Diary – October to December 2010

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31st December 2010 – An overcast, clearer day but cool and damp although there was no rain.  It was 6 deg. C. at 1430.  Nagshead in the afternoon was quiet but there was at least 2 Bullfinch near the Nursery Pond as yesterday.  Along the lower short trail there was a lone Treecreeper.  5 Grey Squirrels together, chasing through the larch plantation along the straight section of the long trail was an unusually high number together and a small Long-tailed Tit flock along the main train to the north of the information centre was of note. 


30th December 2010 – A mild but a foggy day in parts.  Nagshead at 1500 was dull and dank and with some mist patches.  A Great Spotted Woodpecker was around the Nursery Pond and several Bullfinch were in the meadow on the other side of the path to the lower hide.  There are still plenty of Grey Squirrels about as were Jays.


29th December 2010 – Another foggy day and mild again with the temperature up to 8 deg. C. at 1300 when I made a very short visit to Ashleworth.  From the hide it was extremely quiet.  A lone Buzzard was in a tree on the reserve.  The water in the scrape as viewed from the hide and the partially flooded flood plain was still frozen and devoid of bird life.


28th December 2010 – A foggy morning with slight drizzle and the thaw appeared to be continuing.  Several Greenfinch and a lone Siskin in trees opposite my house in Longhope.


27th December 2010 – A much milder day than for some time and a thaw has set in with rain in the evening.


26th December 2010 – A cold, bright and sunny day which gradually clouded over in the afternoon.  Overnight the temperature dropped to -10 deg. C. but as the cloud increased it rose to 2 deg. At 2200.


25th December 2010 – Very cold overnight with temperature down to -11 deg. C.  Ice crystals were glinting in the frozen snow and it crunched under foot.  Into the evening, the temperature dropped to -9 deg. C. at 2200.


24th December 2010 – Cold again today, temperature at 2300 was -8 deg. C.


23rd December 2010 – Each day for the past two days, there has been some snow.  Today was dry and cold but the temperature was about 0 deg. C. all day.  I went to Slimbridge in the afternoon.  Along the A40 from Longhope to Gloucester, I noted 5 Buzzard soaring and undoubtedly looking for food which is hard to find at the moment with snow cover and frozen ground.  At Slimbridge, Rushy Pen is almost completely frozen over.  I don’t think that I have ever seen it in this condition.  At the afternoon feed at 1600, there were about 150 Bewick’s Swans, a good number of Mallard and many corvids.  More swans were continually flying in as darkness approached.  Over 220 had been reported today.  Along the Holden walkway, there was a Water Rail in the open foraging for food under the feeders near the Robbie Garnett hide.


20th December 2010 – The temperature dropped to -11 deg. C. overnight to continue the cold theme and today at noon, the snow started and continued into the dark.


19th December 2010 – The temperature dropped to about -10 deg. C. overnight.  Walked Gloucestershire Way through Nagshead RSPB Reserve.  Generally very quiet in the woods and at Cannop Ponds, the frozen lakes are covered with snow.

          In the evening after dark, walked around Westonbirt Arboretum.  It was a light night with almost a full moon lighting up the snow fields.  No wildlife noted.  The temperature was recorded at -9 deg. C.


18th December 2010 – Some snow overnight amounting to about half an inch with some melt during the day.  In the afternoon, I walked up Barrell Lane and over May Hill.  There were several winter thrushes in the small orchards along the lane.  A Wren in the gorse on the top of the hill was a surprise but generally it was a quiet afternoon in the grey weather and the light snow flurries.  Late on as the gloom gathered, in a small orchard on the corner of Barrell Lane and the A40 there was a small party of Redwings underneath and in a small tree.


