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 275 visits (same as record 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 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.
30/12/17 – A Brambling at dawn, calling for a couple of minutes in roadside hedge by lake (not seen, due to poor light).
It is probably with a couple of Chaffinch that were feeding on a new dung-heap in the field over the road from here.
Also there: c10 Pied Wagtail, 100+ Redwing, 5 Fieldfare, c50 Common Gull, c50 Black-headed Gull and a Grey Heron.
Also: 12 Dogs, 7 Dog-walkers and 4 Horses. (A Dog every 10 minutes !)
22/12/17 – Dense fog this morning, with visibility < 100 yards. A Short-eared Owl was flushed from the saltmarsh at the yacht club and flew inland. 5 Stonechat (pairs at yacht club and by jetty, and fem on Lagoon 1) and 3 Mistle Thrush (2 x yacht club common and one over Lagoon 2).
21/12/17 – MP reported 2 Stonechat.
20/12/17 – MP reported a Treecreeper in the orchard, c150 Redwing and c50 Fieldfare.
19/12/17 – MP reported c3,000 Starling came in to roost on Lagoon 3 at about 4pm.
18/12/17 – A Chiffchaff again in trees at south end of Lagoon 2, and a Hoverfly sp. - probably Drone-fly.
16/12/17 –-2 Deg C overnight. The 1st-winter Black Redstart was around the jetty at dawn. 20 Canada Goose roosted on partially frozen lake overnight.
And on far side of estuary (i.e. Gloucs.) 100+ Canada Goose and 15+ Greylag Goose feeding in a maize stubble field at Brookend/Woolaston.
So cold, Frosty The Snowman was out walking his dog called 'Belisha Beacon' this morning !
15/12/17 –A quite productive visit to dusk. The 1st-winter Black Redstart again around the jetty; on lagoon 2, a Chiffchaff at south end and 1+ Redpoll feeding on Rosebay Willowherb seed heads at north end with 5 Goldfinch, 6 Linnet and 2 Greenfinch. And c2,000 Starling came in to roost in the reeds on Lagoon 3. Flocks of c50 started at 3.45pm, and numbers built until a flock of c1,000 came in at 4pm. No murmuration in the cold wind - just flew straight in to roost.
14/12/17 –Rather quiet, apart from Redwings and Fieldfares feeding and c20 Skylark in fields between Lagoon 3 and yacht club. (Lagoon 1 is starting to flood.)
12/12/17 –At yacht club, over HT this afernoon: 1000+ Dunlin and 2 more Stonechat (males on common).
A very cold morning (-4 deg C). The lake is frozen and only had the Mute Swan pair on it. Also a juv. Mute Swan flew downriver and then headed inland south. A Redpoll over to SW, 5 Skylark over, 2 Stonechat (fem by jetty, male Lagoon 1), c250 Redwing (inc. c150 on Lagoon 1 and c50 high over to SW) and a rise to 14(!) Teal. c80 Fieldfare and c25 Chaffinch reported on Avon Birds.
11/12/17 –A bitter North wind this morning. c105 Redwing and 5 Fieldfare in the horse paddock south of Lagoon 2 and c45 Meadow Pipit on Lagoon 1.
Looked cold over the far side of the estuary.
I have updated the 'Common Birds' page - see button above - with statistics on the birds most commonly seen on the site in the last 10 years.
The 3 Whooper Swans yesterday are a very rare sight at OPS. Last recorded in 2010 (2 in Oct), and only 2 other single records before then: Dec 2000 and Oct 1983. (So 3 is a record count.)
(The sighting in 2010 signalled the start of a particularly harsh spell of winter weather, with several cm of lying snow and down to -9 deg C overnight.)
Also, I have been assessing the amazing series of Hawfinch records this autumn, and think there have been a minimum of 9 different birds involved in the 15 bird-days:
3 over on 24th Oct, 2 on 26th Oct, 1 male on 5th Nov, 1 juv/fem 16th-18th Nov and 2 on 28th Nov with one remaining until now.
9/12/17 –CL reported, this afternoon: The Black Redstart on waterworks fence (estuary side);
2 Treecreeper in small wood on left of path to Lagoon 3 and a Water Rail at back of this wood.
The Hawfinch flew overhead towards the SW corner of lagoon 3 (but not relocated).
3 Whooper Swan drifting upriver on incoming tide at 9am. When past Shepperdine, they flew across to the far side of the estuary, and drifted upriver again. At 9.55am they flew upriver (and were seen flying past Berkeley at 10.02am). Video here. (They never got closer than 1/2 mile distance.)
16+ Bullfinch around the site and a Cetti's Warbler seen really well by the gravel heap on Lagoon 3. (Possible Hawfinch heard at SW end of Lagoon 3, by lake, but not investigated.)
And on far side of estuary (i.e. Gloucs.) c175 Canada Goose and 7+ Greylag Goose feeding in a maize stubble field at Brookend/Woolaston.
AM's WeBS count: 13 Snipe, 1 Jack Snipe, 120 Curlew, 356 Lapwing, 173 Dunlin, 22 Redshank, 2 Ringed Plover, 61 Wigeon and just 1 Teal!
3 distant Whooper Swan (second photo is a screen-grab from the video).
Festive Robin (photo by CL).
7/12/17 –A Hawfinch again on Lagoon 3 thia morning, flew to top of tree from hedge on estuary side of Lagoon 3,
and stayed c10 seconds, before flying long over lagoon towards orchard. A possible second bird, looked right size,
but no detail seen and lost immediately it flew.
A Skylark went high over to west, and a Stonechat at estuary end of Lagoon 2.
And a flock of up to 15 Curlew has taken to roost over the High Tide at Shepperdine, including 3 colour-ringed birds:
Left : Blue above 'knee', Yellow below, Right: Yellow over White (above 'knee')
Left : Blue above, White below, Right: Dark Green over Light Green
Left : Blue above, ? below, Right: Light Green over Red.
They had a very good feed on earthworms in the fields this morning !
Also 2 Roe Deer along the main rhine.
6/12/17 –The Hawfinch reported again on Avon Birds, at 11:30am.
5/12/17 –Yet another record of a Hawfinch, which flew up into the top of a tree at the SW end of Lagoon 3. It stayed there a couple of minutes and appeared to eat a bud. Then it flew down into the trees/bushes by the reedy pond there. Over the High Tide, at the yacht club: a Grey Plover, 2 Ringed Plover, 500+ Dunlin and c100 Lapwing.
1/12/17 –AM reported, on a cold morning: 2 Jack Snipe, 11 Snipe, 35 Dunlin, 42 Lapwing, 45 Curlew, 1 Water Rail, 30 Fieldfare, 24 Song Thrush, 48 Blackbird and 10 Redwing
30/11/17 –Very quiet on shore and on lagoons this morning. A Black-tailed Godwit at Shepperdine.
(8 Little Egret reported in a field at Parkmill Farm, 1 mile inland of OPS, yesterday, and 2 there today.).
28/11/17 –Walking around Lagoon 3 anti-clockwise, a Hawfinch flew from a maple tree on the north side (by estuary), and landed in the small wood in NW corner of lagoon. As I neared the wood, it flew across the lagoon and landed in the top of a tree by the lake. After a few seconds it flew down into the hedge along the SW side of the lagoon and disappeared. As I made my way past the small wood, a second Hawfinch started giving high-pitched, thin, 'tik' calls from the wood. This one then flew along the hedge by the estuary and landed in a maple tree and seemed to be feeding for a couple of minutes and I took a rather poor video. (NB. Since reporting the Hawfinch on 17th I have also had 2 more possible sightings - on 19th, 80% sure of one that flew from lake to far end of Lagoon 3 and seemed to land. And on 20th or 21st, one flushed from a puddle along the track to the shore). The Black Redstart reported again on Birdguides today.
Hawfinch - screen-grabs from the video.
27/11/17 –A Black Redstart on the jetty again (think it's a juvenile from hint of remains of gape at base of bill, dull tail colour and lack of elusiveness !). A video clip of it giving high-pitched alarm/contact calls here (just about hear through the wind, with sound turned up). On lake: now 2 Tufted Duck and the Little Grebe still. Also 15+ Bullfinch, inc. flock of 7 on Lagoon 2.
26/11/17 –MP reported: a fem/juv Black Redstart by the jetty, 1 Little Grebe, 2 Cetti's Warbler and a Grey Wagtail.
25/11/17 –9 Little Egret roosting on the lake at dawn (reported by dog-walker).
23/11/17 –A female Pintail with Mallard and Wigeon at Shepperdine, and a Treecreeper along the track to the shore.
Pintail and Curlew at Shepperdine, including two colour-ringed visible.
21/11/17 –A Water Rail again on the lake - in the far left corner, looking from the road, creeping around the edge of the reeds. At the yacht club at HT were c800 Dunlin, c120 Lapwing and a Rock Pipit.
20/11/17 –AM reported: 61 Wigeon, 38 Mallard, 1 Tufted Duck, fem Gadwall still, 2 Mute Swan, 1 Little Grebe, 15 Snipe, 58 Redshank, 35 Turnstone, 220 Dunlin and 35 Fieldfare (in Orchard).
