Diary – October to December 2009

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31st December 2009 – A dry day but cold with a brisk easterly wind.  A short visit to Nagshead late in the afternoon.  There was still some snow on the paths and the woods were generally quiet with wildlife but there was a flock of passerines which probably numbered about 30 birds foraging in the leaf litter just off the main track up from the road.  They flew before I could identify them in the poor light.


30th December 2009 – Rain again this morning and then a damp afternoon. Maximum temperature was 3.5 deg. C. and 4mm of rain recorded on the Gloucester Weather Station.


29th December 2009 – Rain, then snow all day.  Very cold and 10mm of rain recorded on the Gloucester Weather Station.


28th December 2009Slimbridge.  A dry, bright day.  From the Holden Tower, there were many geese on the Dumbles as well as Bewick’s Swans.  This species were also scattered over the Tack Piece and The Rushy Pen and this latter still has the back pond frozen over, with all of the birds on the nearer water body.  0 deg. C. at 1700.


27th December 2009Ashleworth.  The floodwater was iced over with some open water patches.  7 Mute Swans and a small number of duck were keeping the ice free pools open.  About 60 Lapwing were in the air over Hasfield Ham.  The temperature reached 5 deg. C. at 1300 but had fallen to 0 deg. C. by 2200. 


26th December 2009 – A milder day with the temperature at 9 deg. C.


25th December 2009 – A cold day with snow still lying at Longhope.  A little bit warmer in the afternoon with the maximum temperature reached being 7 deg. C.


24th December 2009, Christmas Eve.  I went to Nagshead RSPB Reserve after lunch.  The trees in the Cannop Valley were white with frost and frozen water droplets.  There was about 2 inches of crunchy snow underfoot.  The temperature was about 1 deg. C. and a little thaw was taking place with some water dripping from the trees.  Some of the branches were bowed low with the weight of the ice.  Towards sunset, there was a beautiful red glow in the sky and a mist formed in the valley while the ridge remained crystal clear.  As far as animal movement in the woods on such a glorious day was concerned, there was very little activity which was not surprising.


23rd December 2009 – Very cold again.  At Slimbridge, there were about 110 Bewick’s Swans on the river/Dumbles.  Some of this species were on the 50 acre field to the north of the reserve.  I checked The Moors since there was a lot of movement of the swans but  the only bird there was a single Carrion Crow.  At 1450, I walked to the Holden Tower and underfoot was fine.  Just after 1500, it started to rain as forecast and also as forecast it fell onto frozen ground and when I walked back down the walkway, it was iced over.  The car park was also iced over when I departed about 1700 


22nd December 2009Nagshead.  About an inch of lying snow.  Very cold again.  The temperature has not risen above 2 deg. C. since Wednesday, 16th December.  The temperature at 1350 was 0 deg. C.  Along the lower part of the short trail I found some Long-tailed Tits which is good to know that this species is surviving in the long lasting cold period.  Further along the trail in the woodland there was a party of winter thrushes including Redwings. 


21st December 2009 – Very cold again with some light lying snow.  More Bewick’s Swans have arrived at Slimbridge.  I noted two with yellow neck collars which were undoubtedly fitted by Dutch scientists.  I will give more details when I have them.  The back pond on the Rushy Pen was frozen over with some ice on the nearer pond.  210 swans present at the end of the feed. 


20th December 2009 – Light snow covering all day at Longhope. 


19th December 2009 – Very cold all day.  Rain in Parkend in the evening turned to snow over Plump Hill, covering the road. 


18th December 2009 – Extremely cold overnight and only -1 deg. C. at 0900.  There were a few snow flurries during the day and I walked the long trail at Nagshead.  The ground was frozen and the autumn leaves crunched underfoot.  It was generally quiet in the woods but a flock of Crossbills overflew at the farthest point of the trail.  The temperature dropped below zero by 1830 having reached a maximum value of about 1 deg. C. during the day.


17th December 2009 – A sunny day for a change but it was very cold with a biting northerly wind.  At Slimbridge there were 5(3) Bewick’s Swans on the south middle field near the road into the Centre.  By 1230 these birds had gone, possibly because there was heavy plant machinery working in the next field south.  I walked up the canal to the north and found at least 38 swans in the North Hurns field.  There could have been more hidden by the hedgerow.  There were 14(3) Bewick’s on the Holden Scrape at 1530.  Also from the Holden Tower in the afternoon, I noted that the White-fronted Geese were using the field beyond the Tack Piece for the first time this season. The male Pochard with the bill saddle ‘3=’ was again present at the feed in the late afternoon.


16th December 2009Nagshead between 1350 and 1500 in almost continuous light rain.  There appeared to be an influx of Blackbirds with at least 10 on the meadow near the information centre. 


15th December 2009 – At Ashleworth, it was cold, overcast with drizzle.  The temperature en route at 0945 was 4 deg. C. From the hide, I could see over 250 Canada Geese and 9 Greylag Geese with them.  The ducks were widespread over the still extensive floodwater although it has gone from the road since Sunday 13th with the river level lower also. I estimated that there would be in the order of 300 duck in the general area of the two hams.  Along Stank Lane there were a flock of at least 6 Bullfinch.  30 Lapwing were in the air but there could have been more hidden on the fields between the areas of floodwater.  There were many gulls, mainly Black-headed Gulls on Hasfield Ham with some duck.  There were also 9 swans in the distance over the back of Hasfield Ham but with only binoculars to aid me, I could not be sure of the species.  However, when I returned to the hide, I could confirm that they were all Mute Swans.  This is probably the biggest flock of the autumn so far.  Winter thrushes and some Starlings were in various locations around the reserve.  A first for me just the over the hedgerow on the north side of Stank Lane was a Roe Deer.  Of note from the hide just before I left was the sight of two Treecreepers together in the hedge opposite. 


14th December 2009 – It was a damp and cold start to the day with the temperature at 0920 being only 4 deg. C.  At Nagshead at 0950, it was overcast, calm but with light rain falling.  I inspected the newly built pond dipping platform on the pool by the information centre.  I then walked through the meadow to look at the cut down conifer trees by the site of the old information centre.  This has effectively made one big meadow out of two smaller ones which I think is better and it has removed these non-native trees.  In the field along the start of the old short trail there was a pair of Bullfinch and a Redwing which were on note.  At various locations along the short and long trails, there were roving tit flocks including Coal Tit and Treecreeper. 

          I arrived at Walmore Common at 1150 and found that the water level had gone down since Saturday (12th December).  There were a few duck but not the numbers of recent days.  Shelduck were also present but there were no Bewick’s Swans.

          At Slimbridge when I arrived at 1220, there were 4(0) Bewick’s Swans on the south middle field alongside the road to the Centre.  This number had increased to 11(3) at 1340 the cygnets comprising one family.  Again, there were many birds around the reserve.  To give and idea of the diversity, this is a list of species that I noted on the Tack Piece or its surroundings this afternoon.  Grey Heron, Lapwing, Ruff, Redshank, Golden Plover, Dunlin, Mallard, Teal, Wigeon, Shoveler, Gadwall, Bewick’s Swan, Pochard, Pintail, Black-tailed Godwit, Greylag Goose, Mute Swan, Moorhen, Peregrine, Starling, Black-headed Gull, Cetti’s Warbler (heard), Shelduck, Blackbird, and Woodpigeon, thus making 25 species in this area alone.  Later just before the feed on the Rushy Pen at 1605, there were in excess of 112 Bewick’s Swans.  The late afternoon weather was still calm but the rain had stopped and it was a pleasant last hour or so of daylight. 