17th December 2010 – A light snow shower in the morning at Longhope.  At the Gloucestershire Way and the other trails around Nagshead RSPB Reserve it was a cold but clear afternoon.  Along the Gloucestershire Way there was a buck Fallow Deer.  It appeared to be on its own.  There were at least 2 parties of Long-tailed Tits and several Wrens, all surviving the cold weather.  The maximum temperature today was 1 deg. C.  There are still a large number of Grey Squirrels around and of varying sizes indicating a variety of ages and a good breeding season.


16th December 2010 – Slimbridge pm.  En route it was a mild day with the temperature at 8 deg. C. which is about the highest that it has been for some time.  During the afternoon, a cold front came through with some hail on it and a light snow shower on the way home at 1800 and the temperature had fallen to 2 deg. C.  South along the canal there was a Long-tailed Tit, a Great Crested Grebe on the canal and a very noisy rookery which heralds the oncoming of spring.  The Rooks do nest early though!  At the reserve, 75(8) Bewick’s Swans were on the Tack Piece and there were some behind the hedge on the Ox Piece.  A Treecreeper along the Holden walkway was unusual.  A general note – The near pond on the Rushy Pen is clear of ice but the back pond and the outlying ponds are still frozen and thus most fields are devoid of birds. 


15th December 2010 – Gospel Pass, Hay-on-Wye in the afternoon.  A Red Kite, a Buzzard and several Raven were the only sighting on a dull and cold day (approx 2 deg. C.) but with excellent visibility.


14th December 2010 – I went to Strumble Head today.  It was 0 deg. C at 0700.  At the Flagpoles car park in Goodwick, there were 5 Dunlin, 1 Ringed Plover, 2 Turnstone, 1 Redshank, 1 Great Crested Grebe and several of the apparently resident Oystercatchers.  At Strumble Head, there was a Robin in the car park and a Dunnock around the observatory, both of which is unusual for that location.  A Peregrine was overhead at the beginning of the seawatch which was from 1200 to 1300.  The visibility was excellent, wind in the north, force 2/3 and no precipitation.  There were a number of Kittiwakes moving as well as auks.  A single Common Scoter moved west as did a diver which I did not identify as I saw it late.  See Cetacean page for those sightings. 


13th December 2010 – I drove along Valley Road, Cinderford at 1045 and there were still some Waxwings in some small trees about half way along the main straight. 

          At Farmers Green and the Cannop area, there were Long-tailed Tits and Wrens in evidence.  There was a flock of Redwings moving through the holly bushes on the lower part of the short trail at Nagshead.  They were feeding and made no vocal noise, only the rustling of the vegetation on a quiet afternoon.  There were 7 Siskins on the feeders at the stone works at Cannop and this morning there was a Marsh Tit at Longhope. 


12th December 2010 – I went to Cinderford town to see the reported Waxwings.  I found well over 100 near Lidl’s supermarket with 96 in one photograph that I took.  Down in Valley Road, Cinderford there were more birds.  At both locations, they appear to be feeding on Rowan with white berries. 

          I walked from Farmers Green to Cannop and then Nagshead RSPB reserve.  There were over 200 waterbirds on the northern pond at Cannop on a small patch of open water in the ice.  Most of these were Mallard with a few Mandarin Duck, a Coot and 2 adult Mute Swans with 7 cygnets of the year.  These latter birds are resident.  Around the woods, there were at least 2 parties of Long-tailed Tits and some Wrens, these smaller species doing well during this cold weather. A Red Fox was near the far end of the long trail.  The day was sunny but cold with the temperature around 1 deg. C. all day.


11th December 2010 – A much warmer but overcast day in the Forest of Dean.  The temperature reached almost 8 deg. C.  Around Farmers Green and Nagshead, there appears to be more and more Grey Squirrels.  At the Stone Works, there were Siskins on the feeders as usual.  They are more or less guaranteed on any day of the year.  The ponds are frozen over with just a hint of a thaw. 


10th December 2010 – A warmer day and the thaw has begun.  It was 6 deg. C. at 1030 in Longhope and the maximum temperature of the day was 8 deg. C. which is more typical for the time of year.  In the car park near Farmers Green yielded a number of birds including Robin, Blackbird, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Redwing and Jay, foraging all together.  Otherwise it was generally quiet in the woods. 


