Showing posts from May, 2007

Around Saul Junction

Thursday 31st May 2007
Linda and I took a walk from Saul Junction this morning, to Whitminster, Moreton Valence and back. The weather luckily held out until we were safely inside The Bell at Frampton. Sightings: two drake Mandarins at Saul Junction on the Stroudwater branch, a Scarlet Tiger moth near the weir, a Cuckoo further along the Stroudwater canal near Whitminster, and several singing Reed Warblers, Sedge Warblers, Common Whitethroats and Blackcaps along the way (Photos of Scarlet Tiger and Cuckoo: © Paul Masters).

Frampton and Upton Warren

Tuesday 29th May 2007


I went with Andy to see the Great White Egret again on a beautiful, sunny, and almost warm, morning. No sign of that, but a slightly odd-looking Grey Plover on the 100-acre caused some excitement for a while. Along Green Lane there were several Common Blue Damselflies, two Large Red Damselflies and a Blue-tailed Damselfly and a Fox family of one adult with four cubs was in a nearby field (Photos of Large red Damselfly, Blue-tailed Damselfly and Common Blue Damselfly: © Paul Masters).

Upton Warren

I visited one of my favourite reserve this afternoon, Upton Warren in Worcestershire, and wasn't disappointed. Four Common Terns and three singing male Cetti's Warblers were at the Moors Pools. At the Flashes Pools there was a total of 14 Avocets, comprising a pair of adults with four juveniles, another pair with three much more recent young, and another three adults. Also here, four Little Ringed Plovers, a pair of Shovellers, a pair of Common Whitethroats,…

Great White Egret

Monday 28th May 2007
After a day of continual rain yesterday, things looked a bit brighter this morning. News of a Great White Egret at Saul Warth this morning led to a fruitless trip. It had moved to the 100-acre, and after arriving there, further reports suggested it had flown back towards Saul!
I decided to give it another go this evening down at Green Lane and was rewarded by first a brief glimpse on the 100-acre and then a longer view as it took to the air with a Little Egret before landing again, and out of sight. Also, a Cetti's Warbler was calling between Green Lane and the canal, and a Common Tern flew along the canal. The Great White Egret was present until 6.30pm at least. View only from the viewing platform or the viewing gate in Green Lane, there is strictly no unguided access to the fields.


Friday 25th May 2007

I met my Dad at Slimbridge to see the Kingfishers at South Finger this morning. The pair are still feeding their young and were performing well. There wasn't much at Mid Point, a very distant group of 30 Dunlin and Ringed Plovers had of a couple of Sanderling in amongst them, the only other bids being several Shelduck, a Little Egret, a Raven, two singing male Reed Buntings and a Reed Warbler. A pair of Swallows were at the car park toliet block. (Photos: © Paul Masters)

Garden Nestbox Latest and ... Owls again

Wednesday 23rd May 2007
Garden Nest Box Latest
The Great Tit family fledged a couple of days ago, and today the Blue Tits also left the box. One of the Blue Tit fledglings was still present near the nest box, at the bottom of the garden in the evening, and looked as though it had left a bit prematurely (see photo). This presented a worry with several cats (including our own) in the neighbourhood, but it was still being fed by at least one of the parents, and had left by late evening (thanks to Amelia, my eldest, being on cat guard).

I took Linda to look for Owls at Nebrow Hill, where we soon saw a Barn Owl showing well again. On the way back, we saw a Tawny Owl in Longney, sat on the 30mph sign at Chruchend again, and a Barn Owl was sat in the middle of the road by Hill Farm.

More Owls

Tuesday 22nd May 2007
At Nebrow Hill, Frampton, this evening a Barn Owl was seen hunting (there were probably two birds, although I didn't see both at once so I couldn't be certain). Also a Tawny Owl was calling distantly and a Cuckoo was very active. On the way back, at Longney, I saw a Tawny Owl again along the roadside, this time at Downend (photo of Barn Owl:©Paul Masters).

Owl Spotting

Monday 21st May 2007
This evening I took a drive at dusk around the local riverside villages looking for owls.

The first owl was at Elmore, where a Little Owl was perched on one of the telegraph poles near the junction of the lane to Stonebench (SO790147). At Kenton Green, a Cuckoo was calling from the direction of Hockley Hill, which was probably the same bird I saw on Saturday.

Another Cuckoo was calling a bit further on at Longney near Hill Farm from the direction of, and possibly on the other side of, the river. The trump bird was a Tawny Owl perched on a 30mph sign at Churchend (SO762128), only a few feet from the car as I kerb-crawled by. Also at Churched end, near the church, another Little Owl was perched on a pole (SO762126).

