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30th December 2012 – A Raven was displaying over my house in Longhope this morning on another showery day.
29th December 2012 – Another morning of heavy rain with 11mm or rain being reported in the Gloucester area. I went to WWT Slimbridge just before lunchtime. The rain stopped at 1330 and the temperature at 1300 was 8 deg. C. There were fewer Bewick’s Swans on the right hand road field today with only 14(4) being seen. However, there were 71 on the Dumbles and only 8 on the Tack Piece at 1445. The birds on the Tack Piece were similar in numbers and species to those seen there yesterday.
28th December 2012 – I made another trip to Slimbridge on a relatively dry day. There were again Bewick’s Swans in the right hand road field on the approach to the Centre. This time there were 37(5) swans present. The family of 6 cygnets were this time on the Rushy Pen just before lunchtime. After lunch I found 118 swans on the Dumbles, 17 on the Tack Piece and 1 on the Top New Piece. Again, the Tack Piece was full of birds. There were good numbers of Pintail, a great many Lapwings and among them was a wide scattering of Redshank and a nice number of Ruff, spread around the field. There was also a Spotted Redshank. Also, Golden Plover, Dunlin, one Little Egret, at least 2 Curlew and a number of Black-tailed Godwits. The total number of waders on this area was 8.
27th December 2012 – A little bit of more rain early in the morning but after that it was a generally dry day. I went to Slimbridge again. There were 36(11) Bewick’s Swans on the right hand road field again today at lunchtime. The cygnets included a family of 1,4 and 6. While I was having lunch in the car some swans flew over. There were 36 in one flock and a short distance away there were a further 4 and then further to the south there were 20 more making a total of 60 Bewick’s Swans. I thought that the 36 birds might have come from the road field but after I had finished eating I returned to the road field and the 36 were still there. There was also a lone White-fronted Goose all on its own. I moved on to the Tack Piece and found 11(1) swans and then the jigsaw was complete when I found 60 swans on the Dumbles and these must have been those that flew over the car park at lunchtime. 145 Whit-fronted Geese were on the river and the Tack Piece was full of birds. This was a fantastic spectacle.
24th December 2012 – More rain this morning with 14mm reported in Gloucester. I went to WWT Slimbridge just before lunchtime and found that the main roads had a lot of standing water and the lane to Slimbridge was flooded but just passable. There were no birds on the road fields because the hunt was in the area. 72 Bewick’s Swans were on the Tack Piece at 1350 with 10 over flying at 1350. A further 8 were on the Dumbles at 1415. 90 were on the Rushy Pen at 1510 but some left before the feed at 1600. There was a lot of flying around all afternoon and this may have been because of disturbance by the hunt. When I was in the Holden Tower at 1415, I saw the reported American Teal.
22nd December 2012 – A further 13mm of rain reported in Gloucester today. There is extensive flooding in the county.
20th December 2012 – There was a reported 50mm of rain on the Environment Agency gauge in Parkend in the Forest of Dean today. That is 2 inches!
18th December 2012 – A blue sky day. I checked Walmore Common for Bewick’s Swans at 1115 but there were none there. The fields were, however, flooded.
I moved on to WWT Slimbridge where I found 37(5) swans in the right hand road field and for a short time there were 65 White-fronted Geese. The Rushy Pen was devoid of birds because of essential maintenance being carried out. 26(3) swans were on the Dumbles and a further 34(1) were on the Tack Piece at 1440. On the Rushy Pen at about 1600 I witnessed a Canada Goose fight which lasted from when the warden was feeding in front of the optics shop until he had completed the feed and had walked back to the Peng Observatory. This I estimated to be around 20 minutes.
17th December 2012 – I went shopping in Gloucester and walked to Asda and the railway station to try to find the reported Waxwings of which two had been seen this morning on a fine but cool day. The temperature at 1100 was 8 deg. C. I didn’t find any and moved on to The Moors.
At The Moors there were flocks of winter thrushes flying around and these were mainly Redwing. There were also approximately 600 Woodpigeons. The Bewick’s Swans were again frequenting the second field to the north of the lane and could only be seen through the hedge so a count was not possible.
At Slimbridge Centre there were 35(4) swans in the right hand road field and in the middle field to the north there was a small flock of White-fronted Geese. In the left hand field there were Curlew, Lapwing, Black-tailed Godwits, Ruff and Dunlin. Back in the other field behind the swans was a flock of Redwing with a few Fieldfare present. After lunch the swan flock numbered 37(4) and on the Tack Piece at 1430 there were 30(6) swans with families of 3, 2 and 1 cygnets. The water here is very high and there were a lot of birds on the field including a tight flock of Dunlin. The Lapwing were scattered and later there was as sizable flock of Golden Plover. A few Redshanks could be seen and a single Spotted Redshank was with them. A Black-headed Gull with an almost complete brown head was unusual at this time of year. At 1455 there were 10 swans on the Dumbles but there was some movement and at the feed time at 1600 I could see more swans descending onto the Tack Piece and I noted some swans coming from the east and were very high just as if there were just arriving in the area. They were much higher than those which were transferring from the river to the various fields. New arrivals could well be possible.
