Gloucestershire Naturalists' Society
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Coombe Hill Reserve Opening: Gallery
Huntman's Quarry, Naunton (25 June 2004, contributed by Andy Jayne)
11 Corn Buntings in song and 5 Tree Sparrows in the afternoon.
Severn Ham, Tewkesbury (25 June 2004, contributed by Andy Jayne)
1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Hobby, 3 Curlews , 2 Common Terns, 2 (pair) Yellow Wagtail, 6 male Reed Buntings and a single Corn Bunting in the afternoon.
Cheltenham (24 June 2004, contributed by Robert Homan)
A Marbled White flying along the Honeybourne cycle path this afternoon.
Sudmeadow (10 June 2004, contributed by Gordon Avery)
3 Painted Ladies by the River Severn this evening.
Cleeve Hill (8 June 2004, contributed by Robert Homan)
A Clouded Yellow flying over the Aerials Butterfly Conservation Reserve this afternoon. 2 Tree Pipits singing and plenty of other butterflies including Common and Small Blues.
Nottingham Hill (2 June 2004, contributed by Robert Homan)
A good show of day flying moths in the afternoon including Common Heath, Burnet Companion and the two species shown below; Mother Shipton on the left and Cistus Forester on the right. Following on from yesterday's item, there was a Red Admiral at the west end of the hill.
Standish (1 June 2004, contributed by Juliet Bailey)
There was a spanking fresh Red Admiral in my garden at Standish today. First I have seen this year. Surely it can't have migrated? (Red Admirals have been reported in small numbers at observatories on the south coast, so this could well be a migrant. RH)
I also have Blair's Shoulder-knot moth (Lithophane leautieri) caterpillars on one of the cypresses in the garden. This species features in an article on moths on cypresses in the current British Wildlife. It has spread northwards from the south coast since the 1950s and has now reached Tyneside and south-west Scotland. The most recent distribution map given in British Wildlife has about half a dozen hectad dots for Glos, so other local naturalists might care to look for it too so we can fill in the gaps. I came across it by accident when I broke off a branch of cypress to brush out my hens' water bowl. It is green with very bright white markings, and from my limited experience prefers the underside of branches.
Woorgreens area, Forest of Dean (22 May 2004, contributed by Robert Homan)
On the lake at Woorgreens today - male and female Mandarin with 6 ducklings. A Wood Warbler singing at nearby Crabtree Hill. The distinctive mines of the micro moth Incurvaria pectinea found in birch leaves at Crabtree Hill. The circular holes are where the larva has cut out the mine before falling to the ground where it continues to feed on dead leaves.
Pittville Park, Cheltenham (19 May 2004, contributed by Robert Homan)
The very productive pair of Great Crested Grebes now have 4 well-grown young plus another 3 recently hatched.
Woorgreens, Forest of Dean (18 May 2004, contributed by Gordon Avery)
A Nightjar and 2 roding Woodcock seen late evening.
Cleeve Hill - West Down/Wontley Farm (16 May 2004, contributed by Robert Homan)
Tree Pipits at Wardens Wood and Wontley Farm. Lesser Whitethroat and Cuckoo at Wardens Wood. Whitethroats singing at West Down, Wardens Wood and Wontley Farm.
Cheltenham (15 May 2004, contributed by Robert Homan)
2 Large Red Damselflies at a garden pond at Swindon Lane.
Coombe Hill (15 May 2004, contributed by Robert Homan)
As on 25 April plenty of warblers but not the variety of waders found in 2003. Between the Wharf and new scrapes: 4 Sedge Warblers, 1 Reed Warbler, 9 Whitethroats, 2 Blackcaps, 2 Willow Warblers and 4 Chiffchaffs. 2 Cuckoos in the area with at least 6 Curlews. Approx. 10 Lapwings at the scrapes together with 2 Coot, 3 Canada Geese, 2 Greylag Geese and 5 Shelducks. 5 well-grown Coots with adult pair at the Wharf where the female Mute Swan is still sitting on eggs.
Cleeve Hill - Bill Smyllie Reserve (11 May 2004, contributed by Robert Homan)
A very good show of Cowslips on the reserve. Adder's Tongue beginning to show in its well-known site in "Happy Valley". A few Common Heaths, a day flying moth, on the wing.
Cowslips and Adder's Tongue, Bill Smyllie Reserve, Cleeve Hill
Aylburton Warth (6 May 2004, via by Gordon Avery)
A Purple Heron seen today.
Witcombe Res. (5 May 2004, contributed by Gordon Avery)
A Common Sandpiper this morning and at least 60 House Martins and 30 Swallows. Also one of the pairs of Great Crested Grebes already has a well grown youngster.
