Diary – January to March 2015



31st March 2015 – I was in Ross-on-Wye today and walked down to Wilton Bridge to see if I could find any early Sand Martin migrants but there were none to be seen on a very blustery day.  En route to the town, there were a number of raptors on the wing including a Kestrel near Longhope and several different Buzzards between Longhope and Ross-on-Wye.


30th March 2015 – I made yet another short visit to WWT Slimbridge.  The Pink-footed Goose was still present and still with the Greylag Geese and still frequenting the Tack Piece.  Three Avocets were on one of the small islands in the scrape in front of the Holden Tower.  Many species were hunkering down during an afternoon with the wind steadily increasing.  During the evening and night, the wind was very strong with gusts at Longhope over 40 mph several times. 


28th March 2015 – I went to New Fancy View with the Gloucestershire Raptor Monitoring Group.  The morning started with a blustery wind and some rain.  Even so, we had several sightings of Goshawk and later in the morning, the rain abated and the visibility was excellent and there were more sightings to be had.  It was an excellent morning despite the poor weather.


25th March 2015 – I spent a couple of hours on a beautiful afternoon at Symonds Yat Rock.  The two resident Peregrines were perched up for a time and thus no incubation has been started yet.  They must be laying very soon now.


24th March 2015 – A Small Tortoiseshell butterfly was in my garden this morning which was a first for the year.

          A short visit to WWT Slimbridge produced the following sightings.  The Pink-footed Goose was still with the Greylag Geese on the Dumbles.  Wigeon, Teal and Pintail are still present in small numbers, thus the winter migrants have not quite all left.  The local Peregrine was in the Turkey Oaks at the back of the Tack Piece. I thought that the shower activity might have forced some summer migrants, such as Sand Martins, down over the scrapes.  However, I could not find any. 


23rd March 2015 – A Fox, Wild Boar and a Muntjac Deer were in the Russell’s Inclosure area of the Forest.  This deep species is not seen that often in this area.  This was the third deer species seen in 7 days within a few hundred metres here.


20th March 2105 – There was a partial solar eclipse this morning when at about 0930 over 90 per cent of the sun was in shadow.  An impressive sight and for a short time the light effect was unusual. 


19th March 2015 – I made a short visit to WWT Slimbridge.  Highlights of the visit were a Pink-footed Goose with the Greylag Geese on the Tack Piece.  This is almost certainly the same individual which was with the White-fronted Geese earlier in the winter.  The latter have now migrated and this single goose is now attached to the resident Greylag Geese.   A single Common Crane was also in the same field.  This is a little unusual because there are a number of individuals of this species and one is rarely seen on its own.


18th March 2015 – A number of Fallow Deer were at various points along the Gloucestershire Way and the short trail at RSPB Nagshead today.


17th March 2015 – Two Roe Deer were in Russell’s Inclosure and the second sighting of a Sparrowhawk in two days occurred when one flew through the meadow area at RSPB Nagshead chasing thrush species.


16th March 2015 – Some Wild Boar were near the layby at the Stoneworks at Cannop again today. A Sparrowhawk flew through the trees on the Gloucestershire Way not far from Bixslade tramway on a wet day.


15th March 2015 – Several Wild Boar were alongside the Gloucestershire Way not far from the Stoneworks at Cannop on the RSPB Nagshead reserve.


14th March 2015 – I was in Ross-on-Wye today and thought that there might be some Sand Martins at Wilton Bridge where they nested last year but it is still too early for them as none were seen.  2 Grey Wagtails were, however, on the banks of the River Wye at the bridge.

          Several small herds of Fallow Deer were on the move at RSPB Nagshead this afternoon.


13th March 2015 – There was heavy rain overnight and it was still raining mid-morning.  I went to a friend’s house in Gloucester where there were a lot of birds including a male and female Blackcap.  2 Chiffchaff were there too.  I suspect that they were migrants forced down by the heavy rain and poor weather.  There were also 2 Grey Wagtails and at least 3 Pied Wagtails, one of which sported a metal ring on its left leg. 


10th March 2015 – It was a beautiful and sunny day.  I went to Symonds Yat viewpoint in the afternoon.  The resident pair of Peregrines was seen mating and 7 Buzzard were soaring together at one point.  A Red Fox was on the prowl on Coppett Hill opposite the site and several Fallow Deer were also on that hill. 


