Diary - July to September 2006

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30th September 2006 - An overcast and still morning at Nagshead RSPB Reserve. Much calling of resident birds and still some hirundine passage in the early morning.
Ashleworth Ham was quiet but the sun was beginning to shine by mid morning. A Grey Heron was on the scrape and this bird indicated that the water depth was not great. A Peregrine was on the pylon but was then displaced by a Buzzard and the former moved to the next pylon. Hirudines were migrating south along the river and House Martins were still around their nesting area at Stonebow Farm.
At Slimbridge by mid afternoon, 4 Little Egrets were on the Dumbles as was a Peregrine. A medium flock of Black-headed Gulls could not provide any other species within it but apart from the Lapwings, the only wader on show was a lone Black-tailed Godwit. Teal and Wigeon from the Robbie Garnett Hide are beginning to build up their numbers for the wintering season.

29th September 2006 - Still a number of hirundines flying south along the Cannop Valley in the Forest of Dean today.

16th September 2006 - Very few hirundines over Parkend this morning but this evening the numbers have picked up again. At Ashleworth this morning, it was a similar situation to the morning in the village with few birds moving but there were a small trickle of Swallows. Chaffinches were noticable and there may have been a small movement of these also. Along the hedgerows, there were several Chiffchaffs, one of which was seen with a party of Long-tailed Tits at the top of Stank Lane, several were calling and one was actually singing even if it was a little half hearted. The only other birds of note was a pristine female Great Spotted Woodpecker near the hide, a Grey Heron among the cattle in a field on Hasfield Ham and a Buzzard with a distinctive breast pattern which was seen on this Ham and later near the hide.

15th September 2006 - I have been watching the skies over Parkend for the past few days and there has been a steady flow of hirundines along the Cannop Valley. Over most days, the apparent movement has been to the south but this morning with the wind from the north, that was the direction of their travel. Both Swallows and House Martins have been present.
Later this morning I made a short visit to Ashleworth Ham and again there were plenty of Swallows and House Martins in the air. Indeed there was very few other birds present although a Grey Heron plunged into one of the rhines across the reserve.

4th September 2006 - At 4.30pm, the skies over Parkend was full of Swallows and House Martins and this appeared to be a big movement again.

2nd September 2006 - Ashleworth. A wet morning and a breeze picking up. A juvenile Little Grebe suggesting that breeding of this species has taken place at this site, and a female Shoveler were the only birds on the pond in front of the hide. Whether the duck is a returning bird for the winter or an injured bird that has summered is unknown. A Common Whitethroat was moving through the hedgerow and for most of the morning, a big movement of Swallows and House Martins was taking place.

29th August 2006 - Ashleworth, and a big passage of Swallows during the morning. The House Martins are still around Stonebow Farm as they were on Saturday(26th). A light phase Buzzard was at the back of the reserve and by contrast , in size at least, was a flock of Long-tailed Tits near the hide. A pair of Bullfinch were near the public footpath at the back of the reserve near Hasfield Ham. Although it was quite windy and noisy, calls of Chiffchaff could still be heard in the hedgerows. The find of the morning, however, was a juvenile/first winter Wheatear on one of the hay bales to the north of the hide.
As a general note, there has been a very large crop of many berried or nut bearing trees this year. Examples are the large amount of Rowan berries and a bumper crop of acorns on the Oak trees. In terms of falling leaves, Horse Chestnuts are now very brown about the leaves as are some of the Sycamores along the A40 road near Highnam to the west of Gloucester. Some of the Oak trees around the county are very white with a mildew type residue on them. This seems a very heavy infestation this year. Finally, the Blackberries look to be a good but late crop this year. Many of them are not yet ready for picking and they are usually picked during the school holidays which looks like not being the case this year.

26th August 2006 - A visit to Ashleworth on a showery but fairly calm morning. As expected it was a fairly quiet morning but there were still Willow Warblers/Chiffchaffs calling and around the showers there were many Swallows passing through. At Stonebow Farm, the House Martins were still attending nests. Apparent young Kestrel were calling at the back of the reserve and an adult Kestrel was perched in a nearby dead tree. 6 different Buzzards were noted, one on a fence post, one on pylon and 4 together in the air over the ridge on the far side of the river. A Painted Lady Butterfly was a noted sight along Stank Lane.

25th August 2006 - A walk to Coleford through the woods. Quiet generally but there was a Brimstone Butterfly and a Painted Lady Butterfly along the track by Nagshead Lodge.

23rd August 2006 - A short visit to Slimbridge. On South Lake there were at least 140 Black-tailed Godwits but even with careful checking I could not find one with colour rings. 3 Spotted Redshanks were among the Godwits along with at least 20 Common Redshank and a Ruff. Oh the deep water there was a Greater Scaup.

22nd August 2006 - Another walk around Nagshead RSPB reserve in the afternoon on a dull but dry day. There were more mixed, roving tit flocks today including Blue Tit, Great Tit, Coal Tit, Treecreeper and Goldcrest. 4 Fallow Deer were at the Lower Hide pool area but the oddest thing of the day occurred when I was watching a Hornet inspecting crevices in a 200 year old oak tree. Something fell from on high and I expected it to be an acorn but when it stopped bouncing in the leaf litter, I found it to be a Dor Beetle which had been tree climbing!