9th December 2010 – Farmers Green and the Gloucestershire Way.  There appeared to be many Grey Squirrels about, indeed there were 6 together at the furthest point of the long trail at Nagshead, otherwise it was very quiet on this cold, bright day.  The temperature was above 0 deg. C. for a few hours and was the probably the highest since last weekend.


8th December 2010 – A slightly warmer day with some sun and a light northerly and cold breeze.  Not so cold overnight although it did drop to about -5 deg. C. and for most of the day the temperature hovered at -1 deg. C.  I walked through the Forest of Dean around Farmers Green and then up to Nagshead.  It was a quiet time in the woods which is not surprising given the conditions of the past few days and the time of year but I did see several Wrens and a party of Long-tailed Tits in the village of Parkend so there is some survival with these tiny species.  The wind and the frost has started to bring down the remaining leaves and at times there was a steady fall of these which reminded me of a typical autumn day even though it is well into the month of December!


7th December 2010 – A very cold night and day with some freezing fog patches.  -7 deg. C. overnight and -5 deg. C. by 1900 this evening with a maximum during the day of -1 deg. C.  I walked south along the canal from Patch Bridge at Slimbridge.  The canal was frozen over and the ice difficult to break.  No boats have passed this way.  A Barn Owl flew past me between the tow path and the hedge and the bird was no more than 2 metres away at its nearest point.  A beautiful bird and a beautiful sight.  There were quite a number of winter thrushes around the various hedgerows.  There did not seem so many Bewick’s Swans at the feed this afternoon.


6th December 2010 – A very cold night with the temperature dropping to -4 deg. C.  It never reached positive figures all day today, the maximum being around – 2 deg. C.  By late evening it was -4.5 deg. C. and still falling.  I noted several Wren around the Cannop Valley and at Milkwall.  The seem to be surviving.  At Farmers Green in some light freezing fog, there were at least 2 Bullfinch in the same area as on 1st December.  Unsurprisingly, the Boar wallow in the Gloucestershire Way has frozen up again.


5th December 2010 – Quite a number of birds around the feeders at Cannop Stone Works this afternoon in very cold weather.  They included various tit species, Nuthatch and several Siskin.  The ponds are completely frozen over.  Along the Gloucestershire Way, the Wild Boar appear to have opened up their wallowing site and there is some water there and recent activity. 


4th December 2010 – I walked from Farmers Green to Cannop Stone Works and then up the Gloucestershire Way towards Nagshead Information Centre late in the afternoon.  It was very dull and cold with mist in patches and slushy snow underfoot in parts.  This was a result of some more snow overnight which froze and then melted as the day dawned.  Long-tailed Tit flocks were heard at Farmers Green and on the Gloucestershire Way, the latter in the same place as on December 1st.  These were good records after the very cold nights in the past few days.  Down by the Lower Hide in the gathering darkness, I noted at least 5 Fallow Deer including one finely antlered individual.  Today, the temperature rose from -2 deg. C. to over 5 deg. C., the first time that this upper temperature has happened in the last 10 days.


3rd December 2010 – Slimbridge.  It was a cold night with the temperature down to -5 deg. C.  It was not much warmer at noon with the temperature reaching 0 deg. C.  It was sunny and cold when I arrived at 1230 but it became overcast as the afternoon wore on.  This was the beginning of a front which was coming in from the west and which produced snow again at Longhope this evening.  The canal side fields again held some Bewick’s Swans as yesterday, this time 13(2) being the maximum count at 1500.  The canal to the south of Patch Bridge was frozen over, this was not the case yesterday.  Two Mandarin Duck were standing on the ice and a Kingfisher flew north up the line of boats moored on the east bank.  Down the canal was a mixed flock of finches which was about 20 birds and which consisted of Goldfinches and Greenfinches.  Back at Slimbridge, a Common Crane was on the Tack Piece at 1530 and at 1600, it flew onto the Rushy Pen and spooked a number of geese.  At least 146 Bewick’s Swans were on the Rushy Pen at the feed at 1600. 


