Diary – October to December 2015


31st December 2015 – A crest near Garway church had me thinking Firecrest but once I had relocated the bird, it turned out to be a Goldcrest  A Nuthatch was in the same hedge and generally speaking there was a lot of bird activity in the area during a sunny lunchtime. 


30th December 2015 – It was a stormy very early morning and heavy rain during the afternoon and into the evening made for unpleasant conditions.


29th December 2015 – There were at least 3 different Goosanders on the River Wye at Wilton Bridge, Ross-on-Wye on a bright and very mild, sunny day.


27th December 2015 - Like the 25th of December it was very wet.

25th December 2015 - It was a very wet day in the Forest of Dean where it rained for all of the daylight hours.

23rd December 2015 - Redwings were still feeding on holly berries around the short trail at RSPB Nagshead this morning.

22nd December 2015 - At WWT Slimbridge there were a total of 84 Bewick's Swans on the southern end of the Dumbles and 5 more were on the Tack Piece giving a total for the day of 89 birds.  7 Common Crane were also on the Dumbles.

15th December 2015 - I spent some time at WWT Slimbridge getting Bewick's Swan bill pattern photographs for the research department.  I made a count of 84(16) swans today.  Migration of species from the arctic regions has been held up by the mild conditions and the continual run of low pressure systems coming over the Atlantic giving south westerly winds which the birds do not favour.  The Greater Scaup was on the Rushy Pen today.

14th December 2015 - There were plenty of Redwings feeding on holly berries around the short trail at RSPB Nagshead today.  There are plenty of these berries but other species such as Rowan have either had a bad year or have been exhausted.

9th December 2015 - A short walk at RSPB Nagshead revealed 5 Fallow Deer.

8th December 2015 – There were four male and one female Goosander on the river at Ross-on-Wye.


7th December 2015 – I went to WWT Slimbridge for the afternoon.  The Bewick’s Swans were spending the day off site and not in their usual loafing place on the Tack Piece although a few were on the Dumbles.  However, the Greenland White-fronted Geese were there in the beautiful sunshine.  This was a day which was the first with blue sky for some time which probably explains the different behaviour of the swans. 


4th December 2015 – During a walk in the woods at RSPB Nagshead, I came across a very active wasp nest in the Information Centre building which was quite surprising since it is early December.  The weather has been very mild so far this winter and this must have helped keeping them active.  It was also a mild if windy day.


2nd December 2015 – There was much flooding along the riverside at Ross-on-Wye today.  There were many gulls spread out over the vast expanse of water including a Black-headed Gull in full summer, breeding plumage with the brown hood. 


24th November 2015 – I went to Slimbridge to view the Bewick’s Swans whose numbers have increased over the weekend and there were at least 45 on the Tack Piece during the afternoon.


17th November 2015 – I made another visit to WWT Slimbridge.  The mild weather with almost continual south west winds has not made it conducive for birds migrating from Europe.  Indeed, not only were there no increase in Bewick’s Swan numbers, but there were less birds there today with some apparently being reported in Somerset.  They are almost certainly Slimbridge birds.


13th November 2015 – In Ross-on-Wye, I found two female Goosanders on the River Wye.  These two were the first of the winter that I have seen.  A Peregrine high over Ross town was the other highlight of my visit. 


11th November 2015 – After attending the armistice celebrations in Ross-on-Wye, I walked up river and found a Kingfisher with a fish.  I have seen one at this point in the river before. 


4th November 2015 – During a walk by the river in Ross-on-Wye, I noted a Black-headed Gull with a red darvic ring with the characters ‘2AFJ’ inscribed on it.  It turns out that it was ringed in Nottinghamshire.


3rd November 2015 – A walk over Crabtree Hill produced two Fallow Deer melting away into the trees and a pair of Reed Buntings around the muddy middle path. 

          The biggest Fallow Deer buck was in the car park between the two ponds at Cannop in the dark during the late afternoon.  It had a fine set of antlers.  Again this animal melted away into the darkness of the trees.  It was an impressive feat for such a huge animal.


2nd November 2015 - I made a visit to the WWT reserve at Slimbridge.  The highlight was the appearance of the Bewick’s Swans back for the winter.  There were 23 of them on the Rushy Pen at feed time.  One of them was one of the neck-collared birds that had been fitted with a transmitter earlier in the year.  These (there are other birds with them) are producing very good and accurate data of their migration routes and summering areas. 


1st November 2015 – There were Redwings and Woodpeckers were the highlight of a walk around the woods at Milkwall this morning.


20th October 2015 – I have noted of late that there is plenty of Wild Boar tillage on Penyard Hill and today I also walked over Chase Hill near Ross-on-Wye and again I came across plenty of evidence of Wild Boar.  It would appear that the population of the Forest of Dean is expanding its territory.


19th October 2015 – Late this morning, I walked up Penyard Hill from Weston-under-Penyard.  There were a lot of Blackbirds in the orchards near the church and over on the western slopes of the hill there were at least 40 Meadow Pipits on the short sward of the large fields containing many horses. 


17th October 2015 – I made a late morning walk over Crabtree Hill.  There were 3 Stonechat together at the southern end and along the middle path there were at least 10 Common Crossbill in one of the trees.  Around the hill, there were plenty of Linnets, Siskins and Redpolls.  There were certainly plenty of birds present today.


16th October 2015 – There were quite a number of Redwings in the trees at Longhope this morning not long after dawn. 