21st August 2006 - A quick walk around Nagshead RSPB reserve this afternoon for some exercise after work resulted in a Spotted Flycatcher along the main track to the information centre.

20th August 2006 - I took a drive down to the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust Centre today to view the Aquatic Warbler which has been there for three days. It is on private land and I went in on the guided tour. I spent about 5 hours and got some views, one perched, which was the best and several flight views. Weather conditions were overcast but with good visiblity and warm. The wind sprang up during the afternoon which made it harder to locate movement in the vegetation. Hobby being mobbed by the breeding Common Terns a two Yellow Wagtails on the fence around the cattle field. A good day in the field.

5th August 2006 - A morning at Coombe Hill Canal and Meadows. Bird sightings included Kestrel, Little Egret, at least 65 duck, mostly Mallard flying in the area. A Curlew was on the wing but beating hard with wing area reduced by moult. Other waders around or near the scrapes were Lapwing, Green Sandpiper, Greenshank, Black-tailed Godwit and Snipe. At least 2 families of Common Whitethroat were moving through the canalside vegetation.
A Kingfisher was perched on the wharf at The Boat public house at Ashleworth Quay.

3rd August 2006 - A late evening walk through the Forest looking for Wild Boar resulted in a nil return but a Kingfisher at Cannop Ponds was a fine sight.

1st August 2006 - A supply trip to Coleford revealed 2 sightings of Painted Lady butterflies. One was along Lords Hill, Coleford and the other was at the side of Nagshead Lodge and therefore probably referred to two different individuals. The weather today is much cooler than the last part of JUly and makes for much more pleasant walking.

25th July 2006 - Yet another hot day and another walk in the Nagshead area. A Siskin in a garden in Parkend was an unexpected sighting. Along the Gloucestershire Way on the exit from the reserve to the north, there was fresh evidence of the Wild Boar digging in the damp muddy patches along the trail. Footprints this time were easily seen and identified.

24th July 2006 - A morning walk through Nagshead RSPB Reserve. On a general theme, there seems to be a very good berry crop forming on the Rowan trees and Silver-washed Fritillary butterflies seem to be having a good breeding season for they appear to be everywhere. A Kestrel and two Green Woodpeckers, although not scarce birds were unusual sights near International Timber at Parkend.

22nd July 2006 - Another supply trip to Coleford. A quiet time as expected for birds, however, there is a Chiffchaff near Nagshead Lodge which has been singing all spring and summer and continues to do so. It is probably unmated and it will be interesting to see if it overwinters. I will keep listening on future trips past there.
Silver-washed Fritillaries were again on the wing in good numbers along with other woodland butterflies. Of note were at least 2, mayber 3 Marbled white butterflies at the edge of the woodland near the lodge.

14th July 2006 - A walk to Coleford for supplies, through Nagshead RSPB Reserve. On a very warm day there were plenty of insects around including the greatest numbers of Silver-washed Fritillaries that I have ever seen. There were especially numerous on the main track up to the reserve and I even noted a pair copulating.
Bird life at the moment with the post fledging period upon us is as expected, very quiet.

5th July 2006 - I made a visit to the Dean Forest Railway at Norchard. Surprisingly there were at least 5 Garden Tiger moths flying around the buildings.

4th July 2006 - Another walk around part of the short trail at Nagshead RSPB Reserve and another stiflingly hot day. I checked again where the path has been 'dug up'. I checked systematically along the affected area and noted 4 different mammal tracks. As might be expected there were human shoe and boot marks, several dog tracks and then what appeared to be a round two-toed impression. This would not be Badger as thought on Saturday but this could easily be Wild Boar. The final track noted was deer and this was not unexpected but in this case the tracks were tiny. This could be a newly born Fallow Deer as noted many times on this reserve or it could be the presence of Muntjak Deer. Unfortunately, without more evidence there cannot be conclusive proof.
I moved down to the Lower Hide where there appeared to be plenty of activity around the water of the three pools. A Kingfisher was doing some fishing and appeared to miss quite often. Indeed, a Moorhen with two chicks was seen to catch a fish before the Kingfisher managed to do. A Redstart had a bath and spent time preening in front of the hide and another Silver-washed Fritillary was on the wing along with many odonata. Finally, several times the bracken to the right of the hide waved about wildly but it is very tall and I was unable to see what was causing the crashing about within.

3rd July 2006 - A walk through Nagshead RSPB Reserve to Coleford for supplies. Very quiet in the woodland but along the main drive to the information centre, I noted my first Silver-washed Fritillary butterfly of the year.

2nd July 2006 - An even hotter day than yesterday and I did the same walk at roughly the same time in the morning but there is little to report. I investigated the 'diggings' on the short trail and I think that it might be the work of Badgers looking for beetles in the almost dried out mud or maybe they are looking for acorns. I had noted this activity yesterday when the soil was freshly dug but there is not evidence today of any further activity.

1st July 2006 - A morning walk around the short trail at Nagshead RSPB Reserve. As might be expected as we enter the month of July, the activity in the Forest has declined and is very quiet. On a general note, Dor Beetles seem to have had a good year in that I have seen many more this year than any other year and in spite of the hot and dry conditions there are still a large number to be easily seen. They move slowly across the trails looking for excrement to clean up. As you step over them, they freeze until the danger has passed. They are really colourful on the underside with a purple metallic sheen to them.

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