2nd December 2010 – Slimbridge.  It was an overcast morning and very cold but brightness came in the afternoon.  The temperature was just below zero for most of the day with a cold east to north-east wind.  There were 12(3) Bewick’s Swans in the canal side fields to the south of Patch Bridge.  The Rushy Pen has ice on it and more swans have been reported.  The wind direction and the cold conditions on the continent are ideal ones for the westward migration of the swans.  I counted a good number of 140 Bewick’s Swans on the Rushy Pen at feed time this afternoon. 


1st December 2010 – There was a layering of snow along the tracks at Nagshead RSPB Reserve.  The temperature had been down to -5 deg. C. overnight and rose to just below 1 deg. C. during the day.  Added to this was a brisk and very cold north easterly wind.  Because the barrier was closed to the Reserve, I parked by the stone works at Cannop and walked up the Cotswold Way into the main area of the Reserve.  A Wren and a Treecreeper and in at least 4 different places there were small flocks of Long-tailed Tits.  These three species were particularly nice to see as they are some of the smallest species in the UK and potentially vunerable to the current very cold conditions.  Surprisingly, there were fresh mole hills around the Nursery Pond which seemed in stark contrast to the snowy ground.  Although it is the beginning of December, there are still quite a lot of leaves on some trees, mainly oak trees.  The wind today and the recent frosts have started to cause these to fall.  There are a lot of leaves on top of the layer of snow.  These leaves still have quite a lot of green pigment in them and they contrast with the brown leaves which are lying under the snow.  A kind of snow sandwich!  Other birds of note today included several Buzzards and Jays and a Siskin on the feeders at the stone works.  I checked Farmers Green to see if there was a shrike there as has been the case in recent years but I did not find one.  No self respecting shrike would be atop one of the small trees in this cleared area in conditions like today.  There were, however, 3 Bullfinch foraging low down in the vegetation. 


30th November 2010 – The wind today was from the north east and quite strong and with the temperature of only about 2 deg C. being the highest of the day, the wind chill was quite high.  There was still ice on the Rushy Pen at Slimbridge (the back pond has been frozen over for a few days now).  Yet more Bewick’s Swans have arrived including a number of cygnets.  It appears that the breeding season has been a good one.  Let us see what the rest of the winter brings in terms of young birds.


29th November 2010 – Another cold day and at Slimbridge, the Rushy Pen had a lot of ice on it and the birds are packed into the smaller part of open water.  More Bewick’s Swans have arrived on the easterly wind.


28th November 2010 – It was very cold overnight with the temperature down to almost -10 deg. C.  It only just crept above -4 deg. C. during the day.  The highlight of the day was a Grey Wagtail which came to the door of my veranda and then onto the outside window sill of the lounge window.  It was probably looking for insects in the nooks and crannies of the house walls on this very cold and uninviting day.


27th November 2010 – An overnight layer of snow. A cold day.


26th November 2010 - An overcast day with a light snow flurry in the afternoon after a bright morning.


25th November 2010 – Another afternoon at Slimbridge.  A day which was very cold with a biting wind.  Some parts of the pools were frozen over and no more Bewick’s Swans have been reported.  The temperature had dropped to -3 deg. C. by 2300.


24th November 2010 – A cold day with some sunny periods at Slimbridge.  The total number of Bewick’s Swans on the reserve remains about the same.  A cold night followed with the temperature down to -4 deg. C.


23rd November 2010 – A bright and sunny day but cold with the temperature never topping 8 deg. C. during the day and down to about 1 deg.C. at 2300.  The generally easterly airflow over the past two or three days has brought more migrants in and today I counted 48 Bewick’s Swans out of the 56 reported earlier in the day.