Longney (2 May 2004, contributed by Sue Stevens)
Two small flocks of Whimbrel, one of 6 and and the other of 12.
Cheltenham (2 May 2004, contributed by Robert Homan)
After several days of rain the sun brought out the insects and firsts for the year in the garden were Dock Bug (Coreus marginatus) and Woundwort Bug (Eysarcoris fabricii).
Dock Bugs and Woundwort Bug, Swindon Lane, Cheltenham
R. Severn, Tewkesbury/Deerhurst (2 May 2004, contributed by Robert Homan)
A variety of warblers in song as the weather cleared this morning, including Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Sedge Warblers, Whitethroat and Lesser Whitethroat. Sand Martins have returned to the colony in the river cliff on the west side of the Severn. A spectacular show of oak apples and currant galls in the riverside oaks. Both types of gall are caused by species of gall wasp and both are very common. The oak apple is caused by Biorhiza pallida and the currant gall by Neuroterus quercusbaccarum.
Oak Apples and Currants Galls in profusion, Tewkesbury
Walmore Common and Awre (1 May 2004, contributed by Andy Jayne)
A summer plumaged Bar-tailed Godwit, 20 Whimbrel, 2 Whinchats, 2 Wheatears and 32 Ravens today. From Awre on the evening tide were c.6 Little Gulls and several flocks of Bar-tailed Godwit and Whimbrel moving North. The highlight, however, was a Porpoise seen for quite some time close to the Awre bank. Probably a Harbour Porpoise, quite small in size, only 3-4ft long, dark above with a fairly small, blunt fin and a blunt head profile.
Lydney (1 May 2004, contributed by Robert Homan and Andy Jayne)
Early afternoon today - still plenty of hirundines over the lakes near the station and a movement of Swifts through. A Lesser Whitethroat singing, but no sign of the Red-rumped Swallow(s), although the individual with the broken tail re-appeared at 4.30pm. Nearby at Newnham galls caused by the fungus Puccinia phragmitis, forming red blister-like swellings in the leaves, are a conspicuous feature of the docks growing by the riverside path on the NE side of the village.
Cheltenham (30 April 2004, contributed by Robert Homan)
Lesser Whitethroat singing from the disused Honeybourne railway, Swindon Lane. 6 Swifts over St Paul's area late afternoon.
Lydney (28 April 2004, contributed by Gordon Avery)
2 Red-rumped Swallows with a large passage of other hirudines seen late afternoon/early evening.
Sudmeadow (27 April 2004, contributed by Gordon Avery)
11 Swifts tonight in small parties over Sudmeadow/GLS.
Randwick Woods (26 April 2004, contributed by Rob Purveur)
The bluebell display in Randwick Woods (Grid ref SO8307) is quite outstanding and well worth driving down the narrow lane from Bird in Hand to Randwick! There is also a reasonable display, with wood anemone, at the far end of Maitland Wood (Grid ref SO839089).
Severn Estuary (25 April 2004, contributed by Andy Jayne)
An immature Marsh Harrier flew NE at Plusterwine at 1130 this morning. At Guscar were 3 Oystercatchers, 3 Ringed Plover, 5 Dunlin, 3 Whimbrel, 2 Yellow Wagtails and a Wheatear. A drake Common Scoter was seen from Etloe as it drifted downstream on the ebb tide.
Coombe Hill (25 April 2004, contributed by Robert Homan)
A good day for warblers though not for waders. A total of 5 Whitethroats between the Wharf and the Meadows reserve. 2 Sedge Warblers along the same section. A Lesser Whitethraot at the Wharf. Also - 6 Mute Swans, including the breeding pair, 4 Canada Geese, 2 Shelducks, 6 Lapwings, 2 Redshank, a Cuckoo heard. At the Wharf the breeding pair of Coots have 2 young.
Cheltenham (24 April 2004, contributed by Robert Homan)
A Speckled Wood in Swindon Lane.
Longney (21 April 2004, contributed by Sue Stevens)
Grasshopper Warbler at Longney Point reed bed. A Cuckoo over the fields by the river. Still only one Sedge Warbler, but a good day for Tortoiseshell and Peacock butterflies.
Standish (19 April 2004, contributed by Juliet Bailey)
Tony Taylor, the ants, bees and wasps recorder, attempts to teach me bumble bees. Today in my garden we saw five of the six common species – Bombus hortorum, Bombus pratorum, Bombus terrestris, Bombus pascuorum, Bombus lapidarius. All but one were queens, and they were feeding on red and white dead nettle, pear, cherry and berberis blossom. They were not interested in the early umbellifers (alexanders and sweet cicely) which are covered in flies, nor the dandelions or daisies. Tony says there is a good chance of seeing these in any garden in the county at this time of year, plus Bombus lucorum, the other common one. There is also plenty Anthophora plumipes, a flower-bee, which looks extremely like a bumble bee to me, except a bit whizzier perhaps. This is nesting in the very soft lime mortar of my brick-built house. You can hear the buzzing as it excavates its holes.
