Diary - January to March 2007

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31st March 2007 - Ashleworth on a fine morning. Plenty of water still present as well as a good number of ducks including mainly Shoveler, Mallard, Wigeon and a few Pintail and Gadwall. A large and noticable number of Coots were also present. The strong wind with a northerly element in it appears to have held up any summer migrants which would otherwise be passing through.

27th March 2007 - Ashleworth on a foggy morning. I could not see much when I arrived at about 1000am, but the calls indicated many duck still present and later as the fog lifted, I estimated about 600 duck at various points along Ham Road with plentiful Wigeon, Teal, Pintail and Shoveler. Lapwing up Stank Lane were chasing corvids away and some of the wet fields look ideal for them to nest. There were at least 3 pairs. 2 Sand Martins, my first for the year were hawking insects over the water in front of Colways Farm. on the botanical front, the White Violets are now out in flower as are Bluebells and Ladys Smock.

26th March 2007 - After being out of the county for a week, I am back on my local patch and this afternoon took a walk to the south east of Cannop Ponds to see if the Great Grey Shrike was still there and sure enough, it was. Also of note were quite a number of Song Thrushes in many places around the forest.

15th March 2007 - A fleeting visit to Slimbridge produced the Temminck's Stint again from the Holden Tower and also from the same hide and very close was a Little Egret on the Tack Piece finding fish in a puddle!

14th March 2007 - A walk through Nagshead on a supply trip to Coleford yielded a solitary male Siskin near Nagshead Lodge and late morning on return there was a pristine Red Admiral Butterfly near that house as well. In the afternoon, I checked at the location for the Great Grey Shike and found that it was still present.

13th March 2007 - With Ham Road, Ashleworth still impassable with the floodwater, I parked at Haw Bridge and walked down the public footpath along the river to Ashleworth Quay and back. It was a sunny and eventually mild day and a Kingfisher sparkled in the sun as it flew upriver and under Haw Bridge. A pair of Curlew were 'bubbling' on the other side of the river not far south of the bridge and on my side, 50 Fieldfare were on a very wet and muddy field. At least 400 duck were on the floodwater at Hasfield Ham but there could easily have been 700 to 800 as they were very mobile. I was, perhaps, some of of the cause of the disturbance but there was a lot of aeroplane and helicopter traffic which was also partly responsible for the movement of these birds. The most numerous species were Pintail, then Shoveler and finally Wigeon with just odd numbers of Teal and Gadwall. 15 Tufted Duck (8 males) were a little further to the south and at least 800 gulls were also there. These were a mixture of Black-headed Gull, Common Gull and a few Lesser Black-backed Gulls and Herring Gulls. 8 Lapwing were on the edge of the floods at Hasfield Ham on my return walk, there being just a single pair of this species on my outward journey. A 7-spot Ladybird was on the metal fence by the last sluice before Ashleworth Quay.

12th March 2007 - A walk this afternoon through Nagshead RSPB Reserve where I located at least one Hawfinch moving through the tops of the trees. Also of note in this area was a Nuthatch working in a natural hole which has been used in the past by this species so it is a spot to keep an eye on over the next week or so to see if nesting takes place again. At Cannop, there were two pairs of Mandarin Duck and a single male which flew up into one of the bank side trees. To the south east, the Great Grey Shrike is still present and at about 1530 was quite distant but by 1700 it was giving the closest views so far that I have seen. This bird must be moving away soon on its migration. Another area to monitor if possible. The local half marathon course passes this area on Sunday and this may produce undue disturbance.

11th March 2007 - A Raven was calling very forcefully over Gorsty Knoll, near Coleford today.

