day.  I walked north up the canal in the afternoon and found over 200 Bewick’s Swans in various fields near the canal.

          A Siskin near my house was a rare sighting.


5th February 2013. – Another cold but sunny day with the temperature at 1130 being 4 deg. C.  I went to Slimbridge via the Stinchcombe area to look for reported Bewick’s Swans in that location but I drew a blank although the habitat of open, wet field with little disturbance looked good.  I moved on to The Moors where I did find some swans in the usual field up Penny Lane.  I could hear more calling further up the lane and I found some more in a field of cut maize or similar crop.  In this area I found a total of 104 Bewick’s Swans.  When I was arriving at Slimbridge Centre, there were a further 78 swans in the fields along the approach road.  A walk up the canal later in the afternoon produced no further swans. 


3rd February 2013. -  Another walk this afternoon in the Forest of Dean and at dusk I noted a male Peregrine fly from a quarry where they have been known to breed.  This was another good sign for this species.  Again, I had two sightings of a Sparrowhawk which was probably of the same bird. 


2nd February 2013 – I made a visit to Symonds Yat.  The two resident Peregrines were perched on one of the cliffs for a short while in the morning.  Although it was sunny, it was very cold in a noticeable wind.  Later, these two birds took to the air and displayed together and took it in turns to attack a Buzzard in a bit of a mock fight.  This all looks good for the breeding season now only a very few weeks away.  Two sightings of Sparrowhawk were also of note. 


1st February 2013 – I did a short tour of know Bewick’s Swan haunts in the county today.  I started at Walmore Common which is extensively flooded.  There were only the resident 2 Mute Swans there.  I moved on to the other side of the river and checked the wetlands alongside the Berkeley bypass but as late last year the habitat is not now suitable with much vegetation growing in the water.  However, I did find 28 Bewick’s Swans at The Moors in a field that they used regularly in the past.  After that, I went to Slimbridge Centre and did a count of the swans on the reserve there after checking all of the fields to the north along the canalside.  On the Tack Piece there was a small flock of White-fronted Geese and with them was one of the reported 3 Bean Geese. 


31st January 2013 – I walked through Nagshead again today and although it was very quiet in the woodlands the highlight of the walk was a Bullfinch in the meadow area.  A Long-tailed Tit flock was foraging along the Gloucestershire Way and with them were at least 2 Coal Tits. 


30th January 2013 – I walked to Newent and back today.  28 species noted on the trip.


29th January 2013 – A day at Slimbridge where I did a count of the Bewick’s Swans around the reserve with many of them spending the day on the Dumbles.  The Tack Piece held a large number of birds and the spectacle was excellent.  I did not seen any sign of the White-fronted Goose flock but when I left, a large flock of Bewick’s Swans flew in from the south east again.


27th January 2013 – I walked through Nagshead RSPB Reserve today and noted that the recent snow has caused quite a bit of damage to trees.  There are many small and medium branches broken off and many small saplings fallen under the weight of the snow which has all disappeared now.


26th January 2013 – The Festival of Birds was on at the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust Centre at Slimbridge over this weekend.  I went down to help out with a swan bill pattern drawing workshop.  There was little time for going around the reserve but when I was leaving at 1720, two flocks of Bewick’s Swans, numbering 37 and 15 respectively, flew in from the south east.  I wonder where they have been spending the day. 


25th January 2013 – I was surprised to find 4 male Goosander on the River Wye just a few hundred metres from Ross-on-Wye town centre.  There was still some snow on the river meadows and at one point there were all the common thrush species present, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush, Redwing and Fieldfare. 


24th January 2013 – I walked south down the canal towpath from Patch Bridge, Slimbridge.  Blackbirds and Mistle Thrushes were the main birds foraging on the towpath today and a Goldcrest was in the hedgerow.


23rd January 2013 – It was still snowing at dawn and continued very light and powdery throughout the day but it made no addition to the 7 inches which has accumulated over the recent few days. 


22nd January 2013 – An overcast day and snow started to fall just after darkness fell.  This snow continued overnight. 