7th March 2015 – Sand Martins are being reported in the country today.  I went to Cannop Ponds to check to see if any had arrived there but I drew a blank.  There were a herd of five Fallow Deer including a very young individual in the RSPB Reserve at Nagshead.


6th March 2015 – I went and baited up an observation post that I have set up in the Forest of Dean so that I may be able to get some close photographs of the birds when they get used to the seeds. A Great Spotted Woodpecker was the only close bird today but it was only the first day of putting the seed down.


4th March 2015 – I made an early morning visit to WWT Slimbridge to gather more data on the Bewick’s Swans but as expected they final few appeared to have left on migration.  I could not find any on the reserve and none in the fields around the roads and the canal.  None were reported by other people today which seems to confirm my findings.


3rd March 2015 – Several Fallow Deer were around the RSPB Nagshead Reserve today including a male with an impressive set of antlers.


2nd March 2015 – I made another early visit to WWT Slimbridge to obtain more behaviour data on the Bewick’s Swans.  Later I walked up the canal to look for these birds as they had flown out of the Rushy Pen as usual and some had moved north.  I noted 2 descending to the Stall House Ground.  I noted a Buzzard, hunting on foot along a hedgerow near Splatt Bridge which was unusual behaviour.  Back at the Centre, I found the White-fronted Goose flock on the Tack Piece.  There was a Pink-footed Goose with them and an orange billed first winter White-fronted Goose. 


1st March 2015 – There were two pairs of Hawfinch and a female Brambling at a site in the middle of the woods in the Forest of Dean today, along with an assortment of other, more common birds. 


27th February 2015 – There are less than 100 Bewick’s Swans at WWT Slimbridge now.  The remaining ones will be migrating soon.  I walked up the Sharpness Canal later in the morning.  There were some Common Cranes in some of the canal side fields.  Another set of behaviour data on the swans were obtained. 


25th February 2015 – Another day at WWT Slimbridge gathering data.


23rd February 2015 – I made another trip to WWT Slimbridge to obtain more behaviour data on the Bewick’s Swans.


20th February 2015 – A similar day to yesterday at WWT Slimbridge. 


19th February 2015 – There are still a good number of Bewick’s Swans at WWT Slimbridge.  I made an early morning visit to obtain some behaviour data for the research department. 


18th February 2015 – A very large female Wild Boar was just off the Gloucestershire Way at RSPB Nagshead today.  I was looking around it for any more animals when movement around her feet caught my eye.  There were several tiny boarlets there.  These were the smallest that I have ever seen.  The mother watched me carefully from about 25m.  They are reputed to have poor eyesight but with the intent look and the fact that she was looking directly at me all of the time and following my short movements, I don’t think she was following my progress by smell alone.  The ‘look’ was too positive for that. 


16th February 2015 – A full day at WWT Slimbridge and I took more bill pattern photographs (see the Photographs page).


13th February 2015 – I spent quite some time at WWT Slimbridge photographing some Bewick’s Swan bill patterns (see the Photographs page).


7th February 2015 – The past two days have been cold and sunny.  Today was cold and overcast and with a bitter northerly wind.  I walked up May Hill.  Two Buzzards were low over the A40 just to the east of Boxbush.  They were calling and were probably the local pair from a hill wood not far away.  A Greenfinch was on a garden feeder in Barrell Lane which was the first one for me this year.  They appear to be a declining species.  Also of note was a large flock of Redwing in the field opposite the Nagshead public house in Longhope and a very large Chaffinch flock on the top of May Hill just on the south side and out of the bitter wind blowing from the north.  It would appear that there has been an influx of birds possibly driven by the cold and snowy weather on the continent.


6th February 2015 – Again I walked down the river as yesterday but from the east bank.  There appeared to be at least 7 Goosanders in the area but I only noted one female.  There may well have been more of them as there was quite a bit of movement from them flying up and down the river.


5th February 2015 – I walked down the River Wye from Wilton Bridge as on 28th January.  Again there were many Canada Geese on the river.  These had flown out of a field as I approached on the public footpath.  There were 23(1) Mute Swans present in the next field towards the town from where I saw them in January. 


1st February 2015 – I was at WWT Slimbridge for the Festival of Swans.  Many Bewick’s Swans on the Rushy Pen all day and I found my first Oystercatcher of the season on that lake.


28th January 2015 – Downriver from Ross-on-Wye town, I found 160 Canada Geese on the river and 19 Mute Swans in a field near the A40.  4 Goosanders (3 male) were at various points along the river including one male very close to the town centre.