19/11/17 – CL reported lots of Fieldfare, Redwing and Bullfinch.
Stonechat and Great Tit (photos by CL).
18/11/17 – Couldn't find the Hawfinch this morning, but looked for their Hornbeam food plant in the hedge that runs from the road along the SW side of Lagoon 3. Found 4 trees, all with young catkins on and no seeds. But there are plenty of Ash and Maple seeds if they fancy them ?! I had 10 Raven this morning, including 7 together flying low over to NE at 8:30am. And at same time, a V-formation of c70 Black-tailed Godwit went high over the same way.
Hornbeam leaf and the beautifully named 'Dog Vomit Slime Mold' on Lagoon 3 path.
17/11/17 – A Hawfinch again - flew from trees at the far end of the lake from the entrance, with a few Redwing, at 3:30pm. It went over the lake then circled and flew along the hedge by the road, towards the entrance (where I was), but I lost it behind the hedge and could not refind. Also, 2+ Chiffchaff and 4 Stonechat (pairs on Lagoons 1 and 3).
16/11/17 – My 7th Hawfinch of 2017 at OPS ! Flew up from trees at SW end of Lagoon 3, called 'tik' twice as it flew along the tree-line, then glad to see it land in tree tops. It stayed a couple of minutes before flying off across the Lagoon to N/NE. (This one was a fem/juv with pink bill, so different to the one on 5th, which was a male with steel-blue bill.) The female Gadwall, juv Little Grebe and juv. Tufted Duck still on the lake, and 3 Stonechat (pair on Lagoon 1 and 1 at yacht club).
(A male Blackcap in my Frampton Cotterell garden yesterday.)
14/11/17 – JS reported, Pillhead Gout on this afternoon's tide: 235 Curlew (27 colour-rings read), a Bar-tailed Godwit, 280 Dunlin, and a Little Egret. This morning, the female Gadwall on the lake still, 17 Bullfinch counted and a Chiffchaff.
13/11/17 – 7 Redpoll flew in and landed in Alders at NE end of Lagoon 3 this morning. AM reported: 2 Cetti's Warbler, 18 Blue Tit (record OPS count !), 12 Great Tit, 12 Greenfinch, another 2 Redpoll on Lagoon 2, 1 Grey Wagtail, 55 Fieldfare, 45 Redshank, 41 Curlew and 57 Dunlin.
11/11/17 – An odd mix of ducks on the lake this morning: no Mallard, but a female Gadwall, a pair of Wigeon and a juv. Tufted Duck. Also, the usual pair of Mute Swan, 5 Moorhen and a Water Rail heard 'sharming' (like a squealing pig ! And another heard on Lagoon 2).
The male Pheasant on Lagoon 3 taking to the trees again.
9/11/17 – An immature female Marsh Harrier first seen flying up from small reedbed on shore by Lagoon 3, and then hunting on Lagoon 3 for 5 minutes (and last seen going down in reeds there). A pretty good video clip of it here. And a Little Grebe in Oldbury Pill, on the inland side of the sluice.
It took me 12 years of visiting OPS before I finally saw my first Marsh Harrier here in 2015 ! This is my 4th record this year.
7/11/17 – How about this for an amazing 10 minutes of bird behaviour . . . A juvenile Merlin flew across Lagoon 3, in attack-mode, and dropped into long grass (out-of-sight). After a few seconds, it flew up and hovered (!) momentarily, then flew back across Lagoon 3 and down to the shore by the metal gate, where it perched on a log. So I walked out-of-sight down to where it was, but it was gone. Then I noticed a Carrion Crow a few yards off-shore, picking something up out of the estuary (it was High Tide) and dropping it as it was too heavy - when I looked in binoculars, it was a Water Rail !! It was dazed, and now floating in the water and not swimming back to shore. 2 Carrion Crows took turns to fly to it and attempt to pick it up in a claw, but they dropped it every time they got airbourne. Then a Peregrine appeared and dive-bombed the Water Rail, while now being harassed by the Crows. It succeeded in picking the poor Rail out of the water at the 4th attempt, and flew off to the Power Station towers with it dangling below. Incredible ! The Merlin was perched at the yacht club a few minutes later, so it passed where the Water Rail was moments before, and I wonder if it attacked the Water Rail and dropped it.
(By the way, the Merlins that migrate to UK for winter have almost all come from Iceland, a very long sea-crossing - ringing data in BTO 'Migration Atlas' shows.)
Apart from that, just a Brambling over and 2 Mistle Thrush. (There are now 2 Cetti's Warbler calling from Lagoon 3 - one at each end.)
6/11/17 – Freezing fog and -1C temperature this morning. A record count of 21 Wren ! Pushed out of saltmarsh by a high(ish) tide, inc. 4 in a single small bush. And a pair of Pheasant high up in a tree on Lagoon 3 ! 200+ Redwing and 20+ Fieldfare in trees/bushes; 8+ Stonechat around the site; 2 Redpoll, 3 Siskin and 110+ Woodpigeon over. An increase to c400 Dunlin and 72 Lapwing at yacht club at HT.
5/11/17 – CL reported 2 Snow Bunting at 8am on the gravel path at the wooden gate to the Estuary, Lagoon 3; he nearly fell over them as they took flight to SW. (Last reported at OPS in 2014.) Also, a Short-eared Owl on the fence at Shepperdine, 2 Stonechat and 7 Bullfinch in the orchard. This afternoon, I had my 6th Hawfinch at OPS this year ! It flew up into trees by the main rhine at the entrance, and perched briefly (giving a good view in bins) before flying through the trees towards the meadow. I saw it again, briefly, at the meadow, as it flew up and through trees. Then heard it call a couple of times. This was just after a shower, when lots of Redwing and some Fieldfare were in the trees. (To put this into context, there have only ever been 6 Hawfinches reported at OPS before this year ! But reported in 4 of the last 11 years.) MB had an even later (than one on 3rd) Clouded Yellow butterfly in the car park.
Stonechat and Wigeon (photos by CL - thanks !).
4/11/17 – 2 Redpoll on Lagoon 2 with Goldfinch flock and 9 Siskin in Alders in SW corner of Lagoon 3.
Redpoll silhouette !
3/11/17 – I finally saw a Water Rail on the lake and got some video of it preening and giving its 'piping' call. Also, 4 Stonechat (3 x Lagoon 3, 1 x Lagoon 2), 9 Fieldfare (orchard), 2 Chiffchaff, 2 Coal Tit and 7 Red Admiral butterfly still. AM reported: 7 Avocet downriver, 8 Siskin in Alders on Lagoon 3 and a late Clouded Yellow butterfly. PD reported a Short-eared Owl at Shepperdine this afternoon.
(There were 9 Little Egret in a field at Parkmill Farm, 1 mile inland of OPS.)
Water Rail and Short-eared Owl (excellent photo by PD - thanks !).
1/11/17 – JS reported, at Pillhead Gout this afternoon: 320 Curlew on Oldbury Sands (inc. c200 that roosted on the shore, 25 with colour-rings); 1 Avocet, 1 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Grey Plover, 1 Little Egret, and lots of Dunlin briefly, before all was flushed by dog walkers, and then the Berkeley Hunt arrived - hounds everywhere!
I have had an excellent October at OPS, adding 9 species to my list seen this year, bringing my total to 152 (best year) and all-comers to 155 (again, best number ever). The 9 species seen in October are below; they are all excellent reports for OPS, but the best for OPS is Barnacle Goose, which has only been reported in 2 out of the 11 years from 2006 to 2016. Hawfinch, Great Crested Grebe and Mandarin have all been seen twice as often, at 4 times. The other column below indicates the rarity of these birds over the UK, as scored by the Birdguides website; 1 = 'Common' and 2 = 'Local'. Barnacle Goose and GC Grebe are regarded as Common generally, but are far from it at OPS ! At the other end of the table, Merlin has been reported every one of the 11 years, and Great Skua in 8 of them, yet they are regarded as less common at a UK level.
|Birdguides rarity category||No. times reported at OPS 2006-2016|
|Great Crested Grebe||1||4|
31/10/17 – RW reported, via Avonbirds, 2 Ring Ouzel that flew out of the orchard in the morning, and 3 Stonechat. Very little vismig this morning with a mild SW wind, but lots of thrushes in the hedges: c225 Redwing, 5 Mistle Thrush and 4+ Fieldfare. Only c10 Chaffinch, but a flock of 12 Bullfinch flew up high from a Shepperdine hedge. Also a male Blackcap seen and a Redpoll landed in a tree on Lagoon 3.
30/10/17 – I flushed a Short-eared Owl from the saltmarsh at the yacht club (not quite earliest - still 25th Oct 2016), and a Grey Plover there. And 5 Red Admiral still around.
29/10/17 – AM reported, vismig very apparent 7-9am, firstly NE into wind and then SW as the wind slackened: 300 Woodpigeon, 350 Fieldfare, 120 Redwing. Also 1 Merlin, 1 Treecreeper and 16 Common Gull.