21st January 2013 – A snowy woodland walk in the Nagshead area today but the woods were quiet.  However, at least 2 Fallow Deer were on Bixslade Tramway in the gathering darkness at 1700 this afternoon.


20th January 2013 – Cleared much of the snow from my local road today to get the car down the 1 in 4 hill.  The Hawfinch was in the trees near my house again.  I suspect it was the same bird that I saw on the 14th January.  Of note today was a Blue Tit on a feeder in Barrel Lane, Longhope which was sporting a metal ring. 


19th January 2013 – There was snow still lying thickly today and 2 Meadow Pipits were in a field in the middle of Longhope foraging in grass which had been exposed by horses scraping the ground.  2 Song Thrushes were on the patio today together.  This was a sign of the cold weather and the covering of snow. 


18th January 2013 – SNOW and lots of it.  There appeared to be a lot of birds foraging locally and there was a significant movement of winter thrushes over Longhope today. 


17th January 2013 – I made a short walk down the canal at Slimbridge to try to find the Bewick’s Swans which had been reported in the area known as The Moors.  I found several flying around in that general area but could not work out the exact field that they were landing in as it was too far away and I could not get across the canal for a closer look. 


15th January 2013 – Helped out at the swan catch at WWT Slimbridge.  After that I went to the Zeiss Hide where I managed to see the Bittern in the reed bed.  This was the first sighting of this species this year.  At the Holden Tower, the Egyptian Goose was with the Canada Geese on the Dumbles which was also a first for the year as was the highlight of the day, a Bean Goose among the White-fronted Geese.  A fine ending to the day.


14th January 2013 – The light snow that fell overnight had turned to rain by morning but it was still very cold.  A Hawfinch from the house was the highlight of the day and this bird was with at least 14 Chaffinch, a high number here.  I walked up Barrel Lane in the afternoon and found Snowdrops out in flower, the first that I have seen this year. 


13th January 2013 – A cold and generally blue sky day with the temperature hardly getting above 2 deg. C. all day.  I went to Boys Grave after lunch and although it was quiet, I found 2 Jays feeding together on seed and a male Chaffinch came down after they had left.  A Goldcrest and a Robin were foraging in a pile of logs in the woods. 

          At Nagshead RSPB Reserve, there were at least 3 Bullfinches in the meadow area near the Information Centre otherwise the woods were very quiet in the Forest in the late afternoon. 

          To the east of Brierley, on my way home, a Fallow Deer crossed the main road in front of me in the near darkness.


11th January 2013 – I went to WWT Slimbridge but called in at Minsterworth Ham en route.  There had been a report of a Whooper Swan family there but I did not find them.  However, there were 8 Buzzards on the ground spread out over one field.

          I went down to the Zeiss Hide during the afternoon and noted 69(6) Bewick’s Swans on the Dumbles and 2 more on the Top New Piece.  There was a Siskin in a tree by the hide at South Finger and a Cetti’s Warbler was calling. There were also 4 Little Egrets together on the Bottom New Piece.  Back near the Centre there was an impressive number of 39 Redshank on the Rushy Pen just before dusk.


10th January 2013 – I had a walk over May Hill over lunchtime.  It was slightly misty in Longhope but on top of the hill at over 900 feet the visibility was down to about 100m.  There, it was very quiet, nevertheless, I amassed 21 species on my walk including winter thrush flocks of mixed Fieldfare and Redwing.  Jay, Treecreeper and Goldcrest were of note.


9th January 2013 -  I had a walk at Boys Grave in the late afternoon and found two Fallow Deer in Wet Wood which lived up to its name.  Indeed, much of the paths in the area are very wet.  Generally, it was quiet in the woods as darkness fell.


8th January 2013 - I went to the Wildfowl and Wetlands Centre at Welney for the day.  It was dry and relatively calm on the fens but the swan flocks were quite small and hard to find.  In the afternoon, I drove over Hilgay Fen, found 2 Bewick’s Swans and then I moved on to Southery to the east of the A10 road.  Here I found three flocks, one of 16(10) and another of 126(37) reflecting a good number of cygnets.  A further flock was in the vicinity and numbered about 500 birds but this was a mixed flock of Bewick’s Swans and Whooper Swans but they were further away and it was not possible to do exact species and cygnet counts.  Three different Barn Owls were hunting the side of the desolate roads across Hilgay Fen, two being together.  After dark at the Centre some swans roosted to the east and could be heard calling not far from the car park.


