25/5/18 – Some newly fledged birds today: 1 Coot & 3 Moorhen on lake and a Blackcap on Lagoon 2. c25 Stock Dove in newly seeded fields to SW of Lagoon 3. On seawall by Lagoon 1 at High Tide were 18 Ringed Plover and 5 Dunlin.
A red phase female Cuckoo along the shore to the yacht club this evening.
24/5/18 – A Cuckoo still calling from Lagoon 2 (in rain) and a Tawny Owl again at dawn being shouted at by Blackbirds. Also 50 Swift to West (22,15,8,5) and 22+ Stock Dove in a newly seeded field to SW of Lagoon 3. The Canada Goose is still nest-sitting, a Carrion Crow nest has 2+ well-grown chicks and I think the Coot has a fledgling, but kept in reeds.
22/5/18 – Over the High Tide at Shepperdine: 4 Sanderling, 2 Turnstone, 12 Ringed Plover, 6 Dunlin and 5 Little Egret.
Photos by CL: Black-tailed Skimmer and House Martin
A couple of my phone-scopes: Sanderling and Turnstones
And this container ship had to sound its horn to make the canoeists aware as they went upriver
21/5/18 – 2 Red Kite were with 4 Buzzard circling low around the yacht club, where a tractor was working in a field.
They climbed higher and drifted off to NE. And a family group of 6 Raven with sheep over pill there. A Yellow Wagtail over to NE. Over HT, just 2 Ringed Plover and a Grey Plover (heard).
A Muntjac Deer was wandering along the bridleway from the end of the main rhine, before diasappearing into undergrowth through the fence to Lagoon 2.
The list of Flora recorded at OPS (started last year) has reached 200 species !
20/5/18 – CL reported 2 Hobby high over Lagoon 3 to NE and AM reported: 4 Sanderling, 1 Whimbrel, the Wigeon still, 12 Tufted Duck, 42 Shelduck inc. 6 juvs. still being hassled by c30 adults, 1 Cuckoo and 2 Cetti's Warbler.
Photos by CL: Whitethroat and Early Marsh Orchid (I think)
Broad-bodied Chaser (Photo by CL) and Cuckoo (Photo by @Lisegirl on Twitter)
17/5/18 – No Terns/Skuas over High Tide this morning, despite NE wind (cold); just 2 Ringed Plover. A Mistle Thrush flew from a tree at Shepperdine high to North over estuary, before coming back to the shore. The 8 Shelduck ducklings still at Shepperdine, being hassled by other male Shelducks.
Two Grey Herons.
16/5/18 – A Cuckoo seen on Lagoon 3 and the first brood of 8 Shelduck ducklings at Shepperdine.
Shelduck brood, being defended by parents from other Shelducks trying to steal them.
15/5/18 – A Spoonbill was reported by SE/PG on Sunday (13th). The Cuckoo still calling on Lagoon 2, 2 Whimbrel at HT (one on seawall by Lagoons 1/2 was approachable), the wing-damaged male Wigeon still, 7 Canada Goose goslings with parents on estuary at yacht club and a male Mute Swan was back on the lake and being aggressive to the Canada Geese. Also, a Skylark singing from a bush on Lagoon 3 (unusually).Video here, with faint Skylark in background (it is about 75 yards away - 'scope is on 40x magnification). There are some other birds singing in the foreground; Robin & Whitethroat at start and then after 45 seconds a Sedge Warbler drowns out the Skylark.
Canada Goose family and lazy Skylark.
10/5/18 – A Garden Warbler singing from the thick scrub at SE end of lagoon 2, and seen briefly after a long wait. A Canada Goose is nesting on the island in the lake - further up on the top this time (although geese and ducks only have one brood per year, so this must be a second pair from the nest that go flooded).
9/5/18 – A female Wheatear at Shepperdine, and also 7 Ringed Plover and 1 Dunlin there at HT. Nice to hear the Cuckoo still on Lagoon 2. And number of visitors to this website has hit 100,000 - thanks for the visits !
This lovely Wheatear came to see me at Shepperdine.
8/5/18 – Mist and a quite strong Westerly wind is an unusual mix on the estuary. The only unusual sights were 3 Collared Dove - 2 at the Waterworks flew inland, and one flying fast to West over Lagoon 3.
7/5/18 – Loads of Warblers again this morning, and a Cuckoo heard. 6 pairs of Tufted Duck on lake.
Wheatear on Lagoon 3.
6/5/18 – AM reported this morning: 2 Cuckoo (Lagoon 3 and Lagoon 2/Shepperdine), 1 Garden Warbler, 9 Reed Warbler, 8 Blackcap, 11 Whitethroat and 2 Lesser Whitethroat.
5/5/18 – A long session this morning, round the Lagoons early then sitting out the High Tide.
At dawn, Blackbirds were noisily scolding a bird of prey in the small wood by the entrance, which I eventually found to be a Tawny Owl sat with eyes shut on a low branch.
It flew across the track to Lagoon 3 into the wood by the lake. I have heard the same two other mornings in last couple of weeks and Morris may have seen one in same area last week, so hopefully they are nesting again.
On Lagoon 3, there were a pair of Lesser Redpoll in trees, with the male giving its buzzing 'song'.
Superb numbers of warblers singing again: 20 Reed Warbler, 16 Sedge Warbler, 8 Whitethroat, but only 2 Lesser Whitethroat.
Plus 1 Cuckoo.
Over the High Tide, at 8:33am an Arctic Skua (intermediate phase) went upriver, 2 Whimbrel at Shepperdine, 2 Ringed Plover and a male Wigeon which is missing the tip end to its left wing (but can still fly).
That's 130 species at OPS for me this year, and 132 for all-comers.
Excellent photo of the Arctic Skua, by Andy Jordan as it went past Sharpness.
4/5/18 – AM reported this morning: 1+ Cuckoo, 1 Whimbrel, 13 Reed Warbler, 3 Sedge Warbler, 6 Whitethroat, 12 Chiffchaff, 12 Blackcap, 6 Raven and a record count of 43 Wren (calling everywhere!).
