Diary - July to September 2011

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30th September 2011 – Another hot d, 28 deg C being the maximum recorded on the Gloucester Weather Website.  I went to Nagshead RSPB Reserve and walked the short trail.  There was a flock of about 20 Siskin over the Meadow and there were a number of hirundines passing the same place.  Around the trail there were several Song Thrush and in the Rowan trees at the far end of the short trail, there was at least one Bullfinch foraging but the berry crop is almost depleted now.  There will be few left for the winter thrushes which will be arriving any day now. 

          I moved on to Slimbridge by lunchtime and noted a lot of civil engineering work being done on Rushy Pen to ready it for the winter wildfowl.  I walked to Middle Point but was unable to get to the hide because the high tides had flooded the path over the last 20 metres or so.  I viewed for a short while from the path over the flood defence and noted a number of Lapwing on the Dumbles.  I looked at them from the Holden Tower later and saw that there were a number of Golden Plover with them.  There were at least 4 Grey Heron and 1 Little Egret on the river where there were many small waders but they were too far away for close scrutiny.


29th  September 2011 – A very warm day, the temperature reaching 26 deg. C. on the Gloucester Weather Website.  This evening there was a ‘cloud’ of hirundines over the house at Longhope.  These were mainly House Martins at approximately 1800.


28th September 2011 – A warm day with the temperature at 24 deg. C. at 1400.  A few hirundines noted over Longhope this afternoon. 


27th September 2011- I went to Ashleworth just after lunch.  From the hide there is a little bit of water in the newly cleared scrapes.  It was a beautiful warm day with the temperature at 18 deg. C. at noon.  Around the Ham Road/Stank Lane junction and along the lane itself there were at least 5 Chiffchaffs, some calling and some foraging vigorously.  A Kestrel was quite active around the fields near the lane and seems to be very conspicuous lately.  Over Colways Farm, there were 4 Buzzards and a Peregrine together in the air.  A few hirundines passed but more passed Longhope in the late afternoon to keep the steady stream of passage going.


25th September 2011 – It rained from before dawn to early afternoon.


24th September 2011 – I walked Stank Lane at Ashleworth late this morning.  It was very quiet and the only  birds of note were a Kestrel hunting and a Chiffchaff singing.  A dry and pleasant day.


23rd September 2011 – Another typical, beautiful autumnal day as yesterday and I walked the long trail at Nagshead.  Again, not surprisingly it was very quiet with the only birds of note being at least one Bullfinch on the Rowan Trees at the far end of the short trail.  At three different points I encountered a single Fallow Deer.  I believe that these were different animals.  The last one I saw on the shale forestry track leading back to the information centre was a very dark animal and certainly different to the other two. 


22nd September 2011 – Seawatching at Strumble Head.  Species totals between 1150 and 1320 were:- Sabine’s Gull 1, Arctic Skua 1 dark phase, Great Skua 2, ‘Commic’ Tern 1, Sooty Shearwater 2, Mediterranean Gull 2, Red-throated Diver 1, Rock Pipit 2, Wheatear 1, Balearic Shearwater 1, Wader species 10 (probably Dunlin).  After lunch I did two more seawatching stints, making a total of 3 ¾ hours  but it was then very quiet with no passage birds.  Weather was overcast at first becoming sunny and the wind was SW, force 2/3.  Swallows were coming in off the sea in steady numbers and this species were also seen over the road en route to the coast but particularly between Haverfordwest and Fishguard.  Butterflies included a small number of Small Tortoiseshell.


21st September 2011 – A bus trip from Longhope to Ross and then on to Hereford yielded a steady stream of swallow sightings.


20th September 2011 – A very wet day and one of those rare days when it rained for all of the daylight hours.  11mm of rain recorded on the Gloucester Weather Website.


19th September 2011 – A late afternoon walk around the long trail at Nagshead RSPB Reserve did not produce many sightings.  On the lower part of the short trail it was dead calm and overcast.  Along the forestry track towards the end of the long trail it was more windy because it is in a bit more exposed area on top of the ridge.  I momentarily caught sight of a black animal on the far side of the heathland near the furthest point of the long trail.  I could not be sure but I think that this could have been a wild boar.  By 1840 there was a light drizzle and the temperature was 14 deg. C. 