13th December 2009 – A generally dry day.  An overflying Cormorant east of Highnam Woods when I was on my way to Gloucester was an unusual location for this species.  A very short stop at Ashleworth revealed that the water is just about off the road which is a significant change from yesterday.  Although I did not stop and read the river level at Haw Bridge, I did notice that it had gone down a little.  At the hide, Canada Geese were calling again but with the wide ranging water scene, counting was not really possible.  Very few duck were visible.  


12th December 2009 – At Walmore Common at 1100 there were no Bewick’s Swans but there were many duck.  The flood waters have receded quite a lot and there is probably not enough water now for the swans to roost safely.

          My next stop was Ashleworth where, by contrast, there is extensive flooding.  The river remains high although it has gone down somewhat.  The gates which allow water out from the flood plains are still being held closed by the water in the river and thus the floodwaters are not dropping yet.  The road is just passable to get to the hide.  Many Canada Geese and just a few duck are there but counting is very difficult with some much water showing.

          I went to Slimbridge in the afternoon.  There were 7(1) Bewick’s Swans on the South Middle Field which is one of the fields alongside the road near the Centre.  There were many birds again on the reserve and especially on the Tack Piece the Golden Plover, packed together in the sunshine were exactly as their name suggests – golden.  The female Pochard with the bill saddle ‘HPC’ was seen again as was the male (‘3=’) yesterday.  There were many birds on the Dumbles as well and there were reports of more Bewick’s Swans arriving today.  The number of cygnets has also increased which is good news.  The spectacle continues.  Finally, in the car park there is blossom on a cherry tree!


11th December 2009 – A very cold and foggy start to the day with the temperature at 1000 only 0 deg. C.  At Slimbridge, the canal side fields were fairly quiet and so was the Tack Piece and Dumbles in comparison to recent days, however on the latter two areas there were still plenty of birds although it was only possible to see them clearly later in the afternoon after the fog had lifted.  More Bewick’s Swans have arrived including more families and at this stage, the productivity of this species is looking to be better than the last few years.  Finally, the Starling flock was not so noticeable either late this afternoon. 


10th December 2009 – A December Moth was in the verandah this morning as I was on my way out, a male with massive plumed antennae.  At Nagshead after lunch, the day was bright, sunny and cool.  A Jay came down near the car park to the same location several times.  It was probably caching food for later.  A Great Spotted Woodpecker was calling for quite a while on the lower part of the short trail and along the long trail, a flock of birds proved to be exclusively Great Tits.  Work was going on cutting down the conifers near the site of the old information centre.


9th December 2009 – Slimbridge on an almost dry day!  There were more Bewick’s Swans present today with over 80 present on the reserve.  The Tack Piece was absolutely full of birds with Golden Plover producing a tight packed spectacle.  I caught up with the American Teal which has been reported for several days now.  The Starling roost appeared to have less birds than of late but this may be just a blip in another impressive spectacle.


8th December 2009 – A short visit to Ashleworth.  The river has come up again after reports saying that it was going down at the weekend. The water level on the Hams has risen and is now over the road between Dirty Lane and Stonebow Farm and the road is impassable.  On my way down from the main road to Ashleworth village, a Sparrowhawk swept over the hedge and flew along the lane in front of my car.  I was then astonished to see it being harassed by a Merlin for a few moments until the small falcon disappeared and left the hawk higher in the sky flying slowly.  Highlight in the hedge by the flooded road was a male House Sparrow, a declining species.


7th December 2009 – A very short visit to Slimbridge to get more pictures of Bewick’s Swans bill patterns.  More swans have arrived with at least 60 present at the feed.  More rain also today with another 8mm.


6th December 2009 – Rain showers again today and some of them were heavy giving 12mm of rain for the day.  A short visit to Slimbridge revealed a great spectacle with even more birds arriving including some more Bewick’s Swans but the Dumbles, Tack Piece and the Rushy Pen are alive with birds.  The Starling roost is now very spectacular over the Rushy Pen and in the grounds. 


5th December 2009 – Walmore Common at 1030 was at least dry after rain on just about every day for the past week or so.  To my delight there were 5 Bewick’s Swans present today on the flood water along with 3 Mute Swans and in excess of 500 duck.  I drove around Rodley but could find no more waterfowl.

          Ashleworth.  The water levels are yet higher with the water over Ham Road in several places but it is passable.  At least 200 Canada Geese were in the distance on the floodwater but it was difficult to count them as many were hidden by the hedgerows. There were a number of ducks but again, they were hidden in parts and widely scattered.  Later in the afternoon there were yet more rain showers.


4th December 2009 – I made a short visit to Walmore Common to see if there were any Bewick’s Swans present as I had heard reports that they had started to use this area again this autumn.  There were none there at 1130 but there were 4 Mute Swans, some Canada Geese, many duck and a few gulls.  Correction, there was one lone swan asleep in the distance on a heap of mud in the middle of the floodwater.  I had seen this swan but had not seen the head but it was reported to me later as a Bewick’s Swan.

          At Slimbridge, there were 6(2) Bewick’s Swans in the south middle field which is one of the fields at the side of the road on the run into the centre at Slimbridge.  The family party had two parents who were darknebs and of the other two, one was ringed TXF White and the other was an unringed pennyface.  Inside the reserve, there were 24(0) on the Tack Piece at 1430, 4(0) on the Dumbles at the same time including 3 on the scrape in front of the Holden Tower.  Some other birds were seen to fly down onto the river but to disappear under the near bank.  Between 1435 and 1440, I watched two Bewick’s Swans flying up river.  Just before they disappeared on the other side of the hill near Hock Cliff, they were joined by a third bird,  Were these three going to Walmore Common.  I think so.  When I looked back onto the scrape, there were 6 birds present.  I don’t know where they came from but one was yellow ringed ‘607’ and the other was unringed.  At 1445, these 6 swans became very alert with straight necks.  The many geese were showing the same characteristic.  I noted two people, each on a quad bike, rounding up some sheep to the south of the southern cross fence on the Dumbles. The swans flew, one going to the Tack Piece and the others onto the river and out of sight like the earlier ones.  The colour ringed Black-tailed Godwit was present on the Tack Piece where the make up of the birds was similar to yesterday.  There were 3 Buzzards perched up relatively close together in the hedgerows and the birds on the Dumbles included many geese including the feral flocks and the migrant White-fronted Geese although there were some of the latter on the Tack Piece as well.  There were plenty of birds to see and the winter spectacle seems to be building up nicely.  On the Rushy Pen in the late afternoon, there was a bird showing characteristics of a female Scaup but full details of the bird including the colours of the bill and the darkness and spread of the nail thereon could not be see clearly in the gathering darkness and rain which was by contrast to the blue sky morning.


3rd December 2009 – Westonbirt in the morning was under heavy rain and very few birds were out and about. 

          Slimbridge in the afternoon.  18(4) Bewick’s Swans on Rushy Pen, the families being 2 of 2  at 1340 and 14(0) on the Tack Piece at 1355 but no sign of any more.  Also on the Tack Piece was a colour ringed Black-tailed Godwit, red over yellow on the right tibia and blue on the left tibia and left tarsus.  Sighting reported.  On the Rushy Pen, a male Pochard with a bill saddle with the inscription ‘3=’ was also reported.  I have seen this bird last winter on the same lake.  There were 157 White-fronted Geese noted from the Holden Tower on the far edge of the Dumbles.  Waders on the Tack Piece included Dunlin, Curlew, Lapwing, Redshank, Ruff, Black-tailed Godwit and Golden Plover.  Ducks there included Gadwall, Mallard, Teal, Wigeon, Pochard and Tufted Duck.  63(7) Bewick’s Swans were on the Rushy Pen before the feed at 1605, the families comprising 2,2,2,1.


