Diary – October to December 2017


31st December 2017 – I had a short walk at RSPB Nagshead this morning.  There were a lot of Grey Squirrels about and probably more here than I have ever seen before.  A male Bullfinch was along the Bixlade Tramway and around the woods there were roving mixed parties of various tits.

30th December 2017 – There were 2 Great White Egrets and 4 Little Egrets near the rowing club early this afternoon.  The 4 were on the other side of the river to the club and the larger birds were around the brook that runs past the club and into the river.  This is a first for me for Ross-on-Wye and is the 54 species for the year for my Ross town boundary year list. 

21st December 2017 – A Little Egret was in the brook near the rowing club.  The river has been high and there is a lot of debris lodged against the uprights of Wilton Bridge.  Understandably, the Environment Agency has to wait for the river level to go down before this can be removed.

20th December 2017 – I went to Westonbirt Arboretum again today and there were many more people walking around and consequently there were fewer birds than on 15th December.  However, the highlight was of two Goldcrests foraging in a large shrub on my return walk.  A Buzzard was perched up nearby.

19th December 2017 – I made a short visit to WWT Slimbridge today.  There are now 18 Bewick’s Swans present.  This is a very low number for the time of year but the weather on the continent is reported to be mild and there must be plenty of food for the swans and thus they are taking their time in moving further south-west.  Buzzard and Peregrine were the raptors present.  Also, Teal, Wigeon, White-fronted Geese, Lapwings, Curlew, Godwits, three Common Cranes and other geese were present on the Tack Piece. Back at Ross-on-Wye, there were a lot of Blackbirds foraging along the river to Wilton Bridge.

15th December 2017 – At Westonbirt Arboretum, there were a number of passerines including many Chaffinch and Blackbirds foraging in the leaf litter under some of the maple trees in the collection area of that species of tree.  The highlight was of one Hawfinch which was with them. 

14th December 2017 – Another day with a number of Blackbirds foraging around the town.  Little Egrets were notable flying around by the brooks and the river.  The latter is high after the heavy snow and the subsequent thawing. 

10th December 2017 – There was heavy snow overnight and, just after dawn there were a number of small flocks of thrushes flying purposefully south-east.  Around the shrubs and bushes of the garden there were many passerines foraging in the poor weather.

9th December 2017 – At least 2 Grey Herons and a Little Egret were either on the roof of Ross swimming pool or perched in trees nearby.  There are eying the multitude of fish in the local brook which runs behind the pool.

8th December 2017 – A Kingfisher was along Rudhall Brook next to the building where I live today.

7th December 2017 – There seemed to be a bit of bird movement today. Again, there were numerous Blackbirds around Ross-on-Wye today and there were gulls and smaller passerines passing over quite high up.  There were many thrush species around the shrubs near the sandstone cliffs near the bandstand just outside of the town.

4th December 2017 – During my walk around Monmouth today, there seemed to be Blackbirds everywhere.  Indeed, while waiting for the bus in Canteloup Road in Ross-on-Wye, there were a number busily foraging for berries around the library buildings.  In Monmouth, most seem to be around the grounds of Chippenham Park. 

21st November 2017 – There are a lot of fish present in Rudhall Brook, near Greytree Road in Ross-on-Wye again.  They were here at about this time last year.  The numbers must be in four figures. They were first noted last year on 6th December 2016.

20th November 2017 – At Garway church there were a lot of corvids flying around including Ravens during the morning.  In the afternoon, I made a short visit to WWT Slimbridge. The highlights were of 10 Common Crane and the first 4 Bewick’s Swans present. A Little Stint was on the Rushy Pen for much of the afternoon.

13th November 2017 – I went to WWT Slimbridge with the thinking that with a very cold and still night behind me, there may be more Bewick’s Swans that may have arrived overnight.  I was right in the fact that the total now stands at four birds, two adults and two yearlings.  One of the adults has been wintering here for about 17 years.

12th November 2017 – I had a short walk at RSPB Nagshead today.  The highlight was of a Goldcrest foraging in holly along the short trail.  I heard a Treecreeper near the dip in the outward short trail.  I often hear or see them in this small area most of the year.  I will continue to monitor their presence or absence this winter in this location.

10th November 2017 – There were several female Goosander hauled out on the far river bank near the bandstand at Ross-on-Wye today.  I have never seen them out of the water this close to the town before.  There has been a lot of coppicing, pollarding and pleaching of the trees along the river bank at the Rope Walk, Ross-on-Wye.