10th March 2007 - At Ashleworth, the floods have decreased a little, at least by 0.5m at the hide which can be reached from the public footpath which crosses the high ground to the rear. One more step is now showing compared to Thursday (8th). At Ashleworth Quay, the river which had just trickled over the bank has dropped about 1m. The 3 Whooper Swans were in the same place as on the 8th, 13 Meadow Pipits were on the telephone wires near Colways Farm, 2 Buzzards and 1 Kestrel were nearby and a Sparrowhawk was around the farm buildings. In the distance on Hasfield Ham from the hide were at least 92 duck, about two thirds of them were Pintail but viewing was difficult with the distance, into sunlight and quite a choppy waterscape. 3 Shelduck were also present nearer the hide and at the farm a pristine Red Admiral Butterfly was on the wing.

9th March 2007 - Slimbridge. From the Holden Tower this afternoon, the Temminck's Stint was on two of the islands on the scape in front of the hide. The usual Peregrine was loafing and two Rooks were picking the last bits of a sheep carcas. They were displaced by a Raven which appeared to be huge in comparison. Then, along came a very pale Glaucous Gull which sent off the Raven and this in turn, dwarfed the corvid. A Great Skua seemed to fly in from nowhere and landed on the river mud and loafed around for some time.

8th March 2007 - At lunchtime a Red Kite was soaring to the north west of Tirley village. At Ashleworth there is a big flood with the water just lapping over the top of the uprights on the lower screen hide. The 3 Whooper Swans were on the edge of the floodwater near Great House Farm and a Peregrine was on a distant pylon. There are still som winter duck to be seen but they are well scattered on the vast amount of floodwater.

4th March 2007 - A morning visit to Westonbirt Arboretum in almost incessant and heavy rain. Quite a bit of bird movement in spite of the the weather. Marsh Tit was a nice find and winter thrushes including Redwing and Fieldfare are still present.

3rd March 2007 - At Ashleworth, I had to drive around the back to get to the hide as the Ham Road was flooded quite deeply near Red Lane. Very few birds were there and those were widely scattered on the floodwater. The heavy rain from last night is causing the levels to rise even further. 12 Tufted Duck were near Red Lane and a sprinkling of Wigeon and Pintail were on Hasfield Ham but could only be seen distantly from the hide as Stank Lane is flooded at the junction with Ham Road. 3 different Buzzards were perched up.

2nd March 2007 - An afternoon visit to Slimbridge. Very few birds remaining from the array of winter migrants. The Dumbles and the Tack Piece looked particularly empty. On the Dumbles were a Little Stint, Peregrine, Yellow-legged Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull and Herring Gull and then the relatively enormous Glaucous Gull flew down river and joined these other gulls. On the Tack Piece were a small number of European White-fronted Geese including the three birds with the neck collars and the Pink-footed Goose and the Bean Goose. 3 Oystercatchers were around and 20 or so Curlew and a solitary Lapwing. That was about the sum total of the birds on the Tack Piece and Dumbles.

1st March 2007 - A walk through Nagshead RSPB Reserve this morning to Cannop Ponds revealed a pair of Goosanders on the water at the latter and fairly unusually, a Lesser Black-backed Gull. I moved on to the south east and found the Great Grey Shrike again at Farmers Green. It was at times harassing a Kestrel. While watching this bird, there were Goshawk, Buzzard and Kestrel almost in the same binocular view as the Shrike.

27th February 2007 - Again a short visit to Ashleworth in damp, drizzly conditions. Only 6 Tufted Duck present and not many other birds present with this visit being post lunchtime. The water level is even higher than yesterday and is just across the lane in a few places.

26th February 2007 - A very short visit to Ashleworth. There is more water present than 2 days ago. A record, for me, this winter of 15 Tufted Duck were in front of the hide but generally there were few water birds in view as although some may have left on migration, there is now a vast area of water on which they can roam.

25th February 2007 - I went to the cleared area in the woodlands to the south east of cannop Ponds to see the Great Grey Shrike which had been reported there for a few days. It was easy to find as it was doing what this species do most and that is perch on a prominent post or tree in an open area. A very clean and beautifully marked bird.