28/10/17 – The latest Whinchat at OPS by 2 weeks was on Lagoon 3 and then on the fence by the shore/jetty, and 3 Stonechat there (+ another on Lagoon 2). The Merlin was hedge-hopping on Lagoon 3, and 'hopped' back over the hedge right where I was standing, giving an amazing view as it banked away sharply, just 10 feet away ! A single flock of c75 Fieldfare went 'cackling' over to East, 2+ Brambling over, 6 Redpoll (inc. one that landed in a tree on the Nature Trail), 6 Siskin feeding in Alders on Lagoon 2, a Little Grebe on the lake and 3 Water Rail 'piping' on Lagoon 3 were all new-in, 2 Chiffchaff still and 100+ Redwing around. (63 species seen today; equal second best number this year.)
(A couple showed me a recent photo of 11 Little Egret roosting in a field at Parkmill Farm, 1 mile inland of OPS, with "a couple more out of photo"!)
A dodgy phone-scoped photo of the Whinchat (right) with a Stonechat, and a Red Admiral still on the wing.
26/10/17 – Mist and drizzle this morning meant a lot of birds were landing in trees/bushes on Lagoon 2. c200 Redwing and 20+ Song Thrush were in the bushes at the south end, so I walked all the way round this area, and as I walked along the bridleway (at the bottom of the slope), 2 Hawfinch called, just as they took-off and flew SW, over towards the orchard. Couldn't refind them, but first 2 Fieldfare of autumn in the orchard. Also a Brambling landed in a tree at the other end of Lagoon 2 and flew around calling, 18 Bullfinch and 25+ Blackbird seen. Loads of birds giving alarm calls in the bushes on Lagoon 3 (75 yards SW of the hide), including a male Blackcap (and 2 more on Lagoon 2), 2 Goldcrest, Wrens, Dunnocks, Blackbirds and Thrushes, alerted me to a Tawny Owl. Plus, a Green Sandpiper again on the lake at dawn (and I managed to sneak away without disturbing it this time), 2+ Stonechat (Lagoons 2&3) and a Chiffchaff. MP/JS reported, from yacht club: a Wheatear, 3 Stonechat, 210 Dunlin, 2 Snipe, a Rock Pipit, 65 Lapwing and a Black-tailed Godwit. And 2 Stonechat (pair, on shore by Lagoon 2). (That makes a total of 7 Stonechat around the site today.)
Tawny Owl asleep in a hedge, Lagoon 3.
25/10/17 – What a difference the weather makes to vismig. Only c20 Chaffinch over this morning, but I did hear 2 single Brambling and 5 Siskin, 3 Redpoll (together), 2 Reed Bunting and 30 Skylark (14 over, and 16 at Lagoon 3). Also, a Wheatear by the jetty, 6 Stonechat (3xLagoon3, 1xLagoon2 and 2xShepperdine) and a Black-tailed Godwit upriver.
24/10/17 – vismig, 7:50-11am, movement mainly SW: 3 Hawfinch (2 to W at 8:30am, calling thin, high-pitched 'ziik', continuously, 3rd over to SSW 15 mins later), 1208 Chaffinch (largest flock of c150), 7+ Siskin (flock of 6), 3 Redpoll, c250 Redwing (over and a lot landing in trees/hedges), 7 Reed Bunting (5 + 2), c10 (only) Meadow Pipit, 2 Skylark, 1 Snipe, 15 Lapwing, 16 Long-tailed Tit and a Chiffchaff ! (Last two species flew up from a hedge at Shepperdine, went high into wind and landed in another hedge after 200 yards). Also a Swallow (over the jetty); a Green Sandpiper flew from the lake at dawn, but was there again at 11:30am when it flew high to SW. And 4 Mistle Thrush at Shepperdine. (I still have not had a Brambling in 2017.) AM reported the juv/fem Merlin hunting and perched at yacht club.
Here is the first release of the Plant List for OPS. It includes sections for the following: Flowering Land Plants, Water Plants, Trees & Shrubs, Ferns/Mosses/Algae/Lichens, Grasses, Fungi. 186 species identified so far. This mainly covers plants in flower from August to mid-October, so only really scratches the surface. I am quite pleased with the work on Trees & Shrubs - there are a surprising number of Elms (mainly Wych Elm, but some Common Elm), and a complete lack of Horse Chestnut (although there is one tree 30 metres off-site by the horse paddock south of Lagoon 2). As far as Grasses are concerned, I haven't attempted identifying any but the obvious yet ! All the photos are taken on-site. I WILL have made errors and omissions, so get in touch if you can help correct anything. The Insect List is still to look forward to, and for completeness there is also an Animal List, with 40 species of Mammals, Amphibians, Reptiles, Fish and Crustaceans.
23/10/17 – A juv/fem Merlin was sat on a post at the yacht club and then started hunting the saltmarsh towards Littleton. Later it flew all the way along the shore to the Power Station. Also at yacht club: a Ruff with c20 Lapwing and a Grey Seal popping its head above the water close-in a couple of times.
22/10/17 – A Great Skua slowly downriver at 8:30am. Video here. And a 3-goose day at OPS: a Barnacle Goose with 4 Canada Goose downriver at dawn and 10+ Greylag Goose flew downriver to yacht club with 200+ Canada Goose at HT. A Merlin was in hunt-mode at Shepperdine. And 15 Shelduck downriver - they have been noticeably absent from the estuary. 50 Black-tailed Godwit and 2 Wheatear reported on Avonbirds.
That's 150 species at OPS in 2017 for me, and all-comers on 153. (2015 is the only other year I have got to 150, and the record for all-comers was that year, with 154.)
Great Skua (screen-shot taken from video).
21/10/17 – 2 Great Skua lazily going upriver together at 3:50pm in rain and high wind, and a Wheatear on the jetty. Despite the wind from storm 'Brian' this morning, there was the first concerted movement of the autumn of Chaffinch, going over to SW at 100+ per hour and c50 Meadow Pipit, but nothing else of note.
Rainbow over Shepperdine, and then Lashing it down just 20 minutes later.
Self-portrait, with the chair that the birding Gods sent to me one High Tide !
20/10/17 – 4+ Stonechat still. 6 Red Admiral butterfly and swarms of Common Darter dragonfly.
Small Copper on Knapweed.
19/10/17 – 53 Chaffinch over to East, in drizzle this morning; 5 Stonechat still; c50 Meadow Pipit (by jetty) and 2 Rock Pipit; 2 Cetti's Warbler on Lagoon 3 now.
18/10/17 – The juvenile Merlin on the fence at Shepperdine again, a single flock of c20 Siskin over to East and the first Rock Pipit of autumn (on shore by Lagoon 2).
Made an effort to get a decent photo today; you want it close-up AND looking at camera ?! The white patch on nape shows it is a juvenile, I believe.
17/10/17 – JS reported from Pillhead Gout: 270 Curlew, 20 Dunlin, 2 Grey Plover, 1 Wheatear and a Grey Wagtail. A Whimbrel at Shepperdine (not quite latest ever, still 18/10/12). And 6 Stonechat (3 each on Lagoons 2 & 3).
16/10/17 – A Swallow, but no seabirds in aftermath of storm Orphelia.
14/10/17 – Vismig, to SW, into warm wind: 57 Chaffinch (largest flock = 17), 1 Yellowhammer, 3 Redpoll, 19 Siskin (10+ 9), 7 Greenfinch and c15 Redwing. 5 Mistle Thrush (Lagoon 2), 3 Stonechat (Lagoon 3) and 4 Snipe dropped into Lagoon 3 (one lucky to survive Peregrine attack !).
Fresh Common Puffball in the meadow and Yellow Fieldcap on Lagoon 3.
12/10/17 – 2 male Mandarin on the lake, were extremely flighty and unfortunately flew when I went round Lagoon 3. Windless, with overcast skies made for good vismig this morning, until 10:30 when drizzle blew up the estuary and killed it off. Vismig totals, generally to SW or S: 36 Skylark (inc. a flock of 27 that flew S across the estuary and on), 4 Redpoll ("did-it, did-it"), 8 Siskin ("see", "see-yah") and c20 Redwing. 10 Mistle Thrush again at Shepperdine (and 2 more on Lagoon 2). Also, 4 Wheatear (3 x yacht club, 1 x Shepperdine) , 4 Stonechat (3 x Lagoon 3, 1 x Lagoon 2) and 3+ Coal Tit (OPS record count !), inc. 2 together on Lagoon 3. Only singles of Blackcap and Chiffchaff left. KP/LP reported 63 Turnstone.
The estuary is really quiet - only 2 Black-tailed Godwit today. This autumn I have only had 1 Whimbrel, 1 Grey Plover, very few Dunlin and ZERO Bar-tailed Godwit (CVL has had more, i.e. one !). Presume the continuous wind from West is keeping them on continent.
Mandarin ducks on lake edge.
11/10/17 – 2 Swallow and a Wheatear at yacht club.
10/10/17 – Drizzle all morning, on and off, but good birding. A juvenile Merlin landed on the fence at Shepperdine, where a flock of 20 Meadow Pipit were feeding. It stayed for 10 minutes. A redhead Goosander flew very fast upriver at 10:30am, as High Tide approached. A flock of 13 Mistle Thrush (record count at OPS, beating 6 in 2012 !) landed in trees at Shepperdine point, during drizzle, and fed along sea-wall slope. Also a Wheatear there. 3 Swallow were feeding at the south end of Lagoon 2, 13 Skylark (inc. flock of 10) over to south, 2 Redpoll over to NE and 5 Raven over to S.