3/5/18 – A female Whinchat on Lagoon 3; a Bar-headed Goose with a White-front x Bar-headed Goose flew upriver at 6:30am; 3 Whimbrel in the bay at Shepperdine at HT, 7 Dunlin, 1 Common Sandpiper, 13 Sedge Warbler and 12 Reed Warbler. (No Cuckoo this morning.) The 2 Raven chicks have fledged and were wing-stretching on a pylon. DW reported a Tree Pipit in the afternoon.
Whinchat and a Raven fledgling wing-stretching.
2/5/18 – Rain all morning, which stopped at 9:30am, and immediately birds began to appear.
3 Arctic Tern flew downriver at 9:32am; 4 probable Common Tern appeared on the Tidal Res. area at 9:58am (I presume they came down from sky)
and headed West across estuary, gaining height, before coming back down and heading slowly downriver.
Then the sun came out and alot of birds sang from the Lagoons: a Cuckoo mobile on Lagoon 2, a record count of 17 Sedge Warbler (this is a conservative count, 6 x Lagoon 2, 2 x lake, 1 x other, 8 x Lagoon 3), 10 Reed Warbler and 2 Cetti's Warbler. Also 2 Swift and 6 House Martin went over.
Some waders at HT: 5 Ringed Plover, a Turnstone and 2 Common Sandpiper on the seawall by Lagoon 2/1; 16 Dunlin high to west.
1/5/18 – Cold start (0 deg C, and had to scrape car windows !), but warmed up. 2 Greylag Goose flew noisily SW; 4 Wheatear (3 fem,1 m) and 1 Common Sandpiper at yacht club; 4 Whimbrel, 1 Yellow Wagtail over, a Cuckoo heard distantly at Shepperdine, 2 Raven at nest and 3 more with sheep at yacht club, 8 Sedge Warbler and 6+ Whitethroat.
It seems like it has not been a good Spring for migrants, and yet there are some record numbers by the end of May this year. 127 species at OPS so far is my equal best, 129 is best ever for all-comers (both previous bests in 2015), and my PatchWorkChallenge score of 151 is also my best ever (beating 150 in 2016). A lot of quality birds (e.g. Pied Flycatcher, Ring Ouzel, Osprey, GW Egret, Goshawk, RN Parakeet, Egyptian Goose) without anything outstanding . . . yet !
A big full moon over the Severn Bridge at dawn.
30/4/18 – Cold (2 deg C) and strong NE wind killed any movement. But the male Peregrine put on a show for the female calling from the nest-ledge. It gave a flying display around the towers, including 3 loop-the-loops - flying up in a wide loop and over the top upside down (into strong wind), then down to complete the loop, and be right-way-up ! Never seen it do that before.
28/4/18 – A Great White Egret flew over Lagoon 3 and all the way SW past Littleton before being lost to view in light drizzle. Also, 1+ Grasshopper Warbler (Lagoon 3), 3 Whimbrel, a Common Sandpiper, 16 Dunlin, the Cuckoo was calling from Lagoon 1 and the Little Grebe still on the lake. Vismig to NE into cold wind (4 degrees C !): 144 Swallow & a Redpoll. AI reported a Greylag upriver in evening.
Comparison between Woodpigeon and Stock Dove in field over road from lake. video here
27/4/18 – Vismig to NE into cold wind (6 degrees C !): 300+ Swallow, 3 Swift, 3 House Martin,
c15 Sand Martin, 9 Yellow Wagtail, 26 Goldfinch and 10 Linnet. Around Lagoons, 6+ Lesser Whitethroat singing.
A Little Grebe back on the lake.
But the estuary was very quiet in 2 hours to HT, with total birds: 5 Black-headed Gull upriver, 1 male Wigeon still at Shepperdine, 1 Curlew, 1 probable Whimbrel, 1 Cormorant, 1 Grey Heron, c10 Shelduck and a few Mallard and large Gulls - and that was IT !
26/4/18 – The first Swift of the year here flew over Lagoon 3, north. Dawn warbler count again: 1 Grasshopper Warbler (Lagoon 3), 11 Reed Warbler (6 x Lagoon 3, 5 x Lagoon 2), 9 Sedge Warbler (all Lagoon 3), 3 Lesser Whitethroat (all Lagoon 2), 6 Whitethroat (3 each on Lagoons 2 & 3). (Note that yesterday afternoon in the wind, all these totals were 1 or 0 !) The Coot pair are nest building on the lake. 1 male Wigeon still at Shepperdine and 3 Turnstone still on the green buoy. Sadly, one of the fields with singing Skylarks was being ploughed.
25/4/18 – A rather bleak birding afternoon, with c25mph wind from SW keeping everything under cover,
was saved by a random scan of the ridge on the far side of the estuary from Shepperdine, which revealed an Osprey hanging in the wind !
It was immediately stooped on by a male Peregrine a couple of times. I tracked it in my telescope as it made its way slowly up the estuary, circling.
(Tried to take a video, but missed the bird in shot.) It was then joined by another large bird, which I assumed would be a Gull to mob it,
but on second pass of other bird I swapped focus from first to second bird and it too was an Osprey !
It was now about 2 miles up the estuary and heading away from me, but the second bird made one circle to confirm its id.
Only other things of note were 5 Wheatear reported by the jetty and a Cuckoo reported calling.
24/4/18 – 2 Grasshopper Warbler (Lagoon 3), 9 Reed Warbler, 8 Sedge Warbler, 4 Lesser Whitethroat, 5 Whitethroat.
22/4/18 – This afternoon, 2 well-grown young Ravens were begging for food from a parent in the nest near OPS.
And still 2 occupied Carrion Crow nests, an excellent 6 pairs of Tufted Duck on the lake,
and 24 Stock Dove in the manure-covered field over road from lake.
This morning, AM reported: 2 Sedge Warbler, 1 Lesser Whitethroat, 4 Whitethroat, 9 Reed Warbler, 2 Cetti's Warbler, 14 Chiffchaff, 10 Blackcap, 13 Wren and 92 Herring Gull.
21/4/18 – A male Goshawk circled up from near the orchard at about 7am. It circled round twice and then was lost behind trees.