2nd December 2009 – I went to New Fancy View in the Forest of Dean just after lunch to try to find the reported possible Two-barred Crossbill.  It was overcast and cold with the temperature around 9 deg. C.  Two Ravens were not far from the viewpoint and there were flocks of both Crossbills and Tits in separate groups from the vantage point but I did not see the reported bird. 


1st December 2009 – It was a very cold night with the temperature plummeting to -3 deg. C. There was a bright moon and a blue sky dawn.  Nagshead was very quiet in the morning and it became overcast for a time before the blue sky returned.  It was quite wet underfoot after the rain of the weekend. 

          In the afternoon I visited Slimbridge and as thought after perfect conditions overnight including a northeast wind there were more Bewick’s Swans present and more White-fronted Geese.  20 swans were on the Tack Piece at 1440 and then one flew onto the river and out of sight by the near bank and I suspect that there were others there.  At the time there was a count of 74 White-fronted Geese from the Holden Tower.  The Tack Piece is flooded and full of birds including Wigeon, Teal, Redshank, Ruff, Lapwing, Golden Plover, Dunlin and Curlew.  At the feed on Rushy Pen there was a new family of two cygnets and that was the first sighting of them.  New birds, that is, in this case the cygnets, tend to be wary at the feed and often fly out of the pen at the time but come back later.  On this occasion, the whole family flew as was somewhat expected but they returned almost immediately, however one of the cygnets had difficulty in landing and did not come down.  I could see its bill moving and that it was calling constantly.  The other three birds then took off and all four circled the poind three times and each time the parents came lower but did not alight.  Finally, all four moved away over to the far side of the Tack Piece and then made a longer approach and all four alighted with ease. By this time as darkness approached rain began to fall again.


30th November 2009 –  A fine, but breezy and cold day.   A short visit to Ashleworth found that the water level was higher than Saturday, 28th November and Dirty Lane was flooded with the water up to the tarmac on Ham Road.  Water was also across Stank Lane about 50m along the track.  There was a small flock of Canada Geese and some Lapwing in the distance on a green field among the flooded ones on Hasfield Ham.  I did not do a count as many were hidden by the distant hedges.  Ducks were few and far between and very well scattered on the extensive water.  The level of the River Severn at Haw Bridge at 1315 was 10.65m and just about overflowing the banks.  I had noted that the River Leadon had burst it banks while en route to Ashleworth. 

          At Slimbridge, on a short visit, there were many birds on the flooded Tack Piece as well as plenty on the Dumbles. 

          November turned out to be the wettest month of the year so far with 130mm of rain on the Gloucester Weather Station website.


29th November 2009 – A very dark and wet day with 15mm of rain which continued into the night.


28th November 2009 – This morning was a fine one after overnight rain at Ashleworth.  There was yet more water than on the 26th November.  520 Canada Geese and 3 Greylag Geese were noted from the lower hide.  Along Stank Lane, there were approximately 200 Lapwing which were airborne, having probably been spooked by a Sparrowhawk.  There were also small numbers of Fieldfare, Redwing and Starling.  A Chaffinch flock, which was made up of predominately females, numbered over 25 birds.  The top end of Stank Lane is now flooded. 

          Slimbridge in the afternoon was under overcast conditions which quickly crept up the estuary after a fine morning further north.  27 Bewick’s Swans including one cygnet were on Rushy Pen at 1450 and 56 White-fronted Geese were scattered about the Dumbles towards dusk when it came on to rain.


27th November 2009 – Nagshead was quiet with just some roving tit flocks between 1530 and 1600 in overcast conditions.  At Westonbirt after dark, various Tawny Owls were hooting around the tree collections where part of the area was illuminated for the ‘Enchanted Christmas’ spectacle.  There was some heavy rain during the evening and the total for the month rose to 110mm which makes November the wettest month after July (108mm) according to the Gloucester Weather Station.


26th November 2009 – At Ashleworth at 1100, there were some sunny periods but also some showers.  More than 350 Canada Geese flew in at 1105 with one Barnacle Goose.  There was a Lapwing flock on a part of Hasfield Ham which was not flooded but it was not possible to count them as many were obscured by trees.  There were very few duck and the water levels have risen since 24th November.  Dirty Lane was flooded and the level on the river at Haw Bridge was 10.35m. 

          At Slimbridge in the afternoon, there were 22 Bewick’s Swans on the Tack Piece including one cygnet at 1510, 20 adults being on the Rushy Pen at the feed and at dusk.  53 White-fronted Geese were on the Dumbles.


25th November 2009 – A day of heavy rain showers, some short sunny periods but the breeze has died down somewhat after the overnight gales and rain.  6mm were logged in Gloucester today but 1800 making 100mm so far this month.  This is the second highest monthly rainfall this year after July when 108mm of rain fell.


24th November 2009 – Ashleworth at 1130 was overcast, breezy with rain showers.  The water levels are higher than Saturday 21st November.  The water is almost up to the road level on Ham Road just to the north of Dirty Lane.  The River Severn has just about topped its banks a few metres to the north of Haw Bridge on the east side.  The Coombe Hill Canal area to the north of the lane past the Red Lion public house at Wainlodes is flooded.

          At Slimbridge in the afternoon, it was very dark at 1530 and the roosting Starlings were showing strongly very early this afternoon.  It was very breezy with some heavy rain. 10mm of rain today recorded in Gloucester.


23rd November 2009 – Strumble Head, Pembrokeshire.  Overcast but dry and some sunny periods later.  Wind was force 7 to 8 decreasing later to 6 and westerly backing north-westerly later.  From the observatory, 1 Pomarine Skua, 2 Great Skua, 4 Manx Shearwater, a Black Redstart which momentarily came inside, a Curlew, 6 Common Scoter, a Peregrine chasing Kittiwakes and a Great Northern Diver.  However, the highlight of the day was a massive passage of Fulmar all day and even greater numbers of Kittiwakes and Auks passing too.  Finally, along the coastal path to the east were 2 Stonechats and a Common Snipe.


22nd November 2009 – A very short visit to Slimbridge.  There was an extra Bewick’s Swan on the Rushy Pen in the morning and the White-fronted Geese were spread out on the Dumbles.


21st November 2009 – Another short visit to Ashleworth between 1315 and 1335.  The morning before arriving at Ashleworth was overcast, breezy but generally dry.  However, from about 1300, the rain started and continued steadily all afternoon and by 1630 there was 7mm of rain.  From the hide, counts were as follows – 125 Canada Geese, 45 Mallard, 122 Wigeon, 4 Gadwall, 4 Shoveler, 73 Teal, a Buzzard on a distant fence and a Peregrine on a pylon.  The water level has gone up again since yesterday.


20th November – A short visit to Ashleworth at 1215 and the weather was sunny and breezy and the temperature at 1215 was 14 deg. C.  There is yet more water than on 18th November but fewer birds and they were spread well out.  From the hide, 61 Wigeon, 44 Mallard, 6 Gadwall, 26 Teal, 15 Shoveler, 1 Pintail, 1 Black-headed Gull, the 2 injured Canada Geese, 3 Grey Heron in the distance on Hasfield Ham as were 2 Mute Swans.

