Diary – July to September 2012

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30th September 2012 – A very quiet early morning at Nagshead but there were a number of hirundines over Bixslade tramway.  Passage of hirundines has been a notable feature of the past few days. 

          At Slimbridge in the afternoon, there were distant waders from the Holden Tower including a number of Grey Plover, Curlew and Dunlin on the river.  A Peregrine landed on the edge of the Dumbles and two Kestrels were to the north.  Hirundines were also over.  Four Common Cranes, one with a leg dangling down all the time,  flew over Rushy Pen and on South Lake there were many Black-headed Gulls and a number of Common Gulls.  One of the former had a white darvic ‘T3RM’, this being a juvenile bird.  A number of Redshank were hunched together and were asleep.


29th September 2012 – At Symonds Yat in the afternoon, both adult, resident Peregrines were perched up and there were some short flights.  Also flying was a Goshawk over Coppett Hill.  A steady stream of Swallows were passing through.  The highlight of the afternoon was another ‘big bird’, the last flying Vulcan bomber doing some ‘circuits’ around Ross-on-Wye on its 60th anniverisary.


27th September 2012 – A very short visit to Symonds Yat.  No sign of the resident Peregrines but a Sparrowhawk flew out of the trees below the viewpoint.  The river has risen some more but is nowhere near the top of the bank yet. 

          I also called in at Nagshead RSPB Reserve by walking in from the Stoneworks at Cannop.  It was generally quiet but on my return to the car, 12 well grown Wild Boar crossed the road towards the Reserve. 


26th September 2012 – Slimbridge.  Many of the large trees around the car park have been felled and there is a sense of open space.  On the Dumbles there were at least 2 Yellow Wagtails among the many Meadow Pipits.  There were a lot of Canada Geese and on the Tack Piece there was a lot of water too after the recent heavy rains.  The birds present here included Lapwing, Redshank, Black-tailed Godwits and a single Ruff.  Wigeon and Teal are arriving for the winter and many Swallows and a Sand Martin were over the scrapes.  A dull day with more heavy rain in the afternoon.  A total of 56mm since late Sunday, 23rd September. 


25th September 2012 – At Symonds Yat over lunchtime there was an adult Peregrine perched up and a Sparrowhawk was ‘in combat’ with a corvid over Coppett Hill.  Later a Sparrowhawk came into the trees below the viewpoint.  There were hundreds of House Martins and a few Swallows low over the swollen river.  This spectacle was the highlight of the day.  The river was steadily rising in the two hours that I was there.  Much debris was floating down the river too. 


24th September 2012 – There was a total of 40mm of rain yesterday and overnight.  The rain cleared about midday and I walked up from the Stoneworks at Cannop.  At least 2 Wild Boar were on the short trail.  There was some song in the woodlands this afternoon and this song was mainly Blackbirds and Robins but at the Stoneworks there were many hirundines which were mainty House Martins. 


23rd September 2012 – The forecast for the day was for heavy rain and thus I made a short walk over May Hill from the east at 0920 before the rain started.  It was overcast but with good visibility and it was cool.  There was a small passage of Swallows to the north.  This was a surprising direction but they were probably going around the developing low pressure system.  A number of Mistle Thrushes were feeding on Rowan berries on the west side of the hill and back on the east side, there were at least three Chiffchaffs passing through and finding temporary habitat in the gorse and small trees in this area. 


22nd September 2012 – I had a walk on Marborough Downs en route to see some friends on a beautiful, clear and sunny day with good visibility.  It was a good day for soaring with many Buzzards seen as well as several Kestrels and a Red Kite.  2 Wheatear were on a racehorse gallops fence. 


21st September 2012 – I made a short trip to Highnam Woods today and walked to the north side and back.  The woods were quiet but I was impressed by the amount of management work that has been done and the woods are looking very good for a wide variety of wildlife.  I must make this venue more often. 


20th September 2012 – A Grey Heron overflew my house at Longhope this morning.  I made a short stop at Boy’s Grave upon my return from Coleford.  As of the past few days it was quiet but on a general note, this year seems to have been a fantastic year for Dor Beetles.  They appear to be all over the Forest along most of the paths and rides. 