That's 150 species at OPS in 2017 from all-comers, with my total on 147.
Dodgy photo of Merlin at distance.
9/10/17 – Some birds over: 11 Redwing to East (3 days later than last year), 13 Skylark and a male Yellowhammer flew in and landed on a hedge. A Wheatear and 5 Stonechat still. c150 Linnet in ploughed field belween Lagoon 3 and yacht club. And a Grey Plover at yacht club. Mrs T reported a Water Rail on the lake (which I first heard there last Thursday, but haven't seen yet).
Wheatear and distant Yellowhammer.
8/10/17 – AM's WeBs count: 373 Canada Goose (new S.Gloucs record !), 1 Greylag, 3 Teal, 22 Wigeon, 80 Mallard, 4 Little Egret, 4 Grey Heron, 69 Curlew, 6 Oystercatcher, 12 Dunlin, 41 Redshank, c50 Turnstone and 94 Lapwing. Also, 5 Stonechat, 1 Wheatear and 1 Cetti's warbler. Plus a Grey Seal eating an Eel, off Lagoon 1.
7/10/17 – A Great Crested Grebe flew downriver at High Tide. And 8 Swallow (1,2,5) headed NW (roughly into wind).
A Juvenile Peregrine being chased by an adult, yesterday. (Photo by PD - thanks.)
6/10/17 – A Greylag and 300+ Canada Goose on the lake again (and 9 on estuary). And a Stonechat on Lagoon 3. The Peregrine pair were on the towers. (The Gloucs. Raptor Monitoring Group have just published the 2017 survey results for Peregrines; there were 12 active nest sites in the county, which produced 28 young.)
5/10/17 – No sea-birds blown in, despite high winds overnight. A Whimbrel with 5 Curlew on the sea-wall at Shepperdine at HT. And 5 Greylag with 316 (!!) Canada Goose on the lake (and 45 more on estuary. 361 = highest ever count for S. Gloucs.!). 3 Red Admiral butterflies still. JS reported on this evening's tide at Pillhead Gout: c300 Curlew (inc. 33 with colour-rings), 1 Whimbrel, 1 Black-tailed Godwit, 10 Oystercatcher, 1 Golden Plover and 26 Dunlin.
Some of the 300+ Canada Geese on the lake.
4/10/17 – AM reported, this morning: 1 Swallow, 46 Dunlin, 32 Redshank, c35 Turnstone, 24 Lapwing and 3 Stonechat (yacht club).
3/10/17 – A bright and fresh Spring morning, felt good for passage, but best I found was a Swallow heading determinedly NORTH, out over the estuary (in wind from West) !! 4 Greylag flew NE over towers, then turned round and headed towards the yacht club. An influx of c10 Song Thrush and 8 Skylark. Butterflies: 8 Red Admiral still and a Comma.
2/10/17 – The juvenile Spotted Redshank was again in Oldbury Pill this morning, as the tide receeded. A video of it preening and feeding with typical side-to-side movement of head is here. (It catches and eats something 40 s in.) Also at yacht club: 4 Greylag (which were on the lake early am), with 200+ Canada Goose (and 55 more on lake and shore), a Stonechat, and 350+ Starling. A Whitethroat in NE corner, lagoon 3 (the latest ever at OPS beating 25/9/1994), and a Wheatear at Shepperdine.
The large flock of Canada Geese on shore at yacht club.
1/10/17 – MP reported: a Greylag with 121(!) Canada Goose on the lake. A Wheatear at Shepperdine and 80 Mallard (lake + shore).
30/9/17 – 4 Greylag with 51 Canada Goose that flew downriver. Two large flocks of Blackcap still: 10 by lake and 8 on Lagoon 2. The only vismig was 1 Redpoll and 3 Skylark. AM reported; 19 Greylag (18 downriver and one on lake), 93 Canada Goose (lake), 4+ Wheatear and 3 Grey Wagtail. MP also reported a Stonechat at the yacht club.
29/9/17 – Rather quiet apart from two excellent birds. A female Marsh Harrier flew quite high over Lagoon 3 and then flew towards Lagoon 2. And a lovely juvenile Golden Plover flew within 20 yards of me and landed just 30 yards away at Pillhead Gout, where it fed with 4 Wheatear before flying off inland (south) after half hour.
28/9/17 – 2+ Porpoise and possibly a Common Dolphin (with a more sickle-shaped fin, faster, and 1.5 times size) feeding and attracting gulls (again - same as 2 weeks ago). A video showing the Porpoises here (13-17 secs in, on far right of screen, where one heads right then a second heads left behind it, turns, and sun catches fin (larger fin, maybe Dolphin ?), and then another/same seen briefly heading off-screen right).Also 2 Whinchat still, 21 Blackcap counted but fewer Chiffchaff. And a roost of 377 large gulls on the mudflats and water off yacht club, inc. 300+ Herring Gull. JS counted 195 Curlew on Oldbury Sands, and 71 landed on the shore at Pillhead Gout (8 with colour rings). Numbers appear to be well down on the estuary this autumn - no more than c650 birds. Also a dead Manx Shearwater, at least a week old, in the field behind the sea wall at Pillhead Gout.
(NB. The plastic in-flow pipe is being removed from Lagoon 3, which will take c3 weeks and will cause some disruption.)
I had another look at the video from 2 weeks ago, and it looks like it shows a Common Dolphin. Screen-grab and enhanced for max. contrast, below.
27/9/17 – An Avocet and a Knot with c110 Curlew at Pillhead Gout approaching HT. 2 Whinchat at yacht club and 3 Wheatear still. A Mistle Thrush at the yacht club. Vismig (mainly to NE): 5 Skylark, 1 Siskin, 11 Chaffinch, 150+ Swallow and 6+ House Martin. An Large Yellow-underwing moth flying and high numbers of butterflies for end-Sept: 11 Red Admiral, 6 Spotted Wood, 3 Small Copper, 1 Peacock and 2 Large White.
Avocet and Large Yellow-underwing Moth.
3 of 6 Red Admiral and a Hornet, attracted to tree sap.
26/9/17 – A Greylag with 69 Canada Goose on the lake and a pair of Gadwall there early. The Whinchat still at yacht club and 3 Wheatear (2 x yacht club, 1 x Shepperdine). A Mistle Thrush and 6 Little Egret at Shepperdine. Some visible migration in fog (mainly East, into slight breeze): 10 Skylark, 4 Siskin, 6 Linnet, 3 Snipe and c25 Swallow. 64 species seen this morning.
Greylag and the Berkeley Hunt active between yacht club and Lagoon 3 early morning.
25/9/17 – 3 Dark-bellied Brent Goose flew downriver at High Tide, past the yacht club. A Whitethroat was on Lagoon 2 and a Yellow Wagtail with c10 Pied Wagtail on building roofs. AM reported, at yacht club: 2 Whinchat, 1 Wheatear, 1 Stonechat, 38 Redshank, 13 Lapwing, 1 Snipe and 35 Swallow.
24/9/17 – MP reported the juv. Spotted Redshank at Oldbury Pill again, at 8:30am, and a Whinchat. A video by MP of the Spotted Redshank here.
23/9/17 – A Kingfisher on the pond by Lagoon 2 again at 9am. At the yacht club: 3 Stonechat (2m, 1f), 2 Whinchat (thanks MP), a Wheatear, 60+ Swallow and 105 Canada Goose (with another 70, or same ?, on lake). 2 Black-tailed Godwit at Shepperdine.
This juvenile Heron is very tame (and caught a small fish). And some sheep got caught by the incoming tide.
22/9/17 – A Cetti's Warbler calling by the hide (first since 11th July). An influx of Blackbird and a few Song thrush overnight, and the same high numbers of Blackcap and Chiffchaff (especially Lagoon 2). AM reported: superb views of a Hobby chasing Meadow Pipit at the yacht club, 2 Whinchat, 2 Wheatear, 3 Stonechat (pair on lagoon 3 and 1 at yacht club), 88 Redshank (but no Spot. Red.), 27 Dunlin, 27 Ringed Plover, 5 Lapwing, c200 Curlew, c40 Turnstone, c400 Swallow and c150 Meadow Pipit.
21/9/17 – JM reported a juv. Spotted Redshank at Oldbury Pill at 12:30pm. A decent smattering of birds in wet weather. A juv/fem Garganey was with the 11 Wigeon at Shepperdine; a Yellow Wagtail and a Whinchat were with c10 Pied Wagtail by the jetty; a Kingfisher was sat on the sluice at Oldbury Pill and c35 Swallow over there. A juvenile Sparrowhawk flew out across the estuary, which reminded me that a Red Admiral butterfly did the same a few days ago in the sun. And a Grey Plover heard (only) out over the estuary.
That's 142 species for me at OPS in 2017 - best total up to end Sept., beating 141 in 2015, and 147 for all-comers - also a record for end Sept, beating 143 in 2016.
Whinchat - annoyingly the Yellow Wagtail WAS also in this shot a second before !
