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12 May 2012 Half day birding trip to the Forest of Dean

A morning in the Forest of Dean was planned as the weather was perfect. We departed Whitminster at 0630 to make the most of the morning and arrived at Walmore Common. A Purple Heron had been seen here a couple of days before so it was worth a stop. The common was in flood and had a lot of birds feeding and roosting including Little Egrets, Shelduck and Shoveler but no Purple Heron. We carried on to Yew Tree Brake and were soon hearing and glimpsing Firecrest in the firs, the views were of birds high up. A Tawny Owl was discovered at day roost and was being mobbed by smaller passerines. After an hour with the Firecrests we moved on to Nagshead RSPB. A short walk and we were watching the first Pied Flycatcher, at least seven mnales were noted singing on a stroll around the paths. The highlight here was a male Wood Warbler in full song in the sun.

Pied Flycatcher

Wood Warbler

Our next stop was at Woorgreens where management work has re-created some excellent habitat. Following the lake we soon found a Garden Warbler, it showed for us low down in the gorse. A Crossbill flew over. Moving out onto the heath the first of seven Tree Pipits were seen, a very tame and close bird that gave us great views.

Tree Pipit

Other warbler species were noted, a Willow Warbler was heard, lots of Blackcaps, Chiffchaff, displaying Common Whitethroat and another Garden Warbler. The parachute display flights of the Tree Pipits were great to watch and hear. A female Goshawk appeared overhead and circled in the thermals, a nice addition to the Buzzards. I could hear them arriving and announced that Crossbills were on their way when three flew low overhead and dropped in the pines. A large party of Redpoll and Siskin were feeding in birches, quite late for such a gathering but perhaps delayed breeding by a week or two.


Heading back to the car a smashing Willow Tit began calling and gave us all amazing views as it fed in the alders. The Garden Warbler was out in the open and singing again, more good views. The common woodland birds such as Jay and Great Spotted Woodpecker and Nuthatch added to the outing but it was just one of those perfect days where so many birds gave themselves up, right place, right time. Thanks to all who attended.


Filed under: Birdwatching Diary


at 6:31 am

5 May 2012 Anser birding event


Four of us gathered for an Anser birding session, it was left open so I could make a call on where we would head for the night before. It had been so good locally all week and the tide was favourable so I suggested searching the Severn. It was a good move. Parking up and walking the Severn Way footpath we enjoyed the benefits of Spring and the birdsong which included a showy Mistle Thrush. The hedgerow gave up a singing Lesser Whitethroat and a large flock of hirundines (Martins and Swallows) fed all around us at ground level, the sheltered spot providing insects. We saw a few local birders out and about, thanks to Greg Mabbett for pointing out a male Whinchat, one of the birds I was looking out for the group. At least three Wheatear fed nearby.

The waders began arriving, three Whimbrel, two of which headed inland. At least 20 were present. 12 Curlew and a distant Bar-tailed Godwit were noted but closer flocks revealed 14 Grey Plover (a few in stunning breeding plumage), 35 Red Knot (lots of fully red birds), 340 Dunlin, 210 Ringed Plover, 4 Sanderling, 3 Turnstone, 2 Oystercatcher and a Curlew Sandpiper in breeding plumage (not the bird seen last Thursday). A couple of Yellow Wagtails flew by. Swifts were feeding and moving overhead, Blackcaps, Chiffchaff and Green Woodpecker added to the commoner passerines. Three Common Gull were on the estuary. The wader flock panicked and dispersed when a Kestrel flew across the river.

Moving on to Townfield Lake we noted a Common Tern and more Sand Martins and Swifts, a Nightingale was heard, Common Whitethroat seen displaying, Garden Warbler sang but remained on the move. A pleasant morning out with some stunning birds. Thanks to Ruth, Colin and Jeanne.

Filed under: Trip Reports


at 11:43 am

1-31 May 2012 sightings and blog

30 May 2012 A Painted Lady at WWT Slimbridge.

24-28 May 2012 Sardinia and Corsica, full trip report soon.

21 May 2102 Was tempted and took the afternoon off to yomp up Bradnor Hill, Hereford for this stunner.


18 May 2012 I saw three pairs of Common Tern, a Whimbrel, 24 Sanderling, 3 Grey Plover, 76 Dunlin, 3 Knot, 16 Curlew, 42 Ringed Plover and a Short-eared Owl out on the WWT reserve/estuary tonight.

14-17 May 2012 Highlights were the female Red-necked Phalarope and hatching Avocets at WWT Slimbridge. The latter a special moment in time as it is a first for the county. A party of 15 Sanderling on 14th were of note.

13 May 2012 Up at 0330 for a Dawn Chorus event at WWT Slimbridge. Again, perfect weather for singing birds and the misty start was very atmospheric. A party of four Great Crane Project Eurasian Cranes made it very special. A Redpoll over was unusual, Cuckoo welcome and plenty of songsters.