24th February 2007 - Again, I stopped very briefly at Cannop Ponds. There were a pair of Goosanders again but then I noted another pair, so close that they were underneath the bank and I did not see them until they swam away from me.
At Ashleworth, there is plenty of flood water and the most common duck is again the Pintail. At least 6 Tufted Duck were present and on one of the small patches of green field, there were about 130 Lapwing but no other waders with them. A small, probably male Peregrine was on the nearest pylon.

22nd February 2007 - A very brief visit to the southerly pond at Cannop revealed a pair of Goosander.

20th February 2007 - A short visit to Ashleworth. The flood water is higher again and it is almost lapping the road at Red Lane. A flock of about 25 Golden Plover were with the Lapwing after lunch and the duck species which predominated today was Wigeon, whereas, in recent days, Pintail were among the most numerous. 8 Tufted Duck were very mobile and by contrast, one of the biggest British birds, the Mute Swan was in the background as viewed from the hide and just by the hide was one of the smallest, the tiny Goldcrest.

19th February 2007 - A trip to Essex and although out of the county, a Red Kite over the M4 motorway about 5 miles west of Reading was a great sight. Although commonly seen over the M40 motorway some miles to the north of this position, it was the first of this species that I have seen from this road.

13th February 2007 - Returned to Ashleworth and it was as I left it! Apart from some Fieldfares and Redwings in a reasonably sized flock, there were little birds of note and very few waterfowl to be seen. It seems that they have moved away. 2 Ravens perched near the turning to Hasfield was unexpected. One flew up Stank Lane for a short while before returning to its perch near its mate. There was a small flock of duck on Hasfield Ham which was composed of entirely Wigeon and Pintail. 2 Buzzards were interacting over Hasfield Ham of which one was the light headed individual. I noted when this bird flew that the underwings are very light too and the carpal patches are very dark by contrast but quite small. There is a light flash on the upper wing which appears as a line forward and aft of the bird, thus making this individual very easy to recognise. 11 Tufted Duck were in front of the hide and 1 Shelduck was in the distance.

12th February 2007 - A Starling roost was forming with a small to medium number of birds near Apperley as I was en route to the south. Called in at Ashleworth late this afternoon at 1740 as darkness was falling to see if the Whooper Swans which have been in the area would come to roost on the flood water at the Ham. Although a few Canada Geese flew over in the direction of Coombe Hill Meadows and some landed in front of the hide, no wild swans had come in by 1840 and in darkness I departed. The highlight of the hour was fantastic views of the planet Saturn through the telescope in the north east sky. The rings and disk were fully visible with dark spots between the rings and the planet body. A fantastic image.

11th February 2007 - Another visit to Ashleworth on a milder day with a wind which picked up after lunch and the odd rain shower passing. A Treecreeper was in the hedge across the road from the hide. Tufted Ducks numbered 9 today with 5 females present. One of them looks a little Scaup like but is a Tufted Duck. Kestrel, Buzzard and Peregrine were all on the raptor menu and they were on a pylon at some stage today. A Reed Bunting was near Hasfield Ham and 120 Lapwing were there as well with at least one Shelduck. There was a Buzzard which has a very pale head with a few chocolate brown large flecks. It does seem very light in what is a very variable species. Finally, there were again flocks of both Redwings and Fieldfares around the reserve but they were very mobile.

10th February 2007 - The snow was thawing fast and the roads are clear. Weather at 1030 at Ashleworth was overcast and damp, temperature 6 deg. C., dew point 3 deg. C., and humidity was 68 percent. At Ashleworth I found no snow at all. I thought that there would have been some cold weather movement of birds and I was right. There seemed to be a large number of Pintail among the Wigeon, Shoveler, Mallard, Gadwall and Teal. There were 155 of this species in front of the hide and in front of Colways Farm. At least 250 winter thrushes made up of almost equal numbers of Redwing and Fieldfare have finally turned up. Large number of Lapwing were present with 210 near Great House Farm before lunch and at least 400 on Hasfield Ham after lunch. Two small birds were with them and they were probably Dunlin but were too distant for a definite identification. Around 400 gulls, mostly Black-headed Gulls were with the first Lapwing flock and also there were many Starlings. I checked near Colways Farm and found at least 16 House Sparrows but could not find a Tree Sparrow which have been seen there in the past. The next flock noted were about 30 Meadow Pipits foraging and flying around the fields at the Stank Lane crossroads. Other birds of note were 7 Shelduck on Hasfield Ham, 2 Tufted Duck on Ashleworth Ham, a bedraggled Peregrine on one of the pylons and finally, two Mute Swans were in front of the hide, one carrying an orange plastic ring with 'H42' inscribed on it. Spring is arriving for they were mating.