20th November 2010 – Ashleworth. It was a typical winters day, cold, dull, damp with a little drizzle and an easterly breeze. The temperature at 1230 was 5 deg. C. and rose to a maximum for the day of just over 6 deg. C.   It was very quiet except for large flocks of winter thrushes which were largely of Fieldfare with just a few Redwings.  This proportion has been similar since the first arrivals of these migrants.  Also of note were smaller flocks of Chaffinch. 


18th November 2010 – Slimbridge.  This afternoon there were very few birds on Rushy Pen at lunchtime but by 1700, the pond had returned to normal and there were 22 Bewick’s Swans present, the numbers having gone up over the past couple of days.  From the Holden Tower, there are a lot of geese present this autumn and it is more difficult to find the relatively few, so far, White-fronted Geese.


16th November 2010 – A cold, foggy day. Temperature as late as 1000 was still 0 deg. C.  At Ashleworth, the visibility was not good by any means.  Flocks of Fieldfare were notable around the reserve and there seemed to have been a small influx of Chaffinch. 

          At Slimbridge, the fog had cleared by the afternoon.  From the Holden Tower, there were many geese and mixed amongst the resident Canada Geese and Greylag Geese were at least 28 White-fronted Geese.  Only 8 Bewick’s Swans were seen (12 had been reported).


15th November 2010 – Another cold day.  Temperature at 0830 was 0 deg. C. with some mist.  The mist returned at dusk and by 1730, the temperature had fallen back to freezing point.


14th November 2010 – A cold day with the temperature at 0800, only 2 deg. C.  The highest temperature noted was 7 deg. C.


12th November 2010 – A cold but sunny day.  In the afternoon, I walked the long and short trails at Nagshead RSPB Reserve.  The woods were quiet but two things were of note.  There were many sightings of Grey Squirrel which I suspect indicates a good breeding season.  I also noted a Dor Beetle on one of the trails. A late date for this species to be out and about.


11th November 2010 – Slimbridge on a showery afternoon with some sunny intervals and a brisk wind.  There were no Bewick’s Swans on Rushy Pen at lunchtime although 11 had been reported as being present.  During the afternoon, eventually all eleven turned up but the previous seen and reported Whooper Swan did not show.  In front of the Holden Tower during the middle of the afternoon, the long-staying Pink-footed Goose was with the Greylag Geese. 


8th November 2010 – 16mm of rain today so over an inch of rain in 4 days.


5th November 2010 – 12mm of rain today.


2nd November 2010 – Slimbridge.  It was overcast, mild and blustery.  On Rushy Pen at lunchtime, there were 4 Bewick’s Swans, 2 Mute Swans and a Whooper swan, making a spectacle of all three swan species which occur in Europe.  A melanistic male Pochard was unusual.  At the Zeiss Hide, there were two Redshanks and a lone White-fronted Goose in long vegetation which was also unusual.  The duck were clustered around the edges of this vegetation to try to get some shelter from the gusty conditions.  On South Lake, there were 26 Black-tailed Godwits and from the Holden Tower, there were good numbers of Lapwing, Golden Plover and Dunlin.  Winter is coming!


1st November 2010 – It was a foggy start to the day.  I went to Nagshead at lunchtime.  It was very quiet in terms of bird life.  However, the autumnal colours are fantastic this year and in the sunshine more so.  The stars of the colour are the oak trees which are showing a wide variety of colours. 


30th October 2010 – Ashleworth.   A Hawker dragonfly and a Hornet were by the hide on this mild day.  It was 13 deg C. at 1400 on this mild day.  32 Lapwing flew over at about 1130 and a Peregrine was on one of the pylons.  The scrape was empty but there was one other raptor, a Buzzard, with central tail feathers missing,  over Stank Lane.  All around the reserve there were winter thrushes, mainly Fieldfares. Some flocks were 80 birds strong.  The usual 2(1) Mute Swans were in the second field to the south up Stank Lane. There has been no sign of the injured Canada Goose/Geese for a week or so now.  


