22/5/20 – A Hobby, 7 Swallow and 2 Sand Martin struggling across estuary in strong W wind. AM reported a Lapwing at Pillhead Gout and RL reported a Hummingbird Hawkmoth by the pond next to Lagoon 2.
20/5/20 – A Cuckoo calling from Lagoon 3. (Last heard on 9th.)
18/5/20 – Adult feeding juv. Coal Tit in small wood on mound in SW corner of Lagoon 2. (Looking back at my records they first bred on-site in 2017 and have bred every year since. But they were also regularly seen in 2016 & 2015. In the 11 years before that, back to 2004, I only had 5 records of single birds !) Some video of a bird begging, giving high-pitched calls, but also an adult calling 'teea'.
17/5/20 – The first Moorhen chicks on the lake.
16/5/20 – The Little Grebe was doing its 'trilling' call on the lake and 3 Roe Deer still around. A Whimbrel with 2 Curlew at Shepperdine was only sign of any migration. AM reported 15 Ringed Plover at Shepperdine over HT.
15/5/20 – MP reported the Peregrine low on the nest ledge and a pair of Oystercatcher mating. MS confirmed the Whitethroat eggs (from photo on 9th) have hatched.
Photos by MS and MP - thanks !
14/5/20 – A pair of Little Grebe on the lake, with a Mute Swan. 30 Stock Dove feeding on newly ploughed (and probably seeded) field by yacht club. And a pair of Canada Goose with 8 gosling on the estuary.
13/5/20 – A Red Kite flew low (virtually over my head !) to NE along the shore at Shepperdine at 1pm.
And a female-type Marsh Harrier reported by BD, rose up from Lagoon 3 and flew inland. (And also reported on 11th.)
Very quiet over the High Tide on the estuary, just: 1 Mute Swan (upriver), 7 Black-headed Gull and 1 Oystercatcher (the only wader).
(NB. Another Red Kite was reported along the road between Thornbury and OPS 'in last 2 weeks'.)
LP has emailed to say she found these Water Rail feathers on what looked like a raptor kill along the bridleway to the shore ! (Most probably a Peregrine night-time kill on a very late migrant, on 11th.)
----- Coronavirus Lockdown ended -----
9/5/20 – MS (@mattscottphotos) found and photographed nests of Whitethroat and Song Thrush, and also recorded the Cuckoo singing in the evening.
1/5/20 – MS found and photographed the nest of a Linnet.
23/4/20 – The Canada Goose pair and the goslings have all disappeared from the lake.
22/4/20 – The Canada Goose pair have 7 goslings after the female sat on the nest for 30 days.
----- Coronavirus Lockdown -----
23/3/20 – The Coot is back on the lake ! Also 2 pairs of Tufted Duck. A Mistle Thrush on grass by entrance, c80 Linnet on maize stubble field by main rhine, and 4 Peacock butterflies in the warm sun. And the female Canada Goose is sat on a nest on the island, as she will be for a month (incubation is 28-30 days). Here are the stats. on nests for last 15 years:
1st on nest 1st fledged juvs. Apparent Incubation No. of juvs.
05/04/2005 07/05/2005 37 3 (first breeding at OPS)
14/04/2006 06/05/2006 22 6
27/04/2008 30/05/2008 33 1+
29/03/2009 02/05/2009 34 5
27/03/2010 01/05/2010 35 6
26/03/2011 01/05/2011 36 3
24/03/2012 21/04/2012 28 3
31/03/2013 failed (successful 2nd clutch) 3
04/04/2014 02/05/2014 28 3
31/03/2015 04/05/2015 34 4
02/04/2016 04/05/2016 32 1
23/03/2017 21/04/2017 29 6
21/03/2019 20/04/2019 30 7
23/03/2020 22/04/2020 30 7
22/3/20 – Some vismig this cold and sunny morning: 100+ Meadow Pipit to NE (inc. flock of 74 through low at 9:10am), 3 Collared Dove flew along shore past Lagoon 3, 2 Stock Dove and 50+ Woodpigeon. Unfortunatley, I flushed the Peregrine pair from their Woodpigeon meal on the seawall by the waterworks. Looks like they had eaten most of it. And a Mute Swan in the middle of the estuary.
21/3/20 – DW reported: a summer plumaged 'Scandinavian' Rock Pipit by Lagoon 3 outflow, 20+ Sand Martin and 30+ Chiffchaff.