19/9/17 – 2 Whinchat (Lagoon 3 & yacht club), a Wheatear (Shepperdine), 18 Blackcap, 20+ Chiffchaff (7 still in song), 6 Goldcrest, a Coal Tit, 5+ Little Egret and 4 Grey Wagtail (equal highest OPS count).
17/9/17 – 3 Whinchat (2 x Lagoon 3 & yacht club), a probable adult Yellow-legged Gull, c15 House Martin (Oldbury village) and Swallow flocks continually passing through to NE (in completely still and sunny conditions); 50 counted in a timed 10 minutes.
Yellow-legged Gull with definite yellow legs but a lot of head-streaking.
16/9/17 – At 9am a Guillemot floated downriver. Short video here. There were a lot of small birds around, in some large flocks: a Spotted Flycatcher (in trees by the small reedbed SE corner, Lagoon 2), 16 Blackcap, 30+ Chiffchaff (9 of which were still in song !), 16 Robin, 8 Goldcrest, 9 Dunnock and a Treecreeper. Also a Stonechat (Lagoon 3), a Mistle Thrush (Lagoon 2) and the first 4 Wigeon back. Also a Sea Trout jumping in the Tidal Res.. AM also reported: 21 Redshank, 10 Lapwing, 7 House Sparrow, 3 Little Egret and 3 Great Spotted Woodpecker.
14/9/17 – A juv/fem Redstart in the NE hedge, Lagoon 1 and a Stonechat, Lagoon 3. Also a Lanner-type Falcon flushed all birds at Shepperdine, had a go at a Dunlin and then came down for a drink/wash. Then flew around inland, and attacked a Little Egret !! (Which was bigger than it.) But the best was 2 Harbour Porpoise, breaching and seemingly feeding, attracting gulls. Short video here, where one comes to the surface underneath the gull 18 seconds in.
13/9/17 – Had a long sea-watch today following Storm Aileen overnight. 2 hours at dawn was disappointing (although it was Low Tide), producing only 3 adult Arctic Tern downriver at 7:25am. 5 hours from 10am over the High Tide was rather better. At Shepperdine, 11:15am, a Great Black-backed Gull was pecking at the corpse of a Manx Shearwater (last at OPS, before yesterday, in 2011), which it then dissected for the next hour. At 11:30am a Guillemot floated upriver (the last two at OPS were on 15/2/14 & 6/10/2012). At 12-12:30pm a distant Tern sp. whizzed upriver (probably one of the 2 Arctics seen at Slimbridge). I then moved to the Lagoon 3 gate and at 1:30pm, an Arctic Tern was off-shore, increasing to 7+ by 2pm, all adults, feeding mid-river. 2+ stayed until 3pm. At 2pm a 1st-winter Kittiwake flew close to shore upriver and at 2:35pm an adult Gannet went upriver quite close (last at OPS in 2015).
That's 141 species for me at OPS in 2017, and 145 for all-comers.
12/9/17 – A Stonechat on the wooden fence at Shepperdine and a flock of 12 Cormorant flew high over the estuary in a V-formation, heading south. Also, the latest Garden Warbler at OPS (beating 22/8/2010), with 6 Blackcap on Lagoon 2; a few Meadow Pipit on the ground and over (first noticable movement of them here this autumn); 2 House Sparrow on Lagoon 3, 2 Collard Dove landed in a tree on Lagoon 2 (unusual); a Grey Wagtail over and a Lapwing on the shore. AM reported, in afternoon: 1 Manx Shearwater (flying up mid-river at 15.20, Shepperdine), 68 Dunlin, 8 Ringed Plover, 128 Curlew (sandbanks out in river), and 1 Wheatear.
Stonechat and an Aspen leaf.
9/9/17 – A Kingfisher on the pond at 9am (flew into trees, so looked like staying). AM reported a Marsh Harrier (had some grey on it, so probably immature male) on Lagoon 1; disappeared inland towards Jobs Green farm. (The notice below was on the farmhouse that has been partially restored at Jobs Green farm.) AM's WeBS count: 89 Dunlin, 28 Ringed Plover, 50 Redshank, c50 Turnstone, 3 Little Egret, 5 Oystercatcher, 1 Shelduck, 51 Canada Goose, 4 Curlew, 5 Wheatear, 1 Whinchat.
Notice and 'fresh' Red Admiral.
8/9/17 – An 'owl prowl' didn't produce any Barn Owl, just a Pipistrelle Bat on Lagoon 2 and a Tawny Owl calling. But 114 Canada Goose seen; 25 roosting on lake and the rest flew along the shore, downriver, in three flocks.
7/9/17 – 5+ Whinchat still on the yacht club common, a Spotted Flycatcher (track on SW side, Lagoon 3), 1 Lesser Whitethroat (Lagoon 3), 1 Whitethroat, 3 Grey Wagtail (1 x Water Works, which is being dismantled, 2 x Oldbury Pill sluice), 3 Yellow Wagtail over to SW and 18+ Canada Goose roosted on lake overnight. MB reported the Marsh Tit by the pond, Lagoon 2.
Whinchat and a fresh Barn Owl feather on Lagoon 2.
5/9/17 – The juvenile Curlew Sandpiper again, with c50 Dunlin and c70 Ringed Plover on the seawall by Lagoon 2 early am, but flock skittish in wind/rain and all flew downriver. A Spotted Flycatcher and a Garden Warbler (flycatching) with 5+ Blackcap and 2 Coal Tit in mixed flock with other birds along the Nature Trail, in the clearing where the old weather tower used to be. (The Garden Warbler is latest record at OPS - beating 22/8/2010.) AM reported, from yacht club: 6 Whinchat (5 in same bush !), 1 male Redstart, 3 Wheatear (+ 2 others along shore) and c30 Redshank.
Curlew Sandpiper - camera couldn't focus in poor light.
3/9/17 – A juvenile Curlew Sandpiper with Dunlin and Ringed Plover flock at Shepperdine in rain this morning. And a Wheatear on the seawall. (The Marsh Tit from Friday is a real rarity for OPS. One hung about from 29th Oct 2015 to 5th Dec, but the previous record was Aug 2002 and only 3 other records: Nov 1989, Sept 1994, Apr 1995.)
2/9/17 – AM reported: 1 Redstart (juv m by hide), 3 Willow Warbler, 2 Wheatear, 1 Whitethroat, 6 Meadow Pipit, 50 House Martin, 5 Sand Martin, 5 Little Egret and a Tufted Duck.
1/9/17 – I was watching 3+ Willow Warbler fly-catching on the roof of the hide (Lagoon 3), when a Marsh Tit appeared, calling, and sat on a bush for a few seconds before flying off into the scrub behind the hide. A Lesser Whitethroat along the track from car park to Lagoon2, and 10+ Blackcap still. I sat out the tide at Shepperdine, but the waders have been same there all week: a mixed flock of c90 Dunlin and Ringed Plover, which retreat to the sea-wall by Lagoon 2 at High Tide.
31/8/17 – On a bright, crisp, autumnal morning. 2 Whinchat (Shepperdine & yacht club), juv/fem Redstart (Shepperdine), 2 juv. Whitethroat, 2 Wheatear, 11+ Blackcap, a probable Spotted Flycatcher (seen at distance perched and then in flight into trees at SW corner, Lagoon 2), a Treecreeper and 4 Jay. Also the first Meadow Pipit over (none recorded since 25th July here !).
29/8/17 – A Whinchat and a juv/fem Redstart in the hedges at Shepperdine today. Also a pristine juv. Sedge Warbler landed in the saltmarsh at Shepperdine, right near me !
Brimstone Moth today.
28/8/17 – 2 Lesser Whitethroat (Lagoons 1 & 2), 10+ Blackcap, 2 Wheatear, 1 Willow Warbler and a Tree Pipit over. AM reported: 56 Ringed Plover, 68 Dunlin and c50 Turnstone.
26/8/17 – The wooden fence at Shepperdine finally had some birds on it ! A Whinchat, an adult male Redstart and 3 Wheatear. Lagoon 1 still had the juvenile (male) Redstart and a Lesser Whitethroat. A Tree Pipit flew from Lagoon 2 and went high downriver and a Black-tailed Godwit at Shepperdine. The Peregrine pair were back on the towers for the first time since 3rd July, and later the female was disturbed by a runner from a fresh kill (Feral Pigeon) on the seawall by the jetty. I was 20 yards away when she took-off and got a real sense of the size and power at that distance ! The sub-adult was also seen flying across the estuary to far side.
Whinchat and Redstart on the fence, Shepperdine.
25/8/17 – 2 Whinchat at the yacht club (another found after Tweet), 3 Redstart (2 on cross-fence/hedge of Lagoon 1, and 1 seen by AM at yacht club), 4 Wheatear (AM with 3 at Shepperdine and 1 at yacht club), a Garden Warbler (on Elder along main rhine - AM), a Grey Wagtail by the jetty, 7 Willow Warbler (AM), 7 Whitethroat (AM), 80+ each of Ringed Plover and Dunlin, c40 Turnstone, 5 Little Egret, 7 Grey Heron and 7 Cormorant. Hirundine-types gathering on wires: 50+ House Martin, 5 Sand Martin and 50+ Swallow. (A Barn Owl reported along the approach road to the yacht club in last month. That's 140 species for all-comers in 2017.) And, lastly, a lovely Red Underwing moth flying around by the entrance.
