Diary – July to September 2013


30th September 2013 – I had a short walk through RSPB Nagshead this morning but in the grey conditions there was little movement of animals in the woodland. 

          At WWT Slimbridge in the afternoon, there was some essential work going on readying the reserve for the winter migrants which caused Rushy Pen to be almost empty. Along the Holden Walkway, there was a good number of passerines in the hedgerows and from the Knott Hide over a few minutes I noted a flock of Long-tailed Tits, Blue Tits, Great Tits, Blackcaps, Chaffinches, Goldfinches, a Robin and a couple of warblers which were difficult to see and may have been Chiffchaffs. The hedge was alive with birds.  From the Holden Tower, the Barnacle Goose flock was away to the south on the Dumbles while a Peregrine overflew the Rushy Pen later on.  As I was leaving the wild, unringed Common Crane flew over to the south.  Duck numbers seem to be increasing with every visit with good numbers of Teal from the Halfway Hide being notable. 


29th September 2013 – At RSPB Nagshead, it was quite breezy and for the first time this year, the brown leaves were falling quite rapidly in the forest.  Generally it was quiet but as I neared the Information Centre along the shale track, two stag Fallow Deer crossed the path a little way in front of me.  One was exceptionally dark, almost all black.  Earlier, I had seen a lone Wild Boar foraging fairly close to the track but it appeared not to see me.


27th September 2013 – I had a close encounter with a Wild Boar which appeared in front of me on the Gloucestershire Way at RSPB Nagshead this afternoon.  It soon ran off after another animal which had run off a few seconds before the first one came into view.  Later, 2 Fallow Deer ran off into the undergrowth as I walked back along the same path.


26th September 2013 – It was a damp day at WWT Slimbridge and work was being done on Rushy Pen, thus it was quiet but a Grey Wagtail was foraging an 3 Common Cranes overflew.  From the Holden Tower there was a big flock of Barnacle Geese on the edge of the Dumbles and at least 1 Grey Plover on the river mud.  At the Zeiss Hide there was a sizable flock of Teal and at least 70 Wigeon and an unringed juvenile Common Crane which soon took off and flew north pursued by 3 more Common Crane (from the Crane project).  A Peregrine was circling over the collection as I walked back to the Centre.


24th September 2013 – At WWT Slimbridge, there was a Whinchat on the fence posts near Middle Point and in the hedge from the Knot Hide, there was a late Lesser Whitethroat.  From the Zeiss Hide, the juvenile Common Crane was walking around the field to the south of the hide where a Grey Heron was also present.  On the Top New Piece, there were at least 10 Ruff in one group with a large Lapwing flock nearby.  A Sparrowhawk appeared to have been ‘grounded’ by a number of corvids harrying it.  It eventually escaped and flew into a bush on the far side of this field where it was again surrounded by corvids and a Buzzards sitting on top of this bush!


19th September 2013 – A very large number of hirundines were over the Tack Piece at WWT Slimbridge.  They were mostly Swallows with a few House Martins and Sand Martins.  In the hedgerow from the Knot Hide, there were a female and male Blackcap and a Chiffchaff.


18th September 2013 – At least 91 Mute Swans on the River Wye just downstream from the town centre.


17th September 2013 – An afternoon which was spent at Slimbridge, firstly in heavy rain and later in sunshine surrenderd 4 Yellow Wagtails on the Rushy Pen including a stunningly yellow individual.  There was also a lone Little Ringed Plover.  On South Lake there was the usual flock of Lapwings and Black-headed Gull but little else.   The tide was out and maybe other waders had gone back onto the river?  Along the Holden walkway there was a warbler or two in the hedges which included a Common Whitethroat.  On the Tack Piece, there were a lot of hirundines hawking insects low over the vegetation both in the rain and after it had stopped.  Swallows, House Martins and Sand Martins were all present.  A Cetti’s Warbler was calling in the car park. 


16th September 2013 – A blustery day and I decided to go to Strumble Head for a seawatch at Strumble Head as conditions looked good for passage migrants.  I arrived at 1110 and remained on observation until 1535. The wind was in the west and was at least force 5. There was a steady stream of birds and those of note were:- 8 Sooty Shearwater, 1, possibly 2 Red-throated Diver, 13 Great Skua, 12 Arctic Skua of which 1 was a pale phase bird, 3 Balearic Shearwaters among the many Manx Shearwaters, 2 Leach’s Petrel, 3 Sandwich Tern, 2 Kestrel, male and female and 8 Redshank.