7th January 2013 – An afternoon at WWT Slimbridge where I walked along the canal to the south looking for Bewick’s Swans but the road fields on the way to the Centre were devoid of all birds and I could not find any swans on the canalside fields as far as the South Finger hides area.  The only birds of note along the canal was a flock of 12 Goldfinches.  Back at the Centre, the Rushy Pen had been flushed and no swans were their either but as the afternoon feed time approached, the swans returned and there were 80 present on this pond at 1600.


6th January 2013 – I had a short walk at Brierley looking for Willow Tit but in the overcast, damp, dull and slightly foggy conditions the whole woodland was quiet. 

          I later had a walk along the Gloucestershire Way at Nagshead RSPB Reserve and found a small flock of birds which included a flock of Long-tailed Tits, a Coal Tit, Goldcrest, Blackbird, Robin and Treecreeper all together.


5th January 2013 – Another hazy day and like yesterday it was quite mild.  I went to Ross-on-Wye and noted a healthy flock of House Sparrows near Sainsbury’s supermarket.  This was good to see as in recent years this species has been in decline.  The extensive floods in the area of the town have receded and although the river is still high there are only ‘lakes’ in some of the fields as opposed to the whole area of the fields being underwater. 


4th January 2013 – A mild day dawned with hazy sunshine and a temperature at 1230 of 11 deg. C.  I checked Walmore Common for Bewick’s Swans.  They have only been reported once this winter and then only 2 birds seen.  This was the case at 1145 today when I found 2 adults on the far side of the extensive flood water from the main road. 

          I moved on to The Moors near Slimbridge in another search for these swans.  I found some in the second field north of Penny Lane and although I could see an adult and a cygnet an exact count could not be made as others were behind the hedge and only viewable as white patches through the hedge.  They appear to be preferring this field this winter to the nearer one alongside the lane which now, unlike Walmore Common had very little water left on it. 

          On my way in to WWT Slimbridge Centre, I found more Bewick’s Swans on the right hand road field, another field they are using a lot this winter.  There were 17(3) birds there and again a lone White-fronted Goose.  The Rushy Pen held only Black-headed Gulls as there had been a flush and no swans were present apart from one resident Mute Swan.  I moved on the view the Tack Piece at 1430 where there were 24(0) and 5 minutes later, I checked the Dumbles where there were another 79 swans present.  I moved on to the South Finger area where I found 3 Lesser Redpoll, a Treecreeper and a Water Rail was heard. 


2nd January 2013 – A day which was overcast, reasonably mild and somewhat breezy was spent at Slimbridge.  I found 15(2) Bewick’s Swans on the right hand road field at 1230 and then I walked up the canal to the Cambridge Arms Bridge and looked at the permissive footpath sign as I had heard that the access to Green Lane had been retracted.  This I found to be correct with a new ‘Private’ sign and a laminated sign explaining that the farmer had withdrawn permission for the path because of gates being left open and his livestock were getting onto the canal towpath.  There were no other swans in the canal side fields.  When I returned to the road field, there were 46(7) swans present.  I later found 15(0) swans on the Tack Piece at 1440 and 46(5) on the Dumbles at 1310. There were 133 White-fronted Geese on the Tack Piece too.  Also there was a flock of 37 Redshank with one Spotted Redshank.


1st January 2013 – I went to Strumble Head for the day.  It was a generally dry day with a stiff wind from the WNW. Turnstones and Oystercatchers were the main birds to be seen at the Flagpoles car park in Goodwick.   There was a notable movement of Kittiwakes for the time I was there, at the Head, between 1240 and 1700 as well as a lot of auks which were mainly Razorbills.  Other birds of note were Great Skua, Red-throated Diver(2), Great Northern Diver and 3 Gannets, two of which were first winter birds.  I walked part of the coastal path to the east and the underfoot conditions were the worst that I have ever seen after the rain of the last month. 




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