Diary – October to December 2011

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31st December 2011 – At Ashleworth on a mild but generally overcast day.  There is plenty of water but not very many duck but after the Wigeon, Teal and Mallard, there were a few Pintail and at least 4 Gadwall.  At 1130, 5 Bewick’s Swans came in which was a pair with 3 cygnets.  One adult was ringed ‘19H’ on a white ring on the right leg.  The two Kestrels were perched up in the same tree again and a Sparrowhawk swept through to the north.  A Peregrine was back on the pylon. 


27th December 2011 – This afternoon, on an overcast and mild day, I walked the long trail at Nagshead RSPB Reserve.  Near Nagshead Lodge there were 3 Bullfinches which I ‘pushed’ along the trail.  On the forestry track at the cross roads before the long trail descends to meet the short trail there were 5 Wild Boar and I was able to get the closest pictures that I have ever got.  They allowed me to get up to about 1 metre from them.  They are fantastic animals which continued to forage while I was taking the pictures.  Finally when I was walking back down the shale track,  a bat fluttered around me.  This is a very late date for one of these to be on the wing even if it was a mild late December day.


24th December 2011 – Ashleworth.  Mid-morning, I walked from the hide and up Stank Lane.  There is now more water on Ashleworth Ham and now a nice bit on Hasfield Ham.  From Ham Road I was able to see a number of Teal, Wigeon and Mallard.  There were also a few Pintail, at least 4 Gadwall and 1 Shoveler.  From Stank Lane there were some small flocks of Starling and a few Fieldfare and Redwing.  I was particularly delighted to see with the 2 Mute Swans on Hasfield Ham, 3 Bewick’s Swans, the first of this species this winter at this location. 


23rd December 2011 – I had a short trip to Slimbridge.  There was extremely heavy rain in the early afternoon and a squally wind blew up for a while which produced ‘white horses’ on Rushy Pen which is a rare occurrence.  This flushed the pond but a Black-headed Gull appeared for a few minutes with a white darvic on it – ‘2P33’ and then a female Pochard appeared with a lime nasal saddle – ‘F-NP’ which is  a new bird to me and not one of the regularly returning individuals. 


20th December 2011 – Walked from the hide and up Stank Lane, Ashleworth.  I was very surprised to disturb a Roe Deer opposite Colways Farm from a hedgerow while I was walking along the road.  It was a really big animal and it ran very fast to the south and was lost to view towards Dirty Lane.  Amazingly a short time later, I disturbed another one which did exactly the same thing.  This is the first sighting for me at this location for this species although there have been reports of these here in the past. 


18th December 2011 – This morning at Walmore Common, there were 4 Mute Swans, 2 Whooper Swans and 5 Bewick’s Swans.  There was a white ring on the left leg of one of the latter and one had a white ring on the right leg but they were too far away to read. 

          At Slimbridge, there was the reported Lesser Scaup on the Rushy Pen and 115 Bewick’s Swan along with some Ruff and Redshank on the Tack Piece among the Lapwing and Dunlin.  A dry and cold day.


17th December 2011 – There was a lot of ice on the lanes around Ashleworth this morning.  There is now plenty of water on the flood plain and the scrapes have overflowed and conditions look good for wildfowl.  There were many small flocks of Starling around the reserve and quite a number of Fieldfare and a few Redwing.  The 2 local Kestrels were perched up again and there were at least 2 Buzzards in the area.  At least 9 Pied Wagtails were on the ice on the scrape. 


15th December 2011 – At Nagshead in the same area that I saw the Wild Boar yesterday, I came across 4 Fallow Deer.  It was cold again with the temperature at 3 deg. C. at 1600 but it must have warmed slightly by the evening when there was very heavy rain but no snow. 


14th December 2011 – There was some hail and sleet yesterday and this morning there was still some ice in the various plant containers in my garden.  In spite of it being cold, there were quite of number of birds near the house today including Coal Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Greenfinch, Chaffinch and a Great Spotted Woodpecker. 

          At Nagshead in the afternoon in rain and heavy snow showers, there were 5 Wild Boar on the logging trail at the back of the information centre.  Way in the distance behind me and apparently separate, there were 3 more.  It was a cold afternoon with the temperature being 2 deg. C. at 1630.


10th December 2011 – At Ashleworth today I noted a number of Redwings and Fieldfare passing through and one of the local Kestrels was perched in the usual tree across from the hide.  I was surprised to see that a hole has been dug on the field directly in front of the hide and that the rhine leading into the main scrape from the left appears to have been cleaned out since Wednesday (7th December) and when I walked along the lane, I could see the large yellow tracked mechanical grab parked up on the reserve.  Goodness knows why this is being done at this time of the year with so many winter migrants about and hopefully more to come. 

