Diary - October to December 2014


31st December 2014 – There was a male Stonechat at the southern end of Crabtree Hill this afternoon and a Kestrel spent much time hunting over the main part of the hill.

          At RSPB Nagshead there was at least 4 Fallow Deer just off the Gloucestershire Way, in the same area as yesterday, and a lone large Wild Boar was at the far end of the short trail.


30th December 2014 – I walked through RSPB Nagshead Reserve early this morning.  The highlight was a pair of Bullfinches by the Information Centr and a large flock of Redwing around the short trail.

          Late in the afternoon I walked through the Reserve again as dusk approached and found three Fallow Deer on the Gloucestershire Way.  Hair Ice was again seen today.


29th December 2014 – It was another very cold day.  I walked over Crabtree Hill and on to Serridge Ridge.  There was a female Stonechat on the hill, three Fallow Deer at Drybrook Road Station and a large Chaffinch flock on the Ridge itself.

          Later in the day, I walked through RSPB Nagshead Reserve and found two more Fallow Deer near the furthest point of the short trail. There were several instances of Hair Ice today.  Conditions have to right for this to form and it is often very transient. 


28th December 2014 – A very cold but sunny day today but the temperature was negative at the end of the day.  There were two Fallow Deer at the far end of the long trail at RSPB Nagshead today.


27th December 2014 - A Goshawk was over Crabtree Hill for a while today but I could not find the Shrike or the Stonechats.  There was a little sleet in the air as I went over Plump Hill on my way back this afternoon.


26th December 2014 – There was only one Hawfinch at Kensley Lodge today but the Great Grey Shrike was at the top of Crabtree Hill and a female Stonechat was nearby too.  A tiny Goldcrest was in the only and tiny conifer on the middle path over the hill.  There was heavy rain this afternoon and overnight. 


25th December 2014 – I walked over Crabtree Hill at noon.  On the way, I noted two Hawfinches at Kensley Lodge and although I could not find the Great Grey Shrike, there were two Stonechats near the top of the hill.  Near Drybrook Road Station there was a mixed tit flock which also included Siskin, Redpoll, Goldfinch and Goldcrest.  On Serridge Ridge there was a small flock of Chaffinch but I could not find any Bramblings. 

          Later in the afternoon, I walked around Nagshead RSPB Reserve.  There was a pair of Bullfinch near the Nursery Pond and three Fallow Deer on the Gloucestershire Way.  Otherwise the woods were quiet this afternoon both in terms of birds and of people on this Christmas Day. 


22nd December 2014 – I made a short visit in the afternoon to WWT Slimbridge to make a count of the Bewick’s Swans.  See the Bewick’s Swans sightings page for the details.  At least one Sparrowhawk was disturbing the birds on the Tack Piece as was a small falcon, probably a Merlin at about the same time. 


21st December 2014 – A Kingfisher was perched on the top of a Reedmace head at the Nursery Pool at Nagshead RSPB Reserve at 1500.  Unfortunately, it was a dull day and at that time it was beginning to get dark and unsuitable light for a photograph.


19th December 2014 – I had a walk over Chase Hill at Ross-on-Wye this morning.  It was really a reconnaissance trip to look at the habitat but as I walked on the lower slopes, a Sparrowhawk came through really low and was hunting over the gardens of nearby houses. 


18th December 2014 – At WWT Slimbridge, I caught up with Bewick’s Swans again (see Bewick’s Swan page) and of note were 7 Common Cranes, 5 on the Tack Piece and 2 on the Dumbles.  These birds are from the reintroduction scheme. 


16th December 2014 – At WWT Slimbridge, a Marsh Harrier flew slowly past the Holden Tower to the south and disappeared into the gloom at 1530.  I was counting Bewick’s Swans at the time in various fields and at the feed at 1600, the reported ringed Whooper Swan was on the Rushy Pen. 


15th December 2014 – There was a good number of Redwings foraging in the leaf litter around the short trail at Nagshead. 