This morning, a male Wheatear still by Oldbury Pill sluice, 20+ Chiffchaff (15+ singing), a pair of Tufted Duck on the Lagoon 1 flood (!) and 3 Peregrine over the towers - the adult pair and an immature; the female adult was very vocal, but the pair showed little aggression to the young one. I guess it was last year's young, as a bit early for this year's.
20/3/20 – Late afternoon, a Swallow with c25 Sand Martin feeding over the flooded Lagoon 1.
(Swallow 4 days later than the earliest ever at OPS from last year.)
MP reported this afternoon, from Oldbury Pill: 10 Wheatear together, 83 Curlew, 1 Sand Martin and a singing Corn Bunting.
AM reported this morning: 42 Sand Martin (flooded Lagoon 1, in flocks of 15, 20 and 7), 33 Chiffchaff (inc. 15+ in the bushes on Lagooon 1), a Blackcap singing along the Bridleway, 45 Woodpigeon (groups heading NE into wind) and 45 Wigeon.
Swallow and Sand Martin
Wheatear and Corn Bunting. (Photos by MP.)
18/3/20 – 15 Sand Martin feeding low on Lagoon 1 floods and 15+ Chiffchaff there, in brambles, feeding avidly. Plus c80 Meadow Pipit also downed by the drizzle, in the horse paddock to south of Lagoon 2. On the lake: 2 pairs of Tufted Duck, the male Gadwall again and the Canada Goose pair are nest-building.
17/3/20 – AM reported: 11 Chiffchaff, 8 Curlew feeding on Lagoon 1, 32 Teal, 57 Wigeon and a Stonechat.
16/3/20 – LP reported a Black Redstart on the waterworks fence and a Comma butterfly. Glorious sunshine this afternooon. The Corn Bunting was sat on a bush at the yacht club common. A Siskin over to North, and a near record OPS count of 17 Buzzard (record is 18). 2 Goshawk circling with 6 of the Buzzards on far side of estuary (i.e. Gloucs.). 9 Chiffchaff singing around the site, a Jay singing and doing amazing mimicry of : Buzzard, Magpie and Rook calls, and a pair of Gadwall at Shepperdine. And the 3 Roe Deer that have been around for some time are so used to me that they just sat as I went past, just 30 yards from them !
15/3/20 – 7 Stonechat together on shore towards yacht club.
14/3/20 – The first signs of vismig this morning: c35 Woodpigeon descended from very high when a shower hit and landed in trees,
a Sparrowhawk headed north across the estuary, 2 Meadow Pipit and a Skylark over.
The boat below is the only one that has ever attempted to go upriver between the Tidal Reservoir wall and the green 'Ledges' buoy ! It grounded on the rocks, but was lucky the tide was still coming in and refloated.
13/3/20 – 2 Coal Tit together in Lagoon 2 pines, a pair of Green Woodpecker on Lagoon 3,
a Little Grebe on the lake and 3 Water Rail still calling.
AM also reported: 4 Chiffchaff (3 singing), 17 Teal, 34 Wigeon, 65 Turnstone and 21 Wren.
Mute Swans on the flooded Lagoon 1 and Colt's-foot flowering on Lagoon 3.
11/3/20 – A probable Goshawk flushed c100 Woodpigeon from fields/hedges to SE of Shepperdine, and flew up the valley towards OPS, but intermittent (telescope) view through trees, distant and with heat-haze. Two pairs of Stonechat again by the jetty, and one of the males was SINGING - a first for me at OPS ! And 1+ Little Grebe still on the lake, trilling.
'Headstarted' Curlew no. '23' from Slimbridge at Shepperdine again (ring last read here in Dec 2019).
10/3/20 – AM's WeBS count: 1 Little Grebe, 2 Tufted Duck, 2 Canada Goose, 29 Mallard, 2 Shelduck, 105 Wigeon, 48 Teal, 66 Turnstone, c100 Dunlin, 7 Snipe, c90 Redshank, c100 Curlew, 1 Grey Plover and 2 Peregrine (on the towers).
9/3/20 – A pair of Little Grebe on the lake, giving trilling call. And 4+ Chiffchaff are new in (one singing by lake and 3+ at south end of Lagoon 2).