14th September 2013 – At Ashleworth in the mid-afternoon there was a large number of hirundines initially around the cattle which have been set to graze the Ham.  The majority were Swallows but there were a significant number of House Martins. Later when the cattle moved to the other end of the Ham, the hirundines remained, hawking insects low over the pasture.


13th September 2013 – Another afternoon at Slimbridge on a day which was damp for most of the day and then in the middle of the afternoon, very heavy rain set in.  I first went to South Finger to try to find the reported unringed Common Crane but I did not find it.  There was a Little Grebe in the channel, a Cetti’s Warbler calling and a Kingfisher flying along the water channel.  A fully winged Mandarin Duck was near the double gates at the walkway to the Kingfisher Hide.  From the Zeiss Hide, I could see only 13 Ruff and a Greenshank on the Top New Piece.  I moved on to South Lake where there was a good mixed flock of Redshank and Black-tailed Godwits.  Also present here was a Black-headed Gull with a white darvid ring with the characters ‘2N28’ and a Grey Heron with a darvic ring inscribed ‘ABJ’ which was ringed 14 years ago as an adult.  There were at least 4 Common Snipe on the Rushy Pen and from the Holden Tower, there were at least 13 Yellow Wagtails around the feet of the cattle on the Dumbles in the pouring rain.  Back on the Rushy Pen, I logged my only Green Sandpiper of the day. 


11th September 2013 – At Slimbridge, in the afternoon, there were 2 Yellow Wagtails on the Rushy Pen and good numbers of birds on South Lake including Redshank and Lapwing.  From the Zeiss Hide, I managed to find 15 Ruff and a Spotted Redshank.  2 Green Sandpipers were noted from the Halfway Hide and from the Holden Tower there were a number of Yellow Wagtails on the Dumbles.  Back at the Rushy Pen, there were 2 Green Sandpipers and a juvenile and adult Yellow Wagtail.  Here, earlier, there was a Grey Wagtail with the numerous Pied Wagtails, thus there were 3 species of wagtail on this one waterbody. 


6th September 2013 – I made another afternoon trip to WWT Slimbridge.  2 Little Ringed Plovers and 2 Green Sandpipers were on Rushy Pen and among the legs of the cattle on the Dumbles there were at least 9 Yellow Wagtails. 


4th September 2013 – I did a 4 hour seawatch at Strumble Head from mid morning.  The sea state was 1-2 and more calm than expected.  Generally, it was very quiet but the highlights were 1 Balearic Shearwater with the few Manx Shearwaters.  A group of 5 Common Scoter came by and a juvenile Mediterranean Gull was loitering in front of the observation point with a large number of Black-headed Gulls, the latter being unusual here.  2 Wheatear and a Rock Pipit were on the grass in front of me and Fulmars were showing regularly.  Of interest below the cliffs was a Lion’s Mane jellyfish which was repeatedly inverting and diving and then coming back to the surface.  Along the Pembrokeshire Way footpath to the east of Strumble Head, there were Wall butterflies and a Keeled Skimmer dragonfly. 


2nd September 2013 – In the afternoon, I went to WWT Slimbridge where there were 3 Ruff, 3 Green Sandpiper and at least one Common Snipe on the Rushy Pen and at least 2 more Green Sandpiper on the scrape in front of the Halfway Hide.  Overall it was a lovely, warm day and glorious afternoon sunshine. 


1st September 2013 – At the far end of the short trail at RSPB Nagshead, there were still 2 Spotted Flycatchers and therefore a September record.  There was a small stag Fallow Deer on the shale track not far from the Information Centre.  Later there was another Fallow Deer under the Rowan trees at the turn of the short trail.  


31st August 2013 – I went to RSPB Nagshead at lunchtime and walked the long trail.  There was again at least one Spotted Flycatcher still catching at the far end of the short trail on this sunny but breezy and cool day.  On the long trail, I found a number of Wild Boar of various colours.  They ranged from tan to almost black but I was unable to make a count of them because of the high vegetation.  They moved off after a short while and disappeared into the undergrowth. 


 27th August 2013 – I made a trip to WWT Slimbridge just before lunch and went to the Halfway Hide first.  I was surprised to see a good number of duck on the water here including at least 30 Wigeon and well over 100 Teal.  It certainly is beginning to look a little bit like autumn/winter.  There were also some Black-tailed Godwits, 2 Ruff and a Green Sandpiper.  It was quiet at Middle Point with a Little Egret on the river and a flock of Dunlin flying up river with the tide rushing out. 


25th August 2013 – A visit to Nagshead RSPB Reserve produced at least 2 Spotted Flycatchers at the far end of the short trail.  I have been seeing this species in this general area quite often over the past few days.  At least 3 Fallow Deer were near the shale track which leads back to the Information Centre.  Also of note were flyover Crossbills again. 