          Driving home past Cannop Crossroads, there appeared to be Wild Boar present as a number of people were taking photographs of something in the high vegetation.  I did not stop to investigate. 


19th September 2012 – I attended the AGM at WWT Slimbridge.  After this I spent a short while in the hide along the Holden Tower walkway.  Generally it was quiet in the afternoon but the hirundine passage included Swallow, House Martin and Sand Martin. 


18th September 2012 – Another short trip to Boy’s Grave and again it was quiet. 

          Again I went to Symonds Yat.  This time, there was some activity from the two adult Peregrines.  Again there were no sign of the juveniles who must have left as others have not seen them recently too.  Buzzard, Kestrel, Sparrowhawk and an execellent view of a Goshawk bought the tally of raptor species to a total of 5.  Several Fallow Deer were again opposite the viewpoint. 


17th September 2012 – I made a short trip to Boy’s Grave but it was very quiet. 

          I then moved on to Symonds Yat.  There was no sign of the Peregrines from 1525 to 1640 but there was a steady passage of House Martins.  A maximum of 10 Fallow Deer were in the field opposite the viewpoint. 


16th September 2012 – A dry day with some sunshine.  I made a walk from the east side of May Hill which went through Bearfoot Wood to the car park on the west of the hill and back over the top to my starting position.  Goldcrests were in the conifers on the early part of the walk.  Migrant and Southern Hawker dragonflies were at the pool on top of the hill where I saw a phenomenon which I had never seen before.  There were about 20 Swallows perched on the top of a small tree.  That is unusual but I had seen that several times before.  What they did next, I had not seen.  They appeared to take it in turns to fly down to the very short grass, feed on some insects and then fly back to the tree.  This would be repeated.  Fascinating behaviour.  These birds appeared to be juveniles and on a cool day there were not many insects in the air.  Descending to the east, I found 7 Crossbills on the top of gorse.  There were 5 females and 2 absolutely stunning pink/orange males.  They were waiting for a safe opportunity to fly down to a puddle for a drink, after which they flew back to the nearby woodland. 


15th September 2012 – I made a short visit to Awre and to Aust.  In both places there was a small steady passage of Swallows.  At Aust I found a fossil with a shark tooth in it.  Lyssorus minutus was about 200 million years old. 


14th September 2012 – I did my usual walk from the Stoneworks at Cannop to Nagshead RSPB reserve. One Fallow Deer again near the Gloucestershire Way but otherwise it was very quiet late in the day.  I noted a ‘shooting perch’ in the woods near the layby which was a little surprising to be so close to the road.


13th September 2012 – I went to Symonds Yat just before lunchtime.  The Peregrines put in several flights during the afternoon but they always remained in sight and soon returned to their breeding cliff.  During the afternoon I only saw the adults and just as on 11th September there were no juveniles noted.  They must have gone.  7 Raven were on note and the usual Buzzards were seen as was the lone Kestrel again over Coppett Hill.  A total of 11 different Fallow Deer was a good number these days and the Kingfisher below the viewpoint was on show a couple of times and it was catching fish which were in a shallow part of the river.  It all looked very easy for this bird.  Again there was a steady passage of hirundines, House Martins early in the afternoon but more Swallows later in the day.


12th September 2012 – A fine morning for an early walk from the Stoneworks at Cannop to Nagshead.  There was a little bit of bird song and most of this came from several Robins.  On the way back, I found 2 Fallow Deer near the Gloucestershire Way.  It started t rain as I got back to the car even though the sun was shining. 


11th September 2012 – A beautiful clear day with blue skies and some cumulus cloud and a moderate breeze.  Buzzards and a Sparrowhawk were soaring over Longhope this morning on the wind. 

          I went to Symonds Yat rock at lunchtime where both adult Peregrines were perched, the female with a white dove which she had caught.  The male was nearby and calling but he got no food.  They both flew, the female carrying the kill but there was no sign of the juveniles.  Have they departed?  A Kestrel was over Coppett Hill and there were the usual numerous Buzzards and during the afternoon there was a steady passage of hirundines, mainly House Martins. 