16th December 2012 – A generally dry and mild day with just a few very light showers during daylight hours. I walked from the Stoneworks at Cannop up to the Information Centre at Nagshead. Along the Bixslade tramway there were 3 or possibly 4 Goldcrests foraging together in the dead bracken. At this point on my return I found a small tit flock including Great Tit, a Song Thrush and a Blackbird, all of which were looking for food in the gathering dusk. Generally it was quiet in afternoon with just a Jay flying around the Gloucestershire Way.
12th December 2012 – Today was 12th of the 12th of the 12th year. It was a very cold day but with no fog like yesterday. The maximum temperature appeared to be about -1 deg. C. I went to Slimbridge in the afternoon but upon arrival, I discovered that the fox hunt was present and there were a lot of birds flying about and undoubtedly there was some disturbance. I was delighted to see that the Rushy Pen held a good number of birds and that the pond looked quite settled and the birds were relaxed. I went to the Holden Tower where I found 12 Bewick’s Swans out on the river which is a sure sign that they had been disturbed. There was a single adult Bewick’s Swan on the Tack Piece at 1500 and it was joined by another 2 at this time. On the Dumbles there were some geese on the frozen ground and the 4 Common Cranes were also present and they were seen flying over the Rushy Pen in the late afternoon. As dusk fell, the reported Bewick’s Swan family of 6 cygnets landed on the Rushy Pen. This is an exceptional number of young and although the light was failing, I thought that all the cygnets looked the same in terms of colouration and size and thus all being from the same parents. I have seen a Whooper family some years ago at Welney with 6 youngsters but in this case at least 2 of them were of different colouration and were probably from another family. As the season progresses it will be interesting to see how these develop.
11th December 2012 – A cold day with the temperature at 2 deg. C. at 1000. In the woods at Lambsquay Road, Milkwall there were two Goldcrests foraging in the dead bracken on the forest floor.
At Chepstow on the main road to the M48 junction there was a flock of Waxwings in a tree beside the road.
At Slimbridge there were 3(1) Bewick’s Swans on the right hand road field. The visibility reduced throughout the afternoon and at dusk the back of the Rushy Pen was lost from sight. The numbers of birds on the Pen was quite high and the Bewick’s Swans came into this area earlier in the day than usual partly because of the gathering gloom.
9th December 2012 – At Slimbridge in the afternoon there were a number of swans in the last right hand field along the approach road and some in the field behind the hedge to the north as on 4th December. There were a number on the Rushy Pen when I arrived in the early afternoon and this number gradually built up as the afternoon wore on. There were a number of disputes mainly among the family groups as they settle dominance differences at the start of the winter. This increased activity is a result of an influx of new birds over the past few days in favourable weather conditions for migrating.
4th December 2012 – I went to Slimbridge and en route, called into Empire Way just off the Bristol Road in Gloucester to try to find the reported Waxwings. Upon arrival, I found a small flock in a tree on the corner of the main road. I managed to get a picture but they then flew off and I moved on.
I went to the Berkeley Bypass to check the wetland area for Bewick’s Swans. I thought that there was a chance that they were using this area again after the prolonged rain. The habitat I found looked not to be suitable in that there is a good growth of reeds and rushes and not much water. There were no swans there.
At Slimbridge there were 3(1) Bewick’s Swans in the first right hand field over the canal bridge and there were many more in the field behind the hedge to the north. This would be the middle of three fields there. At South Finger hide, there were at least two Lesser Redpolls in the trees above the feeders and a Water Rail was on show at the Zeiss Hide for probably half an hour continuously.
2nd December 2012 – On a frosty morning a Peregrine flew over my house at Longhope.
I went to Slimbridge and upon arrival found 50(11) Bewick’s Swans in the right hand road field just before the car park. In the left hand field among the flock of Lapwings were at least one of Black-tailed Godwit, Ruff and Golden Plover. On the Rushy Pen there were a further 5(0) Bewick’s Swans but there were none on the Tack Piece. There were, however, tight independent flocks of Teal, Dunlin and Black-tailed Godwits. There were no Bewick’s Swans on the Dumbles, Top New Piece or the river. Before and after lnnch, the Long-billed Dowitcher was among the Black-tailed Godwits aforementioned on the Tack Piece. Later in the afternoon there were 50 White-fronted Geese on the Dumbles near the Holden Tower and 20 further away.
1st December 2012 – I had to make a trip over to Coleford today and I went via the industrial estate in Cinderford where some Waxwings had been reported yesterday and earlier this morning. I arrived in the bright sunshine at 1115 and after 10 minutes or so I noted one in the very small berry tree near a large brick building. It was joined by 4 others but almost immediately these four were flushed by a passing tractor which was moving slowly and noisily. I lost sight of the other bird but the four only moved to the top of some nearby tall trees. They then moved off towards the forest but it was a pleaseant sight for a few minutes and my first sighting this year.
I later walked up to Nagshead Information Centre from the Stoneworks starting at 1155 and by this time there was a light shower of sleety rain. A male Bullfinch brightened up the day along Bixslade Tramway and a Goldcrest gave good views as it foraged in Holly along the Gloucestershire Way but in general, the woods were quiet on this cold day.