          Many hirundines over my home in Longhope at 1440.


17th September 2011 – I was down near the Westbury White Horse and later, Devizes today and there was a steady but small number of hirundines passing through.


16th September 2011 – I went to Lydney Harbour at lunchtime to try to find the reported Spotted Sandpiper but I failed to see it.  There was a Peregrine flying high above the river to the south.  It was a flat calm day with the tide going out at a rate of knots and a good number of Swallows were following the river to the south. 

          I had a walk around the short trail at Nagshead later in the afternoon with the dappled sunshine dancing in the trees.  Very quiet. 


15th September 2011 – An afternoon visit to Nagshead Reserve and the long trail.  It was fairly quiet but I did hear Bullfinches in at least two locations.  A flock of Siskins flew over the car park when I arrived and when I left there were Goldfinches in the tops of the car park trees.  Large Red Damselflies were on the Nursery Pond.


14th September 2011 – A dry and warm day with a moderate breeze and 18 deg. C. at lunchtime.  I went to Slimbridge and walked out to Middle Point in the afternoon.  There was a steady stream of Swallows moving south again.  On the river, there were a number of Black-headed Gulls, a few Curlew and 6 Wigeon which must be early winter migrants.  There were several ‘Commic’ Terns and a single Sandwich Tern and a mixed flock of Dunlin and Ringed Plover were foraging.  Upon returning towards the Centre, there were 5 Green Sandpipers on the Robbie Garnett scrape and one more on the Rushy Pen.  A lone Wheatear was on a fence post on the Dumbles.


13th September 2011 – More hirundines moving steadily south over Huntley today.


12th September 2011 – It was very windy overnight, so at lunchtime, I went down the river to see if there were any wind blown seabirds.  At Newnham, it was very quiet at 1330 but there were quite a number of House Martins battling into the wind and going down river.

          At Beachley, the river was brown and in turmoil.  There were a few gulls around and a single Curlew on the opposite shore.  Swallows were continually passing into the wind on their southern migration.  I finally found a Sandwich Tern fighting the wind near the opposite shore, almost in Gloucestershire but not quite.

          The short trail at Nagshead in the late afternoon was very quiet but both Blackbirds and Robins are showing again after their post breeding moult. 


10th September 2011 – A warm and humid day which was quite breezy.  I walked along Stank Lane at Ashleworth.  Again there was a steady if small-numbered stream of Swallows passing.  There were heavy showers this evening and still breezy.


9th September 2011 – I left to go to Strumble Head at 0700 and was set up seawatching at 1100.  At the Head, it was overcast with the wind in the south and force 3 to 4 and temperature at 17 deg. C.  My first session before lunch was from 1100 to 1315.  Species totals were 34 Common Scoter, 1 adult Sabine’s Gull, 6 Artic Skua, 6 ‘Commic’ Tern, 26 Sandwich Tern and there were a steady stream of Swallows passing all day.  After lunch I did another session from 1355 to 1545.  A single Curlew was on Mackerel Rock, 2 Great Skua passed and other species included 15 wader species together, 10 more ‘Commic’ Tern and an unidentified skua was on the sea at long range and a Chough passed by.  I walked to the beach area and butterflies included a ‘white’, Red Admiral, Speckled Wood, Meadow Brown and Small Tortoiseshell.


8th September 2011 – I walked the short trail at Nagshead which continues to be very quiet.  I called into the Pygmy Pinetum nursery and noted that House Martins are still attending the nests on the house.


7th September 2011 – While driving home at about 1700 along the Cannop Valley road just a few hundred yards out of the village of Parkend, I came across a herd of Wild Boar crossing the road all together and moving east in the direction of Farmers Green.  There were about 10 animals present.


5th September 2011 – At Westonbirt arboretum it was generally quiet but there were a number of hirundines around the tree tops, no doubt hawking insects.  A showery day becoming cool in the evening.