29th October 2010 – As I walked through a wood near Milkwall at about noon, a Tawny Owl hooted close by. 

          In the late afternoon, I walked the short trail at Nagshead but in the mild but damp and blustery conditions, it was very quiet as expected.  The leaves are turning well now but they are being blown off at quite a rate today.


27th October 2010 – The weather at Slimbridge this afternoon was very pleasant with some sunny periods and very mild with temperatures in the low to mid teens. 

A second Pochard with a bill saddle has turned up.  There was a report a few days ago of a male with a lime green ‘saddle’ with the characters ‘3=’ which I have seen last winter.  The second bird is a female with the characters ‘HP-C’.  I have seen this bird here before.  Both were present today.  Another ring sighting late in the afternoon was of an adult Black-headed Gull with a white ring and black characters ‘2E60’.  Four Bewick’s Swans and a Whooper Swan were present at the feed at 1630 as were several Black-tailed Godwits on the back pond but these latter birds flew at the commencement of the feed as expected.


26th October 2010 – It seemed to rain all day or at least it was damp all day.  At least 4mm of rain logged in Gloucester.


25th October 2010 – It was very cold this morning.  At Walmore Common at 1010, there were no swans but I could only see about three quarters of the Common because of a heavy mist/light fog with the visibility estimated at half a mile. 

          At Cannop Stoneworks in the afternoon, Ravens were very vocal and just up Bixlade Tramway there seemed to be a large number of Long-tailed Tits passing through. 


24th October 2010 – It was a sunny and cold day at Symonds Yat where I was between 1205 and 1440.  It was 6 deg. C. at 1145.  One of the adult Peregrines was on the old raven’s nest when I arrived.  This looked, from the size, to be the female.  Not long after, I sighted a second bird overhead which was joined by two Sparrowhawks.  At 1230, the perched bird had disappeared but there was in bird in flight going away over the breeding cliffs.  There were several sightings which followed including two where a bird flew up the gully by the right hand cliff and was lost from sight.  At 1355, there was much calling from overhead and this turning out to be some form of interaction between two birds which separated and flew off in opposite direction, one towards the hills of the north east and one to the south.  At 1420, the probable adult female was back on the old raven’s nest.  I did not get a definite sighting of the juvenile. 

          A short walk at Nagshead RSPB Reserve at 1710 was a very quiet affair.


23rd October 2010 – It was wet overnight, about 3mm falling after midnight.  The morning at dawn was dry but cold with the temperature at 0800 being 6 deg. C.  At Ashleworth between 0835 and 1150, it was very quiet.  From the hide, I noted the first Fieldfares for me at this site this autumn with at least 100 birds in one flock.  A distant unidentified raptor was on one of the pylons and a Buzzard in a tree in the first line from the hide were the two raptor sightings of the day.  A tit flock including Blue Tits, Great Tits and Long-tailed Tits was in the copse by the hide.  The only wildfowl noted were 2 Mallard on the scrape and 3(1) Mute Swan in the second field on the south side of Stank Lane.  There was a Bullfinch along the same lane.  There is no water except in the scrapes.


22nd October 2010 – At Walmore Common, it was drizzling slightly at 1305 when I stopped to check for swans.  There were none there, not even a Mute Swan.  There was no water and livestock were in one field and a tractor was working in another. 

          At Slimbridge in the afternoon, I did a tour of the hides.  From the Zeiss Hide, there were a selection of waders, 2 Ruff, 31 Black-tailed Godwits, 9 Redshank, 1 Spotted Redshank and 1 Curlew Sandpiper.  This latter species was a very light and clean looking bird.  At South Finger, the White-fronted Geese numbering 17(1) were again in the Bottom New Piece.  On South Lake, there was an adult Mediterranean Gull among the many Black-headed Gulls and there were 8 Cormorants as well.  There were no Bewick’s Swans at all and I left the Peng observatory at 1745.  Raptors seen today were a Peregrine on the edge of the Dumbles and 2 Buzzard on the new fence at the back of the Rushy Pen.