When it got dark I could hear ducks on the scrape which must be roosting as I heard them on bonfire night and there is much more water now and there probably would have been even more water if the digging work over the last one or two days had not been done.


9th December 2011 – I took a bus to Ross-on-Wye and walked up the River Wye which is running quite high.  On the walk of about a mile each was, I noted 2 different Kingfishers which was good to see so close to the town.


8th December 2011 – It was a very windy and wet day.  I went to Slimbridge in the afternoon in the outside hope of finding one of the Bitterns which have been seen regularly from the Zeiss Hide.  I did not hold much hope in these conditions.  I was scanning the reed bed with my binoculars at 1430  when someone in the hide said that they had a gull with a forked tail flying by.  As I looked up, there appeared to be only one gull on the wing and this one was battling into the wind to the south and was over the near edge of the water on the Top New Piece and thus at its nearest was about 75m away.  As I put my binoculars onto it, this person announced that it was a Sabine’s Gull.   I could see at that point the features of the forked tail, the wing markings and the colouration of the back.  This confirmed to me the identification.  Another person in the hide then agreed with the first person.  I sent a tweet out on Twitter which I then followed with another giving more information.  I had seen several of this species during many hundreds of hours seawatching at Strumble Head over 14 years of visiting there many times a year.  Although there was not much movement of  birds in these conditions there were quite a number of birds present including a Peregrine on the Dumbles sheltering from the storm behind a washed up tree trunk.  On the scrape were over 70 Black-tailed Godwits, 13 Redshank and a good number of Teal and Wigeon. 

          Later in the evening, some messages came onto the internet which suggested that this record of the Sabine’s Gull would be a good one if this was a Sabine’s Gull and another message suggested that several Kittiwakes had been seen in the Severn estuary and that some were juveniles which had a resemblance to the gull in question.  Since the gull was a flyby and did not stop but it was in full view for over a minute as it struggled to make headway in the wind, it was giving good views.  There were no other people in the hide other than the people who saw the bird and they all agreed that it was a Sabine’s Gull.  I was not the initial finder but  I was one hundred per cent certain of my identification having seen quite a number of this species at sea over the past few years and have seen many hundreds, even thousands of young Kittiwakes over a similar period.  I believe that these doubters are of the class that say that it cannot be of that species because they did not see it.  I wonder sometimes in these situations whether I should continue to publish my sightings including on this website which, in a few months, will have been live for 10 years.  Upon reflection, I shall continue to put my sightings on here as I get time every few days or so but I will not be rushing to put out messages of rare or scarce birds at the time of sighting.  Although I have only had a handful of such sightings over about 23 years I have only ever had one accepted and that one was a joint sighting some years ago.  I do not submit rare/scarce bird reports in great numbers simply because I only find one every couple of years or so but even with these it seems that no one will believe me even when there is evidence from other people at the time and thus it is a waste of my time to file such reports and I will not be doing so in the future other than to mention such sightings on this website for completeness. 


7th December 2011 – At Ashleworth, I walked along Stank Lane.  There were a few Fieldfare and Redwing along the lane as were the local Kestrel and a Buzzard.  The water on the scrape has gone up again since Saturday (3rd December).  Several Pied Wagtails came down to the scrape to drink and to bathe.  Some Chaffinch were with them as seen from the hide.  I walked to the end of Dirty Lane and found some ripples coming from under the bridge at the end of the driveable part of the lane.  These were caused by a Water Rail which moved under the bridge and came out the other side and then flew down the rhine and around the corner of the channel. 


6th December 2011 – I went to the Cotswold Water Park and walked along the canal from the Spine Road. To the south east.  There were many Fieldfare in the surrounding trees along this watercourse. 


5th December 2011 – I was walking a friends dog around the short trail at Nagshead mid morning when I saw a party of 8 Wild Boar moving  up from the lower short trail to the higher return short trail and then they continued up the hill towards the return of the long trail.  They were different animals to those seen on 2nd December.  Thus I have seen 13 different Boar in two days in the field. 

          I returned to Nagshead later in the morning but did not see the Boar again but there were two Hawfinch in a large bush at the beginning of the drive up from Parkend.  On the shale logging road past the Campbell hide track, there were several birds feeding on the ground including 2 Nuthatch. 