          Of note back at home in Longhope this evening, I found a budgerigar in a nearby Ash tree.  With the forecast of wind and rain overnight, I do not hold much hope of seeing this bird again.


4th September 2011 – I walked the long trail at Nagshead and again, not surprisingly, it was quite quiet.  A dry day after overnight rain with more rain coming after dark. 


3rd September 2011 – I went to Ashleworth and walked along Ham Road and Stank Lane from the hide.  25 Lapwing were in the same field as the 27th August except that this time there were also cows in the same field.  Several Stock Doves were in this area as well.  Kestrel and Sparrowhawk were the raptors of note as seen from the lane but upon getting back to Ham Road, a Buzzard was of note and a Peregrine which was harassing this bird turned its attention to a passing flock of racing pigeons.  It did not catch any of them and they just flew away from the raptor with relative ease.  I have seen this before with these species in level flight and was not surprised.  Many House Martins and Swallows were passing through.  This has been the pattern for the past two or three weeks.  There seem to be a lot of birds of these species now compared to the spring passage where these were notable by their absence in general.  A noticeable number of these latest birds seem to be juvenile, suggesting that these species have had a good breeding season.


2nd September 2011 – Another fine and warm day with the temperature reaching 22 deg. C. at midday.  At Nagshead along the short trail, it was very quiet. 

          I went to Mynydd Troed to the east of Llangorse Lake.  This is a high hill rising to 600m with a steep climb up to the ridge.  There were quite a number of Meadow Pipits and a few sightings of Skylark and one each of Yellowhammer and Wheatear.  I had very close views of a Red Kite and also noted a number of Raven, a Buzzard and a Peregrine. 


1st September 2011 – A fine and warm day with not a cloud in the sky in the early morning and with only a little build up during the day.  Along the A40 road between Lea and Ross-on-Wye, there were several active flocks of House Martins and Swallows thus constituting a solid record for September.  There were at least two flocks of House Sparrows, one near Weston under Penyard and one near the Ross boundary.  It is always good to see this species.


31st August 2011 – A very late afternoon around the short trail at Nagshead was unproductive.  This is not really surprising in that it is a quiet time of year and this was a quiet time of day.  It was a flat calm and moderately warm day and as such any movement was easily noticed.  On this theme, there were many Grey Squirrels moving about in the branches, foraging for food.  Many them appeared to be quite small and were probably juveniles and thus this seems to indicate a good breeding season.


30th August 2011 – I went to the general area of Ashleworth and Hasfield today and found 2 juvenile Hobbies perched and an adult in the air not too far away.  Otherwise it was generally quiet apart from quite a number of Swallows over a field to the north of Stank Lane.  Later I called into the hide at Ashleworth and found that there is still some water in the newly cleared scrapes but there were no birds, partly because some work had been carried out at the back of these scrapes and the resulting bonfire was still smouldering and occasionally flaring up. 


29th August 2011 – Walked up the Gloucestershire Way from Cannop Stoneworks.  There are still a number of Swallows hawking insects over the ponds and near the short trail at Nagshead RSPB Reserve, there are still plenty of Rowan berries but today, the only birds that I could see feeding were at least two Bullfinch and some Chaffinch. 

          This evening at home in Longhope, a number of Swallows passed over on passage in a rather purposeful flight.  Of general note, although there appeared to be very few hirundines seen on passage in the spring, there appears to be a great number of them around over the past two weeks or so and many of them have been juveniles so it may be that they have had a very good breeding season.


27th August 2011 – I went to Ashleworth on a day of potential showers but really there was virtually no rain.  There was a little water in the newly cleaned scrapes after the heavy rain of last night.  I walked along Stank Lane and was surprised to find a flock of at least 27 Lapwing in a field to the north of the lane.  This was after finding at least 7 Stock Dove in the field opposite Colways Farm on Ham Road.  A mixed flock of small passerines in Stank Lane included several Long-tailed Tits and at least one Chiffchaff. 

          Of note before I left home in Longhope this morning, a Peregrine overflew the house to the north west. 