9th February 2007 - It snowed throughout the daylight hours today and this was not expected. A little bit of chaos on the roads here in the Forest of Dean. A Redwing was outside my window and the Chaffinch flock noted yesterday were there again but as yesterday there were no Bramblings with them.

8th February 2007 - Quite a bit of snow overnight which had laid by this morning. A flock of Chaffinch, numbering over 15 were on the bank in the trees at the back of my apartment, grubbing for food throw out by my neighbour.

5th February 2007 - A morning walk through Westonbirt Arboretum and the most noticable thing were the tens of Chaffinches foraging for mast underneath the Beech trees.
In the afternoon, I walked through Nagshead RSPB reserve and to Hopewell Colliery and then back via Cannop Ponds. On the most northerly pond, there were 96 wild Mallard and a few of the farmyard type, a couple of Little Grebe, 6 Canada Geese, the resident Greylag Goose which did have an injured foot, 4 Tufted Duck and a pair of Mute Swans, one of which carried an orange darvic ring inscribed 'VEJ'. The Canada Geese, swans and Tufted Duck are fairly scarce at this site. On the southern pond, there were over 50 Mandarin Duck. Finally, in Parkend, a Dipper was at the north end of the village. This was the first long walk in the area after the recent storms and there are a number of trees with storm damage and a number which have been uprooted.

4th February 2007 - Another frosty start to the morning. Two Dipper, almost certainly a pair were in Parkend this morning as moved on to walk through Nagshead RSPB Reserve and noted that conditions were right for some of the fallen branches which had started to rot to have ice crystals on them and in some cases, to such an extent that it seemed that snow had fallen on these very few branches. A strange phenomena which I have only seen once before. I walked up the east ridge of the Cannop Valley to New Fancy Viewpoint to view the Goshawks and was granted a good view on several occasions of these birds displaying to some extent. In one case, two birds of the same size were being aggressive to each other and these may have been a pair of males, judging by size, disputing a piece of airspace or territory. Buzzards were plentiful with at least 6 in the air at one time. Sparrowhawks also put in an appearance as did some Ravens. Usually, the exposed viewpoint in February is very cold but with no wind and the sun shining on my back the day was very pleasant.

3rd February 2007 - A fine blue sky morning in the Forest of Dean where a Grey Heron flew over the apartment. I went to Ashleworth but the Severn Valley was shrouded in fog and it was not possible to see very far and no birds could be seen at Walmore Common or on the Hams.

2nd February 2007 - A short visit to Slimbridge. A Red Admiral Butterfly flew over the car park on may arrival. The usual birds were present including the Great Skua on the river and an Oystercatcher on the Dumbles. Two neck-collared White-fronted Geese were new to me and the Lapwing and Dunlin flock were scattered but still in great number.

1st February 2007 - 400 Teal at Walmore Common was a good count. Also there were 2 Shelduck and Lapwing but the only swans present were 15 Mute Swans. Two men were in the middle of the common digging a drainage ditch. This activity undoubtedly kept some birds away.
At Ashleworth, 12 more Mute Swans were on Hasfield Ham and when a very large craft went downriver, most of the duck took to the air and a count revealed about 800 birds in the air over the Ham. 12 Tufted Duck was a good count for a species which is fairly scarce here. 21 Lapwing seemed to come around several times before eventually disappearing and raptor activity included Peregrine, on the pylon as usual and Sparrowhawk and 2 Buzzards.