          At Slimbridge in the afternoon, and from the Zeiss Hide, the predominating species was Teal and waders included some Black-tailed Godwits.  From the South Finger hide, there were 7 Ruff among many Lapwing.  Later, from the Holden Tower, there were good numbers of Golden Plover and 45 White-fronted Geese on the north Dumbles.  18 Bewick’s Swans were on Rushy Pen and one in the Tundra Pen, so there were no more arrivals overnight which was not surprising considering the wind and rain during those hours.


19th November 2009 – Slimbridge.  A very breezy day but again very mild and cloudy but dry.  From the Holden Tower, 38 White-fronted Geese in the far distance beyond the southern cross fence about three quarters of a mile from the tower.  17 Bewick’s Swans were on the Tack Piece at 1410 and 10 minutes later, I noted one in the Tundra Pen.  At the Zeiss Hide/South Finger area, the waders included Lapwing, Redshank, Dunlin, Ruff and Black-tailed Godwit.  32 White-fronted Geese came into the Top New Piece to drink at 1515 and in that number were 11 goslings – a good proportion.


18th November 2009 – Ashleworth at 1125 until 1150 was overcast, dull and breezy but mild.  The water level was higher than on Monday 16th November.  More rain is forecast and I think that there may be an overtopping of the banks by the river by the end of the weekend/first few days of next week.  From the hide today, 143 Wigeon, 61 Mallard, 2 Gadwall, 11 Pintail, 20 Shoveler, 15 Teal and 21 Canada Geese.


17th November 2009 – News this morning of the colour ringed Herring Gull seen yesterday.  This was ringed in January 2007 at the Gloucester Landfill Site and has been seen there many times and at Slimbridge before.

          Slimbridge today yielded fewer birds than yesterday in general.  There were sunny periods and a few showers and it was blustery again.  Of real note at this late date in the season was a Painted Lady Butterfly near the car park.  Birds of note from the Zeiss Hide were 6 Ruff and 10 Black-tailed Godwit.  From the Holden Tower, a Peregrine almost as usual on the Dumbles and goose numbers similar to yesterday but not so many waders with Golden Plover and Dunlin being absent from this area.  On the Rushy Pen, 18 Bewick’s Swans at 1520 and 19 at the feed at 1555.


16th November 2009 – Ashleworth between 1035 and 1105.  There were heavy showers, some sunny intervals and the water levels were much higher than on Saturday 14th November.  From the hide, 24 Canada Geese, 50 Mallard, 227 Wigeon, 134 Teal, 6 Gadwall, 24 Shoveler, 8 Pintail, 4 Mute Swans and a Black-headed Gull.  Note that there is extensive water on Hasfield Ham for the first time this autumn.

          At Slimbridge in the afternoon, there were 19 Bewick’s Swans asleep on the back of the Rushy Pen at 1230.  None were in the Tundra Pen at 1240.  49 White-fronted Geese were seen from the Zeiss Hide in flight and on the Dumbles.  Also from that hide, 6 Ruff, 7 Black-tailed Godwit and a Cetti’s Warbler was singing on several occasions.  Other birds included many Lapwing and Teal, some Pintail, Shoveler, Mallard and Shelduck.  A Dunlin flock overflew as seen from the South Finger area, and upon my arrival at the Holden Tower, these were seen to be loafing on the Dumbles along with a large number of Golden Plover and Lapwing.  Many of the birds were flighty, possibly being disturbed by the swirling wind.  A colour ringed Herring Gull was on the Dumbles near the Holden Tower scrape and this turned out to be a dark blue ring with orange letters BEA.  Finally, on the Rushy Pen at 1530, there were 18 Bewick’s Swans including YXU, BDB, 602 and one with a metal only ring.


14th November 2009 – There were overnight gales and much rain.  Amount of rain as recorded on the Gloucester Weather Station are 13mm for both 12th and 13th November and 5mm for today which adds up in old money to one and a quarter inches.

          Ashleworth at 1115 was covered in cloud, some very heavy rain showers and a very strong wind.  Surprisingly, there was a lot of birds moving around the area.  The water levels have come up well now and there was a record number of wildfowl present for this autumn.  Counts from the hide were as follows, 134 Wigeon, 6 Gadwall which were the first for the season, 11 Teal, 169 Mallard, 6 Shoveler, the 2 injured Canada Geese, 2 Lapwing, 13 Black-headed Gull and passerines included 7 Pied Wagtails and 2 Meadow Pipits.  In front of Colways Farm there was a flock of 250 Starlings. 

          At Slimbridge, there were no new Bewick’s Swans which was not unexpected given the strong winds and heavy rain.  16 Bewick’s Swans were on the Tack Piece at 1515 and they flew en masse onto the Rushy Pen at 1535 and 2 more appeared on the Tack Piece at 1550 and all 18 were together on the Rushy Pen at 1600.


13th November 2009 – Slimbridge was overcast and dull at 1030.  Only 8 Bewick’s Swans were on Rushy Pen at 1040.  At South Finger, there were good numbers of Redwings and Fieldfares and Wigeon numbers are building up nicely.  From the Zeiss Hide there were many birds and the waders included Lapwing, Dunlin, Golden Plover, Ruff(1), Snipe(4) and a Cetti’s Warbler was calling.  A Peregrine could be seen on the Dumbles from this hide.  By 1300, 14 Bewick’s Swans were on Rushy Pen and a further 3 were on the Tack Piece, the first time that I have seen them on this field this autumn.  This field has now been cut and is being used by many more birds now.  40 White-fronted Geese were on the Dumbles but were scattered widely.  By 1510, 18 Bewick’s were on Rushy Pen in time for the feed.

          A general note.  There seems to be a large number of Greylag Geese present this autumn around the area of Slimbridge.  There are also many Canada Geese but perhaps 10 years ago, the Canada Geese would have been in larger numbers and the Greylag Geese would have been much fewer.


12th November 2009 – Nagshead at 1030 was blessed with sunny periods.  It was generally quiet but a Treecreeper in the car park was of note. 

          At Slimbridge in the afternoon, there was no sign of the reported Penduline Tits at South Finger but the Wilson’s Phalarope could be seen on the Top New Piece as yesterday but this time viewed from the Van der Bovenkamp Hide. 18 Bewick’s Swans were on Rushy Pen at 1315 including YXU,BDB, TXF and a metal only on the right leg ringed bird. From the Holden Tower at 1525, there were 25 White-fronted Geese but some more were probably hidden behind the flood defence bank.


11th November 2009 – A damp day yet again.  At Nagshead, I helped with clearing some trees.  It was a generally quiet day but it was surprising how quickly a Robin came to investigate the new piles of brash.


10th November 2009 – There was some rain this morning on a generally damp day.  It was only 7 deg. C. at 1130.  I made a very short visit to Ashleworth and discovered that there was much more water there than on Saturday (7th November).  Present were the 2 injured Canada Geese, 38 Mallard, 2 Teal and 4 Wigeon.  At Slimbridge in the afternoon, I eventually caught up with the reported Wilson’s Phalarope at the Zeiss Hide after failing to find it yesterday.  On the Rushy Pen there were 20 birds by 3 had left by 1600. 

          On a general note, there appears to be many more Blackbirds around my home over the past few days and these may have come in from the continent with the winter thrushes and Starlings noted over the same period. 