3rd December 2011 – Spent a half hour in the hide at Ashleworth after lunch.  A Sparrowhawk flew slowly through and 10 Pied Wagtails came to drink at the scrape which has now more water in it than last Tuesday (29th November).  A flock of Linnets which may have had other species present moved slowly along the line of willow trees beyond the scrape.  This numbered at least 50 birds.  When I walked Stank Lane it was getting dark and thus not much to see but I did hear the usual Tawny Owls start calling. 


2nd December 2011 – At Nagshead again this afternoon.  The Long-tailed Tit flock was back in the car park but there was sign of the Sparrowhawk..  I went along the short trail and continued along the Gloucestershire Way to Bixslade Tramway which I followed up hill and then went to Spion Kop Quarry  to see if it was now exposed from the tree clearance.  It was not, for it is surrounded by deciduous trees and it is only the nearby conifer plantation which has been cut down.  I came back and walked back up the steep track to join the long trail.  Near Nagshead Lodge I came across a Fox.  This one reminded me of one which I had forgotten about but which had passed my house a few days ago.  It was completely grey with not an inch of red fur on it.  I suspect that the animal was not in very good condition.  At Nagshead Lodge there was a flock of Redpolls in the  same tree that I had seen the Siskins in.  I think that there is a mixed flock here.  They are silhouetted against the sky and the top of the tree where most of them are can only be seen from range.  Observation is difficult.   On the shale track on my return, I came across a big Wild Boar off to the side.  He stood watching me and I stood watching him at about 15m distance.  He moved forward a couple paces and looked again.  I thought that he might charge but he did not.  He huffed and puffed and grunted a few times and then ran off into the bracken.  I continued my walk when he came out of the bracken behind me.  Again there was a stand off and then four more smaller and lighter coloured individuals came into sight and passed me at about 20m but they were foraging and moving all the time.  Gradually the first animal began for forage while sometime raising its head quickly and staring at me.  I think that  in the fading light he was unsure what I was.  Very slowly he began to feed more and then slowly lead the others on their way, stopping to turn over the ground as they foraged often.  A  great encounter. 


1st December 2011 – At Nagshead car park there was a Sparrowhawk perched at the top of the tallest conifer tree and there was a flock of Long-tailed Tits foraging through a nearby tree below the raptor.  The Sparrowhawk did not move.  Along the long trail there were several mixed tit flocks foraging in the leaf litter.  These were composed of mainly Blue, Great and Coal Tits.  Some Crossbills overflew and there was a flock of birds which included Siskins at Nagshead Lodge.  There appeared to be many Grey Squirrels about and these were in all shapes and sizes thus indicating that some of  the smaller ones were veryyoung which suggest that this species has had a long and good breeding season in the mild lasting weather. 


30th November 2011 – I went to Walmore Common to check to see if the Bewick’s Swans were using this area yet this year.  There were no swans there and surprisingly I could not see the usual Mute Swans although it is so dry, there is no standing water as usual and there are large flocks of sheep in more than one field.  Some hedge cutting was in progress.  All very quiet on the bird front.


29th November 2011 – It was a day which started with driving rain and a gale.  At Ashleworth in the hide at 1430 the conditions were the same.  Visibility in the torrential rain was limited and the Cotswold Hills were out of sight.  There were two Corvid foraging in a field but that was all.  Then at 1445, the rain stopped and although it was still very windy, the visibility improved and small flocks of winter thrushes, Woodpigeons and smaller passerines began to pass through.  The two Kestrels were again perched up in the same tree near the scrape.  What a difference a few minutes made. 


28th November 2011 – A quiet day at home but there was a Marsh Tit in my neighbours tree with is fairly scarce and a Blue Tit with a metal ring was present. 


27th November 2011 – A very short visit to Nagshead en route to Coleford.  Very quiet but of note was the very close and clear and prolonged view of a Goldcrest foraging in a deciduous tree with no leaves.  This was the best view of this species this year.


26th November 2011 – I walked part of Stank Lane at Ashleworth and today there were more Redwings than Fieldfares.  It was a day of sunny periods and some heavy clouds but it stayed dry.  Later I walked up river from  The Boat Inn for about half a mile.  3 Grey Heron were in a newly ploughed field and a Buzzard and Kestrel were in the area. 


25th November 2011 – I walked down the canal at Slimbridge.  It was a bit quiet but there were a good number of Lapwings in the roadside fields.  I went to the Zeiss Hide to look for the reported Bittern but in spite of careful searching with the optics through the vegetation, I could not find the bird but there were even more Lapwing on the Top New Piece with 2 Ruff and some Redshank and at least 70 Black-tailed Godwits.  A Buzzard was perched in a bush near the flood defence. 