9th September 2012 – A walk in the late afternoon through Nagshead RSPB reserve from the Stoneworks was a very quiet one. 


8th September 2012 – I called in at Newnham at about lunchtime with the tide quiet low.  There were few birds.  I moved on the Guscar Rocks with the tide dropping.  Again there were few birds but at low tide, many Curlew flew steadily up river and a steady Swallow passage going the other way. 


7th September 2012 – Another lovely and warm day.  I walked up the Gloucestershire Way from the Stoneworks at Cannop and then walked the long trail and back to the information centre via the shale track.  It was very quiet generally with no birds of note.  At the Nursery Pond there were 2 Blackcaps, a male and female.  A Southern Hawker dragonfly was patrolling this pond on a very still day.


6th September 2012 – A beautiful and fine day.  At Slimbridge, there were a number of Redshank on South Lake and some of them were very close to the hide.  At the Zeiss Hide, there was quite a number of Black-tailed Godwits and Lapwing.  There were also at least 2 Red Knot and the Long-billed Dowitcher.  A Hobby flew over catching dragonflies and although the waders became alert, few flew and those that did very quickly returned.  At the Halfway Hide, there were a number of Green Sandpipers as there were on Rushy Pen. 


5th September 2012 – I was in Innsworth on business and had a short trip up Chosen Hill.  I heard Ravens in the area of the woodland where I had seen them nesting in 2000 and 2001.  They appear to be still there. 

          I called in at Ashleworth on the way home and noted at least 38 Mallard, a good number for September.  The water is still plentiful.


4th September 2012 – On a dry and sometimes sunny day, I went and had a walk over Crabtree Hill.  It was generally quiet and I did not see any deer.  There were many hirudines passing through but they were high.  A Migrant Hawker was a first for me for the year and this individual was on the Gloucestershire Way.  On a general note, I saw that many Larch trees on this hill look quite sick with little in the way of green needles.  Some of the Rowan trees at the far end of the short trail at Nagshead, where I headed next, also look very poor after having a bumper crop of berries only a very few weeks ago. 

          I walked up from the Stoneworks at Cannop to the RSPB reserve.  The woodlands were very quiet.  Further to the note of the sick trees, I noted a couple of Oak trees which are not in the best of condition.  A bit of a depressing note today.


3rd September 2012 – A beautiful and sunny day.  I went to Boys Grave.  The bracken is beginning to die back now and has turned quite brown in  a lot of the area.  2 Fallow Deer were seen and butterflies noted were, Speckled Wood, Peacock, Brimstone and Red Admiral.  They were all in fine condition.  The two Wood Ants nests near the car park also look to be in good condition.


2nd September 2012 – Between the Stoneworks at Cannop and Nagshead RSPB Reserve, at least 2 Fallow Deer and 4 Wild Boar, the latter were very tame in as much as they walked right up to me.  There is something amiss with these wild creatures.  They are undoubtedly being fed. 


1st September 2012 – I went to Strumble Head where the following birds were seen.  Commic’ Tern 6, Black Tern 2, Sandwich Tern 2, Arctic Skua, Great Skua, Balearic Shearwater, Mediterranean Gull juvenile, Little Tern 3 and the usual Manx Shearwaters, Kittiwakes and gulls.  To the east along the coastal path a ‘September’ Common Whitethroat was with a Stonechat.  Weather – wind South West force 3-4 and some sunny periods. 


31st August 2012 – A very autumnal morning.  I went to WWT Slimbridge.  I could not find the Long-billed Dowitcher on South Lake but there were many birds present and it may have been asleep behind one of the Black-tailed Godwits or the island.  One Common Gull was with the Black-headed Gull flock.  On Rushy Pen after lunch there were at least 4 Green Sandpipers and a Wood Sandpiper flew in.  A Common Sandpiper was an addition to this combination of species at the Half Way Hide.  At Middle Point, 2 Buzzard, 3 Kestrel and 3 Peregrine were the raptors present, the latter being on the river with a juvenile which was begging for food.  3 Little Egret were also there among the Curlew.  At lunch time there were 4 Common Crane on a roadside field.  Two of them had some sort of transmitters dangling from their legs. All were ringed.