6/3/20 – In the Spring-like sun this afternoon, a female Black Redstart still, on the fence on south side of power station buildings, a Short-eared Owl flying around the yacht club common at 3:30pm, and the Corn Bunting started singing its key-jangling song there. Also, an adult winter Mediterranean Gull flew from Tidal res. downriver, and a near-record (which is 14 on 7/3/2017) 10 Stonechat between jetty and yacht club (2 pairs x jetty, 2m1f x shore and 2m1f at yacht club) and 60+ Redwing roosting and chirping in trees along main rhine.
3/3/20 – A female Black Redstart again on the Lagoon 2 fence between waterworks and pond. Also, 6+ Stonechat (2 pairs x Lagoon 2, 1m x waterworks, 1m x Lagoon 3) a Siskin over calling and 2 Mute Swan on flooded Lagoon 1. On the lake were: 5 Tufted Duck (3m, 2f), 1 male Gadwall and 2 Canada Goose. AM also reported good numbers along the main rhine bridleway, and in maize field there: 200 Redwing, 45 Linnet and 25 Chaffinch.
Another couple of photos of the Black Redstarts today, from AT - thanks !
1/3/20 – CL reported 2 female-type Black Redstart on fence by waterworks/Lagoon 2 at 11am.
Black Redstart and a cracking photo of a male Bullfinch by CL - thanks !
29/2/20 – MP reported: 9+ Kittiwake high upriver ahead of a hail shower, and the Peregrine pair flew over to other side of estuary.
Also, a Coal Tit this morning, 5 Water Rail heard (1xlake, 3xLag3, 1xLag2), c80 Turnstone on the shore/seawall before HT, 10 Oystercatcher and 12 Great Black-backed Gull (inc. a flock of 10 circling quite high upriver in high wind).
Teal and Wigeon looking good in sun between showers. (Photos by MP - thanks !)
25/2/20 – AM WeBS: 78 Teal, 196 Wigeon, 19 Mallard, 9 Shelduck, 2 Tufted Duck, 3 Canada Goose, 30 Curlew, 80 Lapwing, 100 Dunlin, 3 Ringed Plover, 65 Turnstone (on seawall, rather than green buoy - easier to count), 61 Redshank, 8 Snipe, 2 Knot (first this year), 1 Grey Plover, 1 Water Rail, 2 Stonechat (Lagoon 3, still) and 10 Fieldfare. Also c460 Common Gull; c110 downriver out of overnight roost and a flock of c350 flying up from fields inland.
4 canoes from the Wye Valley washed up on the shore - all damaged except this one I dragged above tideline. They belong to a company at Symmonds Yat. (I've contacted them, and hopefullly they can recover them.)
22/2/20 – MP reported: c50 Turnstone and 3 Ringed Plover. And a hunting Barn Owl near junction of Foss Lane and Pickedmoor Lane on way back to Thornbury..
Kestrel and Lagoon 1 very flooded.
20/2/20 – A Chaffinch singing this morning on Lagoon 2. Also singing: 1 Dunnock, 1 Robin, 5 Song Thrush and 5 Wren. MP reported 77 Wigeon and 55 Teal.
18/2/20 – c55 Redwing today.
The river above the sluice at the yacht club burst its banks (well, it spilled over onto the Common) at the weekend. Looking at the River Level information, it had its highest recorded level on Sunday night, beating the record that went way back to 26th Oct 2019 !
17/2/20 – c25 Linnet, 22+ Chaffinch and a Mistle Thrush feeding in the very wet maize-stubble field along the main rhine. And still 2 Blackcap (male + female) in the Anchor Inn car park.
MP has uploaded a video of the Starling murmuration over Lagoon 3 from January.
A Skylark on the yacht club common - strangely, it was eating a small slug. And a very large branch of a Willow tree has come down, by the newly thrashed hedge along the main rhine.
The lake is as full as I've ever seen it.
14/2/20 – The Peregrine pair reported courting on Avonbirds..
13/2/20 – Some excellent birds, despite the wintery showers this morning. A Short-eared Owl flew along the bridleway to the shore and turned left along the shore towards Lagoon 3 at 8am. Then at 9:30am an adult male Marsh Harrier went slowly downriver past the yacht club and along the shore towards Littleton. But then at 10:20am it was quartering the reedbed on Lagoon 3, giving superb views until 11am when I left. (Video of it over Lagoon 3.) It flushed c25 Snipe from the reeds, and another 10+ seen along tideline. I also found a Corn Bunting along the tideline at High Tide, by the yacht club. It then perched in the hedge there. (Video of it preening.) It was with c25 Meadow Pipit, 1 Rock Pipit and 2 Skylark.