27th January 2015 – I went to WWT Slimbridge and did some Bewick’s Swan counts (see the specific page).  There are a tremendous number of birds there and the spectacle is very impressive. 


26th January 2015 – I walked around Crabtree Hill to the west and noted a Buzzard which appeared to come off a nest.  It was probably beginning to tidy up the nest ready for this year’s breeding attempt.  At Drybrook Road Station, there was a large Chaffinch flock but I could not find any Bramblings.  I could hear a Goshawk calling near Serridge Ridge and after I had walked down to Brierley, I heard a Willow Tit calling.  I returned over the top of Crabtree Hill where two Buzzards and a Goshawk were soaring.  Woorgreens Lake was very quiet with just a few Coot, Canada Geese and Tufted Duck. 


25th January 2015 – I had a walk up Crabtree Hill via the middle path where I found a male Stonechat and two Common Crossbills flew over.  It was a short visit and these birds were the highlight of the morning.

          In the afternoon, I spent one hour as required and did the Big Garden Birdwatch for the RSPB.


22nd January 2015 – I had a walk down to the river at Wollaston Grange.  There is some flooding on the fields here.  The river was very quiet with a falling tide.   A lone Bewick’s Swan was at Guscar Rocks. 


19th January 2015 – I went to Crabtree Hill.  The Great Grey Shrike was stunning in the morning sun today.  The Shrike was present even though there was tree thinning in the wood at the top of the hill and the timber was being extracted via the top path and thus a fair amount of disturbance. There were more timber stacks at Drybrook  Road Station where there was a mixed flock of Siskin and Lesser Redpoll.  Along Serridge Ridge, there was a flock of Chaffinch with at least one Brambling amongst them. 

17th January 2015 – I went to the inaugural meeting of the Gloucestershire Raptor Monitoring Group in Gloucester this morning.  It was a very useful and productive meeting. 


16th January 2015 – I made a short visit to WWT Slimbridge and took some more Bewick’s Swan bill pattern photographs.

          In the evening, I found and viewed Comet Lovejoy.  It was not the most impressive one that I have seen.  It was really only a fuzzy blur but it was nice to add another to the ‘collection’.


15th January 2015 – Today and yesterday were very wet days.  The total rainfall was almost one inch. There was lying snow yesterday from an overnight fall. 


7th January 2015 – I visited WWT Slimbridge in the afternoon.  Highlight of the day was another look at the female Ferruginous Duck and the hybrid and pure Ruddy Shelduck.  I made some counts of the Bewick’s Swans and the Whooper Swan came into roost on the Rushy Pen and provided the spectacle of all three ‘Bristish’ swans on the same pond at the same time – Mute, Bewick’s and Whooper Swans.


6th January 2015 – I made a short visit to Symonds Yat Rock Viewpoint.  One of the resident Peregrines was perched up but I could not find the other one.  There was some interaction of flying birds today including two Buzzards over the hill to the west of Yat Rock and a Buzzard being harried by a corvid over Coppett Hill several times. 


5th January 2015 – A Sparrowhawk over my home in Longhope was the only bird of note today.


4th January 2015 – Two Stonechats and the Great Grey Shrike were on Crabtree Hill in thick mist today with visibility at about 200m.  Later, on Serridge Ridge, I found a large Chaffinch flock and it contained at least one Brambling.  There may have been more but the flock was very mobile and frequently disturbed by passing people. In the afternoon, I checked the lake at Woorgreens and found five Goosander which included three males.


3rd January 2015 – It was a very damp and cold day.  The temperature at 1430 was 5 deg. C. About 8mm of rain fell today. 


2nd January 2015 – I checked Walmore Common in the morning for any wild swans but there were none there.  A Peregrine was on the ground in the middle of the Common eating something but it was too far away to identify the prey. 

          At WWT Slimbridge, there were many birds to be seen.  Highlights of the afternoon spent there included a fly over Marsh Harrier, another Peregrine on the edge of the Dumbles.  A Pink-footed Goose was with the White-fronted Geese on the Tack Piece where there were also 3 Common Crane.  Along the Holden Walkway, a Bank Vole, looking very red-brown was coming out of a hole quite frequently.  A Ferruginous Duck was spending some time in the Asian Pen.  When I reached the Zeiss Hide, I was amazed to find that there were 3 Roe Deer on the sea wall.


1st January 2015 – A very Happy New Year to all my readers.  Let us hope that the year is filled with good natural history.



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