12 May 2012 Trip report soon, a very good morning out in the Forest of Dean, weather was great, the birds fell into place.

10 May 2012 Got up and ready for work, opened the door and u-turned, back to bed for the day. Some sort of fever, a birdless day save the fledged Starlings and delightful constant communications from sparrows.

9 May 2012 Woke up feeling groggy but pressed on to do a full breeding wader survey of Saul Warth, not a single territorial bird found only migrants such as 27 Whimbrel and four Bar-tailed Godwit, Four Lesser and seven singing Common Whitethroat were nice. Carried on into work until lunch and headed home feeling pretty awful. An afternoon in bed with a temp and I had to get going, dosed up to do a Spoon-billed Sandpiper talk for the Friends of Slimbridge. It semed to go OK so I hope no-one noticed the hot flushes, sweats and light headed bouts!

8 May 2012 I saw the male Garganey again this morning.

7 May 2012 A new bird for the year came in the form of a Wood Sandpiper that Dave Paynter found on the Bottom New Piece, it was not obliging only giving occasional glimpses from distance.

6 May 2012 Some torrential rain prduced some interesting reactions from species such as Swallow. They clearly did not enjoy the ‘monsoon’ and did their best to avoid the heavy downpours. A few more waders were about the estuary but in low numbers. At least 2 female Whinchat were notable, four were seen at Middle Point, WWT yesterday!

5 May 2012 See trip reports

4 May 2012 No birding but good to see Steve Dark at the birders meet at the Old Forge and some of the usual crew.

3 May 2012 An interesting morning yet again, five Common Tern headed upriver on the tide but bumping into Pavlo Zaltowski in the Holden Tower he informed me of a wader he saw on the mud off Saul Warth and thought it to be a phalarope, his verbal description sounded perfect for Red-necked Phalarope. I headed up with JSL as he was going that way with our electric 4wd and sure enough it was out on the mud with hundreds of waders including a Curlew Sandpiper, Turnstone and 100 Red Knot, 22 Grey Plover and 15 Bar-tailed Godwits. 2 Sanderling were also present.

Dealing with a flood problem near the Zeiss Hide I spent most of the day in a digger or in a drainage trench but a Common Tern did fly by on the Top New Piece. On the way out I saw a male and two female Blue-headed Wagtails with an intermediate bird and 10 Yellow Wagtails at the end of the day. An evening walk along the canal at Frampton with Graham Clarkson was productive. Two Short-eared Owl, Cuckoo, Water Rail, 2 Bar-tailed Godwit 8 Curlew and 41 Whimbrel.

Red-necked Phalarope, non-breeding plumaged but just beginning moult

and with a Dunlin (right)

2 May 2012 A female Blue-headed Wagtail was with 15 Yellow Wagtails at WWT Slimbridge on the Tack Piece and near Middle Point at the Goose House.

Blue headed Wagtail female next two images with female Yellow Wagtail flavissima (3rd image)

1 May 2012 A cold, wet start to the day with strong NE winds gradually morphed into a SE light breeze and sunshine. Many migrants were around the Severn today, it would have been great to have the whole day off to just sit and watch.

Garganey- a pair in the Bull Ground Channel, then flew to 100 Acre puddles and fed. My first of the year>
Bar-tailed Godwit 17 in the morning and c30 by the end of the day.
Grey Plover 5 off Saul Warth and 5 arrived with a Turntstone S of Mid Point 1350hrs.
Turnstone- 1 arrived lunchtime
Sanderling-7 in the morning, c30 by early evening
Ringed Plover-120
Black Tern-one fed on the Tack Piece scrape where I was working, two more flew over low.
Little Gull- an adult and first summer flew upriver at 1305hrs and an adult fed on the Tack Piece scrape and roosted in the floods.
Short-eared Owl- up to three around Middle Point 1300-1800hrs.
Little Tern-4 flew downriver, another single flew down and one was off Saul Warth 1610-1640.
Arctic Tern-37 flew upriver at 1340hrs
Mediterranean Gull- a first summer with the BH Gull flock and two adults/second summers calling and flying around over the Goose House/Middle Point.
Wheatear- 25 when the sun came out!
Yellow Wagtail- 25 arrived at the end of the day after hearing c 10 N during the day.
Blue-headed Wagtail- a pale headed bird with the above.
plain Yellow Wagtail- an interesting female with the above.
Swallow-1000′s N
Swift 100′s N
House Martin-100′s N
Sand Martin- 300+

Black Tern and Little Gull
Amazingly feeding over the scrape we were working on! It was pouring with rain and they both picked flies from the surface.


Little Tern

Short-eared Owl


A very plain, almost colourless female Yellow Wagtail


A typical bird that was nearby for comparison.




Filed under: Birdwatching Diary


at 9:33 pm