9th November 2009 – Slimbridge.  A cold, damp and grey day.  From the Zeiss Hide, Black-tailed Godwits, Golden Plover, Lapwing, Dunlin and Little Stint.  There was also a colour ringed Herring Gull but I could not see all of the characters on the ring. A Cetti’s Warbler called many times.  On the Rushy Pen there were 20 Bewick’s Swans at 1510.  Back at the Zeiss Hide in the late afternoon, a Ruff was the sixth wader species noted there today.  At 1610, 3 Bewick’s Swans flew in and looked like roosting there as they appeared very settled as dusk approached and I left.  The European Pen did not hold any Bewick’s Swans when I passed in the gathering gloom at 1635.


8th November 2009 – A damp day.  At Westonbirt it was quiet but there were some winter thrush flocks passing and a number of roaming tit flocks.  In the afternoon, Nagshead was very quiet. 


7th November 2009 – A Red Fox was outside the house at breakfast time this morning. 

          A cold morning with frost on the cars for the first time this autumn.  From the hide at Ashleworth on a bright but crisp morning, 31 Mallard, 5 Teal, 5 Common Snipe, 8 Wigeon, the 2 injured Canada Geese and 2 Mute Swan.  Approximately 120 Canada Geese were overflying to the north east and amazingly again, there were 2 unidentified swans flying in the extreme distance as on the 4th November.  Along Ham Road, another 12 Wigeon overflew.  There was a very heavy presence of Fieldfare and a few Redwing.  There must have been an influx overnight as the numbers were much more than of late and that was also the case with the Starlings where there were 700 on the field in front of Colways Farm and quite a number in surrounding trees which kept coming in to join them as some departed.  I estimated a four figure number for this species.  An extremely late Painted Lady Butterfly was flying over the road and a female Stonechat was on top of the hedgerow.  Down Stank Lane, there was at least one Raven flying, 2 Mute Swans, a flock of at least 20 Goldfinch in the same area as on 5th November.  Contrasting in size were 3 Buzzards and a lone Long-tailed Tit at various points along the lane.  Back at the hide, there was a Long-tailed Tit flock and yet again, at least one bird was ringed.  Another very late occurrence was the sight of a Southern Hawker Dragonfly.  A Painted Lady was in an oak tree along the road and this may have been the same individual that I noted on my outward walk. 

          Highnam Woods were very quiet in the afternoon when it had clouded over and there was a hint of rain in the air.  The new hide appears to be complete and ready for use.


6th November 2009 – This morning, a Grey Heron was flying over the house and appeared to be looking for somewhere to land.  It did so in a neighbours tree.

A damp afternoon with some heavy drizzle, cool temperatures and a breezy at Slimbridge seemed to subdue the birds and the 13 Bewick’s Swans on Rushy Pen did not move out all afternoon.  32 White-fronted Geese were on the Dumbles in various locations and the only other thing of note was of a small flock of 7 Black-tailed Godwits.


5th November 2009 – It was cool with sunny periods and breezy at Ashleworth during my visit between 1015 and 1135.  From the hide, there was the presence of a Long-tailed Tit flock yet again.  Also there, 3 Mallard, the 2 injured Canada Geese as usual, 4 Teal, 2 Shoveler, 2 Wigeon and 3 Mute Swans.  There is really not very much water to support a lot of wildfowl.  Along Ham Road, there was a Kestrel near Colways Farm which seems to be a regular occurrence of late.  Also in the fields to the west of the lane there were about 120 Starlings and nearby a number of Fieldfare and a few Redwings.  In Stank Lane, a flock of 30 Goldfinch was a pleasing find.  A Grey Heron and a Bullfinch were also of note.  Back at the hide there was a Treecreeper by the screen hide and a late red darter dragonfly although I could not narrow it down to a species as it was too far away. 

          At Slimbridge, there were 13 Bewick’s Swans on Rushy Pen including those carrying darvic rings 602 and YXU, the latter named Riddler who first came to Slimbridge in 1991.  On the Dumbles, 35 White-fronted Geese were scattered around and 2 Bean Geese were also there on the north side.  A Peregrine was perched on the ground to the south and a Red Fox strolled behind the bird and latter seemed unpeturbed.  Indeed, the fox seemed to take no notice of the bird of prey.  A Sparrowhawk was on the fence in the Tack Piece not far from the hide.  This is getting to be a regular happening of late.  A Raven flew off the Dumbles and crossed the Tack Piece to the east and appeared to be flying purposefully into the distance.  Among the Barnacle Geese, there was one bird with a red darvic with the characters ‘BP’ which is a bird that was present last year.  Other geese in numbers were Canada and Greylag species. 


4th November 2009 – Ashleworth.  I was there this morning on a short visit between 1120 and 1155 and in sunny periods.  From the hide, there were 4 Mute Swans, the 2 injured Canada Geese, 9 Wigeon, 3 Teal, 2 Shoveler, 1 Common Snipe and a Kestrel.  Also from the hide, 4 swans were noted at long range flying around in a random sort of way for a few minutes. The immediate impression was of high wing speed, long thin necks and no berries on the bill.  The thought was that they were Whooper Swans but the plumage appeared to be of brownish-grey and white patches suggesting cygnets.  One bird broke away and moved to the north.  The remaining three eventually disappeared behind Wainlodes Hill.  The lone bird appeared to be a little darker.  Because of the great distance involved they can only be recorded as swan species. 

          At Highnam, I inspected the new hide and the brand new ramp up to it.  The hide appeared to be surrounded by Robins.

          At Newnham, the sandbanks on the river were only just showing as the tide was quite high.  A few gulls were present and they were predominantly Common Gulls.  A good number of Starlings were in the riverside Rowan Trees robbing them of the berries.


2nd November 2009 – At Highnam Woods this morning, a Raven flew over at quite a speed, calling all the time.  Along the trails, a wasp nest was very active and a Common Darter dragonfly was near the pool by the new hide.  Both of these sightings were significant for this late date of November.  A Long-tailed Tit flock was by the hide thus again demonstrating the success of this years breeding. 

          At Slimbridge on the Rushy Pen, 9 Bewick’s Swans were at the feed and another bill saddled Pochard there two.  This one was a male and the characters were ‘KL’ on the side and a large letter ‘C’ on the front.  Details have again been sent to the ringer.


1st November 2009 – The morning dawned with heavy rain and a strong wind.  The first of the winter flock of Bewick’s Swans (13 birds reported) arrived at Slimbridge today.  8 were on Rushy Pen for the afternoon feed. From the Holden Tower, there were at least 21 White-fronted Geese and 2 Bewick’s Swans were in front of the Zeiss Hide as seen from the Holden Tower. 


30th October 2009 – Slimbridge.  A Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly on the towpath of the canal south of Patch Bridge was a sighting on a late date.  A short visit to the Holden Tower produced 15 White-fronted Geese with the Barnacle Geese and the lone Greylag Goose which seems to associate with the black geese.  The female Pochard with the bill saddle was on the Rushy Pen again.