24th August 2013 – I extracted the Long-tailed Tits nest from my neighbours Berberis bush which I was watching earlier in the year.  I had not seen the birds and was not sure of a successful fledging. I was surprised to find that the nest hole was near the top but literature states that this is the case.  Upon opening the nest, I found neither remains of eggs or of dead bodies and with a ‘clean’ internal part of the nest it would see highly likely that the young did fledge.  I have not seen any sign of the adults or young since then. 


23rd August 2013 – At RSPB Nagshead, there were Spotted Flycatchers in evidence at two locations on the short trail in the steady rain.  They were catching flies which were quite numerous in the humid and still conditions.


22nd August 2013 – At WWT Slimbridge, a Clouded Butterfly flew across in front of the Martin Smith hide and over the fence into the Rushy Pen.  At least 8 Green Sandpipers were noted on site and one Snipe.  At the South Lake Hide, there was a good flock of Black-tailed Godwits with some Redshank and a lone Ruff.


21st August 2013 – Spotted Flycatcher families were at two different locations on the short trail at RSPB Nagshead for the third day running and young were being fed.  Crossbills flew over on several occasions with the biggest flock seen amounting to 14 birds.


20th August 2013 – There was a Spotted Flycatcher at the far end of the short trail at RSPB Nagshead and another behind the Stoneworks at Cannop where there was also a Kingfisher which was seen twice or was there two different birds?


19th August 2013 – There were two families of Spotted Flycatcher around the trails at RSPB Nagshead.  The Redwood tree looks to have a large number of yellow/brown needles on it.  I wonder if there is a problem with this tree? Conversely, the Rowan trees around the site have a really good crop of berries.  Those trees in the more open aspects have berries that are really ripe and ready for eating but the trees in the more shady canopy are not yet ripe and are a much duller orange and not yet that brilliant red. 


18th August 2013 – A Hobby overflew my home in Longhope at breakfast time.


17th August 2013 – Today which was forecast for a lot of rain most of the day turned out to be dry until the evening.  I went to WWT Slimbridge.  From the South Lake hide there was a flock of Black-tailed Godwits with a good number of Redshank with them.  In the far distance was a lone Ruff and 2 Great-crested Grebes were on the deep lake.  The Common Terns with their two young were on the island near the raft which was used for breeding.  The Spoonbill looked sick today.  It was stood in shallow water and held its bill vertically down with the tip just in the water and the bird was closing its eyes.  It normally sleeps with its bill tucked under a wing.  At one time, it seemed to perk up and pulled some green vegetation from a nearby plant and then spent some time ‘washing’ it in the water but then did nothing with it.   I moved to the Halfway Hide where there were many Swallows, House Martins and Sand Martins.  There was at least one juvenile Yellow Wagtail here and several Green Sandpipers.  A Clouded Yellow butterfly passed through the Rushy Pen in the afternoon.  Finally, a Wood Mouse was at the new hide. 


16th August 2013 – I made a visit up the road to the Birdwatching Fair at Rutland Water. 


15th August 2013 – A single Fallow Deer was along the Gloucestershire Way at RSPB Nagshead this afternoon. 


14th August 2013 – I spent the afternoon at WWT Slimbridge.  There were 3 juvenile Little Ringed Plover on the Rushy Pen along with a Green Sandpiper and a handful of Black-tailed Godwits.  The former were unusual here.    A further 9 Green Sandpiper were noted from the Halfway Hide.  Across the walkway, from the Knott Hide, there were a variety of passerines in the hedge.  There were Blackcap, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Chiffchaff, Greenfinch and Goldfinch.  I moved to the Holden Tower and could see a Spoonbill on the Top New Piece which later relocated to the Rushy Pen. 


12th August 2013 – Crossbills flew over the Information Centre at RSPB Nagshead this morning.

          At WWT Slimbridge there were Shelduck and Black-headed Gulls on the estuary at Middle Point with the tide going out.  At the Halfway Hide, there were 2 Green Sandpipers and an apparent movement of hirundines over the Tack Piece and associated fields.  There was a Little Egret on the scrape from the Martin Smith hide.  It is often seen here and today it was joined by a Grey Heron.  A Kingfisher made several passes of the South Lake Hide, once with a fish.  The long staying Spoonbill was there too and there was a nice flock of Redshank and Black-tailed Godwits.  The two Common Terns on the raft still have young with them.

          There was a reasonable show of the Perseid meteor shower tonight and as a bonus, the International Space Station came overhead.