14th December 2014 – A dull and damp day with intermittent drizzle.  At dusk I was on the western ridge of the Cannop Valley.  There appeared to be a steady stream of birds dropping into the dead bracken and clumps of very young Birch saplings, apparently going to roost.  A mixed party of tits including Long-tailed Tits dropped in followed by some Blackbirds.  As the darkness gathered, they did not reappear.


10th December 2014 – Of note today was the sight of 6 Little Egrets standing close together in one of the road fields on the approach to WWT Slimbridge Centre late this afternoon.


9th December 2014 – A very dull and damp day with often very light drizzle.  I walked up from the Stoneworks at Cannop to RSPB Nagshead.  There were several tit flocks roving the woods and at the turn of the short trail, there was a small flock of Redwings foraging on the ground.  At least one Fallow Deer was on the Gloucestershire Way.


8th December 2014 – I went to WWT Slimbridge at lunchtime to look for and count the Bewick’s Swans. (See the dedicated page).  It was very quiet along the canal between Patch Bridge and Cambridge Arms Bridge. 

          Back at the Centre, the Water Rail was again under the feeders at the Willow Hide.  Although there was my biggest total of Bewick’s Swans on the Rushy Pen at last light, there appeared to be far fewer ducks than usual and very few Pochard present. 


7th December 2014 – I walked up the Coombe Hill Canal from the western end as far as the newly repaired Campbell Hide.  There were thousands of winter thrushes all along the road by the river and all the way up the canal.  It was quite a sight.  There was plenty of waterfowl including Canada and Greylag Geese, many Lapwing and at least 4 Grey Herons and a Little Egret.

          At Ashleworth there were more geese in the darkness at 1645, presumably there to roost. 


6th December 2014 – It was one of the coldest nights of the autumn/winter so far with the temperature dropping to almost -2 deg. C.


3rd December 2014 – While I was gathering data on the Bewick’s Swans at WWT Slimbridge this afternoon, I came across a Water Rail feeding out in the open under the feeders at the Willow Hide.

A Pink-footed Goose was with the Greylag Geese near the metal watertrough on the Dumbles mid-afternoon.


27th November 2014 – I made a short visit to WWT Slimbridge in the afternoon.  Of note were 7 Common Cranes together on the Tack Piece at 1540.  All were from the Crane release programme and therefore all were colour ringed.  The rings were as follows – Red/Green/Red, Red/Green/Black, Red/Blue/White, Blue/Green/Yellow, Red//Yellow/Green, Red/Yellow/White and Red/Blue/Black. 


25th November 2014 – It was a day of contrasts in the weather.  Overnight it was very cold again with the temperature notably below zero but as the morning progressed, the temperature rose quickly but not by much.  It was positive by mid-morning and by the afternoon, it was very damp with some rain.


24th November 2014 – It was a very cold night and a frost this morning in Longhope. 

At WWT Slimbridge, there were Bewick’s Swans in a field up the Sharpness Canal (See the sightings page).


20th November 2014 – A female Goosander was on the River Wye near Wilton Bridge when I walked over it at lunchtime today.


19th November 2014 – A Pink-footed Goose was on the Rushy Pen with the Greylag Geese at WWT Slimbridge this afternoon.  The former is very rare on this pond. 


18th November 2014 – A Small Tortoiseshell and Red Admiral butterflies were on the wing in a garden in Milkwall, Forest of Dean today.  These were notable records in late November. 


17th November 2014 – I made an afternoon visit to WWT Slimbridge.  See my Bewick’s Swan page.


16th November 2014 – A walk around the trails at RSPB Nagshead provided two sightings of Fallow Deer.  One animal was a magnificent buck and the others were does.  Generally the woods were quiet on a dull and damp day.


15th November 2014 – I walked over Penyard Hill from Weston-under-Penyard to Ross.  There is much evidence of Wild Boar tillage on the hill.  They are spreading out and they will soon be around my home in Longhope. 