P.S. Tony Taylor was here again on 22 April and saw Bombus lucorum - so basically I have the full set of common bumbles in the garden.
Severn Vale (19 April 2004, contributed by Andy Jayne)
2 Common Whitethroats and a Sedge Warbler at Coombe Hill this evening. A surprising Goosander flying over the junction with the A38. The usual Lapwing, Curlew and Redshank also present. A quick look at Ashleworth was disappointing, with just a male Redstart of note. Earlier there was another Redstart near Walmore and an amazing total of 28 Ravens, presumably non-breeding (first-year?) birds.
Witcombe Res (19 April 2004, contributed by Gordon Avery)
A Whitethroat plus 15 Sand Martins and 8 House Martins.
Longney (19 April 2004, contributed by Sue Stevens)
First Sedge Warbler heard at Longney Point reed bed. Also the first Whitethroat of the year here and an Iceland Gull on Longney Sands.
Longney Point (16 April 2004, contributed by Sue Stevens)
A Cuckoo seen and heard this morning at Longney Point; last seen flying over the river.
Deerhurst Walton (15 April 2004, contributed by Robert Homan)
Several flowering heads of Alexanders (Smyrnium olusatrum) in a roadside ditch by the B4213 east of the junction with the minor road to Deerhurst. This is a plant more usually found in coastal locations, but has a long association with this area and is noted in both the Flora (1948) and the Supplement (1984).
Ashleworth Ham and Coombe Hill (14 April 2004, contributed by Robert Homan)
Several Orange-tip butterflies at both places this morning.
Maisemore/Over (13 April 2004, contributed by Gordon Avery)
A Barn Owl bird hunting along the road between Over roundabout and Maisemore village at about 11.15 pm.
Sherbourne Water Meadows (13 April 2004, news via Gordon Avery)
A female Redstart seen today.
Speculation area of the Cannop Valley (13 April 2004, contributed by Andy Jayne)
2 Goshawks soaring to the south, a female Sparrowhawk, 1 Tree Pipit, 3 Brambling and c.50 Lesser Redpoll.
Frampton (13 April 2004, contributed by Gordon Avery)
4 Little Gulls on the Sailing Lake today.
Cheltenham (13 April 2004, contributed by Robert Homan)
Three Bramblings still in Swindon Lane. Male Brimstone butterfly and the first Holly Blue of the year also seen today.
Good Friday Grass (11 April 2004, contributed by Juliet Bailey)
Good Friday Grass (Luzula campestris) is in full bloom on my front lawn, just as it should be for Easter. It looks huge in the picture below, but is actually only about three inches high. Its proper English name is Field Wood-rush and like all the wood-rushes, it has hairy grass-like leaves. (It is not really a grass at all). There is not much it can be confused with at this time of year, and it is very common on unimproved grassland in Gloucsetershire. In Warwickshire, where I worked, it was often called Sweep's Brushes.
Good Friday Grass
(Click on picture for a detailed view in a new window).
Waders in the Severn and Avon Vales above Gloucester (Easter 2004, contributed by Mike Smart)
At this time of year, some species of wader are seeking out breeding areas in the Severn and Avon vales. They are ground-nesting birds and very sensitive to disturbance, especially by dog-walkers, so people will understand if exact locaities are not always given. If you are in an area where waders area nesting, please keep well away so as to let them nest in peace!
Other waders are on passage, en route to breeding areas much further north.
Oystercatcher: Oystercatchers have only just appeared as a breeding species in the Severn and Avon Vale (though they have been nesting at Slimbridge for some years now). A pair has nested for a couple of years now at Bredon's Hardwick Pits in Worcestershire, just a few hundred yards north of the county boundary, and they often wander into Gloucestershire. On 12 April, one bird clearly had eggs already and could be seen incubating on one of the islands in the pits, with its mate on guard nearby.
Lapwing: Nesting Lapwings have become very few and far between in the Severn Vale in the last few years, and don't seem to like greenfield sites, preferring rough ground or arable. On one field in the vale, under set-aside regime, I saw 13 Lapwings on 9 April; one had a nest with four eggs, the others didn't seem to have laid yet, but will no doubt do so soon. At another site, there were three birds doing their familiar and lovely display flight.
Little Ringed Plover: A pair were displaying at one site on 10 April.