31st January 2007 - I went to New Fancy View here in the Forest this morning at 0900 to look for the reported Great Grey Shrike but to no avail. During a two hour watch, several Goshawks were present and some displaying took place including some talon grappling. A male Crossbill came into a close pine tree and demonstrated how delicately it could extract the pine cone seeds from between the parts of the cone. A stunning image to see. I returned later in the afternoon but again had no luck in finding the Shrike but at least 4 Brambling were in a distant tree.

24th January 2007 - A short walk around Nagshead RSPB Reserve this morning brought me two new species for the year in the shape of a very vocal Song Thrush or which I was to find more around the area and a Treecreeper being totally the opposite, silent and fairly cryptic.
There appears to be some damage to the roof of the information centre which was probably caused by the gales of a few days ago.

23rd January 2007 - I had some business in Churchdown today, near where I used to live and although usually of no great note, I saw a Greenfinch today. Apart from a fleeting glimpse of a small flock passing through Parkend, I have not seen an individual of this species since last summer such is the decline with this disease in this part of the country at least. Hence todays sighting was of significance to me.

21st January 2007 - A fine day until the evening when there was sleet in the air especially over the high ground of the Forest of Dean. I went to Slimbridge via Cannop Ponds. At the latter there were no ducks on the ponds and it was generally quiet. Slimbridge was busy with people and the birds were little different to other recent days except that I could not find the Glaucous Gull or the Skuas in my short visit to take some documents there. The Pochard with the bill saddle with the markings '3=' was present on the Rushy Pen at lunchtime. The forecast over the next few days is to be cold with a northerly wind which might swing to the east so there is a possiblity that more birds might come in from the contintent. We need to wait and see.

20th January 2007 - A fine and sunny morning. I went to Brierley where I was able to catch up with a large Siskin flock and then I heard the 'ticking' call of Hawfinch and was shown one in the top of nearby tree. I was sure that I could hear more than one bird and sure enough, at least 2 more flew over, circled round and landed in some trees. A fine sight on a beautiful, if somewhat cool morning which was enhanced when a Peregrine flew over.
I moved on the the Wainlodes Hill, Coombe Hill Canal and Hasfield area to take some habitat photographs of the floods which although the river is over in some areas, is not a massive flood but very impressive nevertheless.
On the way home, I called in quickly at Cannop Ponds here in the Forest of Dean where there were at least 14 Mandarin Ducks and 5 Goosanders, which included 3 males and 2 Redheads.

19th January 2007 - At Slimbridge, the young Glaucous Gull was still on the Dumbles and looking sick. 2 Peregrines were ever present and among the waders on the Tack Piece, there were at least one Little Stint with the Dunlin, several Ruff, a Knot and a male Sparrowhawk was standing on one of the fence posts. On the Rushy Pen, the male Pochard with a bill saddle was apparently again present at the afternoon feed. It was frequenting the area in front of the observatory and was diving frequently. I felt that it was a different bird to yesterday as I could not make out the characters that I had read. It was almost impossible to read the details with binoculars even with the bird being so close as it was a very active individual. I put the telescope on it and was surprised to see that it was indeed a different bird. The details of the saddle were lime green with the characters 'J+'. Undoubtedly this is the same marking scheme and hopefully I will get the full details of these birds in due course.