30th November 2012 – A cold and slightly overcast day when I made yet another trip to the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust at Slimbridge. There were reports of quite a number of Bewick’s Swans having arrived overnight but there were very few to be seen when I checked Rushy Pen, Tack Piece, Dumbles and the river. However, later in the afternoon a good number flew onto the Rushy Pen. There was a good number of species on the Tack Piece again and the numbers similar to yesterday but with probably more Canada and Greylag Geese and Wigeon and Teal. A slight mist descended on the Rushy Pen after dark as the temperature dropped to give another frosty night.
29th November 2012 – It was a blue sky day but very cold with the temperature at 1130 being 2 deg. C. I made another visit to Slimbridge and today there were two Bewick’ Swans in the southern road field, the first time this winter that I have seen them using this area which contains a lot of water. After lunch, I checked the same field and the swans were still there and now there was a flock of Lapwing which contained 4 Ruff. There were a number of Bewick’s Swans on the Tack Piece and as the afternoon wore on, more swans flew in, in preference to going onto the Rushy Pen. However, as feed time approached, more swans moved to the latter. The light was very good this afternoon and among the many birds on the Tack Piece were Lapwing, Black-tailed Godwit and Dunlin in very good numbers. Also present but in smaller numbers were Curlew, Redshank, Ruff and the single Long-billed Dowitcher.
28th November 2012 – I went back to Slimbridge again today for a short visit. It was a bright, cold day with a brisk north wind. There were very few birds on the Dumbles but the Tack Piece was alive with a lot of birds including 38(2) Bewick’s Swans.
27th November 2012 – A day which was generally overcast for the whole of daylight hours. A cold northerly wind blew up and at 1430 it was only 7 deg. C. I went to Symonds Yat viewpoint for an hour. There were no cars in either car park and in the hour that I was there I saw only 5 people. There was no sign of the resident Peregrines at first but as I was about to depart at 1610, one bird flew in from the north and perched in a tree and the other, probably the smaller male appeared in one of the holes on the right hand cliff face. The river has just about topped its banks and filled the large ‘lakes’ in the nearby fields. It was a dull, dark and dank afternoon.
26th November 2012 – 13mm of rain was the total for yesterday and November is the wettest month by far for the whole year so far. A generally overcast day and another 2mm of rain fell this evening.
25th November 2012 – A blue sky morning greeted me but the total rain over the last 24 hours was 25mm which is 1 inch. This is a lot of rain in any event but after so much water on the ground over the past few days this is adding to the flooding situation. A number of gulls were drifting over Longhope this morning in the sunshine. They were probably going to explore the many flooded fields for food. I went to Symonds Yat for 15 minutes. One of the resident Peregrines was perched up, at least 3 Fallow Deer were lying in a clearing opposite the viewpoint and the river had not topped its banks but was not far from doing so. There were large ‘lakes’ of water in the adjacent fields. The sky was overcast and the odd spot of rain was beginning to fall yet again.
At the Stoneworks in Cannop the rain was still very light but it was certainly not welcome. I walked up the Gloucestershire Way to Nagshead and it was the wettest that I have ever known it. A lot of mud and a ‘river’ was flowing down towards the works. The woods were as quiet as I have known and as it was late in the afternoon it was not surprising. The water in the Nursery Pond was right up to the staging and I have never seen it like that before. The was a period of glorious afternoon sunshine as I walked back along the very muddy lower part of the short trail and then as I descended the Gloucestershire Way, the rain began to fall again.
24th November 2012 – Another 10mm of rain fell today and flooding in the county.
23rd November 2012 – The reported road flooding had cleared somewhat and I went to Slimbridge at lunchtime. There was a small flood in the lane to the Centre but was passable with care. The flooded fields including the Tack Piece held a fantastic number of birds and in the afternoon sunshine this made a great spectacle. The sight was of the greatest number of birds so far this winter. On the Dumbles there were many Lapwing, Golden Plover and Dunlin, the second species brilliantly lit in the lower sun. On the Tack Piece there were these species too plus a very good number of Redshank, some clustered in a tight flock at the edge of the water. Other species numerous here were Curlew and 12 Bewick’s Swans which included 2 cygnets. There appeared to be a further 8 of these swans on the Rushy Pen but there was much flying around and a final total of 20 could not be proved. The White-fronted Goose flock was on the Tack Piece but well to the north and some were behind vegetation and could not be counted accurately. A colour ringed Black-tailed Godwit was in the distance but the actual colours could not be told with certainty, 6 rings is a lot to check.
22nd November 2012 – A sunny morning was a change after the last two days but gradually the cloud rolled in and some light rain started. There was steady heavy rain throughout most of the afternoon and just after 1700 the rain became extremely heavy and almost instant flooding of the road to a depth of a few centimetres. Fortunately this was the back edge of the front and after 1730, the wind which was very strong began to drop away very quickly and the temperature plummeted also, heralding the arrival of the cold front which was forecasted.
21st November 2012 – More rain today with the 24 hour total being almost 40mm. A serious amount of water is now on the ground.
20th November 2012 – Steady rain fell just about all day with 13mm being the total for today.