26th August 2011 – Following some heavy rain late in the day on 24thof August, the first substantial rain for some time, this evening between 1840 and 1740 there was continuous heavy rain with some thunder and lightning.


23rd August 2011 – Did not go into the field today as heavy rain was forecasted to fall for most of the day.  In reality, it was a fine day with some sunshine and no rain at all!


22nd August 2011 – I was near the small village of Wolvesnewton which is south of Monmouth today for a meeting and at about 1700, a massive number of hirundines appeared over the buildings.  It was another warm day with temperatures reaching 23 deg. C. in the afternoon.


21st August 2011 – A warm day today with temperatures reaching 24 deg. C. in the afternoon when I was at Rutland Water in |Rutland for the British Birdwatching Fair which I attended the last time in 2009.  A Hobby gave two very close fly bys from one of the hides.  Also present near the Centre was a lone Greenshank and there seemed to be many more Little Egrets there than in previous years at this event.  Most of the time was spent going around the stalls and not being in the field very much hence the few sightings listed. 


20th August 2011 – I went to Ashleworth and noted from the hide that there is now no water at all in the newly cleaned out scrapes on the main reserve. 


16th August 2011 – Ashleworth.  There was an amount of drizzle earlier this morning but by about 1100, the day had brightened up.  With no water in the sluice, I was able to get to the stream bed and dig to find my wedding ring which I had lost here on 11th October 2008 while putting the sluice boards in for that winter. 


13th August 2011 – At Ashleworth there were a pair of Redstarts in the area of the constant effort ringing site.  The scrapes in front of the hide have been dug out in the past few days.  They are now much deeper and although there is no water in them at the moment, they should hold water for longer when they are full.  The island is still there and the spoil has been banked up and I can see that wildfowl will be lying out on these higher areas.  Overall, I think that this is a welcome improvement.  


12th August 2011 – There seemed to be a number of birds around the garden at Longhope early this morning including Blackcap, Goldcrest and Chaffinch.  Hirundines still are passing through in small numbers. 

          In the afternoon, I walked the short trail at Nagshead RSPB Reserve and at the far end of this walk, there were at least 2 Hawfinch on the very ripe and abundant Rowan berries. 


8th August 2011 – I went to Slimbridge in the afternoon on a dry day.  Rushy Pen was full of interest.  Among the Black-headed Gulls were a number of recent fledglings which had been reared in this area. Waders included at least 7 Green Sandpipers, a Wood Sandpiper, 2 Greenshank, several Lapwing and an Oystercatcher.  There were 3 species of Wagtail present, Yellow, Grey and Pied. 


3rd August 2011Ashleworth.  A dry, warm and humid day.  I spent 2 hours at the hide and walking along Stank Lane.  From the hide I noted a Hobby in the distance which gradually got closer and eventually flew close over the hide and then to the south.  Willow Warblers were singing again along Ham Road near the junction with Stank Lane.  Along the lane there were several Chiffchaffs and a Redstart.  At the top of the lane there appeared to be a number of Common Whitethroat, some of them juvenile with stubby tails.  There seemed to be Buzzards everywhere, many in flight but also some perched up. 


1st August 2011 – I walked up Pen y Fan in South Wales.  About half way up, I walked into the clouds and drizzle and about 30m visibility.  Before I lost the visibility I noted some Meadow Pipits and a Wheatear on the slopes.


30th July 2011 – I spent two hours in the hide at Ashleworth from 1200.  Kestrels may have bred as I saw 3 birds flying together and another one perched.  Buzzards appear to have a stash in the top ‘U’ brace on one of the pylons as I saw something sticking up and then a Buzzard picking at  it there later.  A small raptor was on one of the pylons again as last week and I believe that it is a Hobby.   It eventually flew down to the right and went somewhere in the area of the top end of Stank Lane.  A Grey Heron was on the scrape and caught a small eel.  A juvenile Moorhen also put in a feeding appearance there and confirmed breeding in the area.