          Note that June, July and August have been the wettest months of the year.  This combination of summer months has been the wettest since 1912.


30th August 2012 – At Symonds Yat between noon and 1400, there was some Peregrine activity including 3 in the air together.  One of these departed to the west and may have been an intruder.  There was the usual Buzzard activity and a small hirundine passage. 

          At Longhope in the evening there was another passage of hirundines but they were very high and only seen with binoculars. 


29th August 2012 – In the Forest of Dean I had noted 3 Fallow Deer, one of which was small, which crossed the road near Cannop.  Later on the Gloucestershire Way to the north of Nagshead RSPB Reserve, I noted this combination again and they could have been the same animals.  I had seen one deer at this point earlier and all three may have been present.


28th August 2012 – Ashleworth.  50 Canada Geese on the water today as well as several Mallard.  It is good to see a reasonable amount of water here at this time of year.


25th August 2012 – Many Swallows passing and two Buzzards over Marlborough Downs to the north of the town this afternoon.


23rd August 2012 – At Symonds Yat this afternoon there were a few sightings of the Pergrines, both perched and flying and a Goshawk gave good views over Coppett Hill where there were at least 10 Fallow Deer browsing.  There was also a notable passage of hirundines, mainly Swallows.


20th August 2012 – It was a beautiful and warm sunny afternoon at Symonds Yat where there was some Peregrine activity.  Below the viewpoint there were four Spotted Flycatchers, two adults, and two juveniles being fed.  This was the first sighting this year of this species in this regular location for them. 


19th August 2012 – A late afternoon walk from the Stoneworks at Cannop to the Information Centre at Nagshead was very quiet but along the Gloucestershire Way, a Red Fox crossed the path to the east and when I got to the place where it had crossed, I noted at least 2 Fallow Deer to the west.  I don’t think there was any interaction between these two species. 


17th August 2012 – There was very heavy rain this morning but in the afternoon I went to Slimbridge for a couple of hours.  There were at least 10 Green Sandpipers from the Halfway Hide and also there among them was a Wood Sandpiper.  From the Holden Tower, there were many Yellow Wagtails feeding around the feet of the cattle which themselves were feeding on and around the flood defence. 


16th August 2012 – At Symonds Yat this afternoon there were a number of Buzzard sightings and a Sparrowhawk put in an appearance too.  A Peregrine was perched up for much of the time of my visit but the highlight was of an adult bird coming in and a food pass was made with a juvenile which came out from the cliffs area to meet this bird.  Two Swifts past the viewpoint were of note and finally, the Bird’s Nest Orchids seem more plentiful than last year near the viewpoint. 


15th August 2012 – I walked up to Nagshead Information Centre from the Stoneworks at Cannop but the woodlands were very quiet in the damp weather.  18mm of rain fell today.


14th August 2012 – This morning at Longhope a female and juvenile Great Spotted Woodpecker were together near the house. 

On a glorious evening there was a singing Willow Warbler and a calling Chiffchaff on Plump Hill.  Both birds were seen. 


13th August 2012 – I was at Symonds Yat for over an hour from 1030 where there was an adult Peregrine perched in a tree and later two birds were in the right hand hole of the right hand cliff but by this time the first bird had gone.  Therefore, only 2 different birds could be logged as seen.  Twice a Goshawk gave very good views over Coppett Hill.  Very heavy rain set in just after noon and I departed with the two birds still in that hole. 


12th August 2012 – A heavy thunderstorm broke on a very warm and humid day as I set out to walk up to Nagshead from the Stoneworks at Cannop.  It was very quiet in the dull and slightly misty conditions and in light rain. 

          At WWT Slimbridge, I went to South Lake to see the Long-billed Dowitcher which by now had moulted almost all of its bright feathers into its winter plumage.  I moved on to the Halfway Hide where a Wood Sandpiper was shown to me.  I had seen several Green Sandpipers but the former was out of sight to me behind vegetation. Later it came into view and it was seen to be a very smartly marked juvenile. 