9/2/20 – 6+ hours spent watching the estuary today (4 in morning, 2+ in eve), but no seabirds blown in by Storm Ciara.
But here's some more photos by JM. Female Black Redstart by the 'Seal Pit' (from 7th Feb), 2 of 3 Roe Deer in the orchard and a Meadow Pipit.
7/2/20 – A Short-eared Owl flew over the entrance road at 3:50pm, heading for Lagoon 3.
A Coal Tit, a Chiffchaff and a Goldcrest in firs in NE corner of Lagoon 1.
On the lake: 2 Canada Goose, 3 Tufted Duck (2m, 1f), 1 Gadwall, 11 Moorhen and a Water Rail heard.
JM reported the Black Redstart in the waterworks by the 'Seal Pit' again.
6/2/20 – The female Black Redstart again on the fence of the waterworks by the 'Seal Pit'. And a Reed Bunting chose this morning to start singing on Lagoon 3, in freezing fog and -2 Degs C !
The Damson is flowering already.
3/2/20 – The female Black Redstart was on the fence of the waterworks, by Lagoon 2, then it flew to the 'Seal Pit'.
1/2/20 – BD (@BirderGinger) reported a Chiffchaff behind the (old) visitor's centre and 3 Raven.
30/1/20 – The female Black Redstart in the waterworks again. It favours the 'Seal Pit' by Lagoon 2, but I am only finding it when it is vocal - calling 'whit' repeatedly. (Today because a sewage lorry was up other end, and last time due to a perched Crow.) And 4 Stonechat still (2 x Lagoon 3, 2 x near jetty).
29/1/20 – A Goshawk 'scoped over ridge on far side of estuary (i.e. Gloucs.). An adult with gleaming white underparts and light grey above. Very distant, but perfect viewing conditions - bright sun from behind me and zero haze. It was soaring and doing some exaggerated slow-flapping display flight, for about 3 mins.. (Recalled SE Owl when slow-flapping.) 4 Buzzard and a pair of Peregrine seen along same ridge in same half hour for size comparison.
27/1/20 – A Short-eared Owl getting hassle from corvids, and went to roost in middle of Lagoon 3 at 3pm. And a Chiffchaff again at south end of Lagoon 2.
25/1/20 – HT at Pillhead Gout at dawn: 236 Curlew, 400+ Dunlin,
13 Oystercatcher (12 was max. count in 2019 !), 5 Ringed Plover and a Grey Plover.
And the very light coloured Buzzard (with white head) is still about from last year.
A note from JS on the Curlews: "At the last WeBS count there were 315 at Aylburton Warth and 80 at Guscar Rocks. I reckon there are no more than 650 on the river, down from about 1000 ten years ago."
24/1/20 – 4 Mistle Thrush in paddock to south of Lagoon 2.
23/1/20 – The female-type Black Redstart in the waterworks late pm, and c300 Jackdaw and c200 Rook in corvid roost in trees along road from entrance.
22/1/20 – The adult male Black Redstart was by the most SW building, and very vocal, calling 'whit'. And an adult Mediterranean Gull moulting into summer plumage on the evening roost on the Tidal Res., drifting upriver as tide came in, along with c2,000 Common Gull and 2,000+ Black-headed Gull. .
21/1/20 – A Treecreeper in freezing fog (-3 dec C) this morning. And 2 sightings of Red Kite reported this year - one along road to OPS and one over towers.
20/1/20 – Nice sunny afternoon. 2 Great Crested Grebe flew downriver and landed in middle of estuary off Lagoon 3. (One in winter plumage and the other in breeding, and some display seen.) That is the 80th species I've seen at OPS in 2020 ! The female Black Redstart was down the road looking through the blue gate at jetty. And 8 Stonechat (pair at yacht club, 2 pairs by small wood on way to there, and pair by jetty).
19/1/20 – A male Pintail in middle of estuary and 30+ Snipe - 7 on Lagoon 3 and 23+ flying out of saltmarsh as tide came in at Shepperdine.
18/1/20 – First day of Winter ! -1 Deg C this morning. 4 Song Thrush singing around the site.
AM reported: 6 Gadwall (4 on lake, 2 on river), 60 Turnstone, 6 Oystercatcher, 18 Great Tit (new OPS record !) and 18 Blue Tit.