Snipe: April is a month when Snipe come through Gloucestershire on passage, presumably from wintering areas in Ireland, so there are always a few about. But some stay to breed and do their characteristic drumming flight. The breeding birds have become few and far between in recent years; no drumming recorded yet, but it's worth listening out, especially at dusk or just after dark in marshy areas.
Curlew: The sight and sound of Curlews doing their display flight and song over the hay meadows of the Vale is one of the most wonderful sites in the county. The birds have been in many hay meadows since early March, and can still be found in a number of places. As yet, they probably don't have eggs, because they are large birds and have to wait for the grass to grow up, to hide them from predators like foxes. So they usually just sit around in pairs, feeding; in the evening they seem to gather in groups to roost, forgetting to be territorial; on 11 April there were eight in shallow water (safe from foxes) at Ashleworth. Any observations of other evening gatherings elsewhere would be of great interest.
Redshank: Another ground-nesting wader that has decreased alarmingly in our area in recent years. There are still a couple of places in the Vale where they nest though and their magical song can be heard. On 12 April, I watched one bird in a meadow; it ws obviously excited, bobbing its head nervously, sticking up its neck, and running around in nervous excitement; I wondered if it already had eggs and wanted to get back to incubate them, so wqatched it from afar with my telescope; it went to look at a number of tussocks, disappearing from view for a while, then reappearing; it had at least one bird, presumably its mate, in attendance, and at one stage there were three sitting round the tussock it was investigating. I realised that in fact, it was prospecting for a nesting place; and found this was true when I investigated the tussock where it had spent such a long time; it had created a round depression, freshly flattened but there were no eggs as yet. So clearly, the grass may not be long enough for Curlews just yet, but is about the right length for Redshanks.
Golden Plover: Golden Plover winter in Gloucestershire, on the Cotswolds and in the Severn Vale, and in recent years good numbers have been seen at Slimbridge. They breed much further north of us, on moorlands and high ground in the North of England and Scotland. On 26 March, near Twyning, I heard a call which I first thought was a displaying Redshank in the distance, then took for a distant Song Thrush, until I realised that it was coming from overhead. I looked up and saw a group of about 200 Golden Plover, circling slowly, giving not their usual rather monotonous flight call, but doing little excerpts from their display call; they were obviously excited migrants on their way through, looking for somewhere to rest; they went round and round and finally landed in a ploughed field nearby, when I could see that about 10% of them were of the southern form, in summer plumage, with black belly and throat and golden speckled plumage above. Really a quite unexpected and magic moment; birds that have wintered in south west England must come through the Severn and Avon Vale every year, but often pass unnoticed.
Common Sandpiper: A small sandpiper which winters in the Mediterranean and south of the Sahara and comes to us in summer. One on the Avon near Twyning on 8 April.
Green Sandpiper: A few winter in Gloucestershire, usually on fast running streams, but most go further south. One stream they like is the River Chelt, but they were few and far between last winter. One on the Chelt on 9 April, I don't know if it was one which had wintered and escaped being seen, or one which had wintered much further south and had dropped in on route to breeding areas in Scandinavia.
Jack Snipe: Still two or three, as there have been for much of the winter, at Coombe Hill in late March and early April.
Some other migrants: A male Wheatear in full plumage by the Chelt on 9 April. Chiffchaffs singing everywhere now, (one singing hesitantly near Ashleworth as early as 19 February had probably wintered); they have been around since mid-March, it seems the males arrive first and sing to attract the females when they arrive. The first Willow Warblers I heard were on 9 April, Swallows on 8 April.
P.S. Bats out in the evening at Ashleworth on 11 April. Small tortoiseshell butterflies at Ashleworth on 9 April and Twyning on 12 April.
Cleeve Hill area (11 April 2004, contributed by Robert Homan)
A Willow Warbler singing at Postlip and 3 Swallows near the Golf Club house.
Windrush Camp (10 April 2004, contributed by Gordon Avery)
A Barn Owl hunting in the area at 6.20 am.
Rodborough Common (10 April 2004, contributed by Rob Purveur)
At least 5 Skylarks in display/song over the common - another sign of spring!
Cleeve Hill area (8 April 2004, contributed by Andy Jayne)
A female Black Redstart at West Down this evening and six Ring Ouzels on Cleeve Hill.
Cheltenham (7 April 2004, contributed by Robert Homan)
Now 14 Bramblings, including 4 males moulting in to summer plumage, in Swindon Lane.