21st October 2010 – It was overcast at first this afternoon at WWT Slimbride and then it became a beautiful day after a very cold early morning.  I searched Rushy Pen, the fields around the Zeiss Hide, from the hide and all the fields visible from the South Finger hide.  I checked on South Lake and then scanned the Dumbles and the estuary and finally returned to Rushy Pen but could not find any Bewick’s Swans today and I left the Peng Observatory at 1735.  However, at the Zeiss Hide there were 27 Black-tailed Godwits, 3 Ruff and a Curlew Sandpiper and a Peregrine flew through, scattering all and sundry in its wake.  The White-fronted Geese were at South Finger, numbering 17(1). 


20th October 2010 – A fine, sunny but cold day with a northerly wind.  At WWT Slimbridge, 2 of the Bewick’s Swans remain.  On Rushy Pen in the middle of the afternoon, there was a nice selection of waders.  20 Redshank, 2 Little Stint, 2 Spotted Redshank, 2 Black-tailed Godwits and 10 Dunlin.  Among the Pochard was a returning male with a bill saddle with the characters “3=”.  The characters appear to have faded quite badly but still readable with care. 


18th October 2010 – There was a report of the first 8 Bewick’s Swans of the season having arrived at WWT Slimbridge.  I went down there in the afternoon and caught up with 3 adults on the Rushy Pen.  The report of the others were that they were on the river but I did not see them.


17th October 2010 – It was very cold this morning with frost on the car and roofs of my neighbour’s houses.  The temperature at 0930 was only 3 deg. C.  At Slimbridge, the Pink-footed Goose was in the Tack Piece as seen from the Holden Tower.  Surprisingly in the cold, a Red Admiral butterfly was in the ivy near the binocular shop.  From the Zeiss Hide, there were, amongst others, 2 Spotted Redshank, 10 Redshank, 13 Ruff and some Dunlin.  At South Finger, there were 15(1) White-fronted Geese in the Bottom New Piece.  This juvenile was the first for the season that I have seen.  On South Lake, there were 50 Black-tailed Godwits and 15 Cormorants was a high number of the latter species.  In the car park at 1345, there was the second butterfly species of the day, a Speckled Wood.  Also, there were 7 Buzzards overhead.  Also, from the Zeiss Hide, there was a Herring Gull with a blue darvic and orange letters ‘BEA’.


14th October 2010 – I went to Slimbridge again in the afternoon to find and photograph the bill pattern of the Bewick’s Swan which had been reported this morning.  This turned out to be an erroneous report and there might have been a Whooper Swan present for a time.  I searched the outlying areas from the hides but could not find a wild swan.  However, at 1345, there were several Swallows over Rushy Pen, the remnants of the hirundine migration.  From the Zeiss Hide, there were a notable 15 Ruff and 13 adult White-fronted Geese.  On South Lake, there were at least 2 Black-tailed Godwits and there were 2 more on Rushy Pen in the late afternoon.  It was a dull and overcast afternoon with a hint of a slight mist. 


13th October 2010 – Slimbridge.  I went down there in the afternoon on the off chance of finding the first Bewick’s Swan of the season.  There were none.  However, from the Zeiss Hide, there were a nice selection of waders including Lapwing, 5 Ruff, 5 Redshank, and 5 Greenshank.  From the Holden Tower there were at least 1 Buzzard, Peregrine and Kestrel.  Late in the afternoon, there were hirundines over the Rushy Pen which included at least 1 Swallow and 1 House Martin.