I was along the main rhine and about 150 yards away, and it was c150 yards up. The initial impression from below was of Honey Buzzard, with pinched-in wings at the body and long, quite pointed, wings. But, body and underwing very light; white with hint of vermiculation.
However the tail was closed, and looked quite long and it didn't look particularly deep chested.
Through binoculars I got a hint of dark bar through eye, with white above and below, giving an aggressive look.
At that point I went to put scope up - something I would not do for a Sparrowhawk. Unfortunately it had gone by time it was up.
I had seen 2 different Sparrowhawks in flight, before and after this. They looked very underwhelming in comparison.
The number of warblers had increased overnight: 8 Sedge Warbler, 9 Reed Warbler; MP reported a Grasshopper Warbler on Lagoon 2 and 9 Lesser Whitethroat; also 5 Whitethroat. A Cuckoo calling on Lagoon 1 and 9 Wheatear (6 x yacht club, 2 x fields on way there, 1 on shore by Lag 3). Also some vismig (to NE): MP reported 2 Tree Pipit, 2 Redpoll, c60 Linnet, c25 Goldfinch, some Meadow Pipits and a male Yellowhammer flew SW from yacht club. Lastly, over the High Tide: 55 Black-headed Gull upriver (& 10 down), 10 Common Gull upriver and 5 Whimbrel.
A report of a Porpoise found dead last week.
Whitethroat and some nice Dandelions.
20/4/18 – A few warblers singing in the fog: 4 Sedge Warbler (Lagoon 3), 2 Lesser Whitethroat, 2 Whitethroat and 1 Reed Warbler (all on Lagoon 2). And AM reported 3 BIG Carp spawning in the lake.
19/4/18 – Over the High Tide this morning: 4 Arctic Tern and 79 Black-headed Gull downriver (& 14 BH Gull upriver), a Great Crested Grebe floating upriver, 9 Whimbrel, 1 Common Sandpiper,
1 male Shoveler, and 2 Grey Plover. Around the Lagoons: a Cuckoo calling (Lag 1), 5 Lesser Whitethroat,
3 Whitethroat, 2 female Wheatear, 2 Sedge Warbler and 1 Reed Warbler on the small pond by Lagoon 2, where there was also a Great Crested Newt (my first here).
And some vismig: 2 Yellow Wagtail (to NE) and 7 Redpoll (inc. 2 that joined Linnets and Goldfinches eating new Oak buds).
A full 5 hours put in today; 6-11am. 66 species seen; best day of year. 4 new year-ticks brings me to 123 species for the year at OPS, with all-comers on 125.
Whimbrel and a white Fallow Deer that was a mile inland of OPS !
Distant Shoveler and Great Crested Grebe out in middle of estuary.
18/4/18 – This evening, a Wheatear at Shepperdine and the Lagoon 2's first Whitethroat. Plus 3 Cetti's Warbler reported. 13 Little Egret reported in a field by Thornbury Castle on Sunday !
A Wheatear and superb golden sunset !
2 Cuckoo calling and seen flying together at Shepperdine, then 30 mins later one (same/another ?) calling from Lagoon 2. A Lesser Whitethroat flycatching from fence, on Lagoon 1. On the estuary over HT: 1 Black-tailed Godwit, 4 Little Egret together downriver, c20 Dunlin and c20 Turnstone still. Plus, a very odd Redshank, which was swimming out in the estuary for at least half an hour !! video here. I have seen them swim short distances often, e.g. when caught on an island by the tide, or to avoid attack from Peregrine. But this one was persistently swimming. It started near the shore and then drifted downriver and out 100+ yards from shore. But it didn't appear hurt and was not feeding. Weird !
17/4/18 – AM reported: 37 Stock Dove in field over road from lake, 3 House Martin, 4 Swallow and 21 Chiffchaff.
Superb Peregrine photo by Dan@twit1144 (Twitter) at OPS.
16/4/18 – An early Cuckoo calling from Lagoon 2. And the first Whitethroat singing in a hedge by the yacht club. Singles of Reed Warbler (Lagoon 2) and Sedge Warbler (Lagoon 3).
15/4/18 – AM's WeBS count: 2 Avocet at yacht club (third flock at OPS already this year),
1 Whimbrel, 107 Curlew, 19 Redshank, 3 Snipe, 4 Oystercatcher, 9 Teal, 3 Wigeon, 8 Tufted Duck, 22 Shelduck, 1 Little Egret,
1 Lesser Whitethroat, 2 Cetti's Warbler, 12 Swallow.
MP reported, this morning: Singles of Reed Warbler, Sedge Warbler and Lesser Whitethroat; 2 Common Sandpiper and 3 Coot.
14/4/18 – A lovely sunny evening and High Tide: 4 Dark-bellied Brent Goose upriver,
1 Tern sp. (in order of probability - Arctic/Common/Sandwich !) was being chased around by a juv. LBB/H Gull and then went downriver,
a flock of 50 Curlew sp. upriver in a v-shape and c20 Dunlin. Also the Grey Seal reappeared in the Tidal Res., and caught a fish before going upriver - video.
This morning: a female Pied Flycatcher in small wood and Alders in SW corner of Lagoon 3 (found by MP). (Last reported at OPS Sept '15, but now 6 times in last 10 years, 4 of which were between 14th and 20th April.) MP also found a Lesser Whitethroat singing on Lagoon 1, and together we had 3 different Grasshopper Warbler reeling on Lagoon 3. Also 12 Blackcap (8 singing and 3 females together sipping nectar in a Blackthorn tree). But the BIG news is that a Coot is back on the lake - last recorded in July 2017 ! I also saw for the first time a Tufted Duck pair mating. And a Grey Seal went downriver at 9:20am.
13/4/18 – 12 Fieldfare in trees at South end of Lagoon 3, and 2 Roe Deer there. Over, in various directions: 5+ Siskin, 5 Redpoll, 28 Swallow, 12 Sand Martin, 1+ House Martin. The 5 pairs of Tufted Duck are back. 7 Willow Warbler still.