11th August 2012 – I walked down the River Wye from near Lower Lydbrook.  I found that the Peregrines at Symonds Yat were calling and later I saw two flying to the north of their nesting cliff.  Several Buzzards were noted on a warm but breezy day.  There were a number of butterflies in the fields adjoining the river which was good to see considering the poor showing these animals have had with the poor earlier weather this summer. 

          At home, the first Ringlet butterfly of the year here was noted this morning as was a first Brimstone of the second brood for this year.


9th August 2012 – In a friend’s garden today there were Comma, Small Tortoiseshell, Gatekeeper and a ‘white’ species of butterfly and along the Gloucestershire Way at Nagshead, there were Speckled Wood, Silver-washed Fritillary and Meadow Brown thus making a total of 7 species of butterfly today. 

          At Symonds Yat, there were no Peregrines on show in an hour and 15 minutes of observing.  Generally it was quiet on a humid and warm afternoon.  2 small Fallow Deer were in the clearing on Coppett Hill opposite the viewpoint. 


8th August 2012 – Tawny Owls hooting near my house again tonight.


7th August 2012 – I walked in the rain up the Gloucestershire Way from the Stoneworks at Cannop.  A number of Wild Boar grunted t me from in the bracken near the track.  They all ran off.  It was difficult to count them in the vegetation but there must have been more than ten individuals. 

          At Symonds Yat, there was much calling from the Peregrines but I did not see any of them.  It was generally very quiet in the almost constant drizzle, sometimes heavy rain and sometimes poor visibility. 

          Tawny Owls were hooting almost continuously at home tonight.


5th August 2012 – At Symonds Yat, a juvenile Peregrine was perched up and another came in with food in the form of a pigeon species. 


4th August 2012 – A bat was flying around a street light near my house at 2200 this evening while catching insects which had been attracted to the light.


1st August 2012 – A juvenile Great Spotted Woodpecker was present at my house this morning suggesting that breeding has taken place nearby.


30th July 2012 – At Symonds Yat, there were only 2 Peregrines on view at any one time.  However, two of them attacked a Buzzard.  I suspect they were the juveniles practicing.  2 Fallow Deer were in a clearing on Coppett Hill.


29th July 2012 – Along the short trail at Nagshead RSPB reserve, a Silver-washed Fritillary flew through the meadow and a Spotted Flycatcher was along the trail. 


28th July 2012 – A pleasant day with the temperature at 15 deg. C. at 1000 and 19 deg. C. at 1300.  I walked up the cycle path to the east of Cannop Ponds where I found a Purple Hairstreak butterfly high up in the oak trees lining the path.  I moved on up the Gloucestershire Way towards Nagshead where I came across some Fallow Deer.  Back at Cannop Ponds, there was a Mandarin Duck with 2 young and a Siskin was on the nearby feeders at the Stoneworks.   At RSPB Nagshead, a Silver-washed Fritillary was near the car park.  There are not many of this species on the wing this year here.


27th July 2012 – A slightly cooler but still a very warm day.  In Ross-on-Wye there was the sounds and sight of many Swifts screaming as they flew around the rooftops of the town. 


26th July 2012 – I was passing WWT Slimbridge and I stopped for a very short visit.  There were a large number of Black-headed Gulls on Rushy Pen and one Common Gull was with them. 


25th July 2012 – Another hot day and I made a short visit to Symonds Yat.  There was one juvenile Peregrine flying but otherwise it was very quiet. 


24th July 2012 – Another hot day and another visit to Slimbridge and another look at the Long-billed Dowitcher.  .  At the Zeiss Hide, there were 5 Avocets, probably the successful breeding pair from the Dumbles with their three young.  At the Holden Tower, I was surprised to see a man walked up the middle of the river!


23rd July 2012 – A hot day and I went to WWT Slimbridge to see the Long-billed Dowitcher among the Black-tailed Godwits and Redshank.  At Middle Point there were at least 80 Curlew on the river and at least 1 Whimbrel.  Back on South Lake, where the Dowitcher was, there were now 3 Dunlin with the wader flock and  these birds were in breeding plumage.  A Ruff was also present.  The Common Tern breeding on the raft on the lake have a tiny ball of fluff in the form of a youngster.


