Diary – January to March 2016


31st March 2016 – A Skylark was singing in flight at Gloucestershire Airport making it a first of the year for me for this species.


27th March 2016 – At Cannop Ponds, by the Stoneworks, there were several Mandarin Ducks.  At least two had metal rings on as did a Great Tit that was one of many coming to the grain scattered near the offices of the company.


26th March 2016 – The only bird of note today was a Kingfisher which flew over Cannop Ponds and down the overflow behind the Stoneworks.


25th March 2016 – I found my first hirundines of the year when I saw at least 6 Sand Martin at Wilton Bridge late this afternoon.  Another first for the year was a coloured butterfly at the same location but it was too far away to identify it.

          At home, my first butterfly of the year was a Brimstone which was on the wing in the morning.


22nd March 2016 – The overwintering Great Grey Shrike was still present on Crabtree Hill today. 

          At Symonds Yat the two resident Peregrines were present and there were Fallow Deer in several of the clearings on the opposite hills.


18th March 2016 – There was a Redwing flock in the orchard at Weston-under-Penyard (cf. March 11th). 


16th March 2016 – In the afternoon, I walked the 9.5 miles cycle trail from Cannop Ponds and back.  The highlight of the afternoon was a Wild Boar near Three Brothers and my first frog spawn at Central Bridge.


15th March 2016 – At Nagshead RSPB Reserve there were at least 3 Fallow Deer with one fine buck. 

          Later in the day at Cannop Ponds there were 40 Mandarin Duck and 10 Greylag Geese.  Both of these numbers are quite high for the location.  Two of the geese were sporting white darvic rings, ‘F6H’ and ‘F6B’.

          In the late evening at home, a hedgehog appeared in the garden.  This is the first that I have seen this year.


12th March 2016 – At Symonds Yat Rock at lunchtime, the resident Peregrines were there and a Goshawk was displaying over Coppet Hill.  Also present were 4 Buzzards together and a Marsh Tit was coming to the food at the Rock.


11th March 2016 – There was quite a large flock of Redwings in the orchard opposite Weston-under-Penyard church on the other side of the road which leads up the hill.  Some days ago this was the site for a flock of Fieldfare (4th March).


7th March 2016 – At WWT Slimbridge there were still two Greater Scaup on Rushy Pen for most of the day and earlier this morning there were still over 70 Pochard present although all of the Bewick’s Swans have gone.

          On the Sharpness Canal, half way to Purton, was a pair of Great-crested Grebe.


6th March 2016 – I called in at Cannop Ponds near the Stoneworks.  Someone puts grain on the ground for the local ducks but this entices passerines down tool.  Of note today was the appearance of 6 Robins all at the same time which is a sight not seen very often.


5th March 2016 – At Crabtree Hill, the Great Grey Shrike put in an appearance and when I came back from Serridge Ridge, it was there again and showing down to about 20m.  It gave really excellent views.  Serridge Ridge was quiet with a brisk northerly wind giving a bite to the temperature and a few sleet/hail showers added to the discomfort. 


4th March 2016 – There were a good number of Fieldfares and a few Redwings and Blackbirds in an orchard opposite the church at Weston-under-Penyard this morning.  This would indicate a movement through the area.


2nd March 2016 – There were a few snow flurries this morning but none settled.  In the afternoon I had a walk up the Gloucestershire Way at RSPB Nagshead where I found a single Fallow Deer.


1st March 2016 – There are still a good number of birds at WWT Slimbridge today including Pochard, Pintail and Tufted Duck.  The Bewick’s Swan numbers have remained about the same as on the 25th of February but there appears to still be good numbers of White-fronted Geese compared to the middle of the winter.  Lapwing and Golden Plover numbers have dramatically reduced now that the spring migration has got into full swing.  A Greater Scaup remains on Rushy Pen.


25th February 2016 – Very few Bewick’s Swans remain at WWT Slimbridge. (See the Bewick’s Swans sightings page for details).


24th February 2016 – Wild Boar and Fallow Deer were on the Gloucestershire Way at RSPB Nagshead today as I walked through 


19th February 2016 – A single male Goosander was on the River Wye at Ross-on-Wye in the afternoon.


18th February 2016 – More Bewick’s Swans have left WWT Slimbridge on migration. See 15th February.