12/4/18 – An excellent morning's birding, despite (or because of) the cold NE wind and fog. A male Ring Ouzel gave its presence away at 7:40am with loud 'chak' calls, before I had seen it, in the corner of Lagoon 3 by the outlet pipe. It flew up to the top of the hedge (where I got some video) before flying across the lagoon. Then a Water Pipit flew up from the outlet channel and circled around for 5 minutes, calling, before landing nearby. (There were 1 or 2 other pipits nearby, but all were very mobile.) Also a high count of 10 Willow Warbler singing. Between 7:30 and 9:30 am there was a lot of vismig to NE: Goldfinch at c150 per hour, c200 Linnet, c400 Meadow Pipit (inc. a flock of c140), a flock of 12 House Martin, c15 Swallow, c10 Sand Martin, 1 Yellow Wagtail and c15 Pied Wagtail. There was also a movement of gulls upriver, but fog reduced visibility to only half the river: c50 each of LBB and Herring Gull, 34 Black-headed Gull and c25 Common Gull. 57 species seen (4 year-ticks). Difficult to know where best to look - too many birds - a rare problem here !
11/4/18 – A Golden Plover at Shepperdine over High Tide.
10/4/18 – A male Common Scoter diving on the Tidal Res., at 7am, and still there at 7:30am. (Video.) (The last one here was in Aug 2015.) Apart from that, just 2 Willow Warbler singing and 12+ Swallow.
9/4/18 – 2+ Tree Pipit and a probable Hawfinch went over to NE at 7:20am. Also 6 Sand Martin. The only interesting thing on the ground was a noisy flock of 9 Jay squabbling in trees around the orchard - a record count.
8/4/18 – AM reported, this morning: 3 Swallow, 6 Blackcap, 19+ Chiffchaff, 3 Little Egret (main rhyne), 2 Knot with c40 Redshank, 7 Wigeon, 20 Teal, 6 Tufted Duck and 41 Shelduck.
7/4/18 – vismig in 3 hours (during showers), all to NE into breeze: 1 Tree Pipit, 67 Swallow, 3 Sand Martin, c15 Meadow Pipit, c10 Linnet, c25 Goldfinch, 10+ Chaffinch, 1+ Greenfinch, 2+ Siskin and 21 Black-headed Gull. 7 singing Blackcap around the site, 1 Willow Warbler and the 'Chiffwhit' still singing from trees in middle of Lagoon 2. The 4 pairs of Tufted Duck are back on the lake, having disappeared for a week. A good flock of c80 Redshank on the shore and a Knot with them.
6/4/18 – 3 Blackcap - 2 singing and a female flycatching along the main rhine. Lots of butterflies: 7+ Small Tortoiseshell, 5 Brimstone and a Peacock.
5/4/18 – MP reported, this morning: a Sand Martin, 2 Little Egret (in trees by lake and in field over road), 9 Canada Goose, 9+ Chiffchaff (inc. the Chiffwhit on Lagoon 2) and a Coal Tit. Plus, singles of Small Tortoiseshell and Comma butterflies.
This Tall Ship went upriver on the tide.
4/4/18 – A Sedge Warbler singing (and seen) at the edge of the reedbed, next to the path, on Lagoon 3 is the earliest ever for South Gloucestershire (by 4 days ! Beating 8/4/17). How has this bird got through so early when everything else is so late ?! And the first Willow Warbler singing in the hedge on NE side of Lagoon 1. An odd-looking, but cute, goose at the yacht club was a cross between a Brent Goose and something with yellow legs ! The Chiffwhit is still singing on Lagoon 2.
Brent x ? Goose.
3/4/18 – 12+ Chiffchaff singing this morning, including the one with an odd song on Lagoon 2,
which I got a good video of here.
The song is a mixture of chiff chaff, chiff whit whit, chiff whit and occasional chiff whit whit whit.
e.g. chiff chaff whit whit, chif whit whit, chiff chaff chiff chaff chiff chaff, chiff whit whit, chiff whit, chiff chaff.
Sadly the Canada Goose nest on the lake has been flooded. AM also reported 2 singing Blackcap, and a Wheatear was reported.
Canada Goose by flooded nest with 5 lost eggs, and the odd sounding Chiffchaff.
2/4/18 – Another very wet morning, but 3 Avocet at Shepperdine and among 8 Chiffchaff singing, this odd sounding one on Lagoon 2.
1/4/18 – A couple of birds sitting on nests today: a Raven and a Carrion Crow. And 5 more Raven circling VERY high and calling.
31/3/18 – A Blackcap singing at dawn along the track to the shore. That is 100 species I have had at OPS in 2018 ! And 103 for all-comers. But another nasty day of weather - rain and a cold North wind. 4 pairs of Tufted Duck on the lake. The only small waders were in a single flock at the yacht club: 1 Grey Plover, 1 Bar-tailed Godwit, 1 Dunlin and 2 Turnstone.
30/3/18 – 5 pairs of Tufted Duck on the lake. But a horribly wet evening, and one of the lowest species lists I have had - just 24 species !
29/3/18 – Walking back to the Anchor pub car park after walking through the mud for 3 hours,
I was excited to hear the call of a Ring-necked Parakeet. It landed in a tall tree and then amazingly flew down towards me and landed in
a Pussy Willow tree right above my head - even more amazing was that it had joined one that was already there quietly eating the catkins !
A video of them is here.
(It is a new species for my OPS patch list; my 197th species. Only two previous records (both singles): Nov 2010, Apr 2008.) Rather quiet elsewhere, but 7 Chiffchaff (6 singing) and as I was standing at Shepperdine, I heard a 'whoosh' sound above and looked up to see a Peregrine chasing a Woodpigeon directly down and at me ! They came down to just 20 feet and then the pigeon veered into trees, just avoiding the Peregrine. Wow !
Ring-necked Parakeets and the tractor at the yacht club ready to collect a yacht in the harness.