12th October 2010 – At Ashleworth it was overcast and cool at 1040.  It was generally quiet but there was a roving flock of Long-tailed Tits and other species including Goldfinch, Blue Tit, Great Tit and Robin along Stank Lane and a Peregrine was on the first pylon to the south of the lane.  There appeared to be large round ‘bread loaf’ type fungi growing in the slow moving water of the rhine at the top of the lane.  Very strange.


11th October 2010 – It was another sunny afternoon at Nagshead, but it was quite breezy with an easterly wind and it was quite cool and very pleasant.  The butterflies on the wing today were Speckled Wood and Comma.  A Hornet was in the car park.  Long-tailed Tits and assorted other tit species were around the long trail.  There appears to be quite a number of small Grey Squirrels around at the moment.  Food for these and other animals seems very plentiful.  There are masses of acorns, sweet chestnuts and rowan berries this autumn.  The remains of the dead sheep are even less today with just the head, the ribs and the fleece left. 


10th October 2010 – Nagshead.  It was an unusually sunny day and warm.  The temperature at 1500 was 18 deg. C.  A Long-tailed Tit flock was on the return short trail.  The dead sheep noted yesterday was three quarters eaten.  A Southern Hawker dragonfly was around the Nursery Pond as was a Darter species. 

          Back home, a Small Tortoiseshell butterfly was near the kitchen window.


9th October 2010 – Nagshead on an overcast and breezy afternoon with a constant but very fine drizzle.  Generally, it was very quiet with a flock of about 20 Siskin from the forestry trail.  Sadly, there was a dead sheep in the Nursery Pond.


7th October 2010 – Nagshead at 1225.  Sunny periods and a very pleasant day.  Quiet again but butterflies are still on the wing with several Speckled Wood being noted.  Both a Darter and a Hawker species of dragonfly were seen in the distance and there was much Buzzard activity in the sky.


6th October 2010 – Sunny and warm again at Nagshead.  Quiet but butterflies included several Speckled Wood and yet again, a Red Admiral on the forestry track, albeit, this one was a very tattered individual.


4th October 2010 – A lovely and sunny day with not much wind.  The temperature was 15 deg. C. at 1600.  I was at Nagshead in the morning and it was very quiet and back again in the afternoon where I found Common Darter and Southern Hawker on the wing over the Nursery Pond.  Around the reserve there were Brimstone, Peacock and Speckled Wood butterflies.  A Fallow Deer was on the straight section of the long trail again and amazingly, there were 2 Red Admiral butterflies on the forestry track just like there had been a few weeks ago. 

          At home at Longhope, there were at least 10 House Martins over the bank at the back of the house and a fifth butterfly of the day, a Large White. 


3rd October 2010 – Nagshead in the afternoon after another wet morning which resulted in 10mm more of rain. The woods were quiet but there were at least 5 hirundines overflying.  They may well have been House Martins but at long range and through the trees, the identification was difficult. 


2nd October 2010 – Strumble Head, Pembrokeshire.  The wind was south-westerly , force 3 to 4 gradually increasing and backing southerly.  Visibility was very good gradually decreasing.  Highlights of the seawatch between 0815 and 1230 were 1 Great Skua, 1 Manx Shearwater (the majority have migrated), several terns and a Balearic Shearwater which was logged as two sightings but was probably the same bird with the first sighting to the west and half an hour later one to the east.  The only diver seen was a Red-throated Diver but by contrast, there were at least 150 Gannets feeding for almost the whole length of the watch.  Also, below them there were many Harbour Porpoises and one sweep produced at least 20 individuals.  There was a steady stream of hirundines in off the sea for most of the morning.  After lunch, I walked east along the coastal footpath where I found the only butterfly of the day, a Red Admiral and a Linnet flock which included over 100 birds. 


1st October 2010 – Very heavy rain this morning with drizzle starting from before dawn and becoming heavier as the morning progressed.  7mm had fallen by noon. It finally stopped raining at about 1700 and 17mm had fallen in the Gloucester area and over 25mm up in the hills.  Quite a wet day.





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