Berkeley/Frampton (7 April 2004, contributed by Robert Homan)
8 Teal, 6 Shelduck and 20 Redshank at high tide in Berkeley Pill.
100+ Sand Martins in heavy showers, 14 Swallows, 4 Little Gulls (2 adults + 2 1st winters), 1 second winter Mediterranean Gull and the well-known "Willow-chiff" with the mixed song at the Sailing Lake at Frampton.
FoD/Lydney (4 April 2004, contributed by Andy Jayne)
The Speech House area today produced a male Redstart, male Firecrest, two Willow Warblers, c.20 Brambling (Arboretum Feeder) and two Hawfinches.
Also, a total of about 68 Kittiwakes in two flocks off Lydney Harbour this evening, plus a House Martin and 10 Swallows nearby at Lydney Marsh.
Cheltenham (4 April 2004, contributed by Robert Homan)
2 males Bramblings feeding with other finches in a garden in Swindon Lane.
CWP(W) (3 April 2004, contributed by Robert Homan)
Single Little Gull feeding over Pit 32 this morning. 1 Shelduck on Pit 79.
Cleeve Hill (31 March 2004, contributed by Robert Homan)
Warm sunshine brought out the butterflies this afternoon with male Brimstone, Comma, Peacock and Small Tortoiseshell flying in Padcombe Bottom, the valley on the east side of the common. 2 Roe Deer were grazing in the pasture near Wontley Farm, while back on the common there was a pair of Stonechats in the tall gorse and a single Gorse Shieldbug.
Gorse Shieldbug - not the best of photos, but gorse isn't the easiest plant into which to push a camera!
Coombe Hill (30 March 2004, contributed by Robert Homan)
A typical late March changing of the seasons morning with vestiges of winter in the form of 8 Teal on the scrapes and 20 Fieldfares flying NE. Signs of spring included 4 Chiffchaffs singing between the Wharf and the Meadows Reserve, 4 Redshanks, 2 Shelduck and 10 Lapwings displaying and harassing any passing crows.
Several spikes of Reedmace growing in the canal show signs of feeding activity of the larvae of the micro-moth Limnaecia Phragmitella, with large quantities of fluffy seeds hanging down from the spike. On close inspection one of the spikes revealed the distinctive caterpillar shown below.
Larva of Limnaecia Phragmitella
Cleeve Hill (29 March 2004, contributed by Robert Homan)
A total of 6 Wheatears on the golf course and adjoining common. At least 100 Fieldfares on Postlip Warren, but this is a very mobile flock; some Starlings also present and a very good chance of Ring Ouzels especially with the forecast wind direction over the next few days.
Cleeve Hill (26 March 2004, contributed by Neil Pryce-Jones)
5 Wheatears around the hillfort this afternoon plus a male Brambling in among a flock of Yellowhammers below the masts.
Witcombe Res. (22 March 2004, contributed by Gordon Avery)
12 Sand Martins this morning.
Awre (21 March 2004, contributed by Andy Jayne)
Pale phase Arctic Skua flew upriver at Awre at 1650. Also one adult Kittiwake lingering around The Noose. No sign of the Razorbill earlier seen from WWT.
Cleeve Hill (21 March 2004, contributed by Robert Homan)
2 Wheatears on the golf course early this afternoon. (Also a single female Ring Ouzel reported from Postlip Warren area.)
Staverton Airport (18 March 2004, contributed by Gordon Avery)
4 Sand Martins in flight over the airport.
Cheltenham (17 March 2004, contributed by Robert Homan)
A Chiffchaff singing early this morning from garden in Swindon Lane - the first spring migrant here this year.
Awre (14 March 2004, contributed by Gordon Avery)
An oiled Kittiwake at Awre and 30 Oystercatchers on the mudflats by the Noose.
Newnham (7 March 2004, contributed by Andy Jayne)
There were two adult Ring-billed Gulls at Newnham this afternoon as well as adult and first-winter Mediterranean Gulls.
Sudmeadow area (4 March 2004, contributed by Gordon Avery)
First Green Sandpiper this year in the GLS area also adult Mediterranean Gull. 35 Teal on Sudmeadow floods and 2 Great Crested Grebes on the river at Sudmeadow, the first since March 1999! At least one Stonechat (a female) still on Port Ham.
R Severn, Deerhurst (18 February 2004, contributed by Robert Homan)
Frozen lakes perhaps accounted for 3 Goosanders (2m, 1f) on the river between Haw Bridge and Deerhurst. Also 40 Canada Geese on the river north of the village.
Cleeve Hill (18 February 2004, contributed by Robert Homan)
Apart from 1 or 2 singing Skylarks and a few Meadow Pipits the Common was fairly quiet today. The highlights were 6 Buzzards displaying over the Washpool area, c. 100 Linnets feeding in a beet field near Postlip and 4 Ravens displaying over the golf course.