29th October 2009 – Ashleworth was overcast, mild but breezy at noon.  From the hide, I could see the two injured Canada Geese as usual, 2 Wigeon which were new and 16 Mallard.  A Grey Heron, Sparrowhawk and Great Spotted Woodpecker were also observed.  In the fields adjacent to Colway’s Farm, there were about 600 Starling on the newly manured ground.  Along Stank Lane, there was a Long-tailed Tit flock again and the two Mute Swans were on the scrape to the south of the lane.  Back at Ham Road, a Kestrel was over the hide.  In general today there were few birds present on the Hams because of work being carried out meant that there was some disturbance.  More hedgerow has been laid to the north of the hide and a big dead oak tree which could be seen in the 11 o’clock position from the hide towards Stank Lane has been cut down and cut up.  The old tree which had fallen over not far from the pylons on Hasfield Ham was also being cut up to be taken away.  Thus the sound of chainsaws were of note rather than birds calls. 

          At Slimbridge in the afternoon, the 16 White-fronted Geese were on the Dumbles and also there were 128 Barnacle Geese with one Greylag Goose with them.  At least 3 Buzzards and one Peregrine were noted. Finally, on Rushy Pen, the Pochard numbers are building up and one of the females has a lime green bill saddle with the marking ‘HP’ on the sides and a big letter ‘C’ on the front.  I have sent details off to the ringer. 


28th October 2009 – A morning visit to Nagshead RSPB Reserve yielded a number of woodland birds which were quite active in the very mild and often sunny conditions.  Most of the local tit species were present with the odd Nuthatch.  The past 3 days have seen temperatures reaching a maximum of about 17 deg. C.. 

          At Slimbridge in the afternoon, the White-fronted Goose flock could not be initially found but at about 1600, 15 birds flew onto the Dumbles, the first of the flock arriving alone, followed by 14 birds a few minutes later.  There were 130 Barnacle Geese with some Greylag and Canada Geese present in different parts of the field.  A Peregrine was on the edge of the Dumbles and 2 Buzzards with on top of the hedge by the nearest pill box, one of these birds appeared to be very dishevelled with an apparent drooping wing.  A Cetti’s Warbler sang out and a female Stonechat was on top of the bushes in front of the hide, carrying food.


27th October 2009 – It was a very mild but overcast morning at Ashleworth.  From the hide there was not much activity.  The two resident, injured Canada Geese were there as usual as was the frequent sight of a Peregrine on one of the pylons.  In the distance somewhere near the end of Stank Lane, there appeared to be a reasonably sized Fieldfare flock.  Along Ham Road there was, once again, a Long-tailed Tit flock and, once again, one of the birds sported a metal ring. Just after this sighting, 10 Common Snipe flew over, turned and landed in the distance to the south of Stank Lane opposite Colways Farm.  Along the said lane, there was another Long-tailed Tit flock and I also found a male and female Stonechat being harassed by a Robin.  These Stonechats were the first that I have seen at this site for some time.  2 Mute Swans flew over and then turned and landed in the field with the scrape, a favourite spot for this species which are a little bit scarce now compared to other autumns.  Two Reed Buntings were near the end of the lane where the tarmac stops and it was here that I found the Fieldfare flock which I had seen from the hide and which numbered in excess of 100 birds.  I could hear a Great Spotted Woodpecker hacking at a tree but could not see the bird.  I thought that it was inside a hollow, old, dead branch which had several big holes in it and which was broken off at the end.  I imitated the sound by knocking my notebook cover with the blunt end of my pencil and I was amazed to see the woodpecker come out of the branch and go onto the main trunk.  The final sighting in the lane was of a flock of Goldfinches and a hovering Kestrel. 

          At Slimbridge in the afternoon, there were still 16 White-fronted Geese and the local Peregrine and 2 Buzzards were present. 


26th October 2009 – A fine afternoon at Slimbridge for a very short visit.  A total of 16 White-fronted Geese were on the Dumbles and for the first time this season, goslings were present with 2 grazing with the flock.  143 Barnacle Geese were also present and both species were disturbed by a helicopter but they all returned very quickly.  It often happens that this type of aircraft causes disturbance to geese whereas fixed wing aircraft are tolerated without movement.  Raptors present included Buzzard, Peregrine and Sparrowhawk.


25th October 2009 – Strumble Head. Between 1025 and 1615, I did a seawatch with conditions being 12 deg C. earlier in the morning at 0700 and wind on site being south west to west, force 6 to 7.  Species of note were as follows, 3 Manx Shearwaters, 1 Great Northern Diver in summer plumage was a close bird and an impressive sight.  The 15 Common Scoters noted in 3 flock included 2 juveniles and also passing, 1 Merlin, Little Tern and 2 Great Skuas.  Of note today compared to two weeks ago was the steady trickle of first calendar year Gannets passing which was not the case previously.


23rd October 2009 – It was cool but with sunny periods at Ashleworth at 0945.  It was quiet from the hide with just the two injured Canada Geese, 2 Mute Swans and a Buzzard in a tree.  Along Ham Road, there was a Long-tailed Tit flock and at least two the birds had rings on  (see 21st October).  A Chiffchaff was not far from this flock and 4 Common Snipe flew over.  A Sparrowhawk flew low over the fields near Colways Farm.  Along Stank Lane, a female Great Spotted Woodpecker, a number of Redwings and a few Fieldfares.  Another Long-tailed Tit flock was at the far end of the lane as was a juvenile Bullfinch.  Surprisingly, a 2’ 6” fish was in the ditch near the bend in the lane.  This ditch was dry and has been for many weeks which made me wonder how the fish got there as it was very fresh and could not have been there very long?  Along Dirty Lane there was another winter thrush flock and a male Great Spotted Woodpecker. 

          At Slimbridge in the afternoon, it was 14 deg. C. at 1300.  From the Holden Tower, a Sparrowhawk made a kill in the bushes in front of the hide.  There were 111 Barnacle Geese on the far Dumbles and 10 White-fronted Geese were in the Top New Piece.  Finally, a Cetti’s Warbler was calling in the reeds near the bend in the Holden Walkway. 

          Some general notes. 1.  Very few Mute Swans have been noted around the flood plains of the River Severn to the north of Gloucester over the past few weeks. 

2.     There appears to be a general influx of winter thrushes overnight.

3.     Noted a few Ladybirds over the past two weeks or so, having not noted many over several months. 

4.     The willow trees on the island on the scrape at Ashleworth which were cut down this summer are now showing vigorous shoots.       


22nd October 2009 – It was a rainy afternoon at Slimbridge.  The number of White-fronted Geese remains at 11 and were seen from the Holden Tower on the Dumbles but this time at the northern end.  From the Martin Smith hide, I was looking for the reported Jack Snipe but only a Water Rail with a bad leg showed up.


21st October 2009 – Mild with some sunny periods when I arrived at Ashleworth.  11 deg. C. at 1000, later rising to 14 deg. C. at 1400.  From the hide at 1020, the familiar sight of the 2 injured Canada Geese, a Grey Heron, probably the same bird, judging by the breast pattern, as yesterday.  There were only 2 Mallard visible but very near the hide there was a flock of Long-tailed Tits, one of whom sported a metal ring.  This was probably put on at the constant effort ringing site which is situated a few fields away.  A Buzzard and a Peregrine were on distant but separate pylons.  Along Ham Road, a Jay flew over and this is getting to be a regular occurrence here.  A female Reed Bunting was in the hedgerow opposite the newer screen hide near Colways Farm.  Along Stank Lane, the 2 Mute Swans were in the same field as yesterday at the scrape and a Kestrel was high over Hasfield Ham.  An interesting happening occurred when I was coming back down the lane.  A Grey Squirrel was in the high hedgerow on the north side of the lane and attempted to cross over the lane in the trees.  It sprang across a gap into a very flimsy sapling on the south side but the twig bent and gave way and the animal dropped to the ground.  It landed on all fours but with a ‘splat’ sound as its belly hit the tarmac.  It was reminiscent of a ‘belly flop’ at the swimming pool.  Amazingly it then scurried away into the undergrowth apparently not the worse for wear.  I moved on and went to the end of Dirty Lane where the second strange happening of the day was noted.  A Buzzard was noted flying low over the field where the footpath goes from Dirty Lane.  It climbed slightly and went into a tree on the far side of this field where there was a large nest.  The bird landed on the nest.  This seemed strange at this time of year.