18th January 2007 - A bit breezy today and somewhat wet at first. I went to Ashleworth Ham to take some photographs of the floods but the light was poor to get reasonable pictures. I moved on to Slimbridge. The days highlights included a Black-headed Gull with a wing tag, a species I had not seen before festooned with this item. It was turquoise blue on the left wing with the white letters 'TD'. A White-fronted Goose was also on the Tack Piece with a neck collar. This was black with white lettering 'ZPC'. On the Rushy Pen at feeding time, there was a male Pochard with a nasal saddle which was lime green with the mark '3='. That was the end of the marked birds but I have received two Black-headed Gull ringing details of Slimbridge sightings. One was ringed in Wales 6 years ago and the other was ringed locally but almost 10 years ago. All interesting stuff.
Back to Slimbridge today. The winds apparently brought 2 Great Skuas up river and onto the Dumbles. They sat side by side for a large chunk of the afternoon before one decided to fly down river and scare all of the local gulls. Two Peregrines were present as usual and one decided to attack the local Buzzard but it was a bit half hearted. Other birds of note were an apparent new Pink-footed Goose which seems lighter in colour than the recent one, 8 Ruff, several Redshank, 1 Spotted Redshank, 2 Black-tailed Godwits, 1 Ringed Plover, 2 Little Stint and a Bean Goose. All of these were either on the Dumbles or the Tack Piece.
At lunchtime I noted 3 Bewick's Swans taking off from the Rushy Pen. One flew off but the other two must have been hit by the downdraught of the wind curling over the far hedge for they plummeted out of the sky and fell back into the Pen. One dropped into the water on the back pond and one onto the ground but fortuately neither was injured. Later in the very strong wind I noted a swan of this species 'soaring', gaining height rapidly while gliding!

16th January 2007 - After being out of the county at the weekend, I drove past Cannop Ponds this morning and was surprised to see a pair of Mute Swans there which is an unusual species for that location.
At Ashleworth, the river has come over its banks and there is water everywhere. Birds are spread out over a vast area and viewing points are few and far between with some lanes impassable.
During the afternoon, I went to Slimbridge and spent a few minutes in the Holden Tower. Of note were a Knot on the Tack Piece with the Redshank and Ruff. On the Dumbles were the 3 Bean Geese, two being new ones and which seemed to keep together and may be a pair and the one which is the long stayer and seems to be paired with a White-fronted Goose. The Pink-footed Goose was also present as was one of the reported Glaucous Gulls and the resident 2 Peregrines were loafing on the logs which are strewn across the open area.

11th January 2007 - A very stormy morning with some structural damage to trees and property. I drove past Cannop Ponds mid morning and noted at least one male Goosander there.

8th January 2007 - A wet and generally grey day with frequent rain. At Ashleworth Ham, the water level has risen since 6th January with the water just over the lane in a couple of places near the hide and Stank Lane is flooded in two places as well. With the extra water the duck are spread out even further and although the most frequently noted duck were Wigeon, Pintail and Teal, I could only find one pair of Gadwall and did not see a single Shoveler. Lapwing numbers on the remains of a green field seen from the hide were at least 124 birds with probably more hidden behind the hedges. 3 Tufted Duck were there, including 2 females. The resident Blackcap and Goldcrest put in an appearance by the hide but generally it was a quiet lunchtime. Although there were a number of Mute Swans to be seen from the hide on the extensive floodwater, I could find no wild swans today.

6th January 2007 - A dull and grey morning at dawn, started with light rain. I arrived at Ashleworth at 0830 and the rain had increased in severity. It remained torrential all morning and only cleared in the late afternoon, by which time I had returned to the Forest. The flood levels have increased since Wednesday. Water is now just over the first part of Stank Lane. 2 Bewick's Swans and 2 Whooper Swans were on Hasfield Ham together with at least 313 Canada Geese. 3 Shelduck were there and 7 Lapwing were on a green field in the middle of the floods. A female Tufted Duck was loafing near the hide and Little Grebe which is frequent but not often seen was in the open as was another scarce bird here, a Great Crested Grebe. A pair of Great Spotted Woodpeckers were on a tree in the middle of the waters and surprisingly, a Peregrine, not seen for a number of days, was on one of the pylons in the pouring rain. Two of the Mute Swans swimming in front of the hide were ringed. One was 'K12' on an orange ring on the right leg and the other on the same leg was 'SVT' on a yellow ring.