Sudmeadow area (13 February 2004, contributed by Gordon Avery)
The Barn Owl is still present and was seen hunting over Port Ham this morning. The mild weather has induced the over-wintering Chiffchaff to start singing, now for 2 days running.
Dursley (10 February 2004, contributed by Gordon Avery)
There was a Red Kite over Woodmancote Road, Dursley today at about 1400hrs.
Sudmeadow area (10 February 2004, contributed by Gordon Avery)
The adult Mediterranean Gull was around the tip today and a Chiffchaff was also in the area.
Cheltenham (5 February 2004, contributed by Robert Homan)
Signs of spring here in Cheltenham include a small mass of frog spawn this morning in my garden pond (2002 first date here was 8th February). Blackbirds, Mistle Thrushes and Song Thrushes are in full song and 1 or 2 male Chaffinches have been singing briefly on the mild mornings of this week.
Pittville Park, Cheltenham (1 February 2004, contributed by Robert Homan)
6 Goosanders, including 5 males, on the Boating Lake, mid-morning.
Sudmeadow area (29 January 2004, contributed by Gordon Avery)
A Woodcock on Sudmeadow this morning. Apparently the Barn Owl has been seen daily up to yesterday at least. It hunts over the rough pasture between the river and the old railway line on the Oxlease. Best viewed from the Severn Way down below the Llantony Weir. It has been seen very early in the morning or at dusk.
Sudmeadow area (24 January 2004, contributed by Gordon Avery)
The Chiffchaff still by Llantony Weir and the 2 Stonechats are still on Port Ham.
Woorgreens, Cinderford (24 January 2004, contributed by Robert Homan)
At last, something for the non-birders - a Peacock butterfly seen in the area of scrub on the south side of the lake today.
Sudmeadow area (23 January 2004, contributed by Gordon Avery)
Male Stonechat along the Severn Way at the Rea, Hempsted this afternoon and male and female Peregrines sat on the pylon at Lower Parting, Sudmeadow also this afternoon.
Lydney New Grounds (23 January 2004, contributed by Andy Jayne)
Three Peregrines together seen today.
Rodley (23 January 2004, contributed by Andy Jayne)
2 Short-eared Owls, 19 Golden Plover, 8 Snipe, 56 Curlew, 16 Raven seen today.
Sudmeadow (21 January 2004, contributed by Gordon Avery)
The Mediterranean Gull was seen again yesterday in the GLS area. It is worth noting that good views of the area of the tip where the gulls congregate can be obtained from the Severn Way with a telescope. Consult either the OS Explorer sheet 179 or the many guides to the Severn Way for access details to the footpath.
Severn Vale wetlands (20 January 2004, contributed by Andy Jayne)
275 Pintail at Coombe Hill Meadows, adult Peregrine at Ashleworth Ham and 5 Tree Sparrows nearby at Colways Farm.
Llantony Weir (19 January 2004, contributed by Gordon Avery)
A Chiffchaff seen today.
Sudmeadow area (19 January 2004, news via Gordon Avery)
A Mediterranean Gull reported from the area today.
Update from the Severn Vale wetlands (19 January 2004, contributed by Mike Smart)
In the note posted on 10 January, some details were given of recent events, mainly hydrological and ornithological, at Walmore and Ashleworth, two of the main Severn Vale wetlands in Gloucestershire. Since then, observations have continued and this note brings matters up to date.
The Severn has continued at a fairly high level because of rain in the upper catchment in North Wales, though levels have fortunately not reached flood proportions. As a result, water from marshlands in the floodplain has not been able to flow away, so that Ashleworth and Hasfield Hams and Walmore Common have had slightly higher water levels. At the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust's reserve at Ashleworth (along the Ham Road between Ashleworth and Tirley, just souht of Haw Bridge on the west bank of the Severn), the water surface has at last (after an unusually dry autumn) reached normal winter levels, and the sluice has been operated to maintain these levels for ducks and geese. Numbers of ducks have continued to rise, with over 1,250 Wigeon, several hundred Teal, up to 150 Pintail and 50 Shoveler, plus the odd Gadwall and Mallard. In addition the Canada Geese have returned in force with numbers up to 300 and a few feral Greylag and Barnacle Geese, even a couple of Pink-footed Geese (also considered to be feral), but no sign yet this winter of any wild White-fronted Geese coming up from the estuary at Slimbridge. These birds can be well seen at close quarters from the road hide or the newly installed hide in Meerend Thicket, overlooking the reserve. The Wigeon are particularly attractive, as they come out of the water to graze along the roadside, and are very little disturbed by passing cars.