Whinchat and Redstart.
23/8/17 – 2 juv/fem Redstart and a Lesser Whitethroat in large mixed flock at south end of Lagoon 2.
22/8/17 –A juvenile Hobby hunting over lagoon 2 and farms to south in afternoon. AM reported, in morning: a Common Tern (Oldbury Pill, 11:10am), 1 Yellow Wagtail, 3 Wheatear, 71 Dunlin, 46 Ringed Plover, c40 Turnstone, 35 Redshank, 6 Little Egret, 5 Tufted Duck, 141 Mallard, 260 Swallow, 20 House Martin, 2 Willow Warbler and 120 Goldfinch. Also MP had a Tree Pipit over early morning.
19/8/17 –AM reported, evening HT: 62 Canada Goose (mobile on river in strong winds), 10 Stock Dove, a Raven and a Peregrine having a good battle, and a Kingfisher reported on the lake.
18/8/17 – At Shepperdine, over High Tide: 90+ Ringed Plover, c80 Dunlin and 10 Oystercatcher.
16/8/17 – At Shepperdine, over High Tide: a Common Tern sat on the Tidal Reservoir wall, then fished along the shore heading downriver; 30+ Ringed Plover, c50 Dunlin and a Wheatear.
15/8/17 – At Shepperdine, over High Tide: 3 adult Sanderling, c30 Ringed Plover, 50+ Dunlin and 2 Little Egret. Also a Snipe over to south.
14/8/17 – Single Willow Warbler, Coal Tit and Goldcrest were in a mobile tit/warbler flock in the hedge between Lagoons 1 & 2. A Yellow Wagtail went over to SW and 10+ Black-tailed Godwit high to SW. (And a late addition for 12th - a Tree Pipit went over Lagoon 3, calling, early morning.)
Another late addition for 12th was this probable Yellow-legged Gull.
12/8/17 – A juvenile Little Ringed Plover flew into Pillhead Gout at 8:40am and fed along the edge of the shore/saltmarsh until at least 10:30am. (Amazingly, total number of Dunlin, Ringed Plover and Turnstone seen here over High Tide = ZERO !) Also 2 Wheatear. A Common Seal popped its head up just 30 yards from me and the shore, which gave it a bit of a scare and it headed fast upriver. (A Kingfisher reported by a dog-walker 'daily' on the Oldbury Pill weir recently.) AM's WeBS count: 24 Dunlin (Shepperdine then seawall by Lagoon 2), 6 Ringed Plover, c30 Turnstone (on buoy), 23 Redshank (Oldbury Pill), 2 Common Sandpiper (Yacht Club), 12 Tufted Duck, 100 Mallard, and 3 Green Woodpecker.
Little Ringed Plover at Pillhead Gout.
The Tongue Gall on an Alder tree fruit below (on Lagoon 3) is caused by a fungus (Taphrina alni).
10/8/17 – A lovely sunny morning. A Green Sandpiper materialised out of a 'House Martin' flying across the surface of the lake, when it landed on the muddy margin of the lake ! It fed a bit, then took off and tried to land at my feet ! A bird in sub-song on Lagoon 2 was a Garden Warbler, when finally seen well. Also there, a Tree Pipit flew over, calling, and a Lesser Whitethroat sat in the sun, preening (short video clip). At yacht club, a Wheatear and a Yellow Wagtail over. At Shepperdine: 46 Dunlin and 10 Ringed Plover. 11 House Sparrow in hedge on Lagoon 3. 64 species seen this morning - best day this year ! (After a Spring where no one day had a big 'fall'.) Avonbirds reported a Spotted Flycatcher.
Lesser Whitethroat and Green Sandpiper.
9/8/17 – 2 juv. Teal on the lake. And another 'fresh' Clouded Yellow butterfly, on Lagoon 3 this time.
Teal and Clouded Yellow.
8/8/17 – A Tree Pipit flew from Lagoon 3, landing briefly on the overhead power lines before heading off high to south. At Shepperdine: 5 Little Egret, 10 Ringed Plover and 17 Dunlin. Mrs T reported: a Whimbrel and 51 Mallard. A Clouded Yellow butterfly was on the shore by lagoon 2.
6/8/17 – AM reported: 19 Ringed Plover, c25 Turnstone, 11 Dunlin, 1 Common Sandpiper and 3 Little Egret.
3/8/17 – An adult Common Tern sat on the shore at Shepperdine, and 8 Black-tailed Godwit there. 2 Red Kite were reported by a dog-walker over a farm inland of OPS "about a month ago".
Common Tern and the Severn Bridge just before some showers were blown up the estuary.
30/7/17 – The Mediterranean Gull and 3 Common Sandpiper were at the yacht club again over HT. Also c65 House Sparrow there. A juv. Wheatear at the jetty and 18 adult Dunlin along the shore. MP/AM also reported, at Shepperdine: 7 Black-tailed Godwit, another 12 Dunlin (inc. 3 juvs.) and the 12 Tufted Duck (10 well-grown juvs and 2 fem.) still on the lake.
Very well behaved Med. Gull.
30/7/17 – A few more waders at Shepperdine: c25 Turnstone roosting on the green buoy (about a week earlier than usual to get this number), 7 Ringed Plover, 3 Dunlin.
Matt Plenty is starting an insect list for OPS, so I am going to start a plant list and then we can complete a biodiversity audit ! If you have any records for OPS, please send them to me - thanks !
Hover Fies Helophilus pendulus(yellow + black) and Volucella pellucans (Blk + white).(photos MP).
Common Blue and Copper butterflies (photos MP).
29/7/17 – 3 Common Sanpiper still at the yacht club. MP reported 5+ Sedge Warbler still around Lagoon 3.
28/7/17 – 2 Sanderling in summer plumage flew downriver at HT. And at Shepperdine: c10 Dunlin (all adults), 10+ Turnstone (and a possible distant Little Stint). There were 6 Grey Heron roosting on Lagoon 1; a high number. MP reported: 2 Juvenile Sparrowhawk calling from SE corner of Lagoon 2, and a butterfly survey (in less than ideal wind): 21 Gatekeeper, 2 Small Heath, 1 Small Copper, 5 Meadow Brown, 3 Red Admiral.
27/7/17 – A moulting male Redstart and a juv. Lesser Whitethroat in hedge on Lagoon 1 (shore end of hedge). An increase in Chiffchaff. Poor wader numbers at HT, considering showery weather: 1 Black-tailed Godwit (yacht club) and 2 Dunlin & 2 Ringed Plover at Shepperdine. Zero Shelduck around now - they have gone off to moult. One of the 13 Canada Goose at the yacht club has a silver ring on left leg, if anyone gets a chance to read it !
25/7/17 – c35 Dunlin, 5 Ringed Plover, 2 Common Sandpiper, 5 Turnstone at HT. The first 2 Willow Warbler of 'autumn' by lake (yellow juv. and an adult in sub-song). 5 juv. Sedge Warbler and 10+ Reed Warbler still in NE corner of Lagoon 3 (and small reedbed on shore there). A newly fledged Goldcrest in wood by lake. Also, a Salmon leapt clear of the water at yacht club !
Common Sandpiper at yacht club.
24/7/17 – An Avocet and 4 Turnstone at Shepperdine, and at yacht club: an adult Mediterranean Gull, c420 Black-headed Gull, 4 Dunlin, 4 Common Sandpiper and 10 Oystercatcher. (Avocet has been recorded annually since 2012. Before that it was roughly every other year since 1990.)
Avocet and Med Gull.
High Tide gull roost at yacht club.
20/7/17 – 6 juv. Sedge Warbler with lots of juv. Chiffchaff, Whitethroat, Reed Warbler and tits in NE corner of Lagoon 3.
18/7/17 – Over the High Tide: 1 Black-tailed Godwit in summer plumage by the jetty, 10 Dunlin, 1 Common Sandpiper and 3 Little Egret (one on lake). A Yellow Wagtail over to SW. CL reported lots of juv. Whitethroat (and I counted 6+).
Black'wit and this young male Kestrel let me very near.
Nightmare amount of dogs - These 5 people had 11 dogs ! (... and none on a lead.)
Craig's photos of Emperor dragonfly and Meadow Brown butterfly.
15/7/17 – 5 Lapwing at the yacht club pill at HT. And a flock of about 10 House Sparrow has taken up residence in hedges around the yacht club since start of June. (Unusual here before.) LB reported, from Hill Pill, upriver of Shepperdine : 1 fem/juv Common Scoter, 1 Sanderling, 4 Whimbrel, 1 Mediterranean Gull.
14/7/17 – 3+ Common Sandpiper, 8 Redshank and 3 new Mallard ducklings with mother in the pill at the yacht club. AM also reported: 13 Tufted Duck (brood of 10 and 3 adult females), 1 Little Egret and 3 Kestrel.
13/7/17 – 9 Dunlin (mainly adults in summer plumage) at the yacht club over this morning's tide. Also 3 juv. Green Woodpecker (2 in hedge by yacht club and 1 at Lagoon 2).