15th February 2016 – The number of birds at WWT Slimbridge have decreased as spring migration has progressed (see the Bewick’s Swans sightings page for details of them).


14th February 2016 – I was passing through the village of Parkend at lunchtime and stopped briefly to look at the seed baited area near the cricket pitch.  All was quite quiet but then birds turned up including several Greenfinch which was a delight to see of this declining species.  Highlight again was a Hawfinch eating seed under the trees in shelter of the bitingly cold northerly wind.


10th February 2016 – I had a walk over Crabtree Hill in the afternoon.  I eventually found the reported Great Grey Shrike late in the day but I did find a pair of Reed Bunting near the top part of the heath and also a first for me in the form of five Red Foxes together. 


9th February 2016 – I spent the morning photographing the Bewick’s Swan bill patterns for the research department and later went over to South Lake where I found my first two Great Crested Grebes of the year.  It will not be long before there will be courtship with the waterweed and hopefully there will be successful breeding here.


7th February 2016 – There were 2 Hawfinch near the cricket pitch in Parkend together with many Chaffinch.


6th February 2016 – It was a very wet and windy day today with nearly 2 inches of rain locally.


5th February 2016 – I was at WWT Slimbridge at 0750 to get some Bewick’s Swan bill pattern pictures for the research team.  Later in the day I visited South Lake Hide where there were 6 Avocets which were the first of this species of the year for me.  There was a single Bar-tailed Godwit amongst the Black-tailed Godwit flock.  A flyover Peregrine caused a great deal of commotion with the gulls and waders.  The Bewick’s Swan flock was again split over several locations and with a lot of movement too as on February 1st.  The White-fronted Goose flock were distant in the morning being on the river and some hidden under the near bank.


1st February 2016 – I made a visit to WWT Slimbridge today.  During the course of the day, I found at least 6 Common Crane. Some were in a canal side field and some were on the Dumbles/Tack Piece area.  The Bewick’s Swans flock was split between the Rushy Pen, Tack Piece, Dumbles, Top New Piece, Bottom New Piece and the North Hurns Field. There was also a lot of flying.  This is pre-migratory restless behaviour.  They will not be here for many more days. 


31st January 2016 – While making a brief visit to RSPB Nagshead, I found 6 Fallow Deer on the Gloucestershire Way.


30th January 2016 – I noted a Red Kite over the Ross to Abergavenny road at lunchtime today.


27th January2016 – There were 2 male Goosander on the River Wye at Wilton Bridge today.


26th January 2016 – Today the rain started at about 0900 and continued all of the daylight hours and at Longhope at 2200 it was still raining.  Nearly an inch of rain fell in the Forest of Dean.  I was at Slimbridge for the afternoon and there is still a great spectacle there of several thousand birds.  Although the light was poor in the gloomy conditions, there was much movement of the birds and in particular the Bewick’s Swans were flying around quite a bit and some were going down onto the river.  The Golden Plover flock did a close flyby of the Rushy Pen as dusk was falling which was a spectacular sight.


25th January 2016 – I had some business in the south of England and I took the opportunity to visit Portland Bird Observatory.  It was a windy and generally overcast day but it was a nice sunset.  I found a Black Redstart in the gardens of the Coastguard Cottages but generally it was a quiet day.  I noted a Red-throated Diver passing to the north from the vantage point of the Observatory patio.  It was during this short seawatch in the middle of the afternoon that I found a pod of Bottle-nosed Dolphins and at least one completely breached. 


23rd January 2016 – The fog had lifted overnight and I was able to see at least 4 Goosander on the river at Ross.  One was a female which was fishing very close to Wilton Bridge.


22nd January 2016 – The Tack Piece at Slimbridge was again full of birds as was the Dumbles.  It was on this latter land that, after carefully checking through the Golden Plover flock, I was able to find the one reported Grey Plover.


20th January 2016 – It was a contrasting day weatherwise.  At Longhope, the sun shone all day although it was quite cold whereas in Ross-on –Wye, it was very foggy and very cold.  It really was gloomy and I could not see the river to observe any waterfowl that might be on it.


18th January 2016 – An Oystercatcher on the Rushy Pen at Slimbridge was an early bird for the year and a new one on the year list.  Also new for me for the year was a Water Rail which was on show for quite a while in the vegetation directly in front of the Martin Smith hide.