Finally. near Hardwicke Farm, two Tawny Owls were calling, one from Hardwicke Farm covert (SO787136) and another to the south-east, from the direction of the canal.

Little Owls - 2
Tawny Owls - 3
Plus 2 Cuckoos

Return to Brockhampton

Sunday 20th May 2007

We took a trip back to The National Trust's Brockhamton Estate, Herefordshire today. We had only been quite recently (see 6th May) but my parents fancied a trip there and we were only too happy to go back to this special place. I spent some time at Lower Brockhampton House trying to capture on film (or memory card) the Swallows and House Martins as they whizzed around the moat - not easy! At Hollybank car park near Lawn Pool, a Spotted Flycatcherwas investigating a hole in an old Oak tree near another hole in which a pair of Blue Tits were feeding their young. Stock Doves were calling in the woodland and a Grey Wagtail was feeding around Lawn Pool. Returning to the car through the parkland six singing male Redstarts were singing among the mature Oaks. (Photos of Swallow, House Martin and Grey Wagtail: © Paul Masters).

Local Surveys and Slimbridge

Saturday 19th May 2007
My first stop this morning was Hardwicke to do my Breeding Bird Survey for the BTO. On the way, a Green Woodpecker was near Hardwicke Farm and a male Cuckoo was at Hockley Hill, which was calling frequently, and I saw quite close and again later as it flew across the road near Clarke's Farm. Birds on the survey itself included several CommonWhitethroats, a Lesser Whitethroat, several Yellowhammers, a Skylark, two Chiffchaffs, several Swallows, and also two Shelducks in flight over heading south. Three Stock Doves were near Clarke's Farm and three Brown Hares were seen in the area.

Next stop Arlingham to carry out a Lapwing survey, again for the BTO. There are no Lapwings yet on the plot, but it is a very pleasant area and I did see another Green Woodpecker in Church Road.

WWT Slimbridge
I finished off the morning at Slimbridge for the high tide. At Mid point, the Grasshopper Warbler was reeling briefly a few times and glimpsed very briefly,…

Moreton Valence

Thursday 17th May 2007

On a beautiful, warm evening, I strolled around Parkend Bridge, stopping near on the way Haresfield to photograph the Swallows. Around the canal there was a large number of Grouse-wing Caddis Flies Mystacides longicornis which I managed to capture in flight on a pretty fast shutter speed (1/3200 sec). I watched a pair of Pied Wagtails taking food to a nearby nest, and two Common Terns flew south along the canal. (photos of male Pied Wagtail, Caddis Fly and male Swallow: © Paul Masters).

Local Patch

Wednesday 16th May 2007
A Nightingale was calling briefly along the canal south of the Pilot this morning before 8am, and Sedge Warbler, Reed Warbler, Blackcap, Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff were all in song. Also a Small Copper(photo: © Paul Masters).

Moreton Valence to Longney

Tuesday 15th May 2007
A bike ride this evening produced a male Cuckoo calling by the canal at Moreton Valence, north of Parkend Bridge. It flew along the canal before flying over to the east and perched on trees opposite where it continued to call. Also a pair of Mandarin near here and another pair flew from the direction of Parkend Bridge. Returning via Longney, a Little Owl was near High Green (SO772123 ) perched on a telegraph pole. (photo: © Paul Masters)

Medierranean Gull and Ibises

Monday 14th May 2007
A visit to Saul Warth this evening turned up a first-summer Mediterranean Gull roosting on the north flash over the high tide. Three Glossy Ibises were also still present, although looking restless, spending most of the time circling over the flashes and out towards Frampton village, before eventually settling back on the flashes. (Photos: © Paul Masters)

Saul Warth

Sunday 13th May 2007
After raining non-stop all day, it finally seemed to have stopped this evening at 7.00pm, so I nipped down to Frampton. I have finally got my eyepiece back from Opticron and I was keen to try it. I picked it up yesterday but the focusing was seized on the scope, and after thinking about another repair bill, I managed to fix it this morning. It didn't stop raining for long, but just long enough to check the flashes at Saul Warth, where there was a cloud of c300 Swallows, House Martins, Sand Martins and Swifts, three Glossy Ibises, two drake Garganey and the Marbled Duck. On the way down the towpath, two Jays flew over the canal - I didn't see a single one all day with Andy yesterday!

