Diary - January to March 2005

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30th March 2005 - a dismal day with torrential rain most of the day. Over the ponds at the back of Lyndey railway station, 5 Swallows and a Sand Martin appeared and then moved on. A Kingfisher brightened up the grey morning. 5 Hawfinch and a Brambling were present opposite Speech House and a Dipper gave prolonged views at the Marsh.

26th March 2005 - Ashleworth and a Peregrine was on a pylon as almost as usual. 2 Gadwall were with 2 Tufted Duck on the deeper part of the scrape in front of the hide. Several Chiffchaff were at various points along Ham Road, a recent influx it would seem. 5 Snipe and a Reed Bunting were at the back of the reserve and finally, another first for the year was of a Bluebell in the copse by the hide.

23rd March 2005 - Ashleworth on a mild day with sunny periods. On the flora front, Lady's Smock, White Violets and Lesser Celandine were all in flower and there are many buds on many trees.
There are still quite a number of ducks present including 2 Tufted Duck which are scarce here. Little Grebe were trilling and Chiffchaffs were singing to herald the spring. 2 Ravens overflew to the south east and a lone Lapwing and Common Gull were in the field by Dirty Lane. 13 Snipe and some Reed Buntings were near the footpath at the back of the reserve along with a Greylag Goose and a Shelduck. Finally, a 7-spot Ladybird was in Stank Lane, the first of the spring.

21st March 2005 - Late at night when travelling back from a 2 week trip to Scotland, I was surprised to see a great many Toads crossing the road alongside the two ponds at Cannop, here in the Forest of Dean. It was a very wet night in continuous driving rain and they were obviously on their way to their breeding grounds at the ponds.

6th March 2005 - Similar to 27th of February at New Fancy View. Again, it was cold with frost in the ground and a biting wind. Goshawks, Buzzards and Ravens were all displaying but there was nothing noteworthy of passerines around the viewpoint in the afternoon.

27th February 2005 - At New Fancy View on a fine day but with a biting wind, several Goshawks were displaying from the viewpoint during the afternoon. Other raptors present were many Buzzards and a Peregrine.

19th February 2005 - Ashleworth on a sunny but bitterly cold day. Skylarks were in the air and singing. The duck numbers have dropped considerably but there were about 100 Lapwing with 3 Dunlin on Hasfield Ham. Surprisingly there was no Peregrine on the pylons but there were several Buzzard in the air.

15th February 2005 - A sunny but very cold day in the Forest of Dean. To the north of the forest, there was a static flock of Redpoll and Siskin. Other finches included Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Chaffinch and Bullfinch but not the elusive Hawfinch this time.
At Cannop, a Marsh Tit was on the feeders put out by locals.
Two Goshawks were over Nagshead RSPB reserve and more were seen from another raptor watch point.
A Brambling was at Speech House and on one of the nearby lakes, 15 Goosander (6M and 9F) were present although 8 flew while I was watching them.

6th February 2005 - A Goshawk, perched for quite a while was the highlight of a dull, damp and misty afternoon in the Forest of Dean. Quite a number of small passerines were passing through including a number of Brambling.

5th February 2005 - In the Severn valley, all of Wigeon, Shoveler, Teal, Coot, Pintail and Gadwall were on the same body of water but surprisingly, no Mallard. A Peregrine was watching from a high point. Female Stonechat and a Kestrel were around the water too.

2nd February 2005 - At first light, a flock of 4 Hawfinches were at a location in the Forest of Dean along with a mixed flock of Siskin and Redpoll nearby. The song of the morning was dominated by two Song Thrushes proclaiming that spring is not far away.

1st February 2005 - A very short visit to Ashleworth on a bright afternoon revealed a Peregrine on one of the pylons. He seemed to have a very full crop. No doubt that he/she had just had lunch! 30th January 2005 - A walk around the long trail at Nagshead RSPB reserve produced the ususal forest birds but the highlight was of a Goshawk flying through the trees on the ridge where the last trail crosses the long trail before it rejoins the short trail.