5th January 2007 - A partial day at Slimbridge on a cold, damp and generally overcast and grey day. However, I called in on the area of floodwater just of the Berkeley Bypass first to check for swans (details on the swan page). At Slimbridge there were many waders present including large numbers of Lapwing, Golden Plover and Dunlin. In with these were at least one Black-tailed Godwit and Spotted Redshank and several Redshank and Ruff. Towards dusk, Sparrowhawk activity increased as the medium sized Starling roost formed and I noted one kill over the Rushy Pen which the raptor then took under some bushes to pluck and eat. There were at least two hawks in the area. Both Peregrines were on the Dumbles and they may have been active also.

4th January 2007 - A dry but overcast day with a chilly north west wind. As I went out at dawn this morning, I was greeted by a Buzzard soaring overhead in the dim light. Quite an unusual sight at that time in the morning.

3rd January 2007 - A morning visit to Ashleworth Ham on a cold and dreary morning which was overcast and grey with drizzle in the air. Weather details were - wind 225 deg., 13 mph, gusting 21 mph. Temperature 10 deg. C., humidity 82 per cent. The flood waters are about 15 cm. higher than Monday (1st).
The Lapwing flock on the Ham numbered 68 but later about 200 were in flight. 216 Canada Geese were on the flood water with 4 Greylag Geese and 2 'white' geese. A Stonechat was inevidence and the usual duck of Wigeon, Teal, Shoveler, Pintail and Mallard were all there but spread widely on the extensive water. A pair of Tufted Duck were over the deeper water. On the passerine front, the Goldcrest was see again by the hide and raptors included the ususal Buzzard and the Sparrowhawk was hunting the hedgerows of Stank Lane.

2nd January 2007 - At 0800 at Nagshead RSPB Reserve on a showery and breezy morning. After the vivid orange sunrise, there appeared to be quite a bit of bird vocalisation around the woods. There were several small trees either blown over or had branches snapped off by the gales over the holiday period.
At Beachley, Curlew and Oystercatcher were the only birds of note on the low tide around St
At Berkeley Bypass, the floods of late 2006 have returned and seem even deeper than before. Some Tundra Swans were on the water behind the far hedge and the gull flock near the road comprised almost entirely of Common Gull, numbering 135 birds with more arriving all the time.
I moved on to Slimbridge to take in the swan data recorded in East Anglia just before Christmas. I then took the opportunity to look for the Bittern at the Zeiss Hide. It took me about half an hour to locate the bird and viewed it for about a minute or so before it disappeared into the vegetation. I then refound it but the same thing happened. About 15 minutes later I found it again and probably had the best of the three views and then it melted into the reeds. After lunch I went to the HOlden Tower and found both Peregrines sitting on a log side by side on the Dumbles. Also there was a Little Stint among the Dunlin while on the Tack Piece there was a very large mixed flock of Lapwing and Golden Plover, the latter looking stunning in the sunshine. In among these waders were some Redshank and Spotted Redshank.
Weather for the day started with some short but heavy showers at dawn but these gradually died away to give a fine, if cool afternoon and an almost full moon in the sky at dusk.

1st January 2007 - Happy New Year. The first bird of the year was suprisingly a Buzzard which I noted over Huntley as I was driving east as dawn broke. I arrived at Ashleworth at 0810 on a bright, breezy and cool morning. 13 Pheasants were on the road in front of the hide as I parked. The river is much higher than two days ago with a flood warning being issued for this stretch of the river yesterday. The ducks were well spaced on the extensive water and these included the usual Wigeon, Teal, Shoveler, Pintail, Mallard and Gadwall. The Goldcrest was near the hide again and two different Stonechats were in the area. The Lapwing flock spent some time airborne and numbered over 100 strong. The gull flock on the water consisted of 34 Black-headed Gulls and a single Lesser Black-backed Gull. A few more winter thrushes were in evidence to a greater extent than of recent days. Many of these birds were Fieldfare with just a few Redwings with them. On the raptor front, Buzzard, Kestrel and female Sparrowhawk made up the day. Weather data taken at 0935 at Stank Lane, Ashleworth was temp. 8 deg. C., dew point 3 deg. C., 64 per cent humidity. Wind, 225 deg., 7 mph gusting 13 mph.

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