28/3/18 – 4 Bar-tailed Godwit and a Grey Plover at the yacht club again. 3 pairs of Tufted Duck on the lake, and I do feel sorry for the Mute Swans - they were the only birds to tough it out all the way through the ice on the lake, and looked like they were going to nest on the island, before a pair of Canada Goose arrived, and moved in on their spot, pushing them to the edge of the lake, where again they looked like they would nest only for a 2nd pair of Canada Geese to turn up and force them off the lake completely !
26/3/18 – A record count of 4 Coal Tit in a pine tree on Lagoon 1 (beating 3 from last year), and 2 Great Crested Grebe in breeding plumage diving and doing some display in the main river channel off Shepperdine. A video of them is here.
Great Crested Grebes.
25/3/18 – A lovely sunny day with 4+ Chiffchaff and on the lake: a Greylag, the Canada Goose on a nest, but only one Mute Swan - the other on the Tidal Reservoir (I'm guessing the male Canada Goose has seen it off). Over High Tide, flocks of 10-20 Black-headed Gull moving upriver. And a nice fresh Brimstone butterfly.
Canada Goose nest on the island and the Greylag.
24/3/18 – The Peregrine pair put on a spectacular performance this morning. At 7:30 the male was testing the wind over the towers, when it spotted 2 Woodpigeon heading North across Lagoon 2 and over the estuary. He headed directly for them, with quick wing-beats and a momentary glide and then getting speed up. The female then followed off the tower, and they headed straight for the pigeons, female at tower height, male 50 yards higher. The male got there first and started to dive, putting on an incredible acceleration, wing-beating as it dived. The pigeons saw it just in time and took evading action, but the male was onto one and tried to hit it, just missing. Now the female dived, less agile, but twice as powerful; she also missed. As soon as the male had missed, it banked sharply and flew straight upwards to gain height, and now stooped again at amazing speed from a standing start and then . . . they all went out of view behind trees !! 5 minutes later I heard a begging-like call, which sounded like the female, and presumed they made a kill. I walked round Lagoon 2 to give them time to have a feed and then started scanning the estuary to find them (it was low tide). Didn't find them there, but the female was on the kill on Lagoon 1, feeding avidly with the male circling around and calling a bit. He went back to the tower while she ate. At 8.30 they were both sat on the tower, but then the female flew back to the corpse for another 5 minute feed. A video of the female eating the kill here. Apart from that, only excitement was: 2 Chiffchaff (one singing) and a Water Rail flew across the path on Lagoon 2, from small triangular reedbed to main one.
Peregrine on kill.
23/3/18 – A Chiffchaff still singing on Lagoon 3 in a brief visit this afternoon.
Cowslips are flowering.
22/3/18 – A Knot was all alone at Shepperdine; 2 Wheatear (an adult male by the jetty and a 1st-w male - still showing some light brown feathers - at the yacht club); a Chiffchaff singing by the lake; the 4 Bar-tailed Godwit still and 2 Grey Plover. (Only 32 Dunlin left today.)
21/3/18 – Nice view of a Jack Snipe as it flew from the saltmarsh at the yacht club, in the sun. And 4 Bar-tailed Godwit with the Curlew roost at the yacht club. Atleast 1 Cetti's Warbler has survived the cold spell and was singing. Plus a Red Admiral and a Tortoiseshell butterfly on Lagoon 2.
Bar-tailed Godwits with a Curlew, and some cream coloured eggshell - Woodpigeon, I would guess ?
20/3/18 – This morning: 2 male Wheatear at the yacht club, a Chiffchaff singing by the entrance, a Grey Plover at Shepperdine and 4 Ringed Plover (on seawall by Lagoon 1 again). Also Common, BH, LBB & Herring Gulls moving upriver into wind in flocks less than 20. And a Common Gull sat on the top of the sea-wall, let me approach within 3 yards. A pile of feathers nearby suggest it was hit by a Peregrine. DP reported the Peregrine pair were about.
19/3/18 – This morning in -3 deg C and snow: a 1st-winter/female-type Black Redstart on the sea-wall by the jetty,
2 male Wheatear with c 35 Meadow Pipit along the sea-wall towards Lagoon 1, and a Chiffchaff following the fence between Lagoon 1 and shore.
All looking a bit desperate. Also, c1,200 Common Gull on the Tidal Res., with c300 Black-headed Gull, sitting out the bad weather.
AM reported, at HT (WeBS count): a third Wheatear at the yacht club, 120+ Meadow Pipit along the shore, 4 Ringed Plover (on seawall by Lagoon 1), 1 Jack Snipe, 22 Snipe, 6 Lapwing, 60+ Curlew, 33 Redshank, 18 Teal and 112 Wigeon
Black Redstart and Wheatear in the snow.
18/3/18 – MP reported 9 Golden Plover and a Ruff flying downriver this afternoon. (That is the 100th species at OPS in 2018 ! With my own total on 95.)
17/3/18 – 16 Stock Dove in the muddy field over road from lake.
16/3/18 – A Sandwich Tern flew down the middle of the river at 5:40pm. (Earliest record at OPS & for S.Gloucs..) (In recent years similar such sightings were: 30/3/17 6 downriver, 1/4/17 1 downriver, 28/3/16 1 downriver, 6/4/15 6 upriver, 6/4/13 4 upriver.)
15/3/18 – 10+ species singing this morning, inc. a Chiffchaff (along the road by the lake) and a Mistle Thrush (Anchor Inn car park), and 2 Bar-tailed Godwit with 150+ Curlew.
Lagoon 1 flooded on 10th March, when no greenery showed - greening nicely.
14/3/18 – A male Gadwall on the lake, and 4 Redwing flew in to roost in hedge at yacht club this evening.
13/3/18 – A male Wheatear heralded in Spring at the yacht club this morning ! And 2 Lesser Redpoll feeding on weeds at Lagoon 2. Also 13 Magpie looking at each other close together in a field - a parliament !
12/3/18 – CL reported, in afternoon: An adult male Black Redstart on top of the cooling towers and a summer plumaged Mediterranean Gull flying NE up middle of estuary.
2 Chiffchaff this morning - one singing on Lagoon 1. And the Coal Tit again on the feeders.
Redshank (with a Wigeon) and a Green Woodpecker. (Photos by CL.)