12/7/17 – In the evening, there were a lot of birds hawking insects low over Lagoon 2: c50 Swift, c50 Swallow and c100 Black-headed Gull (plus another c150 on estuary). c20 Sand Martin went over high to South. 8 Dunlin were at the yacht club.
11/7/17 – Over the High Tide, 3 Common Sandpiper at yacht club, and an early returning adult Common Gull. The well-grown juv. Coot and the 10 juv Tufted Duck are still on the lake.
Common Gull and Common Sandpiper.
And, what seems to be the latest victim of flying into the power cables over the lake - dead Black-headed Gull underneath them.
7/7/17 – A well-grown juv. Coot is new on the lake, and the 10 juv Tufted Duck still there (but 2 other broods seem to have disappeared). 8 Sand Martin over to West. 2 Yellow Wagtail heard on Lagoon 1 again.
5/7/17 – 2 juv. Yellow Wagtail on the seawall of Lagoon 1 with cattle, then flew to tree tops on Lagoon 2.
Yellow Wagtail and the meadow ablaze with the purple of Knapweed.
3/7/17 – Three broods of Tufted Duck ducklings now on the lake: 10, 6 & 3.
A Toad on the path along the main rhine.
1/7/17 – 2 broods of Shelduck today: 21 at Shepperdine now well-grown and 10 small ones at yacht club. CL went for some arty photos today . . . (Thanks Craig !)
Crab Spider with prey and Musk Mallow (I think ?).
Greenbottle ? and can anyone identify the other fly ?
30/6/17 – A Black-crowned Waxbill (or cross ?) was with a large flock of juveniles (c10 Whitethroat, Chiffchaffs and tits) at the NE end of Lagoon 3. It initially flew up from long grass between Lagoon 3 and jetty. It circled around a few times, calling constantly and with whirring wings. Then landed in hedge by gate to Lagoon 3. And became elusive when not in flight. Small finch (Siskin size, or smaller); Black crown, which came down below eye and went onto nape; small, stubby bill; cream cheek, beige-brown underneath; chestnut brown tail shaped like a Grasshopper Warbler's; brown back.
3 Redshank (2 ad + juv) were on the shore at Shepperdine, and the Turnstone still there. A juv. Great Spotted Woodpecker was perched on a concrete post, actually on the jetty ! Broods of 10 and 7 Tufted Duck. Also 26 Swift over to NE. (And correction to id of the Dragonfly below - it is a Southern Hawker, not Emperor. Thanks Matt !)
29/6/17 – 3 Common Sandpiper on the shore at Shepperdine, and a Turnstone returned to roost on green buoy. Lots of warbler juveniles about and a juv. Great Spotted Woodpecker. The 10 juv. Tufted Duck still on the lake, but did not see the 8.
28/6/17 – A recently fledged Mistle Thrush with a parent by the lake. A Turnstone at the yacht club and 24 Curlew in fields inland of Pillhead Gout. (DS advised "130 Curlew in the roost at Guscar Rocks, including a couple of birds from Germany, so they are arriving back in good numbers.") A Red Kite reported by KC at Oldbury-on-Severn in the afternoon.
26/6/17 – A nice walk round the site with Magnox staff today. (Thanks !) The broods of 10 & 8 Tufted Duck ducklings still on the lake, and 2 new Moorhen chicks. Also 2 juvenile Green Woodpecker together on Lagoon 1.
Southern Hawker dragonfly.
25/6/17 – AM reported broods of 10 & 8 Tufted Duck ducklings now on the lake. And a Weasel on Lagoon 3.
21/6/17 – Despite what the EA said below, their contractors strimmed from Lagoon 2 to Shepperdine today, including 2+ Bee Orchid and lots of Pyramidal Orchid which were along the shore by Lagoon 1.
There were 3 broods of Moorhen today: 3 & 2 on the lake and a single on the small pond by Lagoon 2.
20/6/17 – I got a reply from the EA, to my email about the Orchids being strimmed along the shore by Lagoon 2 . . . "The Environment Agency maintains sections of the Severn Estuary Flood Defence Scheme. Our field teams were performing routine grass cutting maintenance last week, which includes flailing (machine cutting) and strimming (hand cutting) the grass from Aust to just south of Oldbury Power Station. The Environment Agency field teams also flail and hand cut grass sections to the north of Oldbury Power Station towards Severnhouse Farm. However, the sections directly in front of the power station are maintained by the Power Station. Regarding your question over the legality of the maintenance, the Environment Agency field teams work on the Severn Estuary with assent of Natural England under Section 28H of the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 (As Amended) to undertake Flood Defence maintenance work on the Severn Estuary SSSI from the beginning of May to the end of October 2017. We are currently piloting a scheme at Chestle Pill on the Severn Estuary, where we will only with cut the grass once a year, in September and, depending on the outcome of this pilot study, we may or may not extend the practice to further areas of the Severn Estuary."
If someone from the Power Station wants to contact me, that would be good. (email@example.com). But basically, I would advise to use the advice from Plantlife ("... from mid-July until the end of September when cutting helps to maximise species diversity." but "Even worse is no cutting at all". No cut = no orchids.) You also need to read up on the timing of cutting hedges. ("We recommend that cutting hedges and trees is avoided between March and August as this is the main breeding season for nesting birds.")
(And my thanks to @lisegirl1 on Twitter for her help, and for saving the flowers at New Passage - the pilot scheme mentioned.)
19/6/17 – At Shepperdine up to HT: 9 Knot (flew off high N), 1 Black-tailed Godwit (in s.p.), 2 Ringed Plover and the 21 Shelduck ducklings. Also recently fledged Coal Tit and Reed Bunting. The first Marbled White butterfly in the meadow by the car park (yesterday and today), and a few Small Skippers around.
18/6/17 – AM reported, this morning: the Cuckoo still calling on Lagoon 2, 31 Shelduck (inc. 21 ducklings), 2 Peregrine, 19 Tufted Duck (inc. 10 juvs), 2 Little Egret, 1 Collared Dove, 1 Stock Dove, 1 Grey Wagtail, 16+ Reed Warbler (on lagoon 3) and 6+ Whitethroat.
17/6/17 – The male Cuckoo calling around Lagoon 2 again. A Red Kite flew low across the estuary at 12.20pm. And good news - the 21 Shelduck ducklings were at Shepperdine again, having gone AWOL since 27th May - probably drifted upriver.
Shelduck ducklings and lovely patch of Yellow Loosestrife.
16/6/17 – A male Cuckoo calling around Lagoon 2 and another seen with it (presumaby a female - think I heard 'bubbling' call), this evening. And the 10 Tufted Duck ducklings still on the lake.
Male Cuckoo calling.
15/6/17 – The first brood of Tufted Duck fledged this morning on the lake - 10 ducklings. And the Carp are spawning there.
14/6/17 – I'm emailing The Environment Agency who I think are responsible, but is there no law against this . . . ?
Strimmed Bee Orchid, Pyramidal Orchid and Slow Worm.
4/6/17 – The only birds to report are 5 (4 + 1) juv. Moorhen on the lake. But here's a lesson in purple orchids (from someone very unable to give the lesson !) . . . There is a path across the middle of Lagoon 2; from the small pond at the end of the tarmac'd lane from the car park, there is a small reedbed on Lagoon 2 - just to the left (North) of it is a path. There is an amazing display of purple orchids along this path. From what I can make out from an excellent online guide, there are two distinct species and a lot of hybrids.
A classic Southern Marsh with rounded side lobes and a small toothlike central lobe; marked with darker dots and dashes. (Leaves - not shown - usually unspotted.)
A Common Spotted with the lip divided into three equal lobes and marked with dark pink dashes and broken lines. (Leaves - not shown - spotted.)
An Early Marsh x Southern Marsh (?) with the side sepals held vertically, the un-lobed lip patterned with dots and lines (but NOT enclosed within a U-shape as in classic Early). The sides of the lip fold downwards creating a central ridge.
A Southern Marsh x Common with lobe shape from Southern, but dashes/broken lines and spotted leaves from Common.
And here's a really nice flowering grass - False Fox Sedge ?
CL reported a Cuckoo and the Peregrine pair yesterday. And some nice photos . . .(Thanks!)
Bee, Pyramidal and Southern Marsh Orchids. (Photos by CL)
3/6/17 – 3 newly fledged Coal Tit with an adult were a surprise, as they are the 130th species I have had at OPS this year (134 for all-comers). You never know what a scan of the estuary will produce; today it was two mud-larks out on a sandbank in the very middle of the estuary! I'm going to call them intrepid (rather than more obvious terms). The sandbank where they are standing will be underwater in 3 hours, and the water will be 9 metres deep in just 5 hours time. It took them over an hour to walk out across the half-mile of mud, before reaching the c250 yards of deep water in front of them. It then took them an hour of wading repeatedly about 10 yards in, before finally deciding to head back. Another hour and they would not make it back without swimming. (I was on the verge of calling 999.)