18th November 2012 – A fine, sunny but cold day after overnight frost. I went to Slimbridge arriving at 1340 and found only 6 Bewick’s Swans on Rushy Pen. After the fine, cold, crisp night, I was expecting there to be more but it was not so. I moved on to the Zeiss Hide and heard both Cetti’s Warbler and Water Rail. A Dunlin flock was on the Top New Piece and a Golden Plover flock was on the Bottom New Piece but the latter were very mobile. A Peregrine was perched up fairly close just over the flood defence on the Dumbles. I went to South Finger where there were 2 Redpolls with the passerine flock around the feeders area, specifically up in some Alder trees. Back at the Zeiss Hide the Long-billed Dowitcher was with the Black-tailed Godwit flock which had increased in size from earlier. Back at the Rushy Pen, the six Bewick’s Swans were still present, assuming that they were the same birds, but just before the feed they flew but returned not long later when the feed was under way.
17th November 2012 – A bright morning which clouded over towards midday but became brighter as the afternoon progressed. I went to Slimbridge at lunchtime and noted a Cormorant over Gloucester city centre and a Moorhen near the prison. Both of these were probably less than 500m from the centre of the city.
At Slimbridge I checked the car park hedges for passerines and the nearest road fields where there were a number of Curlew. There were no Bewick’s Swans on Rushy Pen at 1430 but 2 flew over at about that time and 26 White-fronted Geese flew the opposite way to the east. I moved to the Holden Tower and amidst the flocks of Lapwing with Dunlin and a tight flock of Golden Plover, there were 2 Bewick’s Swans on the Dumbles. This is the first time this season that I have seen this species here. I moved back to the Rushy Pen via the Martin Smith hide where a Snipe was present in the usual place. On the Pen there were two Bewick’s Swans already at 1600. Three times two swans flew in at regular intervals and by 1640 there were 8 swans present at the feed. There were still only that number when I left in the near dark at 1655.
16th November 2012 – A damp, dank and misty day with some light drizzle and some much heavier rain for a short time after dark. At Slimbridge more Bewick’s Swans have arrived with a total of 15 present at the feed in the afternoon including a new family with 2 cygnets. At the Holden Tower, the visibility was poor. Lapwings were generally very well scattered in sparse flocks on both the Dumbles and the Tack Piece. 2 Snipe were in the usual place as seen from the Martin Smith Hide and the view from this hide across the Tack Piece was very quiet in the conditions.
15th November 2012 – A misty, damp morning which was quite foggy in part. At Slimbridge, there was one yearling Bewick’s Swan on the Rushy Pen and 16 White-fronted Geese flew over. From the Holden Tower, I found 2 more White-fronted Geese that were on the Dumbles and 2 later which were on the eastern side of the Tack Piece. These latter two could have some from the Dumbles so I had only definitely found 18 of the usual 20 birds. A mixed Lawing/Dunlin flock was also on the Dumbles but I could not see any Bewick’s Swans from the Tower. At 1545, two Snipe were noted from the Martin Smith Hide and there were 4 Bewick’s Swans on the Rushy Pen and then 5 came into view but only 3 landed. These birds are being very elusive so far this winter but I am sure that when more birds arrive they will settle down to a pattern and be spending more time in conspicuous places around the reserve.
13th November 2012 – An overcast, mild and breezy day with the temperature at 15 deg. C. at 1330. At Slimbridge there were no swans on the Rushy Pen but one flew in at 1330. From the Holden Tower there were many waders in several flocks on the Dumbles and included Lapwing, Golden Plover and Dunlin. 2 Buzzards, one light and one dark had an altercation on the Dumbles with the light one being the victor. I thought that the dispute was over food but neither had any and the second bird flew soon after the first. A large flock of Fieldfare with just a few Redwings were again along the hedgerow to the north of the Tower. Back at the Martin Smith hide, a Water Rail and a Snipe were again present. At the Rushy Pen at feed time, 3 Bewick’s Swans were present and finally at dusk, Whooper Swan was reported on South Lake. I went over and found this yellowneb with rust markings on the forehead and it looked agitated. As I though it would, it flew and at 1645 in the near dark it tracked to the south east and kept going.
11th November 2012 – A lovely, sunny day. I went to Slimbridge and checked the hedges all around the car park for the reported Waxwings but saw none. In the field to the north of the approach road there were approximately 20 White-fronted Geese but it was difficult to could them as they were in a piece of dead ground and not all of them were in view at any one time. I could not find any Bewick’s Swans on the Dumbles, River, Tack Piece or the Rushy Pen and although I checked the area from the Sloane Tower again, no swans were to be found anywhere. At the Zeiss Hide a Cetti’s Warbler was heard and a Water Rail seen but no sign of the Bittern. A Hawker species dragonfly was a very late November record. At South Finger, there was a small Lapwing flock with a few Dunlin and 2 Ruff. When I returned to the Rushy Pen in the late afternoon at 1600 there were 3 Bewick’s Swans already there and another flew in at 1615 and at 1635 three more flew in.
9th November 2012 – I checked The Moors again before I went to Slimbridge. Again, there were some swans behind the hedge in the distance but I could not tell which species they were.