Bird Race

Saturday 12th May 2007
I spent a hectic but enjoyable day bird racing with Andy, the object being to see how many species as possible we could see in the county in a day. To count, each bird had to be seen by both of us. We had to contend with the showers, but dsepite that reached a grand total: 101. The full list is below, but out of those the highlights that stood out for me were: seeing the Hoopoe again at Wotton-under-Edge; four Common Sandpipers, one near The Pilot, two at Parkend Bridge, Moreton Valance, and another at pit 41 in the Cotswold Water Park; three Garden Warblers also at pit 41, Arctic Terns, two on pit 16, CWP, with four Common Terns, and one on the high tide at Fretherne; two Cuckoos, one near the A429 between Cirencester and Chedworth and another at Cassey Compton; watching Reed Warblers, Sedge Warblers and Reed Buntings at the pit 6, CWP; two Grey Partridges and a Tree Sparrow at Harnhill; a singing male Redstart at Woorgreens near the car park; a male Siskin sing…


Thursday 10th May 2007
After being out of the county for a couple of days, in York, I got back in time to take a trip to Wotton-under-Edge to see the Hoopoe. Despite getting soaked in the persistent rain, it was fantastic to see this lovely bird, my first in the UK let alone the county. My first view of it was feeding on one of the fairways, but it soon took cover beneath one of a group of leylandii trees, where it stayed out of the increasingly heavy rain (record photo: Paul Masters).

Brockhampton Estate, Herefordshire

Monday 7th May 2007
After a wet start to the day, things improved so Linda and I decided to go to The National Trust's Brockhamton Estate, near Bromyard in Herefordshire. At the medieval moated manor house, it was nice to the Swallows and House Martins have taken up residence. This is a magical place, and luckily the weather held enough for us to take one of the longer walks along the charmingly named Hyde Dingle, where we heard a Cuckoo calling, returning via Holy Wood and Brockhampton park. The Park area is planted with mainly Oak, and it was here we saw two male Redstarts singing from the fine mature trees.

Meanwhile, back in the garden ...
The Blue Tits have now hatched in the nesting box and the proud parents are constantly winging in and out to keep up with their demanding young. The Great Tits continue to feed their young in the Sparrow terrace, and the Starling chicks can now be heard nosily chirping from under the ridge tiles on next-door's roof.

Fretherne Again

Sunday 6th May 2007
The male Great Spotted Woodpecker was feeding in the garden on peanuts at 8am. I hadn't seen him for a while although I did hear a GSW from the garden yesterday evening. A Chiffchaff and a Blackcap were both singing strongly near the garden.

A visit to the river at Fretherne this morning with Andy produced a disappointing yield on the high tide given the strong south-westerly breeze. A Wheatear was near the edge of the river, and before the tide, on the sands there was a Grey Plover, a Knot, two Bar-tailed Godwits, 29 Dunlin, seven Curlew, the Great Skua, and several Shelduck. As the tide came in, Andy spotted a Sanderling among the Dunlin flock which had now been pushed up the shore. On Saul Warth, 15 Glossy Ibis took to the air for a couple of minutes before settling back down on the flashes (photo: © Paul Masters).

Mid Point

Saturday 5th May 2007
With Andy as duty chauffeur we decided on Mid-point, Slimbridge WWT, for the high tide. News of a Baltic Gull first thing spurred us on. On the way to the river we checked Robbie Garnett hide to find a Green Sandpiper. At the river, the Baltic Gull, seen by James Lees, had long since disappeared by the time we got there, as had two Brent Geese. Still, it was an excellent morning, if a little slow at first, not to mention freezing, the initial boredom being relieved by a Yellow Wagtail, seven Oystercatchers, the resident Great Skua, a Little Egret, a Whimbrel, a Raven and several singing male Reed Buntings. The object of my desire eventually arrived, a dark-phase Arctic Skua, which flew straight upriver. Later, a summer-plumaged Turnstone flew by, also upriver. Then Mike spotted four distant black dots floating up, this was another great bonus in the form of four Common Scoters (3m, 1f), a county tick for me. Before leaving the river seven Swifts flew past. After w…


Wednesday 2nd May 2007
At Fretherne this evening, the highlight among a good selection of birds was six Arctic Terns on the high tide. In the northerly breeze, Dave Pearce spotted them first as they passed mid-point at Slimbrdge and continued upriver, and then continued straight on NE over the Saul Warth flashes. Also present this evening were two Wheatears, 77 Bar-tailed Godwits, 35 Ringed Plover, 10 Dunlin, a Little Stint, a Yellow Wagtail (heard over), 20+ Whimbrel, the resident Great Skua, a Peregrine,five Swifts, several Swallows and a Sand Martin. On the north flash, three Sanderlings moulting into breeding plumage, 7 Glossy Ibises and the Marbled Duck(photos of Barwits, Sanderlings and Arctic Terns: © Paul Masters).