24th November 2011 – I walked the long trail at Nagshead in the afternoon for some exercise.  Fairly quiet at this time of day but there were a number of Redwings foraging  in the leaf litter. 


23rd November 2011 – I made a short visit to Nagshead on my way to Coleford.  I quickly walked the short trail but it was very quiet in the grey and overcast conditions. 


22nd November 2011 – I went to Ashleworth at lunchtime and walked Stank Lane.  When I set off from the hide, there was a Treecreeper in the hedge opposite.  There were many Fieldfare and a few Redwings in the lane.  A Kestrel flew by and another Treecreeper was present in one of the trees.  Back at the hide, there were two Kestrels together perched in a tree near the scrape.  This was undoubtedly a pair.


20th November 2011 – Slimbridge on a dull afternoon with some slight mist.  I paid a brief visit to the Holden Tower.  The usual flocks of Canada, Barnacle and a few White-fronted Geese were present and a few of the Bewick’s Swans were on the river.


19th November 2011 – I walked Stank Lane at Ashleworth.  Fieldfare and Redwing were everywhere.  Some were perched in bare trees and others were overflying and some were so high that they could only be seen with binoculars.  Undoubtedly a big passage movement.  There were probably more birds in total than I have ever seen at Ashleworth.  Back in the hide after the walk, there were still a big passage of winter thrushes moving and some Chaffinch flocks as well.  As the light failed, a thin layer of dense mist formed over the Ham. 


18th November 2011 – After taking the bus to Ross-on-Wye, I walked up the river for a while.  A Kingfisher was very close, perched in some vegetation and did not fly until I was almost upon it.  Eventually the path along the river moves away from it and follows an old railway line which is lined with great habitat for breeding warblers in the spring.  Finally, at a spot where |I joined the river again I turned and came back.  Here there is a sharp bend in the river and an extentive ‘beach’ which could be good for the odd wader or two.  I need to get here more often.  A number of Fieldfare were milling about and a flock of at least 23 Goldfinch were on Teasels in the railway cutting. 


17th November 2011 – I went to Nagshead and walked down the Gloucestershire Way to Cannop Ponds and then back towards Parkend along the cycle trail.  I was trying to find the Wild Boar that I had seen from the road as I drove past them as they were feeding along Cannop Brook south of the stoneworks.  There was no sign of them.  I walked back up from where the cycle trail crosses the road towards Nagshead car park but diverted for a while to the Lower Hide.  I only had waited a few minutes in the hide when I heard the bracken in the distance being disturbed and after a short while , I glimpsed a Wild Boar which came out near the pond along with 5 others.  They ran about and did one and a half laps of the main pond before moving off up the hill. 


16th November 2011 – At breakfast time here in Longhope it was slightly misty and damp and there was a steady movement of winter thrushes and there appeared to be a number of Chaffinch passing through the trees.  I walked down river from Ross town but the riverside was very quiet.  There is much vegetation and looks to be a good place for passerines in the spring. 


15th November 2011 – A fairly bright day.  I went to Ashleworth at lunchtime and had lunch in the hide.  Unusual for this site, there were four species of gull flying around the area as opposed to passing at height to roost on the estuary late in the day.  These were Black-headed Gull, Herring Gull and Great and Lesser Black-backed Gull.  A lone Common Snipe flew up from near the scrape where there is the most water in it since it was cleaned out a few weeks ago. 

          At Slimbridge late in the afternoon, there appeared to be fewer Bewick’s Swans than at the same time yesterday and by dark there were approximately only 50 birds present at the last feed of the afternoon.  I was surprised to see one of the earlier arrivals this autumn with a dark substance on all of the primaries of the right wing and a dark patch on the rump where the folded wing would sit.  This was not like that on this bird a few days ago and I hope that it is not oil.  I had been to the Holden Tower to look for the reported 3 Brent Geese but all that I could find were Canada Geese, White-fronted Geese, Barnacle Geese and Greylag Geese.  After dark in the car park there was a Tawny Owl when I left. 

          When I arrived home in Longhope there was a least two Tawny Owls duetting.  What a nice coincidence.  It was a starlit night and cold at 2200.