9th November 2017 – I went to WWT Slimbridge and found the reported first Bewick’s Swan of the season.  It was a yearling and I was able to photograph the bill pattern on both sides and the front to add to the database.  This would be a new piece of data since it was a cygnet last winter and would not have developed its black and yellow bill pattern at that time.  Other highlights at that location included 5 Common Cranes on the Dumbles. The lone Bewick’s Swan was being harassed at the feed by the resident pair of Mute Swans on the Rushy Pen.  This will change as those swans get outnumbers by the migrants over the next few weeks. 

8th November 2017 – I had a message to say that the first Bewick’s Swan of the winter season had arrived at WWT Slimbridge.  This is a late date but can be explained that it has been a very mild autumn over most of Europe and there is plenty of food for them.  Also, there has been a steady stream of low pressure systems coming over the Atlantic Ocean and therefore giving head winds for any bird migrating to the south west.  Birds don’t migrate in strong adverse wind conditions.

2nd November 2017 – There were 8 Goosanders on the River Wye at Ross-on-Wye today, this being the highest count of this autumn.   While I was standing on Wilton Bridge, a Black-headed Gull suddenly started alarm calling and flying around in tight circles over the river just downstream from the bridge.  I could see something in the water and as it came nearer, I was able to identify it.  It was an Otter, the first that I have seen on the river ever.


28th October 2017 – A Sparrowhawk was high over where I live at 1130 this morning.


26th October 2017 – There were possibly three Kingfishers around the brook by the side of the building where I live and near the rowing club and the river.  It may have been the same bird! The River Wye was a little bit higher than of late. 


16th October 2017 – Ex-hurricane Ophelia was over Ireland today and this morning the sun was very pink in the sky and the clouds were very yellow giving an eerie light.  This was apparently caused by sand particles from the Sahara being sucked up into the upper atmosphere by this storm.


14th October 2017 – Today, I went on a rare twitch for me.  I went to the Blorenge area of the mountain not far from Abergavenny to view a Rock Thrush.  When I arrived in the early afternoon at about 2pm, it was perched up on one of the ridges.  It was a beautifully marked bird and I was able to watch it through the scope for about 2 minutes when it flew.  Despite constant searching over a wide range and many rock faces, I could not relocate it and I left at 5pm.  It was an excellent bird.


13th October 2017 – Two Buzzards of different sizes and therefore probably a pair, were soaring for quite some time over Garway Church while I was there in the early afternoon.


12th October 2017 – I had a walk over Crabtree Hill today to see if there was a returning Great Grey Shrike but I did not find one. There were two, possibly three Stonechat actually on the tarmac road and nearby was a Green Woodpecker.  A Fallow Deer buck was roaring near the southern end of the tarmac road.  On the pond scrape area there were a number of odonata.  There were lots of red-type darter, a single Southern Hawker and a blue damselfly.  It was indeed a bumper day for these creatures nearly half way through October.  There were lots of Coot on Woorgreens Lake and a juvenile Peregrine was wheeling around over the water before it flew off to the north.


10th October 2017 – I was at RSPB Nagshead this lunchtime.  It was a beautiful, autumnal day with a gusty breeze which is causing the coloured leaves to fall adding to the carpet of acorns on the paths along the Gloucestershire Way.  Off that track, I found 4 Fallow Deer moving relatively quickly to the north.  A Coal Tit was foraging very close to me along the short trail and seemed oblivious of me standing there and watching this bird move methodically along the various twigs of one of the oak trees.


9th October 2017 – I made a visit to WWT Slimbridge this morning.  There were a good number and variety of waders present including Ruff, Redshank, Little Ringed Plover, Lapwing, Black-tailed Godwit, Avocet, Dunlin and Little Stint.  There were about 10 Little Stint which was the biggest number that I have seen together for several years.  A Common Gull was present in the Black-headed Gull flock on South Lake.  There was one of the latter species with a white darvic with the characters ‘2N28’.


8th October 2017 – There were a number of ladybirds around the windows at home on a pleasant and warm day. 

          At Garway church there was a pristine Red Admiral butterfly in the churchyard.  Overhead and down the Monnow Valley there were many Ravens wheeling around in the updrafts produced by the breeze and the warmth of the day.


2nd October 2017 – There was an October Red Admiral butterfly in the garden today.  There have been reports nationally of good numbers of this species of late.


1st October 2017 – I went to RSPB Nagshead and walked up as usual from the Stoneworks at Cannop.  The woods were quiet but there was a mixed tit flock around the Gloucestershire Way which included some Coal Tits.  There has been a very good yield of acorns judging by the number lying on the paths.  It is also very muddy on the trails for the time of year.



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