At Slimbridge, a yearling Bewick’s Swan landed in the Big Pen. There were no swans to be seen anywhere else and from the Holden Tower it was noted that it was very quiet and not many birds present on the Dumbles or the Tack Piece in this keen wind.
8th November 2012 – I checked Walmore Common in the morning at 1140 for Bewick’s Swans but none were present. I then moved on to The Moors at 1220 for more searching. I managed to see at least 2 yellow-billed swans through a tiny gap in the far hedge of the field with the pylon in it. I had finally found some Bewick’s Swans and there was also at least 1 Mute Swan with them.
At Slimbridge Centre there were no Bewick’s Swans on the Rushy Pen. I checked the general area from the Sloane Tower and could find no trace of any swans except through the trees towards The Moors. No exact numbers could be made out as there is still plenty of leaves on the trees between the Tower and the fields, nevertheless, this sighting confirmed what I had seen earlier. From the Holden Tower, many Lapwing were scattered on the Dumbles and the Tack Piece along with some Black-tailed Godwits and Golden Plover which were also present. 20(3) White-fronted Geese were on the Tack Piece and very close to the Tower. 2 Snipe and a Water Rail were visible from the Martin Smith Hide and back on Rushy Pen at feed time, there were 3 adult Bewick’s Swans and one of them began calling constantly and moved to the middle of the lake. The cause of this calling was 3 Bewick’s Swans which flew over, circled and then flew off towards the canal. The family party were not present which means that there are now at least 9 different swans in the area.
7th November 2012 – Parked at the Stoneworks at Cannop and walked up the Gloucestershire Way to Nagshead Information Centre. It was very quiet but very wet nnderfoot. A Tawny Owl and a Barn Owl were heard near the Centre.
6th November 2012 – A bright morning but overcast with some very light rain in the afternoon. Slimbridge in the afternoon produced 8 Bewick’s Swans on Rushy Pen at 1400. From the Holden Tower there were many birds on the Dumbles including scattered Lapwing and many Barnacle/Canada Geese. The highlight was in excess of 300 winter thrushes along the hedgerow of the summer walkway. The majority were Fieldfare with a small number of Redwing. Back on the Rushy Pen, it was noted that there are more Pochard present than at any time of the winter so far. The pond was a bit unsettled and the family party of Bewick’s Swans flew but returned. No swans were present at the feed but as I left 3 flew from the north over the car park and appeared to turn towards Rushy Pen. At the same time, the 4 Cranes flew north.
5th November 2012 – A blue sky day but cold. I checked Walmore Common for Bewick’s Swans and then did the same at The Moors, near Slimbridge. Of note here was the sighting of a Hawker dragonfly along Penny Lane which was a good November record. At both places I found no swans. At Slimbridge, the first Bewick’s Swan family were on Rushy Pen. This was a known pair with one cygnet. At the Holden Tower, Lapwing, Golden Plover and Dunlin were notable as were the numerous Canada, Greylag and Barnacle Geese. Peregrine, Kestrel and Buzzard were the raptors present. In the afternoon, I moved on to the Zeiss Hide where the most numerous species was the Teal. Some Black-tailed Godwits and Dunlin were present. At South Finger, many Dunlin were with the Lapwing flock on the Bottom New Piece. The Little Egret was again near the flood defence bank. At South Lake there were many more Black-tailed Godwits but no ducks on the deep lake although the Great Crested Grebe was in the usual spot.
4th November 2012 – There was steady rain at dawn with 9mm overnight and 22mm already this month. I walked up the Gloucestershire Way from the Stoneworks at Cannop just after lunch. I moved on to the Long Trail where I found a very dark Fallow Deer buck with very marked antlers. I expect that it had been rutting. A mixed flock were around the straight section of the trail and these included at least 2 Bullfinch, several Chaffinch and some tit species. New steps have been cut into the bank on the west of the main path. Generally, the woods were quiet but when I was coming back to the area of the information centre along the shale track I disturbed a number of Wild Boar in the bracken behind a fence. They ran off but one large individual remained and looked at me before it moved off.
2nd November 2012 – No large numbers of birds were seen at home in Longhope this morning in the rain showers.
At Slimbridge I went over to South Lake to try to find the reported Yellow-browed Warbler. I could not find the bird and I went into the hide where a small number of Black-tailed Godwits were present but there were no ducks on the deep water lake today but the Great Crested Grebe and the Little Egret were in their usual places. I came out of the hide and found the warbler very easily. It was a very bright individual. At South Finger, a Lapwing and Dunlin flock were on the Bottom New Piece with 2 Ruff. A Little Egret was near the flood defence again. At the Zeiss Hide there were many Teal but few Black-tailed Godwits and some Redshank. From the Holden Tower, the Lapwing flock was widely scattered.
1st November 2012 – It was raining at dawn at Longhope and the trees and bushes were alive with birds which included Blue Tits and Redwings.