Daffodils in the orchard and Pussy Willow (Lagoon 2).
10/3/18 – A nice male Yellowhammer in hedge at SW end of Lagoon 3, then flew inland. And a poor bedraggled adult Peregrine sat on the seawall by the jetty, unable to fly as too wet. The resident pair were sat on the towers above it, so presumably they had forced it into the Tidal Res. in an attack.
The mighty Peregrine !
9/3/18 – At the yacht club, over HT: 4 Golden Plover on the saltmarsh, 1 Grey Plover on the shore and JS reported 3 Bar-tailed Godwit with the Curlew flock. Also another Chiffchaff in the hedge by the small wood on way to yacht club. On the lake, the Mute Swan pair were fighting with the Canada Goose pair, and a dead Shelduck under the power lines. AM reported a Coal Tit on the fat-balls by the orchard.
3 of the 4 Golden Plover.
8/3/18 – 3 pairs of Tufted Duck on the lake.
7/3/18 – Over High Tide at yacht club: 5 Bar-tailed Godwit and a Black-tailed Godwit with 150 Curlew in fields and 4 Grey Plover on shore then upriver.
6/3/18 – Lots of signs of Spring this morning. The first Chiffchaff of the year in hedge on NE side of Lagoon 1; a Carrion Crow building a nest, Buzzards mating; 3 pairs of Stock Dove; and a Skylark singing above a field. Also some signs of northerly migration: 5 Pintail (a male and 2 females at Shepperdine and a pair at the yacht club), 3 Skylark over to NE, c20 Rook flying across the estuary and a Sparrowhawk doing the same. Also 2 Grey Plover at yacht club. (60 species today - highest so far this year.)
5/3/18 – A Mistle Thrush over to NE. (Strange how all those Fieldfare and Redwing have just disappeared since the snow started to melt !) 2 Ringed Plover with c300 Dunlin at yacht club over HT. 5 Tufted Duck on the lake (3m, 2f) and 4 Stonechat on shore.
The 2 dead Golden Plover are still on Lagoon 1 by large bramble bush. Seems they just died from lack of food/cold.
4/3/18 – Sadly, 2 dead Golden Plover found lying next to each other in the snow on Lagoon 1 yesterday - id'd from photo by dog-walker (thanks). AM reported this morning: a Golden Plover (flushed from the seawall by jetty), a male Shoveler on the lake, 110 Wigeon and a possible Woodcock on Lagoon 2 again.
3/3/18 – MP reported this afternoon: a Woodcock flushed from Lagoon 2 and landed at north end, a Golden Plover in field over road from lake, and a Muntjac deer on left of track to hide - videos of Muntjac and Golden Plover. (Thanks Matt.)
This morning: 4 Fieldfare and 4 Redwing with c200 Dunlin on the saltmarsh over HT at Shepperdine. 3 Water Rail seen out on the snow - one by lake and 2 on Lagoon 3. And a Shrew running on top of the snow.
Snow lying along the shore and one of 2 Snipe on Lagoon 1.
Lake not frozen completely and the Swans chased the Canada Geese off the water.
1/3/18 – 3 Golden Plover landed in field by green gate (along main rhine) in a snow storm. (Properly cold this morning; -4 deg C with about -10 wind chill below that!)
Some Blackthorn flowering on the first day of Spring !
28/2/18 – An adult-winter Mediterranean Gull on the shore of the Tidal Res. this evening, and c1,000 Common Gull in the roost. After a heavy snow shower passed through.
Winter Mediterranean Gull and snow on the track to Lagoon 3.
The hard working Wombles continue to clean the tideline !
21/2/18 – Ten Little Egret 1 mile inland of OPS along the rhine by Severn Drainage offices.
20/2/18 – A Grey Plover on the shore.
17/2/18 – A Greylag Goose flew downriver early morning. And 3+ Great Spotted Woodpecker; 2 males (with red at back of necks) eyeing each other up in trees at south end of Lagoon 2, and then a female (no red on head) drumming in the nest tree from last year, which I got a nice video of here - it also shows a metal ring on her right leg.
Some nice February flowers: Red Dead Nettle and Germander Speedwell.
16/2/18 – AM reported this morning: 1st-winter Little Gull, a Jack Snipe (flushed from saltmarsh at Shepperdine), 42 Snipe, 1 Gadwall, 2 Ringed Plover (roosting on Seawall off Lagoon 1), 540 Dunlin, 28 Redshank, 210 Curlew, 55 Turnstone, 44 Teal and 117 Wigeon.
15/2/18 – A Redpoll on Lagoon 2 this morning.
14/2/18 – An adult-winter Mediterranean Gull (different to yesterday's) in the roost on the Tidal Res. this evening. And a 1st-winter Little Gull moulting into summer. A video in poor light here - shows the differences between the bird and BH Gulls with it: light (almost white) mantle, very dark 'shoulder' of wing, slightly smaller and more slight (bobs around in waves more). Rather than a head cap of a 1st-w, it is moulting to summer so has partial black hood.
Winter Mediterranean Gull and 1st-w Little Gull.
13/2/18 – An adult Mediterranean Gull moulting into summer plumage, was feeding in the muddy field over the road from the lake, with 100+ other gulls. A short video here. The evening gull roost on the Tidal Res. held 2,500+ birds, including: 1,500+ Black-headed Gull, 500+ Common Gull, 100+ Herring Gull, c50 Lesser Black-backed Gull and 8+ Great Black-backed Gull.
9/2/18 – Late afternoon roost on Tidal Res.: 220+ Common Gull and 300+ Black-headed Gull. AM reported: a pair of Treecreeper, 3 Great Spotted Woodpecker (2 males and a female; lots of drumming and chasing), 2 Stonechat and 4 Tufted Duck (3 males).
8/2/18 – 3 Mistle Thrush over to West, and 25 Snipe on Lagoon 3 (but I can't find any Jacks).
7/2/18 – A Black Redstart fly-catching around the top of the reactor towers in the afternoon winter sun on the, SW side. Looked like a 1st-winter male, but distant and mobile. And a probable Water Pipit called and flew from the water outlet of the waterworks - it flew all the way over Lagoon 3 and beyond.