14th January 2016 – At Slimbridge this morning, the Tack Piece was full of birds.  There were high numbers of Golden Plover, Teal, Wigeon and Redshank.  The plovers are a picture to see when they fly with the alternating colours of gold and white as they wheel around the sky.


13th January 2016 – At least 3 Goosanders were on the River Wye downstream from Wilton Bridge this afternoon.


12th January 2016 – After lunch I went to the Horsbere Brook balancing pond on the Barnwood Link Road to see the reported Penduline Tits.  They were there when I arrived but they were difficult to see.  They blended in with the Reedmace stems and for some of the time, they were hidden behind stems and the wind was blowing these in slow movements. Thus it was a case of now you see them and now you don’t. They were delightful birds and I was able to observe them for about an hour.  A Chiffchaff was also present foraging in the Reedmace.


11th January 2016 – I spent much of the day photographing Bewick’s Swan bill patterns which was quite successful.  Other birds of note were of a Little Egret and Cetti’s Warbler, the latter singing, at the Top New Piece.  I was unable to find the Grey Phalarope which has been seen over several days and was reported later in the day. A Little Stint was on the Dumbles not far from the Holden Tower and on the Rushy Pen, a Common Snipe put in an appearance at several intervals.  All of these species were new for me for the year.


9th January 2016 – An overcast morning greeted me as I had a walk over May Hill.  Initially it was very quiet for although the conditions were calm, it was quite cold.  A Raven put in an appearance several times as it flew over and both Song Thrushes and Mistle Thrushes were in evidence.  The highlight of the trip was a flock of about 12 Common Crossbill which were atop a tree in Bearfoot Wood.  There appeared to be only one female in the group.


7th January 2016 – There was heavy rain again at dawn but the day brightened up considerably.  I went to WWT Slimbridge to get some more bill pattern photographs of the Bewick’s Swans.  I made a total count of 105 birds today spread between the Dumbles and the Tack Piece.  The latter continues to be an excellent place for birdwatching as the water there holds many hundreds of birds. 


6th January 2016 – The flood level at Ross-on-Wye has decreased a large amount since yesterday. 

          At Cannop Ponds(north pond) there were the usual Little Grebes and Mandarin Ducks at dusk today.


5th January 2016 – The River Wye at Ross-on-Wye has flooded the surrounding fields but it was not quite as high as I have seen it this winter. 


4th January 2016 – I went to WWT Slimbridge this morning and discovered that the Tack Piece was nicely flooded and contained well over a thousand birds including a beautiful flock of Golden Plover and a large flock of Teal.   Among the Black-tailed Godwits was a single Bar-tailed Godwit.  I also did a count of the Bewick’s Swans on site and this topped out at 102 birds which is more than I have seen this winter here.  However, this is still a low number but over the past few weeks there has been a series of low pressure systems coming over the Atlantic Ocean and thus there has been an almost constant south westerly wind and a lot of rain.  These conditions, especially the wind direction, are not conducive to migration from the north east. 


3rd January 2016 – I walked around the short trail at RSPB Nagshead after heavy rain had eased.  There were two large flocks of note.  One was a tit flock which contained a minimum of 10 Great Tits but there were other birds present.  There was also a flock of Redwing.  It was difficult to do a count as they were moving through dense holly bushes. 


2nd January2016 – It was another wet day with rain all day at Longhope until about 1500.  I went to Ross-on-Wye and found a Grey Wagtail singing in the bushes overhanging the River Wye which was very full and about to flood the surrounding fields again.  Many fields have large amounts of standing water from other very recent floods.

          A Grey Heron flew low over the main A40 road in near darkness at Weston-under-Penyard.


1st January 2016 – Happy New Year to all of my readers.

          It was a generally wet and quite windy day.  I went to Strumble Head arriving at 1135.  See the Cetacean page for those sightings of Risso’s Dolphins and more.  Most of the usual birds were present including the auks and Kittiwakes, however, the highlight of the day was Red-throated Diver, Fulmar, 17 Common Scoter, a Peregrine fly by and a Rock Pipit on the grass in front of the observatory.  Along the coastal path I found a female Stonechat on the gorse bushes. 




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