14th November 2011 – I made yet another short visit to Slimbridge in the late afternoon just before dusk.  As I walked from the reception desk to the Rushy Pen area, I could see many Bewick’s Swans flying in all directions and lots of them calling .  I had a maximum count of 97 on Rushy Pen but there were more in the air in the area and the count must be well over 100 birds now.  WWT report 128 birds tonight.  Somewhere in the region of 100 swans have arrived since Friday(11th November).


13th November 2011 – Had a short visit to Slimbridge on a glorious mild afternoon.  Many more Bewick’s Swans present on Rushy Pen.  They have taken advantage of the easterly winds to arrive here from the continent as there have been very few reports of this species further to the east in the UK.  Medium flocks of Woodpigeon passed over during the afternoon, another migration species on the move.


12th November 2011 – I was at the hide at Ashleworth between 1350 and 1430.  It was generally quiet and calm in the sunshine.  I walked along Stank Lane where lots of pollarding of the willows has taken place.  Looking into the afternoon sun, the fields were glistening white with the masses of gossamer threads from the spiders on such a calm day.  There was a steady passage of Fieldfare and Redwings.


11th November 2011 – Another dull and damp day with heavy rain after dark.  I went to Slimbridge for a quick visit and found the reported family of Bewick’s Swans with the five cygnets on Rushy Pen in the afternoon. 


10th November 2011 – It was overcast, dull and damp again as I went to Slimbridge where there were more Bewick’s Swans on Rushy Pen.


9th November 2011 – An interesting day even though I did not go out into the field.  After two and a half days of gloom, mist and drizzle, there was a short period of patches of blue sky and a few sunny periods at about 1300 here in Longhope.  I thought that there might be some migration tonight given that the weather has been better to the east.  In about half an hour, I noted mixed flocks of Redwings and Fieldfares heading high and south over my home.  A couple of hours later, I heard news of another batch of Bewick’s Swans turning up at Slimbridge.  Migration may well pick up now. 


8th November 2011 – On a very short trip to Ashleworth Quay I noted a Fieldfare flock near the river which moved on as I was watching.  A little bit of passage perhaps.

Another trip to Slimbridge and as yesterday, walked down the canal.  It was a similar day weatherwise but slightly warmer at 11 deg. C. at 1200.  Another flock of 101 Woodpigeons were flying steadily to the northwest in the slightly better visibility than yesterday.  There appeared to be a few more Blackbirds around the hedgerows compared to none yesterday so maybe there has been a very small influx of this species recently.  A male Kestrel with a light patch on it’s right upper wing was over the roadside fields near the canal.  On the Rushy Pen, there remain the 5 Bewick’s Swans.


7th November 2011 – I went to WWT Slimbridge on a cold, damp and very overcast day with intermittent slight drizzle and a temperature at 1200 of 8 deg. C.  There were 5 Bewick’s Swans on the Rushy Pen and there seem to be more Pochard present than on November 4th.  I walked to the canal and then to the south.  There were many Lapwing in the roadside fields and a Great Crested Grebe was on the canal.  A flock of at least 150 Woodpigeon flew over from the east on a purposeful flight and not deviating from track. A bit of migration in the gloom of the day. 


5th November 2011 – A cool day with sunny periods.  I spent a half hour in the hide at Ashleworth where the only bird of note was the apparent local male Kestrel.  There is more water in the scrape now after the recent heavy rain but there were no birds present.

          En route back from Cheltenham, I stopped at the hide at Ashleworth at 1900 and watched the various firework displays for half an hour.  I was hearing ducks calling and then I heard some splashing.  Ducks must the using the water which is now in the scrape for roosting although they appear not to be there during daylight hours. 


4th November 2011 – While trying to find a possible injured Bewick’s Swan which had been reported at Newnham, I found a flock of Golden Plover on the sand at the cliff.  I didn’t find the swan.

          I moved on to Slimbridge for a short visit. There are still only 3 Bewick’s Swan present.


3rd November 2011 – Heavy rain overnight and a generally dull morning with spells of heavy rain.


2nd November 2011 – A short visit to Ashleworth and a short walk in the area of Dirty Lane.  Generally it was very quiet on a day of sunny periods and mild temperatures.  There appeared to be a few Starlings passing through and in Dirty Lane there was a small flock of Redwings.  Winter thrushes and Starlings were seen intermittently throughout the day in an apparent small passage. 

          In the afternoon, I moved on for a short while to WWT Slimbridge.  Again, there are still only the 3 Bewick’s Swans present.  The mild weather and the absence of any real tailwinds from the east over the past week or so has held up migration for this and other species. 