29th January 2005 - Coombe Hill Canal on an overcast day. Both towpaths are extremely muddy and boots are essential. The mud on the northern side of the canal has been made worse by the passage of a four wheeled drive vehicle which appears to have got stuck and much churning of the mud is in evidence as it was retrieved.
From the new hide, 40 Canada Geese were on the reserve with 2 Mute Swans, 4 Lapwing, 3 Teal and about 100 Fieldfare with an overflying Cormorant.
At Ashleworth, later in the morning, there were about 150 Wigeon in front of the hide with 6 Coot and small numbers of Gadwall, Pintail, Shoveler and Mallard. 2 Mute Swans were on the deep water and a Peregrine was on the pylon as is usual at this time of year. A Buzzard was on a kill near Hasfield Ham. Finally, a pair of Stonechat were near Colways Farm.
On the botanical front, Dog's Mercury is in flower near the path to the hide.

23rd January 2005 - A layer of snow and low temperatures heralded a fine sunny day which was spent around the Cannop Valley in the Forest of Dean. At Brierley, both Marsh Tits and Willow Tits were present. A first visit to Cannop Stoneworks did not provide Dipper but for compensation, a Goshawk overflew. At New fancy View before lunch, there were some Bramblings with Chaffinches near the viewpoint and a distant Goshawk swept over the horizon. Many Buzzards were soaring along with a handful of Ravens. In the afternoon, a Dipper at Cannop Marsh gave excellent views for at least 10 minutes and there were a pair of Goosander on the lower ponds which were eventually flushed by passing walkers. No Hawfinches were seen but there seems to be few in the forest so far this year.

16th January 2005 - WeBS count day at Ashleworth on an overcast and slightly misty morning. The numbers were as follows:-
6 Mallard, 72 Teal, 257 Wigeon, 13 Shoveler, 26 Pintail, 1 Coot and 2 Grey Heron. The numbers are probably more than that but the vegetation is still high and observation is difficult. The reserve was not cut last autumn because the ground was too wet to get the machinery on to it. Further to the count, a Stonechat was on the hedge in Ham Road to the north of the hide and the Peregrine was on a pylon as is often the case.
At Walmore Common there were 16 Mute Swans and 14 Bewick's Swans for the swan census.

2nd January 2005 - A short walk around Parkend Church and Oakenhill Plantation in the Forest of Dean on a cold, clear and sunny morning produced a few birds. A small Chaffinch flock on the ridge at Oakenhill produced no Brambling but a Buzzard was soaring overhead. Not far along the track, however, I noted a number of Crossbills and Bullfinches in a small pine stand in view of the Yorkley Road. A medium sized Redwing flock was moving around at the open area at Moseley Green but no Hawfinches were seen. In spite of the good food crop this winter, these birds are very few and far between.
At New fancy View watchpoint, there were 10 raptors in the air at one time, all Buzzards but later, a Peregrine put in an appearance, then a Goshawk soared for a while as a handfull of Bramblings flew past.

1st January 2005 - Happy New Year to all my site visitors. May this year bring you many magical moments in the world of birds and in the natural world as a whole.

The first bird of the year was, surprisingly, a male Mallard which I heard calling in the distance as I walked past Nagshead not long after midnight on my return from the New Year celebrations!
In the light of the morning, at 0800. a walk around the long trail at Nagshead was the order of the day. In Parkend, I noted 2 Dippers on the Cannop Brook. Not a bad start to the year. The morning started calm and overcast with very slight intermittent drizzle but by 0845 there was a forecasted breeze picking up. A Great Spotted Woodpecker, Nuthatch and Treecreeper were all on the same tree along the short trail. By 0925, a slight mist had formed in the Cannop Valley but this cleared by 1030 while I was searching a Chaffinch flock, on the shale track to the north west of the Campbell Hide, for Bramblings. None were found today. The final birds of note were a small Siskin flock between the car park and the pond.

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