29th July 2011 – I had a meeting at Kenfig Nature Reserve near Port Talbot in South Wales.  This was the first time that I had been to this reserve.  It is quite extensive and definitely merits a return visit both in the winter to see what birds are on the large lake and in spring to see what birds are in the various habitats.  It certainly looks a good place.


28th July 2011Nagshead.  There were an amazing 14 Tree Pipits in the meadow area and a Whitethroat which is quite a rare bird for the reserve in the same area.  On my return from the long trail, there were 4 Red Admirals which flew up from the shale track in the usual areas.  A Fallow Deer was near the path to the Campbell Hide and this animal was not worried by my presence although it took a good look at me.  A warm day with sunny periods.  


27th July 2011 – I had an hour at Symonds Yat in warm sunshine from 1345.  A Hobby flew through and a Sparrowhawk put in an appearance and the usual Buzzards were around and about but the day belonged to the Peregrines.  There was plenty of aerial action.  This included the adult male bringing in what looked like a Woodpigeon late in the hour but generally there was a lot of flying by the juveniles and one of them kept flying to the very weak tops of some of the trees and breaking off some small twigs which it then appeared to ‘feed’ from while on the wing.  I have not seen this behaviour before and I suspect that the bird was trying to get something off the bark of these very spindly twigs which are too fragile to land on. 


26th July 2011 – A warm sunny day at Ashleworth.  I walked around the reserve along the footpaths from Dirty Lane.  2 Hobbies were calling and flying over Hasfield Ham.  2 Bullfinch were along the path at the back of the reserve as were Whitethroat, Sedge Warbler and Willow Warbler.  From the hide, there is very little water but a Grey Heron was still trying to fish. 

          I moved to Slimbridge where I found many waders.  These included a good number of Black-tailed Godwits, some Lapwing, Green Sandpiper, Greenshank, Redshank and Ruff and also a Spoonbill on South Lake. 


24th July 2011Nagshead.  I was there from 0940 to 1050 with the temperature at 17 deg. C.  I walked the long trail.  Two Fallow Deer were near the straight section of the trail, one animal much smaller than the other and both with spotted coats.  I returned to Nagshead later and walked around the short trail where I found Spotted Flycatcher, Treecreeper, Nuthatch, Great Tit, Blue Tit and Long-tailed Tit.  Also at the far end of the trail in the open area, there were Pied Flycatcher, male Blackcap, male Bullfinch and Chaffinch all feeding on the rowan berries which are there in profusion this year and have ripened somewhat earlier. 


23rd July 2011 – I went to the hide at Ashleworth between 1350 and 1530.  2 Grey Herons, a Canada Goose and a male Pintail were on the scrape where there are only big puddles of water left.  Buzzard and Kestrel were overhead and a small raptor was on one of the pylons but it was too far away to identify.  I then walked Stank Lane where I found a male Redstart.  I could see no waders and most of the fields have now been cut.  At the end of the tarmac part of the lane a Brown Hawker dragonfly was unexpected.  The small raptor was still on the pylon and and later as I was nearing Ham Road on my return, I saw a small raptor flying but only briefly.  This may have been a Hobby and when I got back to the hide there was no bird on the pylon.  .


20th July 2011 – I walked the short trail at Nagshead.  Generally it was quiet but on the lower part of the trail, I found a Spotted Flycatcher.  There were plenty of Song Thrushes present as usual.  There was also plenty of Grey Squirrels about.  On the return part of the trail, I came across a Fallow Deer amongst the bracken in the middle of the trail.  I then noted another animal and I don’t think that either animal was aware of me and kept feeding and I moved on. 


14th July 2011 – I made a short visit of one hour to Symonds Yat to look for the Peregrines again between 1430 and 1530.  At one point there were three birds in the air over the breeding cliffs and there were three birds perched up.  This was probably the local pair with their four young.  Although only three young had been reported a few days ago, it is now being reported that they have four young and this seems to be the case with my sightings today. 


13th July 2011 – Went to the Vale of Neath on business and took the opportunity to go up into the hills to the west of the village of Crynant to look for possible breeding Honey Buzzards which have been known to have bred in this general area for many years.  I walked up to the summit and had good views of a Goshawk, Common Buzzard and a stunning male Redpoll.  I watched a possible Honey Buzzard for some time but at a distance and I could not be sure of the identification.