1st November 2011 – It was a day of sunny periods and the temperature at 1030 was 12 deg. C.  I went to Ashleworth.  There is a little water in the scrape in front of the hide, the most since the scrape was cleared out.  Several winter thrushes passed through and there were some Redwings in Stank Lane as was a flock of Long-tailed Tits.  A Grey Heron was again in the crater field and there was water in the rhine at the top of the lane on the north side which has hitherto been dry this autumn.  A Tawny Owl was calling from the direction of Sandhurst Hill at 1130.  A Cormorant overflew and raptors noted this morning were Buzzard and Kestrel. 

          At WWT Slimbridge in the afternoon there were still only 3 Bewick’s Swans present.  Two Peregrines were on the Dumbles and there was a large flock of Golden Plover on the river in the afternoon sunshine.  A Short-eared Owl was over Middle Point as seen from the Holden Tower.  Other raptors included Buzzard and Kestrel.


31st October 2011 – I made a visit to Westonbirt Arboretum around lunchtime.  The colours of the leaves especially on the Acers are absolutely magnificent this year.  One of the best years I have witnessed.


28th October 2011 – A short visit to WWT Slimbridge where there are still only 3 Bewick’s Swans.  A Black-headed Gull on the Rushy Pen had a white darvic ring with the characters ‘2P33’ on it. 

          At my house in Longhope this morning, a Red Admiral butterfly passed through the garden.  A good record for late October but not surprising really given the mild weather.


27th October 2011 – Rain for all of the daylight hours.  About half an inch of rain recorded locally.  A short visit to Slimbridge in the late afternoon revealed the 3 Bewick’s Swans still on Rushy Pen. 


26th October 2011 – A short visit to WWT Slimbridge on a sunny day with showers.  Only 3 Bewick’s Swans present on Rushy Pen this afternoon.  I walked part of the canal towpath but could not find any evidence of the missing swan.  It has probably moved on.


25th October 2011 – A bright and cool start to the day but after lunch it clouded over and there was some rain in the late afternoon.  I went to Ashleworth, arriving at 1025.  I parked by Dirty Lane and walked to the hide and then up Stank Lane.  There was a work party in the area of the tree line behind the scrape and in Stank Lane there were two people walking the public footpath to the north, a farmer cutting the hedges with a machine, another farmer walking the lane and a sheep lorry bringing more sheep to Hasfield Ham.  Not surprisingly with all of this going on there were few birds to be seen.  There was steady if small movement  of small passerines and a few Fieldfare and Redwing.  There was no water in the scrape, the rain overnight had not amounted to much.  There was a Grey Heron foraging in the field on the reserve opposite Colways Farm.  On my return to Ham Road, a beautiful Red Fox moved away from the hedgerow and cantered up the field towards Colways Farm.. The brash from the tree cutting on the reserve appears to have been burnt as there were at least 3 fires smouldering.  The heavy plant has gone and the last trailer removed so perhaps the work is nearly at an end and the reserve is ready for the winter migrants once there is some rain and thus some water on the flood plain for them.

          I went on to Slimbridge where the first 4 Bewick’s Swans of the winter had reportedly arrived.  I found them on Rushy Pen and recorded their bill patterns on film. 


24th October 2011 – A day with a few sunny periods but it was generally overcast in the afternoon with some rain after dark.  It was a warm day with the temperature reaching 18 deg. C.  I went to Slimbridge in the afternoon but again there were no Bewick’s Swans present.  The Rushy Pen was however full of birds but the Tack Piece and the fields to the south were essentially empty because of work going on in them.  A flock of 51 Golden Plover were on the Dumbles and in another part of this area, there was a small Lapwing flock which had a number of Starlings within.  The White-fronted Goose flock was in the distance near the river. 


22nd October 2011 – I made a short stop at Slimbridge as I was passing to check for the presence of Bewick’s Swans.  There were not listed in the sightings book but but I went to the Holden Tower for a look around to be sure.  There was a Peregrine again on the Dumbles and also there were the White-fronted Geese.


20th October 2011 – A day of sunny periods and cool with a temperature of 7 deg. C. at 1000.  I went to Slimbridge and found the reported Whooper Swans on the Top New Piece.  This pair appeared to be very distinctive with one being a very pale lemon pennyface type of bill pattern and the other was a deeper orange yellowneb.  Also present were 36 Redshank with a Curlew Sandpiper in among them.  72 Black-tailed Godwits was a good number and 2 Ruff were in attendance.  On the raptor front, a Sparrowhawk was perched up in a bush at the back of the water and a Peregrine was perched on the Dumbles.  From the Holden Tower, there were two groups of White-fronted Geese totalling the 24 reported birds. 