At Slimbridge there was only one Bewick’s Swan on the Rushy Pen when I arrived and I didn’t find the other two during the day. At the Holden Tower, I encountered the biggest flock of Golden Plover that I had seen so far this winter. A good number of Dunlin was with them. At South Finger, a Goldcrest was with what now seems to be a resident Blue Tit flock along the walkway. At the Zeiss Hide there were 350 Black-tailed Godwits and the Long-billed Dowitcher. Here, the Dunlin flock was the biggest that I had noted this winter. A Cetti’s Warbler was heard and I found a Bittern showing at the edge of the island to the south west. The wader all flew and a Peregrine was seen to give chase. No catch was seen but the twisting and turning flight was very dramatic.
30th October 2012 – On a very pleasant, dry day, I went once more to Slimbridge where I found that the two new Bewick’s Swan arrivals had joined up with the other bird and all three were on the Rushy Pen and bill pattern photographs were duly taken. From the Rushy Pen Hide, I noted a scarce bird in a Great White Egret which flew over the Tack Piece and then went south. At the Holden Tower, there were distant views of Golden Plover, Dunlin, Redshank and nearer, Lapwing, Barnacle Geese, Canada Geese, Greylag Geese and a single Egyptian Goose. Some Curlew were on the Tack Piece as was a Little Egret.
29th October 2012 – A dry day until the evening when 3mm of rain fell in a short time. At Slimbridge, I went to the Holden Tower and was scanning the Dumbles when I had a phone call from a researcher to say that there were two Bewick’s Swans flying over the Tack Piece. I looked out was able to see them immediately and they proceeded to land on the scrape in front of the hide. These were two new swans for the season. Later I found that the numbers of Whit-fronted Geese has risen slightly when I noted 19 of this species flying over the Rushy Pen at 1630.
28th October 2012 – A day with some rain, overcast and always damp. There was a fall of thrushes and Chaffinch at Longhope this morning.
In the afternoon, I walked up the Gloucestershire Way from the Stoneworks at Cannop to Nagshead RSPB Information Centre and back. Generally it was quiet in the woods and a light mist wafted through the trees in the growing darkness. A Long-tailed Tit flock roamed the Way on my way back and I noted two Fallow Deer does on the path in front of me. I then heard a buck barking not far from me. In the darkness I never did see him and the two females moved off to the west.
27th October 2012 – A beautiful blue sky day dawned but with an icy north easterly wind. The first Bewick’s Swan of the winter was reported to have arrived at WWT Slimbridge and I went down to have a look. The swan was on the Rushy Pen asleep. At the Holden Tower, there were Dunlin, Golden Plover and a Little Stint at the water by the southern cross fence. There were fewer birds in general on the Dumbles today. This was probably as a result of the strong, cold wind. From the Halfway Hide, I could see 12 White-fronted Geese in the distance on the Tack Piece. The Wigeon flock here is building up. I photographed the swans bill pattern when it woke up and then went to the South Finger Hide. A Ruff, some Golden Plover and a small Linnet flock were with the Lapwing. A tit flock was again by the entrance to the hide. At the Zeiss Hide it was a bit quiet but there were a lot of Teal on both the Top New Piece and the Bottom New Piece. On South Lake, the Long-billed Dowitcher was with a small flock of Black-tailed Godwits but the Little Egret had moved to the north end of the lake. In the car park, a Sparrowhawk was being harried by corvids high overhead.
26th October 2012 – There was some rain last night and at dawn this morning it was still overcast and much colder than of late. Thrush species were still present and flocks of unknown species were flying south. There certainly has been a lot of migration movement recently.
At Slimbridge it was overcast, cold and with a stiff northerly breeze. From the Holden Tower the Golden Plover flock had several Dunlin with them. At South Lake, the Little Egret was still in the same general location for the fifth day running. 135 Black-tailed Godwits were present and there were more Pochard in relation to the numbers of Tufted Duck, the latter numbers down on recent days. At the Zeiss Hide the Redshanks were in good numbers and there were good numbers too of Wigeon and Teal and these are building up nicely. 2 Spotted Redshank were in front of the hide when about 100 Black-tailed Godwits flew in with the Long-billed Dowitcher. A mixed tit flock was once again near the entrance to the South Finger Hide.
25th October 2012 – Late last night I stepped outside and could hear birds in the sky passing over Longhope. At dawn it was misty, mild and damp and more drizzle. There was, however, a lot of birds calling in the hedgerows and bushes. Several thrushes were again seen and a good sighting for late October was two hirundines over the house this morning.
At Ashleworth it was still overcast and damp and the Ham was flooded in front of the hide, although Hasfield Ham in the distance was not. Several duck species were present including Shoveler, Teal, Wigeon, Gadwall and Mallard. The migration of small passerines was also notable there and along the A38 to the south of Gloucester when I was on my way to WWT Slimbridge.
At the Holden Tower at Slimbridge, there were Redshank, Spotted Redshank, Lapwing, Curlew, Golden Plover and Dunlin. 4 Dark-bellied Brent Geese were on the river. At the Zeiss Hide there were about 100 Black-tailed Godwits and a Snipe along with some Redshank. At South Finger there was a Blue Tit flock by the hide entrance. A Chaffinch was with them but no other species. At South Lake there were another 70 Black-tailed Godwits and the long staying Long-billed Dowitcher, thus making 10 species of wader seen today. The Little Egret was in the same place as yesterday and the Great Crested Grebe was in among the Tufted Duck flock.