          At Wilton Bridge the river is high but there was a Kingfisher which flew from under the bridge to a riverside tree to scan for fish. 


14th November 2014 – A warm and very sunny day after initial rain.  While trying to find some Bewick’s Swans at The Moors to the south east of WWT Slimbridge, I found a coloured butterfly on the wing and three or possible five Common Cranes on the flooded fields.  About 200 gulls were in the pylon field but no swans to be seen.

          Later I walked south along the canal from Patch Bridge.  Again a butterfly was seen and this time I was able to see it well enough to identify it as a Peacock.  This was a good record for the middle of November as was a Darter species of dragonfly which may have been a Common Darter but again I did not get a good view.  


13th November 2014 – It was a dull but mild day at Slimbridge.  There was a small party of White-fronted Geese on the Dumbles and the Pink-footed Goose was on the Tack Piece.  At the swan feed on Rushy Pen, there were two Common Cranes feeding in the background and after the feed a Sparrowhawk passed through the pond area. 


12th November 2014 - I went to WWT Slimbridge and found that there were more Bewick’s Swans present.  A Pink-footed Goose was on the Tack Piece with the resident Greylag Geese.  From the Holden Tower there was a very large flock of Golden Plover which were temporarily disturbed by the flyover of a Marsh Harrier.  A Little Stint was foraging on the right hand side of the scrape in front of the Tower and 25 White-fronted Geese were to the north on the Dumbles. 

          Of note I found a Bewick’s Swan on Rushy Pen at the feed with a yellow ring, bleached white with the characters ‘YXU’.   This is a swan named Riddler who first came to WWT Slimbridge in 1991.


9th November 2014 – Two Red Admiral butterflies were on the wing at Westonbirt this morning and a Wasp was ‘sharing my sandwich’ at lunchtime.  It was a mild day in the sunshine.


6th November 2014 – I had a report this morning of the arrival of the first Bewick’s Swans of the season at WWT Slimbridge.  The two resident Mute Swans on Rushy Pen were chasing the other swans on occasions and a Marsh Harrier flew over.


4th November 2014 – Today at home, a male Sparrowhawk was perched on my neighbours wall about 5 metres from my kitchen window.  I watched this bird carefully.  It was intently following the movements of the passerines flying to and from a nearby feeder by moving its head in a somewhat exaggerated way.  I did not see it make a catch. 


3rd November 2014 – Today I made a visit to WWT Slimbridge to see if any Bewick’s Swans had arrived for the winter.  I found none but several Common Cranes at various locations.  On the Dumbles, there was a pair with colour rings Blue/Green/Yellow and Red/Blue/White. To the south of the Dumbles there was a single bird Red/Yellow/Green.  At the same time on the Tack Piece there were the well-known birds Red/Green/Black and Red/Blue/Black.  There were a total of 7 different Cranes seen today but I was unable to see the rings on two of them.  Also from the Holden Tower there were 4 Shoveler out on the grass grazing like Wigeon.  From the Zeiss Hide there was a selection of waders including Redshank, Black-tailed Godwits, Lapwing, Dunlin and two Spotted Redshanks which were feeding in deep water and spinning like Phalaropes. While I was checking through the Godwits, a flock of 19 Knot flew in.  This is a record number of this species for me at this site. 


2nd November 2014 – I walked over Crabtree Hill on a day of heavy showers.  There was a female Stonechat near the top of the hill as was the local Kestrel again.  I found the Great Grey Shrike near the shale track at the southern end of the hill. 


1st November 2014 – It was a little cooler today over Crabtree Hill, there was a Kestrel hovering and searching for food.  Later there was a Goshawk to the west.  On the middle path there was a Darter dragonfly and at least 2 Red Admiral.  These two species were a good record for November. 

          On Serridge Ridge there were 2 male Fallow Deer with small antlers.  Later on the track down by Trafalgar House there were 6 female deer of the same species.  Here also were a flock of Siskin in a small oak tree. 