11th August 2013 – A Muntjak Deer crossed the long trail at RSPB Nagshead this afternoon.  It ran off very quickly.


10th August 2013 – A Clouded Yellow butterfly was down by the river in Ross-on-Wye at lunchtime today in the sunshine.


9th August 2013 – I made a short visit to a pond at Edgehills, Forest of Dean today and noted Large Red Damselfly, Common Darter, Migrant Hawker, Azure Blue and Emerald Damselfly. I also found 3 exuvia which I need to identify. 

          At Woorgreens Lake, there were good numbers of Common Darter on the approach path and a number of Common Blue Damselflies.  The most numerous appeared to be Emerald Damselfly. 

          A single Fallow Deer was on the Gloucestershire Way at Nagshead RSPB Reserve and at the Nursery Pond there were a lot of Emerald Damselflies again and in the nearby conifers there were at least 4 Crossbills.


8th August 2013 – I was in East Anglia today.  There were a number of Swifts over Stanton churchyard in Suffolk at lunchtime but they were soon gone.  They were probably passage migrants. 


7th August 2013 – I walked up to Nagshead Centre from the Stoneworks at Cannop in the early afternoon but the woods were very quiet as expected. 


6th August 2013 – I made an afternoon visit to WWT Slimbridge.  From the Zeiss hide there was a flock of Dunlin which contained at least one Sanderling.  Of note on this dry and generally sunny day was the number of butterflies on the wing.  Large White, Small White, Green-veined White, Small Tortoiseshell, Peacock and Red Admiral where all seen in some numbers.  On South Lake, there were six species of wader, Lapwing, Black-tailed Godwit, Green Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Redshank and Ruff.  


3rd August 2013 – A Hedgehog was on my patio this evening at 2205 and is only the second sighting in five and a half years here.


1st August 2013 – This morning it was slightly misty but it soon cleared to give a very hot day with the temperature reaching about 31 deg. C.  I went to Slimbridge and first noted 2 Ruff with a Black-tailed Godwit flock on Rushy Pen which also held some Redshank.  I walked to Middle Point having noted a Brent Goose on the river from the Holden Tower.  At the Point, there was another flock of 52 Black-tailed Godwits with 3 Dunlin with them.  They were on the mud upstream from the Point but on the rocks just downstream, there were at least 60 Dunlin with at least 2 Sanderling.  After lunch, I went to South Lake where I found an adult Spoonbill, 2 Common Crane, a flock of Black-tailed Godwits with Redshank with them and 2 Green Sandpipers.  On the Tack Piece in the late afternoon, there was a good number of 14 Green Sandpiper and 1 Wood Sandpiper.


27th July 2013 – It was another fine and warm day but there was heavy rain in the evening.


26th July 2013 – It was a fine and warm day again and I made another trip to WWT Slimbridge.  On South Lake there were 2 Spoonbill, an adult and a juvenile.  There were also 2 Common Cranes, 2 Dunlin and at least 92 Redshank and 2 Great-crested Grebe with at least 2 young.  Today, at least one Avocet young fledged and flew over the fence to the Tack Piece. 


24th July 2013 – It was a slightly cooler day with the temperature only reaching about 25 deg. C.  I went to WWT Slimbridge and walked to Middle Point.  It was quiet there but on the Rushy Pen, there was a Wood Sandpiper and there was one on the Tack Piece but this may have been the same bird which had ‘hopped’ over the fence.  There were at least 5 Green Sandpipers at the latter and a Yellow Wagtail.


23rd July 2013 – Another warm day and I made a late afternoon walk through Nagshead reserve but it was very quiet in the woodlands in the heat.


22nd July 2013 – I made a short visit to the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust Centre at Llanelli.  There were very few people there on a beautiful and very warm day.  A Spoonbill and at least 4 Little Egrets were seen from the British Steel hide and among the Black-headed Gulls there, a first summer Mediterranean Gull put in an appearance.  There was a big flock of Black-tailed Godwits from the observatory and with them was a single black Ruff. 


21st July 2013 – Today was another in a series of warm days.  At Nagshead, I found a single Fallow Deer on the long trail and when I was almost back at the Information Centre, I found at least 2 Wild Boar foraging in long vegetation.  At the Nursery Pond, there were Azure, Emerald and Blue-tailed Damselflies, Southern and Brown Hawker and Emperor Dragonfly with Broad-bodied Chaser making 7 species of odonata.  The Brown Hawker was a first for the year.


17th July 2013 – A very warm day with the temperature at 1400 reaching 30 deg. C.