24th October 2012 – At breakfast time this morning, it was a similar day to the last three with overcast, misty and damp conditions. There were more thrush species in the area and another indication of some migration.
At Slimbridge, the conditions were similar but the visibility became better during the day and at least it was mild. A Darter dragonfly was on the wing in the car park. A Migrant Hawker was later seen at the dragonfly pond at South Finger. At the Holden Tower 2 Spotted Redshank were in the distance to the right and a flock of Golden Plover with a number of Dunlin were on the near river. 6 White-fronted Geese were in the near corner of the Top New Piece. Later from the Zeiss Hide, the same Bittern as seen yesterday gave glimpses through the reeds but it did not come out into the open while I was there. As yesterday, a Cetti’s Warbler called a few times and about 70 Black-tailed Godwits were sleeping at the waters edge. At South Finger the two raptors seen were Kestrel and Buzzard and another Cetti’s Warbler was calling. A Long-tailed Tit flock was again present very near to the hide entrance. Perhaps this was the same flock that I encountered yesterday. At South Lake there were 80 Black-tailed Godwits and the Long-billed Dowitcher again. The Little Egret was still in the same place for the third day. A Grey Heron was nearby and another of this species was in the distance to the south. Many Tufted Duck were again present but although I carefully checked through them I could not find any different species.
23rd October 2012 – I was out at 0430 at home in the mist listening for overflying migrants but heard none. At breakfast time there appeared to be some small passerine flocks overflying my home suggesting a migration passage. Also of note were Goldfinches seeking out the seeds of Ash Trees nearby.
I went to Slimbridge again and it was still the same overcast and misty weather with some slight drizzle. From the Holden Tower I could see a constant passage of small flocks of Starlings and other smaller passerines to the north east. There appeared to be fewer birds on the ground generally than yesterday. I moved on to the Zeiss Hide where the Bittern put on a show and both Cetti’s Warbler and Water Rail were heard calling. This Bittern appears to have a light patch on its right shoulder. 10 Redshank, 4 Dunlin and a single Golden Plover flew in. Many Teal were again present as yesterday and again a good number of this species were on the Bottom New Piece. I moved on to the hide at South Finger where a Hawker dragonfly was again on the wing. 2 Little Grebe were in the rhine an a Cetti’s Warbler was heard again. In the trees at the entrance to the hide there was a Blue Tit flock and a warbler was with them. As I found it, the flock took flight and I was able to see at least 12 Blue Tits. A minute or so later it appeared that the flock had returned but it turned out to be a different flock of Goldfinch. On South Lake, 79 Black-tailed Godwits and the Long-billed Dowitcher. The Little Egret was in the same place as yesterday. 165 Tufted Duck were present as was the single Great Crested Grebe.
22nd October 2012 – A dull, cloudy and misty dawn at Longhope with slight drizzle. At home, there were a number of thrush species in the trees near my home and there seemed to be some migration going on.
I went to Slimbridge where it was mild, damp and misty all day. A Long-tailed Tit flock was in the hedge near the car park. At the Holden Tower there were 6 White-fronted Geese on the Dumbles and a Buzzard looked large on the northern cross fence. I then went to the Zeiss Hide where a Bittern showed briefly in front of the hide. A Spotted Redshank was with the few Redshanks, Black-tailed Godwits and Lapwing at the edge of the water on the Top New Piece. The most numerous bird species present was Teal and these birds were both on the Top New Piece and the Bottom New Piece. A Herring Gull with a dark blue darvic with orange letters ‘BEA’ was perched on a fence post. I have seen this bird here about a year ago. I went on to South Finger looking for tit flocks and anything that may be with them on this ideal day for migration. A Long-tailed Tit flock with numerous Blue Tits were roaming near the hide. A Cetti’s Warbler was calling at the hide reedbeds and a Hawker species dragonfly was patrolling a track in front of the hide. Another Hawker species was flying around the dragonfly pond on this late date. At South Lake, there were 80 Black-tailed Godwits and the long staying Long-billed Dowitcher. A Great Crested Grebe was of note and Tufted Ducks were in abundance. Mist and then fog descended at dusk at Longhope.
21st October 2012 – A foggy morning. I drove through the Forest of Dean in bright and warm sunshine but when I got to Chepstow it was foggy again. It was quite windy as I crossed the old Severn Bridge and when I arrived at Slimbridge, it was overcast, damp and breezy. There were 6 White-fronted Geese seen from the Holden Tower. 4 Common Crane were on the Tack Piece. One appeared to be there and then departed a little earlier as I walked to the tower.
20th October 2012 – I went to Gigrin Farm Red Kite Centre for the feeding of the Kites this afternoon. There were in excess of 100 birds present at the feed. I have seen more but the spectacle was excellent as usual and lasted for about an hour. The ‘white’ Kite was with them as were at least 2 Buzzards. Again, I have seen many more of this species at this location.
19th October 2012 – A short visit to Slimbridge and 80 Black-tailed Godwits were at the edge of the scrape in front of the Holden Tower and thus were very close and I was able to see that none of these birds were carrying leg rings.