At Walmore (by the A 48 from Gloucester to Chepstow), there is still very little surface water, so few ducks, but Bewick's Swans have been using the area extensively to graze on the grassland, and their numbers have continued to rise. Most of these swans are birds that roost at Slimbridge but move to Walmore to feed by day, returning to Slimbridge in the evening. This has been proved by reading the plastic rings with which some are marked. Numbers at Slimbridge are at present about 225, but an appreciable number move out to feed further afield. After the 31 Bewick's seen at Walmore on 10 January, numbers have varied from day to day, with 11 on 11 January, 24 on 13 January, 26 on 14 January, 15 on 17 January, and (the record so far for this winter) 52 on 18 January. Coronie (ringed TAS) has been a regular visitor, with her mate and two cygnets. Cleeve (white ring marked TBB) and mate Evesham (ringed TVL), with their cygnet, were seen on 14 January at Walmore, and then again at Ashleworth on 18 January, so they are obviously venturing further afield. There remains at least one family (a single parent with as many as four cygnets) however, that regularly roosts at Walmore without returning to Slimbridge every evening. Today there was a family with both parents ringed (Muir - TPU - and mate Widemouth - ringed TUV - with no less than five cygnets. Apart from the swans, Walmore remains attractive to Ravens and some can be seen there at all times of the day, but specially at nightfall.
Ashleworth (18 January 2004, news via Gordon Avery)
A Tree Sparrow feeding with the finch flock at Colways Farm today.
The British Trust for Ornithology Winter Gull Roost Survey (18 January 2004, contributed by Mike Smart)
Every ten years, the BTO organizes a national survey of wintering gulls, and in 2003/04 the time has come round for the latest one. In the past, only the most important sites have been covered, but this year there will be an attempt to cover all sites in the country and thus get an idea of the numbers of gulls wintering in the UK. The aim is for observers to count gulls in the afternoon and early evening as they return to their roost.
In Gloucestershire, the biggest roosts are on the Severn estuary, and the last survey ten years ago suggested that 20% of all the Lesser Blackbacks wintering in Britain were to be found in the Frampton/Slimbridge area. However, the Cotswold Water Park also holds large numbers of roosting gulls. A co-ordinated count was held on the weekend of 17/18 January, with teams of observers covering the Frampton/Slimbridge and Sharpness/Berkeley areas on the east bank, the west bank of the Severn at Awre and below Lydney, and the Water Park. The observers were drawn from many of the county's ornithological bodies, including the GNS.
Weather conditions were good (unlike mid-November when a first trial was held) so there should be clear results. First indications are that numbers of gulls, particularly Common Gull, are down. Watch this space for further details of the figures!
Port Ham, Gloucester (15 January 2004)
A pair of Stonechats today seen by Gordon Avery.
Littledean (14 January 2004)
2 male Bramblings trapped in a garden at Popes Hill today. (news via Gordon Avery).
Awre (13 January 2004)
A single Kittiwake seen today. (news via Gordon Avery).
WWT Slimbridge (12 January 2004)
An adult Tundra Bean Goose on the New Grounds, midday today. (news via Gordon Avery).
Sudmeadow (12 January 2004)
The Barn Owl seen again today flying over to Sudmeadow from Port Ham, Gloucester (contributed by Gordon Avery).
Aylburton Warth (11 January 2004)
A Green Sandpiper, Water Pipit and two Tree Sparrows (contributed by Andy Jayne).
Withington (11 January 2004)
2 female Bramblings in a small finch flock in the remains of sunflowers along the Withington - Colesbourne road, approx. 500m west of Withington (contributed by Robert Homan).
Bournside School (Cheltenham) (11 January 2004)
John Sanders saw an adult Ring-billed Gull on Bournside School playing fields, Warden Hill Road, Cheltenham at 1030 this morning. All the gulls flew up at about 1100 and the bird was not seen again.
Guscar Rocks and Aylburton Warth (GNS Field Meeting) (10 January 2004)
2 Grey Heron
1 imm Bewick's Swan
1 Rock Pipit
(contributed by Gordon Avery)
Severn Vale (10 January 2004, contributed by Mike Smart)
Bewick's Swans continue to use the site. It looks as though two family parties (one with one adult and four young, one with one adult and two young) are staying to roost on the site and not returning to Slimbridge to roost at night. These birds are joined in the course of the day by others which fly in from Slimbridge, usually after the morning feed there, and graze on the grass all day.
On 7 January 31 Bewick's Swans at 09h00, two of them wearing darvic rings: yellow YLS (baptised "Dylan" at Slimbridge, previously seen at Walmore on 2 January and first recorded at Slimbridge this winter on 29 December) and white TAS (baptised "Coronie", also seen at Walmore on 2 January after first Slimbridge sighting of the winter on 1 January).