16th July 2013 – The warm weather continues to dry the ground.  The Wild Boar wallow on the Gloucestershire Way has nearly dried up.  As I walked through the Meadows at Nagshead RSPB Reserve, I came across a very young Red Fox which was so busy foraging in the long vegetation it did not see me until I was within 10m. 

          I drove up to the car park between the two lakes at Cannop and walked across to the eastern side of the water and found my first White Admiral of the year in the spot where I have found them in previous years.


15th July 2013 – Today the temperature reached at least 28 deg. C.  I went to Slimbridge and again walked to Middle Point.  As I walked along the Summer Walkway, I noted several Gatekeeper butterflies which totalled 10 individuals at least.  Meadow Browns were on the wing and this species of butterfly was the first of the year for me.  I could only find 3 Green Sandpipers and a lone Black-tailed Godwit on the Tack Piece and only 3 Avocet chicks on Rushy Pen but by the behaviour of other adults, the other brood must have been there but hidden by the vegetation or the islands.


12th July 2013 – This was yet another warm day with the temperature reaching approximately 27 deg. C.  I went to Slimbridge and walked to Middle Point on this glorious sunny day.  There was a crèche of Shelduck on the river.  They totalled 19 young of various sizes and 2 adults.  They floated down river for a while and then swam back up stream on the falling tide.  In the afternoon, I went over to South Lake Hide and took some pictures of a very obliging Spoonbill.


10th July 2013 – This was another warm day.  Along the cycle path at Cannop there were at least 2 Silver-washed Fritillary butterflies.  At Naghead RSPB Reserve I noted around theNursery Pond, Broad-bodied Chaser, Emperor Dragonfly, Large Red, Azure Blue, Blue-tailed and Emerald Damselflies.  On my return to the Stoneworks down the Gloucestershire Way, I disturbed an extended family of Wild Boar with young of varying ages included some tiny striped ones.  This was probably the biggest group of these creatures that I have ever seen in one place.


9th July 2013 – Yet another very warm day.  I went to the Stoneworks at Cannop and walked up the Gloucestershire Way.  The temperature was 25 deg. C. at 1630.  At the Nursery Pond I had several firsts for the year in the form of a Silver-washed Fritillary, Blue-tailed Damselfly and an Emperor Dragonfly.  Also present were Azure, Large Red Damselflies and a Broad-bodied Chaser. 

          At Cannop Ponds (south) there were 2 Kingfishers together and the usual Swallows hawking the plentiful insects out over the lake.


8th July 2013 – The third very warm day.  At Cannop Ponds (south), I found a Kingfisher perched near where I was sitting.  There were numerous Swallows over the lake and higher up there were a few House Martins and yet higher, I noted one Swift.  At Cannop Marsh, there were 2 juvenile Grey Wagtails on the outflow from the lake and a Pied Wagtail for good measure.  There were 3 male Siskin on the feeders at the Stoneworks.


6th July 2013 – A very hot and sunny day.  I had a trip to Ashleworth this morning.  At the end of Dirty Lane, there was a Cuckoo which dropped down to the track across the field and found some food which it took up into a nearby tree where it sat with the food in its mouth.  If it had been any other species observers could say that it was feeding young but Cuckoos do not do that.  From the hide, I could see 20 Canada Geese and 2 Lapwing on the scrape.


5th July 2013 – It was a warm and sunny day.  I could only see 3 Avocet chicks on Rushy Pen this afternoon at WWT Slimbridge but the second set of parents were still chasing off potential predators and I believe that the other 3 chicks were just out of sight.  5 Green Sandpipers were seen from the Halfway Hide and at Middle Point, there were several Curlew and Shelduck.  Also there were 2 Black-tailed Godwits, 2 Oystercatcher and 4 Little Egret.


4th July 2013 – I was in Gloucester City on business and noted a good number of gulls loafing on a disused and fenced in car park on Barbican Road.  It is clearly undisturbed as the grass is growing through the tarmac.  It could be a good spot to scan through the birds that rest there.  They were very close.


3rd July 2013 – As I walked up the Gloucestershire Way from the Stoneworks at Cannop, I found my first Ringlet butterfly of the year.  4 male Broad-bodied Chaser dragonflies were over the Nursery Pond and a female was in the Meadow area where there was my first Burnet Moth of the year.  On my return down the Way, I found a beautifully marked Fallow Deer, lit up in the afternoon sunshine.


2nd July 2013 – At WWT Slimbridge, there were still 6 Avocet chicks on Rushy Pen and going strong. 10 Green Sandpipers were noted from the Halfway Hide and, from the Holden Tower, I could see a group of 71 Curlew.  From several hides, Reed Warblers could be seen feeding young deep in the vegetation. 



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