          There were 215 Canada Geese and 40 Mute Swans on the River Wye just downstream from Wilton Bridge at Ross-on-Wye.


15th October 2015 – There were plenty of Wild Boar again in the RSPB Nagshead reserve around the area of the Gloucestershire Way.


12th October 2015 – At WWT Slimbridge, there was a Brent Goose with the Barnacle Goose flock on the Dumbles before lunch.  I noted my first Pochards of the winter on Rushy Pen and with them was a hybrid bird.  A Stonechat was an unusual species in the hedgerow just to the south of the approach road.  There were several Red Admiral butterflies along the canal towpath to the south of Patch Bridge which was a good October record.  A freshly dead Migrant Hawker dragonfly was on the approach road. The first Bewick’s Swan of the winter season flew onto the Rushy Pen at 1600 and began to feed.  Earlier in the day there were Swallows over the Pochards thus the last of the summer migrants met the first of the winter migrants. Finally, there were 4 ‘white’ geese with the Canada Goose flock on the Top New Piece which also included some Canada/Greylag hybrids.  This was quite a ‘mismash’ of genes.


11th October 2015 – At RSPB Nagshead I found a number of Wild Boar again and again they were in the same place that I have been seeing them regularly of late.  Where the long and short trails diverge, I came across a group of 7 Fallow Deer, of which 3 were black.

          There was a report from WWT Slimbridge today that the first of the Bewick’s Swans has arrived for the winter.


10th October 2015 – At Wilton Bridge, Ross-on-Wye there were no Canada Geese today.  Instead in the same area of the river were 43 Mute Swans and only one of these was a bird of the year.  Also with them was a lone Black Swan.


9th October 2015 – Late this afternoon, I walked up the Gloucestershire Way from the Stoneworks at Cannop and found a group of 20 Wild Boar.  None of them was particularly small.  I am seeing Wild Boar on every walk in the forest at the moment and have been doing so for over 3 weeks now.


8th October 2015 – I walked from Ross-on-Wye town centre to the river and discovered a Little Egret just about in the town area.  I have not seen one of this species in this location before. An Admiral Butterfly was on the wing too. 


7th October 2015 – I made a very short visit to WWT Slimbridge this afternoon.  I wanted to see the landscaping which has been done on the Top New Piece as viewed from the Zeiss Hide.  Some islands have been created which will enable waders to roost and possibly breed and these are viewed easily from the hide.  The excellent viewing from this hide has just been made better!  There were plenty of Teal showing and a small flock of Dunlin was also present.


5th October 2015 – I was in Ross-on-Wye and walked down to Wilton Bridge.  There were no Sand Martins at the bridge.  They must all have left on migration.  However there was a flock of 215 Canada Geese on the river along with 8 Mute Swans. 


4th October 2015 – I walked up the Gloucestershire Way from the Stoneworks at Cannop on a very misty morning.  I did not find any Wild Boar in the areas that I have regularly found them in the last few weeks but the visibility was poor under the canopy.  On my return about half an hour later, I found at least 4 along the short trail at RSPB Nagshead and then another 8 in the usual area.  A large animal gave me a very close look before grunting loudly and running off.  This sparked the other to run too. 


3rd October 2015 – I had a short walk on a very misty morning up Barrel Lane at Longhope.  It was generally quiet but the highlight was a Goldcrest which was intensively feeding in a broad-leafed tree.


2nd October 2015 – I made an early morning walk at RSPB Nagshead.  There were plenty of Wild Boar and again they were to be found not far beyond the turning of the short trail up the hill.  They seem to have been in this area for quite a number of days.  There are all sorts of colours with some of the younger and smaller ones being golden brown.  I did see a huge black animal and also a very large but quite a grey haired individual.  A lone brown female was foraging about 20m from the short trail.  She looked at me for a few seconds and then continued to forage and I walked on along the trail.  She looked up again and then suddenly she broke into a sprint and charged me for no apparent reason.  I have been mock charged several times and the animal stops and then retreats.  This time the animal kept coming and veered off and passed me by about 5m.  They seem to be more inquisitive than they used to be and although they run off when they are aware of me, they come back, sometimes twice, to look again.  A Fallow Deer was near one group of Boar near the far end of the short trail.


1st October 2015 – It was a fine autumnal day after a misty dawn.  I went to WWT Slimbridge for the AGM and then went to the Zeiss Hide to look for the reported Semi-palmated Sandpiper, an American wader which along with other waders had been forced off the river by the very high tides this week.  There were more Red Knot present than I have ever seen at this location and also there were a flock of Dunlin and at least one Little Stint.  The area where these birds were was open but with mounds of dried mud which made observation difficult.  However, after a few minutes of careful scanning, I found this rare bird. The back was generally light brown with two very faint darker lines.  The supercilium although not strong was more noticeable than on any other of the similar waders.  It was smaller than the numerous Dunlin but more plump than a nearby Stint.  This was an excellent bird.

          In the car park there were Wood Pigeons mating and at the barns by Patch Bridge, another of this species was gathering nesting material.  This species breeds almost throughout the year except for the deepest part of the winter.

          There was a small passage of Swallows both at home at Longhope and at Slimbridge. 

General Note.  It will be interesting to see if the Wild Boars which seem to be resident at RSPB Nagshead in the area just to the north of the far end of the short trail remain there this month.



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