MP/CL reported late afternoon: TWO Black Redstart fem-type on the jetty (CL) and adult male on towers (MP) (ad m last seen 22nd Dec 2019 !), c5,000 Starling in murmuration, Peregrine on a tower, pair of Stonechat, 2 Cetti's Warbler and 6+ Water Rail calling.
Excellent photos - thanks Craig and Matt!
17/1/20 – The obligatory photo of Snowdrops in the wood by the lake. Lovely to see.
16/1/20 – The Coot still on the lake and now 4 male Gadwall.
15/1/20 – A Black Redstart very briefly on fence by waterworks. And a Chiffchaff at south end of Lagoon 2.
14/1/20 – The Coot is back on the lake ! Also, a Grey Plover and 5 Ringed Plover in the HT roost at Pillhead Gout.
13/1/20 – AM's WeBS count: 4 Tufted Duck (3m, 1f on lake), 3m Gadwall, 174 Wigeon, 65 Mallard, 3 Shelduck, 65 Teal, 300 Dunlin, 75 Curlew, 21 Snipe (19 at Shepperdine, 2 on Lagoon 3), 50 Turnstone, 74 Redshank, 102 Lapwing, 3 Grey Heron, 6 Stonechat, c200 Carrion Crow and 13 Blue Tit.
12/1/20 – Superb Starling murmuration this evening (4:15-4:35pm) over Lagoon 3 - a video showing about 5,000 of them flying into roost in the reedbed, and then you can hear them shifting in the reeds (there is a Water Rail in there). Another c2,000 had already gone into the reeds.
11/1/20 – 3 male Gadwall on the lake this morning, displaying to a female Mallard. (But Tufted Ducks have gone.)
10/1/20 – Good view of an adult female Marsh Harrier in the sun, flying downriver across the Tidal Res., and then going over the hedge onto Lagoon 3 (where lost to view and not refound). (Some video.) Also 2 Chiffchaff seen and calling in scrub at south end Lagoon 2. And the corpse of a Harbour Porpoise on Shepperdine Sands being eaten by Great Black-backed Gulls. Plus 2 male Tufted Duck on the lake, joined a pair of Wigeon and the male Gadwall.
Marsh Harrier silhouette (Crow below). And GBB Gulls at dead Harbour Porpoise.
9/1/20 – The female Black Redstart again showing well on the fence between waterworks and Lagoon 2. (Some video.)
The Black Redstart and some Candlesnuff Fungus (just 2cm tall) on a rotting tree stump.
8/1/20 – A female-type Black Redstart showing well on the fence and around the brown tiled building on NE side of power station (viewed from Lagoon 2).
6/1/20 – Good view of a Weasel hunting along the top of the seawall by the waterworks.
5/1/20 – At 12:30pm an Egyptian Goose flew in towards the lake from the direction of the road, and looked like it was going to come down but saw the power-lines and me and veered away to the South. Also, a Grey Wagtail by Lagoon 1 outfall and a Chiffchaff along bridleway to south of Lagoon 2. AM reported at Shepperdine: 34 Wigeon (5 on lake), 39 Teal, 43 Mallard, the male Gadwall on the lake, 44 Lapwing, 86 Dunlin, 37 Turnstone, 6 Curlew, 3 Stonechat and an OPS record count of 16 Great Tit !
4/1/20 – The female Black Redstart in the waterworks again, but difficult to see. (Some video of it.) A Black-tailed Godwit and a Rock Pipit at Shepperdine and 29 Snipe flushed from there.
3/1/20 – Saw the sun for the first time this year today ! A male Tufted Duck is on the lake (last here in October), but the Mute Swans have departed.
2/1/20 – 27 Skylark on the set-aside field inland from yacht club (+ 1 on saltmarsh). Another Blackcap, this one in the car park at The Anchor pub. And a House Sparrow by Oldbury Pill sluice.
1/1/20 – A female Black Redstart was very vocal ("whit") at the waterworks. A pair of Blackcap were eating mistletoe berries in the paddock to south of Lagoon 2, and a Mistle Thrush there. And a Merlin atttacked c300 Lapwing & c600 Dunlin in the HT roost at Pillhead Gout. A male Gadwall on the lake and 3 Stonechat (pair + male). 59 species seen today.
(since Jan 2004)