19th October 2011 – I walked the short trail at Nagshead RSPB reserve in the late afternoon.  A flock of about 25 Siskin were near the site of the old information centre.  3 winter thrushes were in the tops of the trees across the meadow in the direction of Parkend on this sunny but cool day with the temperature at 1600 being 7 deg. C.  There appeared to be a good number of Grey Squirrels around the trail.


18th October 2011 – I went to Ashleworth and walked Stank Lane from the hide.  It was a day of sunny periods but with a blustery wind.  Because of the wind it was cool and not many birds were showing themselves.  A Red Admiral butterfly in Stank Lane was unexpected.  At least two Buzzards were soaring but it was generally quiet and no winter thrushes were seen. 


17th October 2011 – An overcast dawn, somewhat windy from the south west all day.  There appeared to be a lot of movement of passerines including Redwing over my house at Longhope early this morning.  I went to Slimbridge arriving at 1130.  Out of the wind it was a reasonably mild day with the temperature at 1130 being 14 deg. C., this rising to about 16 deg. C. later in the day.  There were many birds on the Rushy Pen including a large number of Black-headed Gull, some Tufted Duck and a number of Pochard, these latter being a typical winter visitor.  One Black-headed Gull had a white darvic ‘2P73’.  From the Holden Tower there was no sign of the reported White-fronted Geese but I was able to locate the reported Spoonbill which landed on the Top New Piece.  Of note in the copse in front of the tower, where there is a feeding station, was a flock of at least 12 Greenfinch.  This is a species that I have not seen much of during the last couple of years.  There is some decline with them and this is attributed to disease, so it was particularly pleasing to see this number of birds. 


15th October 2011 – I went to Ashleworth between 1325 and 1510 and did the same walk that I did on the 12th October.  It was a cool day but sunny with the temperature at 12 deg. C. at 1130.  I noted my first Fieldfares of the season over on the reserve near the scrape as I started my walk.  2 Buzzards were soaring in the same area.  Butterflies noted today were Speckled Wood in Dirty Lane and a Red Admiral in Stank Lane.  Odonata recorded were a possible Migrant Hawker along Ham Road near Dirty Lane, a Large Red Damselfly in the first field at the end of that lane and a Common Darter along Stank Lane.  These and the butterfly records are quite late in the season and are somewhat unusual in the middle of October.  Along Stank Lane, I noted more Fieldfares flying around and sometime perching in the trees.  There were several Redwing with them and the latter were also the first of the season.  I had seen 2 Kestrels harrying a corvid over Stank Lane and then, when I was back at the hide I noted two of this raptor species perched up.  This is becoming a regular occurrence.  Finally, I noted a Peregrine eating something from the ‘U’ shaped girder on top of the pylon second from the right.  The bird appeared to have quite a full crop and undoubtedly not going hungry even though there are no waterfowl present yet because there is no water.  The scrape in front of the hide, which had a few puddles in it about a week or so ago, is now bone dry.


14th October 2011 – I went to Symonds Yat this afternoon between 1430 and 1600.  It was a sunny day and the temperature was 15 deg. C. at 1400.  One Peregrine flew north and then started soaring around the hill to the north just as I arrived.  I eventually found a second bird but it could have been the original bird having returned unnoticed.  This bird was perched high up on the left hand side of the right hand cliff.  A Sparrowhawk and several Buzzards were the other raptors present. 


12th October 2011 – At Ashleworth after lunch, I parked by the hide and then walked anticlockwise around the reserve on the public footpaths and road.  It was a fairly quiet afternoon.  Along Stank Lane, there were a number of Reed Bunting and a flock of at least 25 Goldfinch.   Along Ham Road, I was overtaken by a small flock of Swallows heading south.  2 Kestrels were in front of the hide.

          I walked the short trail at Nagshead in the late afternoon and as expected it was very quiet at this time of day.  There were one or two Bullfinch present along the trail early on and at the far end, there was a small flock of Long-tailed Tits moving through the Rowan Trees but all of the berry crop is now exhausted. 