5/2/18 – A Golden Plover flying around with c100 Lapwing between shore at Lagoon 3 and fields inland. Last seen heading on its own towards yacht club.
3/2/18 – Same numbers of waders as yesterday over High Tide at yacht club, plus a Grey Plover.
And a Lesser Redpoll feeding on Rosebay Willowherb seed heads by the lake.
(An interesting conversation with an ex-Power Station worker, who used to clear the weed and debris from the intakes. They used to throw eels and fish to Herons that would wait on the Lagoons ! This accounted for the highest number recorded - 22 in 1990.)
2/2/18 – 12 metre High Tide at yacht club: 1 Little Egret (1st of year),
8 Rock Pipit (shore between yacht club and Lagoon 3), c250 Curlew and c200 Lapwing (+c30 Lagoon 1). Also, 3 Skylark in fields (one singing) and 5 Stonechat along shore.
AM reported: c200 Wigeon, c80 Teal, c2000 Dunlin, c44 Redshank, 18 Oystercatcher, c60 Turnstone, 21 Canada Goose and a pair of Tufted Duck on the lake.
1/2/18 – 2 probable adult Yellow-legged Gull feeding in field over road from lake, with Lesser Black-backed Gulls.
30/1/18 – 15 Siskin feeding in the Alders next to path on NE side of lagoon 2, this morning when it was -2 degrees C and thick fog.
29/1/18 – The adult male Black Redstart on stoney ground again.
28/1/18 – MP reported: 1 Stonechat, 1 Grey Wagtail, c2000 Dunlin, 12 Oystercatcher, 74 Wigeon (zero Teal !).
27/1/18 – 6 Song Thrush singing this morning, inc. 4 on Lagoon 2, with their characteristic repetition of each phrase 3 times. (I haven't noted any Blackbirds singing yet.) And the Robins have started singing their cheery summer song (rather than the doleful winter song they also have). 3 Tufted Duck (2 male) on the lake.
Snowdrops still not quite open (and a Daffodil flower head in top-left).
26/1/18 – 4 Tufted Duck (3 male) on the lake today.
23/1/18 – 2 Grey Plover the best this morning in rain.
22/1/18 – The adult male Black Redstart on stoney ground 30 yards inside fence again.
21/1/18 – The adult male Black Redstart on stoney ground 30 yards inside fence again, viewed from blue gates by jetty.
20/1/18 – A Corn Bunting feeding on seeds along the tideline on the saltmarsh towards yacht club
(between metal gate and where path goes inland). It flew up to the hedge here and I got some good video, including it alarm calling. It then went back to feeding again,
but unfortunately a dog off-lead came along and flushed it and it flew over the yacht club and on towards Littleton.
(Only 3rd record for OPS; previous in Jan 2009 and Mar 1995.)
Apart from that, very little in continuous drizzle. A Water Rail ran across the path round Lagoon 2 and 2 more heard.
AM reported (WeBS count): 1 Jack Snipe (Lagoon 3), 19 Snipe, 8 Stonechat (4 at yacht club, 2 at Lagoon 3 outfall, 2 at Shepperdine), 32 Blackbird, 47 Wigeon, 7 Teal, 54 Mallard and 146 Curlew.
19/1/18 – An adult and a 1st-winter Kittiwake went slowly upriver at 4:45pm, along the shore of the Tidal Res., in a biting SW wind (continuous but not strong). That is 80 species at OPS for me this year, and 81 for all-comers.
16/1/18 – 3 Raven together, 33 Canada Goose at the yacht club and the female Peregrine with a freshly killed Woodpigeon. Also some welcome early signs of Spring; Snowdrops nearly open in the wood by the lake and I recorded the sound of a flock of Redwing 'chattering' in a hedge (although there seems to be a church bell and a Cuckoo calling, which weren't actually there !!??)
15/1/18 – The adult male Black Redstart again this afternoon, on the stoney ground inside the fence, seen from the jetty. A short, but better video here. And a Peregrine persistently attacked the 1,000+ gull roost on the Tidal Res., without success.
Black Redstart and Peregrine attacking Gulls.
14/1/18 – 2 Avocet feeding on the shore by Lagoon 3 this afternoon, and 400+ Common Gull and 600+ Black-headed Gull roosting on the Tidal reservoir.
2 Cetti's Warbler on Lagoon 3 and 4 Water Rail heard (3 x Lagoon 3, 1 x Lagoon 2), the Little Grebe still on the lake with a male Tufted Duck, and a Mistle Thrush in horse padddock.
CL also reported: the 1st-w/fem Black Redstart again on sea-wall by the jetty, another Water Rail on the pond by Lagoon 2, a pair of Stonechat by the jetty, 2 Great Spotted Woodpecker in the orchard, 8 Bullfinch and 50+ Fieldfare along the road.
Avocets and Black Redstart (photo by CL).
Stonechat and Blue Tit (photos by CL).
13/1/18 – The adult male Black Redstart was again on the stoney ground 30 yards inside the fence, as viewed from the blue gate by the jetty. (I have looked for it virtually every day since last seen on 2nd.) Video taken through fence in poor light here. 2 juvenile Mute Swan on the Tidal Res. at Shepperdine. Yesterday, they flew upriver and circled the lake several times, but seeing the pair already there they flew back downriver.
Black Redstart (screen-grab taken from video).
12/1/18 – AM reported: 3 Pintail, 260 Wigeon, 120 Curlew, 125 Dunlin, 64 Teal, 2 Green Woodpecker, 2 Raven, 1 Treecreeper, 25 Blackbird, 10 Robin and 2 Peregrine.
11/1/18 – The day got even better at HT this afternoon, with an Egyptian Goose at the point, Shepperdine.
Only the 3rd record for OPS (previous: Feb 02 & Mar 06). Video here, shows no leg rings. (c20 Pintail still there also.)