17th October 2012 – Slimbridge. From the Holden Tower I could see that the Dumbles were heavily flooded by the high tide and the strong wind behind it. There were many geese and other species present. Of note was a Spotted Redshank with at least 2 Redshank. At the Zeiss Hide the majority species was Teal. Some Black-tailed Godwits flew in and with them was the long staying Long-billed Dowitcher.
16th October 2012 – At Nagshead it was very quiet but Long-tailed Tit flocks have formed for the winter and one of these were roaming around the Gloucestershire Way. Jays were in evidence again over the Meadow and a Hawker dragonfly was over the ‘snake field’.
15th October 2012 – There were 2 Martin species over Longhope this morning, a good mid-October record. On Crabtree Hill again and there was another dragonfly species on the wing. A herd of Wild Boar ran through the Speech House Woodlands car park at quite a speed as I was setting off on my walk but they soon settled down and started browsing on the track near the picture window. They very soon melted away and were out of sight.
14th October 2012 – The first white frost of the autumn in Longhope this morning. At lunchtime I went and parked at Speech House Woodland car park and then walked to Crabtree Hill. I could not find the Stonechats but did find 3 Reed Buntings. There were a number of Jays flying about and in the trees there were many Goldcrests. There were 4 female Fallow Deer out in the open and a fantastic buck with full antlers not far away. A Small Copper butterfly was a late individual and was in fine condition. Another mid-October sighting was of 3 different Darter dragonflies at different points along my route.
13th October 2012 – A fine day. At the Zeiss Hide at WWT Slimbridge before lunch there were many Black-tailed Godwits. (About 490 were reported). The Long-billed Dowitcher was with them but it was sometimes difficult to find in the long vegetation and it seemed to go missing for minutes at a time. There were also good numbers of Golden Plover and Lapwing and at least one Redshank, Snipe and Ruff. A Bittern put in a brief appearance by climbing the vegetation on the island to the south of the hide but it soon dropped back out of sight after having a look around. On South Lake there were another 120 Black-tailed Godwits suggesting there must be about 600 of them on site. In the afternoon 3 Little Grebe were together on the scrape in front of the Halfway Hide. There has been much work done on the area outside of the Martin Smith hide and this should be good for viewing Snipe in the winter and today there was one sunning itself mid-afternoon.
12th October 2012 – A generally blue sky day with a few short but heavy showers. I went to WWT Slimbridge at lunchtime. There were now 5 White-fronted Geese on the Tack Piece. Four were together and one was with some nearby Greylag Geese. This bird was calling almost incessantly. There were many Black-tailed Godwits on South Lake and many Black-headed Gulls too. There were a lot more of the latter on Rushy Pen also.
10th October 2012 – I had a walk over Crabtree Hill this afternoon and found at least 2 Stonechat. There was male and female with possibly a second female present. A flock of 10 Redpoll were flying about the heath and there were several Jays crossing the open ground. 3 Fallow Deer in the distance was of note.
9th October 2012 – Two Swallows past Longhope today.
8th October 2012 – A wet day with drizzle for the whole of daylight hours. I went to Slimbridge and saw the 3 reported White-fronted Geese which are the first of the winter.
7th October 2012 – A blue sky day and there was some visible migration over Longhope in the form of thrush species. I walked up the Gloucestershire Way from the Stoneworks at Cannop and found it very wet underfoot. In fact, it was probably the wettest that I have known it. There were also quite a number of midges in the middle of the day which is also quite unusual. This is probably a legacy of the extremely wet summer. 11 Tufted Duck were on the southern pond at Cannop. I cut my hedge at home and found the Dunnock and Blackbird nests that I had noted the birds going to and from earlier in the year.
6th October 2012 – I went to Symonds Yat and arrived at 1845 and stayed for an hour until it was dark. I heard Tawny Owl over by Coldwell Rocks and another to the north of the viewpoint but very close to it. I thought I heard a Barn Owl in the distance but could not be sure but did not get any sightings of owls. A still, clear evening with excellent visibility.
4th October 2012 – At Symonds Yat in the afternoon one of the Peregrines was perched up throughout my visit of 1 ½ hours. Otherwise it was fairly quiet with 3 Fallow Deer opposite the viewpoint. The visibility was excellent this afternoon and there was a steady but small passage of Swallows.
3rd October 2012 – At Slimbridge there were many birds and on South Lake there were a lot of Black-headed Gulls. One had a white darvic ‘2N20’ which I have reported. Lapwing, Redshank and Black-tailed Godwit were there in good numbers too. From the Holden Tower, Curlew and at least 10 Grey Plover were on the river, 2 Buzzards and a Peregrine on the Dumbles and a Kestrel to the north.
2nd October 2012 – 4 Fallow Deer were at Boy’s Grave and another 2 over the stile on the other side of the road from the car park.
1st October 2012 – Hirundines were over Bixslade Tramway, Cannop making an October record. On the southern pond at Cannop there were 9 Tufted Duck, at least 10 Mandarin Duck and a Grey Wagtail was at Cannop Marsh. On the feeders at the Stone Works, there were 4 Siskin.