On 8 January, eight birds (the two families) at 08h35, five adults and a yearling flew in at 09h07, two more adults flew in at 09h40. By 14h45 there were 18 present. None of these birds were ringed; no sign of Dylan or Coronie.
On 9 January 13 birds at 13h45 (the two families plus five adults, none ringed, so no Coronie or Dylan again). At 16h45 15 birds, including the two families, all of which stayed on a fine evening, till well after dark.
There are still lots of Ravens at Walmore, at least 25 or 30 came in from the west at dusk, presumably to roost, Where had they come from - the Gloucester Landfill Site?
River Severn rising sharply over the last couple of days, at its highest since early 2003 at Haw Bridge today (9.40 metres). Water gradually coming on to the reserve at Ashleworth, where water levels do not necessarily follow river levels and are still low for the time of year. Terrific views from the roadside and hides: over 1,000 ducks in the last two days, including about 800 Wigeon, 200 Teal, 50 Pintail, 30 Shoveler, 6 Gadwall and 2 Shelduck (the latter the first of the season); also influx of feral geese: 175 Canadas, nearly 20 Greylags and a couple of Barnacles. Worth a careful look in case something more unusual turns up. Are the Whoopers going to come, now the water levels are rising?
A Green Sandpiper on the River Chelt by the Leigh Meadows.
Forest of Dean (9 January 2004)
Apart from the usual Robins, Blackbirds and Jays, very few small birds evident - certainly no finch flocks. At Soudley Ponds: 3 Little Grebes and 6 Mandarins. At Mallards Pike: 4 Goosanders (inc 1m). At Cannop Ponds: 8 Goosanders (inc 4m), 7 Little Grebes, 21 Mandarins and 2 Tufted Ducks (contributed by Robert Homan).
Pittville Park (Cheltenham) (7 January 2004)
A male Goosander on the boating lake at lunchtime today (contributed by Robert Homan).
Severn Vale (4 January 2004)
At Ashleworth water levels continue to rise and there have been over 1,000 ducks present, mostly Wigeon, but up to 200 Teal and a few Shoveler and Pintail, for the last two days. Excellent views from the roadside hides, especially of grazing Wigeon. The Peregrine was on the pylons too this morning, and a couple of Ravens flew over.
This morning there was a surprise on the water, a group of eleven Bewick's Swans, nine adults and two yearlings, looking as though they had arrived yesterday evening or during the night and needed a place to roost on the water. They had probably arrived from the east and had not been to Slimbridge at all. They sat on the water, all very nervous, calling and holding their necks in the upright alarm position, then they became even more restless, with much head-bobbing and even more calling, and finally took flight at about 0900, leaving not towards Slimbridge but to the North West, though they were not found later in the day in the Worcestershire wetlands of Longdon Marsh, Bredon's Hardwick or Nafford (Gwen Finch).
Another surprise was the arrival of a single male Ruff, the first this year in the Severn Hams. Perhaps, like the ducks, he had got the message that there was water and good feeding at Ashleworth and had come in (from the estuary?) to see for himself.
At Walmore, the Bewick's Swans are still coming from Slimbrdige, 13 yesterday, 15 today. Still plenty of Ravens to be seen and heard there. (contributed by Mike Smart)
CWP(W) (4 January 2004)
Reported by Andy Jayne today:
1 Little Egret
redhead Smew (pit 65)
4 Water Rail (1 seen, 3 heard)
80 Golden Plover
1 ad Yellow-legged Gull (pit 32)
plus the usual Red-crested Pochard, Goldeneye and Ruddy Duck
No sign of the Yellow-browed Warbler
Sudmeadow (4 January 2004)
There was a Barn Owl hunting in the rough field just past Lower Parting at Sudmeadow this morning. A first for the site! (contributed by Gordon Avery).
Walmore Common (2 January 2004)
34 Bewick's Swans feeding at 12.30 today. Also present were 8 Mute Swans, a male Stonechat on the main ditch, about 18 Teal in the ditches, and at least ten Ravens overhead. (contributed by Mike Smart).
Ryall's Lane, Cambridge (2 January 2004)
2 Little Egrets present for most of this morning, either in the roadside ditch or adjacent fields. (contributed by Gordon Avery).
Guiting Power (1 January 2004)
A Red Kite reported from the area today. (contributed by James Milton).
CWP(W) (1 January 2004)
The Yellow-browed Warbler showed well this morning in New Year's Day sunshine in the bushes at the NE corner of pit 32. Also a single male Goldeneye on pit 79 (contributed by Robert Homan).
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