          On the return short trail at Nagshead RSPB reserve there was a small female Fallow Deer which was very dark with a black rump which was unusual.


31st October 2014 – At Serridge Ridge today, there were some small flocks of Goldfinch and Siskin.  There was also a larger flock of Goldfinch at Foxes Bridge ‘nodding donkey’ site.  Also there were numerous Redwings and a few Fieldfares.  An extremely mild day for the last day of October with the temperature at 1300 being 19 deg. C..


30th October 2014 – I went to WWT Slimbridge again and spent an hour in the Zeiss Hide.  There were not too many birds and waders seemed to be a bit thin on the ground.  Snipe, a few Black-tailed Godwits and some Lapwing were present.  The Teal numbers by contrast appear to be slowly increasing.  The Peregrine was on the same fence post as on 24th October.


29th October 2014 – I made another trip to WWT Slimbridge on a misty and damp day with some drizzle.  The Marsh Harrier flew across the Tack Piece late in the afternoon in the murky conditions.  Most of the Greylag Geese took flight when this happened.  There were a few more Pochard on the Tack Piece but there are no Bewick’s Swans on site yet. 


28th October 2014 – I went to Crabtree Hill late this morning to look for the reported Great Grey Shrike.  I walked up the centre path and caught a glimpse of what I thought was the Shrike to the west.  I returned down the path which joins the Gloucestershire Way and I could see the bird in a gap in the trees in a tree with no leaves left on it.  By turning back on myself along the Gloucestershire Way, I got close enough to the bird for some reasonable photographs (one in the photo section – see the home page).  I moved on later to the east and found a large flock of Goldfinch.  Other birds were a close fly over Goshawk and a Kestrel was hunting over the hill.  As it was getting dark, I moved back over to the new clearing to the west of the hill and found the Shrike again not far from where I had first seen it but I was observing from the other side of the area.  I suspect that it would roost close by.  Later, near Speech House as I concluded a roundabout walk, I found a bat flying overhead.  This was a good record on a warm, late October day when the temperature reached about 21 deg. C, after a beautiful clear but very mild night.


27th October 2014 – At WWT Slimbridge this afternoon, there was another display by the Marsh Harrier as it came south along the river bank in a leisurely manner and occasionally mobbed by other birds. 

          Late tonight at 2300GMT, there was a passage of Redwing over Longhope on a clear night when I could hear them calling.  A Northern Winter moth flew into the kitchen when I opened the door to go and check for night migration.


24th October 2014 – I went to WWT Slimbridge again this afternoon. I went down to the Zeiss Hide and of note were 15 Snipe, a Peregrine and a Marsh Harrier which gave exceptional flight views.  Also of note and somewhat unusual was the presence of a pair of Stonechats. On South Lake there were many Herring Gulls with the Black-headed Gulls.  Also among the Cormorants, there was one with a green darvic ring with white letters ‘SLJ’ on the right leg.  The metal ring was only partially read and the numbers seen were ‘267102’.


23rd October 2014 – I made a short visit to WWT Slimbridge in the afternoon.  There were still four White-fronted Geese and a Peregrine on the Dumbles. 


22nd October 2014 – The wind had died down overnight but there were no Bewick’s Swans reported and I could not find any during an afternoon search at WWT Slimbridge.  The four White-fronted Geese were on the Dumbles and a Peregrine was on the edge of the Dumbles.  The numbers of Teal and Wigeon have gradually increased over the past few days and the ponds and scrapes are now getting a reasonable number of waterfowl. 


21st October 2014 – It was a very windy day with occasional rain.  The apparent Ruddy Shelduck was on the Rushy Pen and as such it was possible to make a close inspection of the plumage.  It has a black mark on the top of its head suggesting that it is almost certainly a hybrid.  It is very much like a bird that was seen last year which had a noticeable black patch on the top of its head.  If this bird remains for a few weeks it will be interesting to see if the small black patch develops as any remaining moult occurs. 