An excellent morning's birding, with birds brought down by overnight fog (which miraculously lifted by dawn). A Hawfinch flew up from bushes by the reedbed on Lagoon 2, and circled all the way round me, giving excellent views, and then flew up to alight in the tall trees by the small triangular reedbed. Stayed for 10 secs then flew to NE. A record OPS count of 32 Pintail on the Tidal Res. at Shepperdine - 18 males, most displaying and calling. 22 on water + 10 resting on res wall with Wigeon. (The previous best count was 18 on 3rd Feb 2007, also in fog). Video here. Also, 3 single Siskin over and 4 Mistle Thrush (pairs on Lagoons 2 & 3 - one singing !). Also had the first Green Woodpecker and Sparrowhawk of the year, bringing my total species at OPS for 2018 to 77.
Egyptian Goose, Shepperdine over High Tide.
Record number of Pintails on the Tidal Res..
10/1/18 – 8 Lesser Redpoll and 8 Bullfinch feeding in trees by the hide this afternoon, and 4 Stonechat (pairs by jetty and yacht club).
Males of Bullfinch and Stonechat.
I'm happy with my performance in the 'Patchwork Challenge' national birding league ('Estuaries' section) in 2017. 12th out of 37 and the ones that beat me are mainly on RSPB reserves. Not bad for an industrial site.
And this table compares how everyone did this year compared to their average. It was my 2nd best year at OPS regards Patch Score (as no really rare birds found in 2017).
8/1/18 – A 1st-winter/fem Black Redstart led me the run-around along the sea-wall between the jetty and Lagoon 2 this morning (a different bird to the one on 2nd, which I have been unable to refind), and the Little Grebe still on the lake.
7/1/18 – AM reported: 1 Great Crested Grebe flying upriver, 4 Pintail (females, flew upriver and landed in Wigeon flock), 1 Grey Wagtail, 3 Stonechat, 400 Wigeon, 120 Curlew, 1000 Dunlin, 30 Lapwing, 31 Redshank, 17 Canada Goose, 12 Magpie, 40 Fieldfare.
6/1/18 – 4 Rock Pipit and 4 Stonechat between jetty and yacht club.
5/1/18 – 5 Mistle Thrush (1xLagoon 1, 1xsmall wood on way to yacht club, 3xAnchor pub car park), 15 Stock Dove at Westend Farm, and at yacht club over HT: c1,100 Dunlin, 7 Oystercatcher and a pair of Stonechat.
The Little Grebe still on the lake.
4/1/18 – A Short-eared Owl was flying around by The Windbound this morning, at High Tide, being hassled by Carrion Crows. Also, a Rock Pipit and a Treecreeper again with a tit flock. (No seabirds, despite high wind.) And a Peregrine attacking a Teal flock flying upriver - unsuccessfully, as they all plunged into the river.
3/1/18 – This evening, I was looking through the gull roost on the Tidal Res. (which only contained c100 Black-headed Gull and Common Gull),
when they all took to the air and a Merlin flashed through my 'scope view, chasing a Dunlin. After a twisting, turning, chase it caught it and took it to the reservoir wall.
In 3 hours seawatch this morning, during Storm Eleanor, the only seabird was a Fulmar that 'sheared' upriver at 9:30am. (Last seen in 2011, when one was recorded on 7th, 8th and 11th Sept - they are the only records at OPS.)
2/1/18 – An adult male Black Redstart on stoney waste ground 30 yards inside the fence/blue gate by the jetty, along 'South Road'. Also a pair of Pintail flew downriver, a juv Mute Swan on the estuary, the Peregrine pair around the towers and 40 Canada Goose at Shepperdine. Plus a Treecreeper with a tit flock in wood by the meadow.
1/1/18 – A Little Grebe on the lake, a Cetti's Warbler singing on Lagoon 3 and a Stonechat.
A total of 158 species recorded at the site from all-comers in 2017 (A new record, beating 154 in 2015). (See 2017 Site Species List for details.) With my personal total for the site in
2017 at 153 species (also a new record, beating 150 in 2015). The result of 274 visits (one short of the 275 in 2015). Average number of species per visit = 44.
Highest number of species on a visit was 64 on 10th Aug (an odd date !) & 26th Sept.. (Highest ever was 74 on 23/4/2015).
Despite the high number of species seen, I did not add any species to my OPS list (remaining on 196 species), but American Wigeon was added to the OPS list (the 226th species recorded at the site). I did add Black-crowned Waxbill to the exotics list ! The same relatively common birds not seen by me this year, as last year : Little Owl (not seen for 4 years now), Barn Owl, Nuthatch and Pochard. Also, no Little Stint recorded at the site.
The highlights through the year, were :
Jan - An American Wigeon flew by the yacht club, an adult male Black Redstart around all month (and 2 one day) and Marsh Harrier seen twice.
Feb - a lovely male Hen Harrier, and a Little Gull roosting on the estuary.
Mar - A flock of 6 Sandwich Tern flew upriver and 2 Great Crested Grebe floated upriver.
Apr - Fly-by Great White Egret and Osprey, and 4 Crossbills perched.
May - 3 Wood Warbler records, a Spoonbill, a Little Tern and a Water Pipit.
Jun - An escaped Black-crowned Waxbill by Lagoon 3 and a Cuckoo from May stayed until 18th June.
Jul - An Avocet and 2 Sanderling at Shepperdine.
Aug - A Green Sandpiper on the lake, Little Ringed Plover at Pillhead Gout, adult Yellow-legged Gull, and a Barn Owl reported at yacht club.
Sep - Guillemot, Gannet and Manx Shearwater delivered by Storm Aileen, a Marsh Tit, 3 Dark-bellied Brent Geese flew downriver, a Spotted Redshank in the pill at the yacht club, an Avocet, and a Garganey at Shepperdine.
Oct - Fly-by Barnacle Goose, Great Crested Grebe, and Goosander, an incredible run of Hawfinch records, 2 male Mandarin Duck on the lake, 3 Great Skuas, a Merlin stayed most of month and 2 Ring Ouzel in the orchard.
Nov - 2 Snow Bunting on Lagoon 3 briefly, 7 Avocet flew downriver and the 5th record of Marsh Harrier for the year.
Dec - 3 Whooper Swan on the estuary.
(since Jan 2004)