22nd July 2012 – I went to Slade Bottom near St Briavels and found one specimen of White-letter Hairstreak.  I also found Large White, Ringlet, Meadow Brown, Red Admiral, Comma and Large Skipper.

          I moved on to Crabtree Hill and managed to find one specimen of Purple Hairstreak butterfly.  Small Skipper and Marbled White made it a total of 10 species of butterfly for the day.


21st July 2012 – At Symonds Yat, I could only find two Peregrines but I suspect the other two are not far away.  There were many hirundines going through. 


18th July 2012 – My first Silver-washed Fritillary was found at the north end of Cannop Ponds and there was also my first Azure Damselfly of the year was there too.  Along the Gloucestershire Way I found my third new insect of the year, a Southern Hawker dragonfly and finally of note was a Spotted Flycatcher on the wires near the Stoneworks lay-by.


15th July 2012 – Mullein Moth caterpillars on Mullein at the edge of Cannop Ponds and up Bixslade tramway there were the black caterpillars of Peacock butterflies on nettles. 


14th July 2012 – I was surprised to see a Marbled White butterfly in the middle of Devizes town in an overgrown garden very close to the centre. 


11th July 2012 – I went to Westonbirt Arboretum to see the orchids.  They appeared to be less than the usual number this year. 


10th July 2012 – A Meadow Brown butterfly on my patio was unusual. 

          I went to Symonds Yat after lunch.  Both juvenile Peregrines were on the wing and all four birds were seen.  There were also many Swifts and House Martins passing. 


8th July 2012 – Up on the western ridge of the Cannop Valley, there were a number of Ringlet butterflies which were the first that I have noted this year.  In the wood on the ridge , there was a very dark stag Fallow Deer.  A Beautiful Demoiselle damselfly was near the Stoneworks lay-by.  It was a generally dry day until the evening when heavy showers produced about 15mm of rain. 


7th July 2012 – A late afternoon walk from the Stoneworks at Cannop up the Gloucestershire Way to Nagshead.  The woodlands were quiet which is not surprising bearing in mind the time of year and the time of day. 


6th July 2012 – It was a day when rain fell just about all of the daylight hours and often the rain was heavy.  33mm were recorded in Gloucester. 


5th July 2012 – Today was a warm, fine day for a change.  I went to Slimbridge in the afternoon and first visited South Lake.  There were some Pochard and a Wigeon, both species traditionally a winter visitor.  There was Common Tern which may be nesting on one of the rafts.  Also present, there were a number of Black-tailed Godwits, many of which are in resplendent bright chestnut breeding plumage.  At the Zeiss Hide, there was a good selection of waders on the Top New Piece, Lapwing, Dunlin, Redshank, Greenshank, Green Sandpiper and Black-tailed Godwit. 


4th July 2012 – In the afternoon, I went to Symonds Yat. In the three and a half hours that I was in the vicinity, there was not much activity from the resident Peregrines which were both perched up.  There was some reported good news in that the previous report of a Peregrine chick falling from the nesting ledge and not seen again proved to the incorrect in that both chicks are being fed and flying.  The fallen one had obviously been attended by the parents and things look good for both chicks at the moment.  Just as I was about to leave, I saw a raptor fly into a perch in a larch tree opposite the viewpoint.  This turned out to be a Hobby. 


2nd July 2012 – It rained most of the day today but in the afternoon, I went to Slimbridge.  Under the grey and leaden skies, there was not much bird movement but over the river and the fields around the Dumbles, there were many Swifts.  This appeared to be a noticeable passage.  One scan count revealed at least 200 individual birds.  Also of note from the Rushy Pen Hide was a single Common Crane flying over and which seemed to land out of sight somewhere near the Duckery. 


1st July 2012 – I walked over Nottingham Hill to the north of Cheltenham this afternoon.  The habitat is very varied with grassy slopes and patches of woodland.  This is another spot to try to keep an eye on in the early spring and breeding season. 

          I stopped off at Ashleworth in the late afternoon.  There is plenty of water there and a good number and variety of bird species.  Some unusual sightings both in terms of species and numbers for July.




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