20th October 2014 – I made another visit to WWT Slimbridge.  On the Dumbles was an apparent Ruddy Shelduck.  Also there were the four White-fronted Geese including the juvenile and the Pink-footed Goose was near the Holden Tower on the Tack Piece.  From the Stephen Kirk Hide, there was a Greenshank with 3 Redshank.  I had heard it calling as I entered the hide and at first could not see it but when it called again, I found it partially hidden by some rushes. It was a finely marked bird.  There were at least 7 Pochard on the Rushy Pen which were the first that I have seen this autumn.


17th October 2014 – At Lydney Harbour, the highlight was of a Kingfisher flying along the river shore and later fishing in the canal.

          At WWT Slimbridge there were Marsh Harrier, Buzzard and Peregrine all together on the Dumbles and on the Tack Piece there were the same pair of Common Cranes as seen there on 15th October. 


16th October 2014 – I had a walk at Nagshead RSPB reserve.  At the Nursery Pool there were 3 Southern Hawker dragonflies and a Ruddy Darter.  This was a good record for mid-October. A Red Admiral butterfly was at the Information Centre.

          Later at Russell’s Inclosure, there were 4 Stonechats.


15th October 2014 – Today started with a dull morning and then for the third day in a row, there was heavy rain.  Another nearly 3 mm had fallen by mid-evening.  I made another trip to WWT Slimbridge.  The Great Crested Grebe was still on the Rushy Pen.  From the Holden Tower, I found 5 White-fronted Geese which included the first juvenile of the season.  On the estuary there were 4 Dark-bellied Brent Geese.  A lone Common Crane with red/yellow/green rings was joined by two more with rings red/yellow/white and red/green/red.  On the Tack Piece there were two more Common Cranes with rings red/green/black and red/blue/black.


14th October 2014 – Another wet day with about 5 mm of rain.  There seemed to be a lot of birds around my home in Longhope this morning.  The majority were Great Tits, Chaffinches and Goldfinches in that order.  There seems to have been a fall in the misty and very damp conditions.  It was ideal for forcing passing migrants down.  A flock of thrush species also passed overhead.  They were probably Redwings. 


13th October 2014 – A very wet day with about 8 mm of rain, mostly this afternoon.  I went to WWT Slimbridge.  A Great Crested Grebe was on the Rushy Pen.  This is an unusual species for that lake.  It must be several years since I have seen one here.  There was a sign of winter in that there were a number of Golden Plover with the Lapwings on the Dumbles this afternoon.  The Teal numbers look to have increased recently and at least 30 Pintail on the Holden Tower scrape. 


8th October 2014 – I went to WWT Slimbridge for the afternoon.  It was a bit blustery but there was a single Chiffchaff in the hedge from the Knott Hide and from the Halfway Hide, there was a small passage of House Martins and Swallows over the cattle on the Tack Piece.  Also on this field was a flock of Greylag Geese which included the 2 White-fronted Geese and a Pink-footed Goose.  Later, they all flew and some of the geese landed in the Rushy Pen and of these, the 2 White-fronted Geese were present.  The Pink-footed Goose must have carried on elsewhere with the rest of the flock. 


5th October 2014 – I did the same walk up May Hill as yesterday.  There was no sign of any Mistle Thrushes but there was a small passage of House Martins at Beech Grove and near May Hill Farm there were a minimum of 60 Goldfinch flying around. 


4th October 2014 – I had a short walk up May Hill as far as May Hill Farm.  As I climbed up, I found several small flocks of about 6 birds each of Mistle Thrush, thus I concluded a small passage of this species. 


3rd October 2014 – A nearly all black Fallow Deer stag was near the Gloucestershire Way not far from the Stoneworks at Cannop.  It appeared to have 3 points on each antler.


 1st October 2014 – I made an afternoon visit to WWT Slimbridge.  There was a lot of ground work going on in preparation for the winter season and birdwise it was very quiet.  There were 3 Ruff and a Green Sandpiper from the Halfway Hide and 3 Chiffchaff in the big hedge from the Knott Hide. 



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