20th October 2009 – At Ashleworth it was cool and breezy.  Temperature was 10 deg. C. at 1100.  From the hide there were the usual 2 injured Canada Geese, a juvenile Grey Heron and a Moorhen, the latter species being unusual here.  Along Ham Road, a Buzzard flew over, a Great Spotted Woodpecker was in a small tree near the Stank Lane junction and a Long-tailed Tit flock was in the hedgerows in the same place.  This species seem to be doing well as they are noted on most visits and seen often elsewhere.  A pleasing note.  Another Grey Heron was in the set aside field to the north of the lane and 2 Mute Swans were in the scrape on the large field to the south.  This species seem to be relatively absent in many places this autumn and there is no sign of a non-breeding flock anywhere other than maybe Slimbridge.  On my return to Ham Road, a Kestrel was overhead, a species seen in this particular area quite frequently. 

          At Slimbridge between 1400 and 1530, the rain came and was quite heavy for a while.  From the Holden Tower there were 122 Barnacle Geese on the Dumbles with a lone Greylag Goose with them.  10 White-fronted Geese were elsewhere on the Dumbles but distant.  Finally a Sparrowhawk in immaculate plumage was standing on a fence post on the Tack Piece. 


19th October 2009 – At Slimbridge, it was cool but with some sunny periods.  The temperature en route at 1100 was 11 deg. C..  A short visit to the Holden Tower revealed over 100 Barnacle Geese on the Dumbles and the 11 White-fronted Geese flew in at 1145. 

          North along the canal, a Sparrowhawk flew over the canal to the east.  From Green Lane, there were 3 Stonechat on the dry 100 acre field.  Along the lane itself, 2 Meadow Pipits moved through the hedgerows and a Kestrel flew over. 


18th October 2009 – At Nagshead RSPB reserve in the afternoon, it was overcast and cool but there was still a dragonfly on the wing in the  car park and the Dor Beetles were still moving across the paths.  This activity reflects that there has not been any sharp frosts yet.  Temperature over night dropped to about 2 deg. C. and on the 12th October the low was about the same so the insects are still active.  The forcast after tonight appears to be more mild so these little creatures may well be about for some days yet. 


17th October 2009 – At Ashleworth between 1020 and 1200 it was cool and overcast.  From the hide, there were the usual two injured Canada Geese and 2 Common Snipe, 2 Mute Swan on the scrape to the north, a Grey Heron and a fishing Kingfisher on the scrape in front of the hide.  Along Ham Road, a female Sparrowhawk flew over as did 2 Buzzards whereas by contrast, a Long-tailed Tit flock kept in the cover of the hedgerows.  Along Stank Lane, there were several Redwings in the first part of the lane.  These were the first that I have noted this autumn although there have been instances over the past few days which have passed over as visual migration but positive identification has not be able to be made.  Mistle Thrushes were also present and calling.  This species were also around my home in Longhope this morning.  Further up the lane, a Cormorant overflew and when I was back along Ham Road, a Raven appeared with possibly two others.  I moved on to the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust at Slimbridge for a short visit and found 11 adult White-fronted Geese.  The numbers are very slowing increasing. 


16th October 2009 – A damp morning but it became brighter and a cool autumnal afternoon.  It was 13 deg. C. at 1400.  At Nagshead, a dragonfly or two were on the wing at Lower Hide but too far away over the ponds to be able to identify with certainty.  Many insects were on the wing and these could clearly be seen in the shafts of sunlight breaking down through the coloured leaves of autumn still clinging to the branches.  This was particularly noticeable on the lower part of the short trail.  At Cannop Ponds, the only birds on the water were 5 Tufted Duck and 2 Coot and a Siskin was on the feeders at the Stone Works.  There was no sign of a shike at Farmer’s Green. 


15th October 2009 – Wildfowl and Wetland Trust Centre, Slimbridge between 1100 and 1455. It was a generally overcast and cool day which deteriorated into drizzle.  On the Dumbles from the Holden Tower, there were 9 adult White-fronted Geese which means that more have arrived.  There were reports of 10 but I could only find 9.  Brent Geese had also been reported but I did not see them.  A second Australian ‘type’ Shelduck was out on the river with the Shelducks (Tadorna tadorna), the original bird that I saw on the13th October was nearby.  Also on the Dumbles near the mixed White-fronted Goose/Greylag Goose/Barnacle Goose flock were two Ruddy Shelduck with no rings on them.  On the wing over the Dumbles, there were Buzzard, Peregrine and Kestrel.

          Along the canal to the south a Cetti’s Warbler was singing.

          I received a very quick reply to my sighting of the Swedish ringed Black-headed Gull of 12th October.  The bird was ringed at Malmo, Sweden on 20th June 2004 and has been seen on 26th March this year in Denmark.  It was ringed as an adult.


14th October 2009 – A cool morning but a Painted Lady Butterfly was flying around the patio in Longhope early  this morning.  The other notable feature around 0800 was the passage of thrush species in a good example of visual migration.  A walk around the Forest this morning and part of the afternoon was a quiet one but Buzzard and Sparrowhawk were very high in the clear blue sky.  At Cannop, a Grey Wagtail was on the outfall of the lower pond as usual.  On this pond, there were 9 Mallard, 4 Tufted Duck(1 male) and 2 Coot.


 13th October 2009 – Ashleworth.  It was a sunny but cool morning with the temperature being 6 deg. C. at 0930.  From the hide there were only the 2 injured Canada Geese, not 5 as yesterday.  2 Buzzards were perched up nearby and 9 Mallard appeared from out of the vegetation around the scrape.  The young Grey Heron was also present again and 1 Common Snipe crept around the edge of the water.  A tiny Wren was the only bird of the hedgerow opposite the hide. 

Along Ham Road, there appeared to be Meadow Pipits everywhere, overflying, down in the stubble fields and the flood plain fields.  A Jay overflew the road near Colways Farm yet again and a Kestrel was also on the wing there too. 

Along Stank Lane, there were 2 Bullfinch but generally it was quiet.

Slimbridge between 1345 and 1640.  The first White-fronted Geese of the season were present today on the Dumbles.  They were all adults.  At Middle Point, it was generally quiet but there were plenty of Lapwing, Black-headed Gulls, Shelduck and Curlew on the river at what appeared to be low tide.  Among the Shelduck there was a dark individual which resembled an Australian Shelduck but the rear part of the flanks were very light.  This bird is an escapee from somewhere and may well be a hybrid.  4 Grey Heron and 2 Little Egrets were also on the wing over various parts of the river.  Back on Rushy Pen, there was a lone Swallow again which kept perching on one particular post sticking up out of the water, suggesting that it is the same bird from yesterday.  Also of note from yesterday was that I noted that one of the Black-headed Gull flock had a distended gizzard and upper breast which bulged to one side.  Today, there were at least 12 birds like this.  I also noted yesterday in the grounds that the gulls were gorging on some of the feed put down for the collection birds and it may be that the birds noted had just had an enormous feed. Let us hope that there is nothing more than that.  