11th October 2011 – A dry and warm day with the temperature at 19 deg. C. at 1300.  I went to Slimbridge and noted that the work on Rushy Pen is now complete and ready for the arrival of the Bewick’s Swans which should arrive in just over a week’s time.  The local birds have already returned.  From the Holden Tower there was a Peregrine on the edge of the Dumbles and also there were a number of Lapwing.  The Canada Goose flock could be seen on the Top New Piece whereas the Barnacle Goose flock was on the Tack Piece.  Amongst this latter flock is what appears to be a very small Canada Goose, about the same size as a Barnacle Goose but on closer look, the front of the bird is black and there is a white stripe along the feather line, so this bird looks to be a hybrid Canada Goose/Barnacle Goose.  In front of the Stephen Kirk hide, there was a late Migrant Hawker Dragonfly which is a late record and there were still some House Martins flying around the Sloane Tower.


8th October 2011 – I walked Stank Lane at Ashleworth just after lunch on a cool and overcast afternoon.  The temperature was 14 deg. C. at 1400.  There was a flock of Goldfinch along the lane and a party of Long-tailed Tits.  In the hedge in front of the hide after my walk I found 4 Bullfinch, 2 male and 2 female. 

          There was a fantastic sunset this evening over my home in Longhope.


6th October 2011 – I walked over the fields near the Herefordshire border and the disused railway tunnel at Longhope and the find of the day was a Small Copper Butterfly which is again a good record for October.


5th October 2011 – It was an overcast day but mild with the temperature at 18 deg. C. at 1200.  En route to Ashleworth there was a small flock of Swallow passing through over Huntley.  Along Stank Lane at Ashleworth, there was a Buzzard and a Hare very close together in a field to the north of the lane.  The Hare is quite a rare record for this location.  Earlier, there was a Kestrel perched up on the reserve not far from the hide and there was a flock of Long-tailed Tits along Ham Road.  At the top of Stank Lane there was a Grey Heron again in the crater field as 1st October and there were two Kestrels present.  On my back down the lane, I noted 64 corvids in one field and more in the surrounding fields where there were 11 Stock Dove. 


4th October 2011 – Noted a Red Admiral butterfly today which is a good October record.


3rd October 2011 – Still warm today.  Maximum temperature was 25 deg. C., so again very slightly cooler than yesterday.  I noted a pair of Sparrowhawks over the wood to the north of my house at Longhope which is the first time that I have seen two together here.  Later in the afternoon, in the same place there were 3 Buzzards and 2 Ravens.  2 of the Buzzards were undoubtedly the local two who soar over this area on a daily basis.  One of these birds ushered one of the other to the south leaving one Buzzards and the 2 Raven.  Later still, there were two Buzzards soaring very high over the woods to the south.  I have seen these in this area before but not so frequently as the local pair.  Perhaps the southerly pair are at the northern edge of their range when I see them.  It would, however, appear that there are at least two pair with territories not far away. 


2nd October 2011 – Yet another hot day but slightly cooler than yesterday with 27 deg. C.  I walked down to the River Severn along the road adjacent to the church at Westbury on Severn and subsequent fields as a reconnaissance trip.  It was extremely quiet at 1230 on a sunny Sunday. 

          At Nagshead reserve in the afternoon there was a little bit more activity with at least one Common Darter on the Nursery Pond and a singing Dunnock nearby.  In the woods on the short trail there was a Nuthatch foraging but generally it was quiet and the berries on the Rowan trees at the far end of the short trail are nearly fully depleted. 

          A Red Admiral butterfly was in a garden at Milkwall later this afternoon.


1st October 2011 – Another hot day with the temperature reaching a record 29 deg. C. today.  I went to Ashleworth arriving at 1055 and walked along Ham Road and Stank Lane.  There were several coloured butterflies on the wing but all were flying strongly and were not particularly close and went unidentified.  Similarly there was a Darter dragonfly along Stank Lane.  A flock of at least 20 Swallows passed over on migration near Colways Farm.  These three records are good for October.  A Chiffchaff was singing along the lane and a Grey Heron was on the edge of the scrape in the ‘crater’ field suggesting that there is water in the scape but this cannot be verified from the lane.  The water in the scrape in front of the hide, such as it was, is just about gone in this spell of hot weather.  Trees have been cut down to the north of the reserve in line with Colways Farm which is further evidence of the large amount of reserve work that has been carried out this autumn.  Raptors included the usual Buzzards and there were two unidentified falcons on the electricity pylons but they were too far away for details of them to be seen with only binoculars. 

          I moved on to Slimbridge in the afternoon.  From the Holden Tower, the sighting of a Stonechat was unusual.  A Ruff was on the Dumbles with the Lapwing and a Kestrel and Peregrine were both perched in the area.  A Little Egret, a common bird nowadays, was on the river.






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