12th July 2011 – Between 1020 and 1230, I walked Ham Road and Stank Lane at Ashleworth from the hide.  It was overcast and 17 deg. C..  A Grasshopper Warbler was reeling not far from the hide but on the reserve.  Many warblers were in the bushes along the road and lane, many of them were Chiffchaffs.  A Treecreeper was along Ham Road whereas in Stank Lane there were several Stock Doves and young of Robin, Great Tit and Redstart, the latter being of two birds.  A lone Lapwing did not move too much on a cut but unharvested field to the south of the lane.  There were a number of corvids in attendance and quite of number of Lesser Black-backed Gulls wheeling around but they did not seem to bother this wader.  Is this a breeding bird?  Whitethroats were in evidence at the top of the lane. 


11th July 2011 – Walked the long trail at Nagshead between 1625 and 1820.  An Emperor Dragonfly was the only odonate on the wing at the Nursery Pond as I walked by and a Mallard there has 2 ducklings.  On the lower part of the short trail, I briefly glimpsed a very small deer.  A pair of Great Spotted Woodpeckers and a pair of Blackcap were in the same area.  At the far end of the long trail, there has been much tree clearance and the quarry in Bixslade Valley is now on clear view.  Along the wide forest track back towards the car park, I counted 8 Red Admiral Butterflies neatly spaced with territories along this path.  See my notes of last year.  This is regular spot for seeing this species at this time of year. At least 2 Fallow Deer were near the path to the Campbell Hide, one being quite small. 

          At the top of Plump Hill near the triangular pool on the south side of the road there were some deer feeding quite happily as the cars roared past.

          At home at Longhope this morning, there was a very small and sleek warbler feeding in the vegetation, probably a Willow Warbler on its passage. 


9th July 2011 – I went to Ashleworth for half an hour just after lunch.  From the hide there were 2 Grey Herons and a male Pintail on the scrape which still has plenty of water.  A Buzzard and a Kestrel were the only raptors present but a heavy shower made flying conditions poor. 


2nd July 2011 – I made a short trip to Ashleworth just before lunch.  I was unable to park at the hide as there appeared to be an event on, so I parked at Dirty Lane for half an hour.  I was happy to see the usual House Martins flying around Stonebow Farm where they are known to breed.  Although there are reports of lower numbers of hirundines generally this year, the usual breeding birds appear to be at the farm although they appear to be frequenting the southern side of the buildings.  The northern side has been refurbished recently with paint and the roof has been cleaned so perhaps any nesting sites on this side have been removed by the repairs.  I noted 3 Buzzards in the area of Dirty Lane and a falcon species at long range over the farm but it was too far away to make an identification.

          This evening at home at Longhope, there was a small passage of Swifts to the east, possibly on migration.  


1st July 2011 – Symonds Yat.  I spent 2 hours at the Yat between 1230 and 1430 to see if there was any Peregrine activity since I had not visited for a week or so.  It was a dry, warm  and calm day with many sunny periods.  I was delighted to see 2 Peregrines in one of the trees. They were somewhat obscured by the foliage but I could see that at least one of these two birds was a juvenile.  A successful breeding season as so far reported.  Another bird which I thought to be an adult male flew to the north a few minutes later.  Other sightings included at least one Hummingbird Hawkmoth which flew all around the viewpoint on several occasions.  A Goshawk gave very good if brief views to the north scattering many Woodpigeons.  The Peregrines gave a flying display later in the afternoon with three birds taking part.  I am told that there are three juveniles this year. 

          I moved on to Nagshead RSPB reserve later and walked the short trail.  A young Fallow Deer was very close as I entered the wood on the trail from the old visitors centre.  It showed no fear of me and eventually jumped the sheep fence from a standstill with ease.  A Tree Pipit was in the meadow area and there were many Song Thrushes but generally the woods were quiet.  A Treecreeper was chased by a Grey Squirrel of which there are many and a Blackcap was foraging.





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