12th October 2009 – Ashleworth between 1105 and 1220.  It was cool and sunny and 11 deg. C. at 1100.  It was quiet again from the hide but with 5 Canada Geese including the usual 2 injured ones.  Overhead Ham Road, there were 4 Ravens and 2 Buzzards.  Along Stank Lane, there was a Small Copper Butterfly, a female Kestrel and some Long-tailed Tits.

 At Slimbridge between 1435 and 1720, I visited the Zeiss Hide where the conditions looked very good on the partially flooded field.  There were many Teal and Lapwing along with 11 Black-tailed Godwits, 6 Redshank, 1 Spotted Redshank, 1 Ruff and 5 Golden Plover and a Little Grebe.  On South Lake there were approximately 450 Black-headed Gulls of which 2 sported Swedish rings from Stockholm.  I read the complete series of numbers on one (641105) and will post the information in the diary when I received it.  On Rushy Pen there was a lone Swallow and a Kingfisher.  Around the grounds, there are many Woodpigeons which are in moult and are quite fat and heavy having been feeding on the grain fed to the captive birds.  As such, these pigeons look slow and unkempt but that is a symptom of the moult. 


11th October 2009 – Strumble Head in West Wales.  There was some very heavy rain en route but it was dry on site.  I did some seawatching from 1050 to 1610.  The following birds were noted.  36 Common Scoter in several small flocks, 3 Manx Shearwater, one in moult with feathers missing from either the outer secondaries or the inner primaries. There was also 1 pale phase Pomarine Skua, 3 male Eider together, 6 Arctic Skua of which one was a dark phase, 3 Great Skua, 3 small terns which were either Common or Arctic Terns and 2 Chough.  Near to the beach to the east of the Head, there were two white Grey Seal pups, one of which was actually on the beach.  A Kestrel and 2 Raven were also in this area and a Wheatear was on the gate at the road at the Head on my return.  A beautiful, sunny and cool afternoon leading to a clear night.


10th October 2009 – Ashleworth 1310 to 1405.  It was sunny and warm, 17 deg. C. at 1300.  Generally it was quiet and dry with the habitat very unsuitable for wintering wildfowl.  A Jay was over Ham Road and a Great Spotted Woodpecker was along Stank Lane.  The 2 injured Canada Geese and a Grey Heron were the only birds on the scrape.


9th October 2009 – An overcast day with a little light rain in the afternoon.


8th October 2009 – It was a beautiful and sunny autumn day at Nagshead in the afternoon.  Several Crossbill and Siskin over flew the car park.  A Kingfisher was at the Lower Hide where there were Southern Hawker Dragonflies even though the temperature was down to 1.6 deg. C. as shown on the Gloucester Weather Website.


7th October 2009 – A little bit more rain today.  It was overcast and cool at Ashleworth where I was between 1125 and 1200 on a short visit.  From the hide there were 2 Mute Swans and the 2 injured Canada Geese on the scrape with 3 Mallard.  A Buzzard was on the hedge by one of the ringing lines of the constant effort site.  2 Grey Herons were flying around and 2 Jay flew over.

I made a very short visit to Coombe Hill Canal at The Wharf end to view the cut back vegetation.  I was pleasantly surprised to see that it has been done somewhat discreetly and has not been taken back from the towpath by very much.

 At Slimbridge between 1400 and 1530 there was light rain.  There were Swallows over Rushy Pen, and a Long-tailed Tit flock of about 20 birds around the binocular shop.  7mm of rain today as recorded on the Gloucester Weather Website.


6th October 2009 – The first proper rain today for a long time with 11mm recorded on the Gloucester Weather Website.


5th October 2009 – An overcast morning.  I made a very short visit to Newnham.  A few gulls were present on the river and the majority were Common Gulls. 

At Nagshead in the late afternoon it was calm and cool.  A Siskin flock was around the pool nearest to the information centre.  I estimated about 100 birds and they were moving around the general area and dropping down to the pool to drink since there is little water anywhere else to be found in this dry weather.  31 days and only 1mm of rain recorded on the Gloucester Weather Website and that single millimetre was on 3rd October.


4th October 2009 – Hirundines were over the south part of Micheldean at about 1830.


3rd October 2009 – A visit to Strumble Head in West Wales between 1920 and 1800.  It was overcast with some sunny periods and a rain shower mid-afternoon.  The wind was westerly, force 7 to 8 in the morning and turning north westerly and easing to force 4 in the afternoon.  There was a steady but small stream of Manx Shearwaters during the day and among them were 22 Common Scoters in small flocks, 1 Sabine’s Gull, 8 Great Skuas, a Little Gull and a lone Balearic Shearwater. Highlights of the day must go to the 19 Sooty Shearwaters, most of which passed in the late afternoon and, a very close Great Shearwater and a Long-tailed Skua.


2nd  October 2009 – At Nagshead there were sunny periods, but cooler than of late with the temperature at 13 deg. C. at 1130.  Two Swallows were of note over the open area at the far end of the short trail.

 At Cannop, a Siskin was near the feeder at the Stone Works and a Grey Wagtail adult in immaculate plumage was on the pond outfall.  The only duck on the southern pond was a female Tufted Duck, the first one of this species that I have seen in this location for some time.  There is a lot more evidence of Wild Boar tillage in many places.

 In the afternoon, I walked the long trail and there was another or one of the same Swallows over the same clearing as this morning.  A flock of birds high over the car park area appeared to be a mixed flock with different sized birds present but a number of Siskins were around the tops of the trees where the old information centre used to be.  On the shale track to the west of the reserve, several Ringlet Butterflies were on the wing which is somewhat notable for October.


1st October 2009 - A fine day but slightly cooler than of late.  The temperature reached 15 deg. C. at 1100.  I went to Newnham where the tide was low but there were very few birds there with just a handful of Black-headed Gulls and Common Gulls with just one Lesser Black-backed Gull.  Further up the river in the distance, there were about 250 gulls but they were too far away to identify. 

I moved on to Chew Valley Lake, Herriotts Bridge site to be exact to look for a specific wader which had been reported as being present for a number of days.  There were many birds there between 1225 and 1420.  There were many duck out on the water including good numbers of Tufted Duck, Pochard, Shoveler, some Mallard and a few Teal and Wigeon.  A scan of these birds revealed a Red-crested Pochard.  Waders included a single Golden Plover, 6 Black-tailed Godwits and a juvenile Little Plover.  Further out on the mud of another spit were three more waders, a Common Snipe, a Dunlin and the sort after Long-billed Dowitcher.  The small Dunlin, the medium sized Dowitcher and the largest of the three, the Common Snipe made a superb comparison of size and structure.  The Dowitcher was in its winter plumage but nevertheless was notably marked with a very prominent supercilium and a fine shade of grey on the flanks and under parts with a brown/grey back.  A excellent bird from either America or Eastern Siberia.  At the end of my stay, I noted 6 Little Egrets, one of whom was colour ringed.  The sequence was a red ring on the left leg with the black character ‘T’ and a white ring on the right with a black ‘6’.  Finally, I noted a Kingfisher and a Water Rail in the channel which leads under the road. 

Next, I moved around the lake to Herons Green between 1425 and 1500.  There were 8 Green Sandpipers, a Ferruginous Duck, a Black-necked Grebe and 2 Ruddy Duck which were particularly nice to see.  A large number of Little Grebe were also present.  An excellent day. 



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