2/6/17 – No birds to report, but plenty of interesting flowers. The Pyramidal Orchids are just coming into flower, there are 50+ spikes of Bee Orchid on Lagoon 2 and shore, and JM counted another 145 in the Wildflower Meadow! My favourite, though, is the subtle Grass Vetchling (photo).
1/6/17 – A juvenile Ringed Plover with an adult on the shore of the Tidal Reservoir this morning.
30/5/17 – At last, something flew upriver on an incoming tide ! At 9.35am a Skua species, almost certainly Arctic Skua from structure (but only seen from rear quarter view) went upriver in showers. Then at 10.30am an adult Little Tern was in Shepperdine bay, and for 20+ minutes it patrolled slowly along the tideline before flying upriver and repeating. Its erratic flight is shown in this short video clip. It disappeared when a shower hit, but at 11.20am it was out in the middle of the river slowly heading downriver. (This was the only record of the species for the Avon area this year.) The only wader was a single Ringed Plover (and no juv. Shelducks). Early morning, the Peregrines put on a dramatic display; 2 adult females were in a vicious battle over the estuary, 3 times they coupled claws and spiraled down to the river, releasing at the very last moment. Incredible sight ! 10 minutes after they disappeared, another adult (male I think) was on the top of the towers calling, and then stooped right past me at a couple of Collared Dove flying upriver along the shore.
A couple of video-grabs of the Little Tern.
27/5/17 – A cracking Water Pipit in full summer plumage on the seawall by the waterworks for 20 minutes, before flying further upriver. (This is easily the latest ever Spring record for the Avon area, previous being 17th April 1992 !!) Shepperdine, HT: 8 Sanderling, 2 Turnstone, 1 Dunlin, and the creche of 21 Shelduck ducklings still. And a Collared Dove was moving/migrating downriver. Plus, 2 Painted Lady butterflies.
The female Peregrine was perched low on a building, and looking a bit damp after the overnight storms.
23/5/17 – A Spoonbill flew downriver at 6:20am, just after High Tide, this morning. It flew low past Lagoon 3, then looked like it would fly inland at yacht club, before returning to the estuary and landing on saltmarsh between Littleton and yacht club. (Which was a bit annoying, as I had just been there 30 mins. earlier !) I walked back round there, but it was gone by the time I arrived. Usual duff quality, shaky video (taken at about 1 mile distance) Here. (Landed at Pilning Wetland soon after.) Also a Common Sandpiper at the yacht club. (That is 130 species for all-comers at OPS in 2017.)
Distant Spoonbill (taken from shaky video) and a silvery coloured female Mallard present for a few weeks.
18/5/17 – The contrast between today and yesterday ! Nice sunny morning at OPS. 9+ Lesser Whitethroat (including 2 pairs chasing each other around some scrub) and 5 Sedge Warbler around the site. A few migrants: 1 Grey Wagtail over, 1 female Wheatear (Shepperdine) and a Siskin over to NE. Over the High Tide at Shepperdine: 2 Whimbrel and 4 Little Egret but ZERO small waders (summer lull starting early !). Two broods of Moorhen chicks: 2 on lake and 1+ on small pond by Lagoon 2. And the Pied Wagtails have 2 young at the Waterworks. A Cuckoo started calling at 10am.
Sedge Warbler singing and this tree has grown up through the fence, growing round it.
11/5/17 – Early morning, a Spotted Flycatcher was at the top of trees at south end of Lagoon 2. And at 7.30am a sub-adult Red Kite was sat on the saltmarsh at the yacht club, then after 20 minutes it flew across the estuary to the far side. Also at yacht club: 1 Yellow Wagtail over, 1 Wheatear, and a female House Sparrow. A possible juvenile Kestrel was sat on the Peregrine nesting ledge, and 7 Tufted Duck back on the lake. (Earlier this week a tiny Moorhen chick was on the lake.)
Spotted Flycatcher and Red Kite.
10/5/17 – Mrs T reported: 37 Shelduck, 1 Little Egret, 2 Kestrel, 2 Cuckoo, 2 Lesser Whitethroat and 1 Wheatear.
6/5/17 – Amazingly, another Wood Warbler singing (and seen well) in the small wood with a path through it, by the meadow (on far side of meadow to carpark). There was a continuous movement of Hirundine-types into NE wind, late afternoon: 500+ Swallow per hour, c100 House Martin per hour, c30 Sand Martin and 3 Swift. Over the High Tide at Shepperdine (inc. MP's reports) were: 9 Whimbrel, 1 Grey Plover, 1 Knot, c35 Dunlin, 5+ Ringed Plover, 4 Turnstone and 7 Black-headed Gull. The Cuckoo was calling from Jobsgreen Farm.
Whimbrel and Southern Marsh-orchid.
The pond by Lagoon 2 is crammed full of tadpoles.
4/5/17 – A flock of 12 Greenshank was at Shepperdine at HT. (Not quite highest count - 13 in 1994.) Overcast sky and brisk NE wind forced Hirundine-types down low, and passing through into wind all day: 43 Swift, c60 Swallow, 4 House Martin and also 2 Yellow Wagtail and a pair of Siskin. Early morning, 2 Wood Warbler singing at South end of Lagoon 2, about 50 yards apart (first multiple record for OPS). Also, it looks like there is a Raven chick in a nest nearby to OPS.
The Greenshank flock (minus one that got away !).
Here's another, wide-shot, from my Swedish friend showing c10,000 Cranes at Lake Hornborga. (Slimbridge in 50 years time ?!)
3/5/17 – Pretty similar again over the High Tide at Shepperdine: 6 Whimbrel, 5 Grey Plover, 1 Bar-tailed Godwit, c30 Dunlin, 4 Ringed Plover, 1 House Martin, 3 Yellow Wagtail and (unusually) a pair of Gadwall flew upriver.
2/5/17 – The only exciting thing to come up the estuary on the High Tide was The Balmoral ! Shepperdine: 3 Whimbrel, 1 Bar-tailed Godwit, 8 Dunlin, 1 Little Egret, 10 Black-headed Gull, 3 Common Gull (1st-winters) and 1 Yellow Wagtail.
1/5/17 – At Shepperdine, over the high tide: a Cuckoo calling (also reported by RL in woods next to Lagoon 2 this morning, and by 'DiC & dogs' by Jobsgreen Farm - thanks), 8 Grey Plover (5 in smart summer plumage), 2 Knot (1 in s.p.), 2 Turnstone, c50 Dunlin, 3 Little Egret, 5 Whimbrel, 1+ Curlew, and over to NE: 2 Yellow Wagtail, 7 Sand Martin and 40+ Swallow. Plus a Common Sandpiper on the jetty.
29/4/17 – Mrs T reported a fly-by Cuckoo. A high Spring Tide at the yacht club, produced: a surprise 1st-winter Mediterranean Gull (only small gull on whole estuary), 14 Whimbrel, 1 Bar-tailed Godwit in summer plumage, c20 Dunlin, 3 Curlew and 5 Oystercatcher. Also, a Wheatear and a Yellow Wagtail over. On the Lagoons, apart from lots of warblers singing, the only thing of interest was a Tree Pipit which circled high over Lagoon 3, calling and looking lost. That is 120 species at OPS for me in 2017 and 125 for all-comers.
1st-winter Med Gull.
27/4/17 – Not a promising start at -2 deg C and widespread ground frost. But things perked up. A female Redstart on fence posts from the green gate (main rhine). 3 adult Mute Swan flew over to NE. On a very high HT at the yacht club: a Common Sandpiper, 4+ Whimbrel, 1 Redshank and a Wheatear. No goslings on the lake, just 2 adult Canada Goose. But a female Mallard was brooding ducklings on the old goose nest. Clever!
Redstart and Common Sandpiper.
Mute Swans over and a Roe Deer posing next to Fil the Flamingo (arrowed).
25/4/17 – A cold start (0 deg C). Lots of warblers singing: 2 Grasshopper Warbler (Lagoon 3), 14 Whitethroat, 6 Lesser Whitethroat, 3 Sedge Warbler. Also, 3 Whimbrel at Shepperdine and a Tree Pipit high over to NE.
24/4/17 – 2 Mistle Thrush by Jobsgreen Farm.
23/4/17 – MP reported 6 Lesser Whitethroat. (And a Red Kite over Thornbury at 12.20.)
22/4/17 – To complete an excellent day, a flock of 18 Arctic Tern fed-up on the Tidal Reservoir for 10 minutes, before all settling on the water (!), and then going upriver just after 3pm. Here is a video of them feeding. A Tawny Owl being loudly scolded by lots of small birds (including a Cetti's Warbler which just sang loudly at it !) in a hedge by Lagoon 3 early morning. It then flew into trees. (First record since early November.) Lagoon 3 had: 2 Grasshopper Warbler and 2 Sedge Warbler (finally!) singing. (Still had more Groppers than Sedge though this year.) A Garden Warbler sang from bushes by the main reedbed on Lagoon 2 - listened to it for half hour, without seeing it at all. (2 Robins, a Dunnock and a Reed Bunting all emerged from the bush it sang in !) Here is a video of the song - A Blackcap joins it after 30 seconds, then both sing at each other until 1min 20, when Garden Warbler alone again. (Rather quiet, so need to turn sound up.) The 4th year-tick of the morning was a Common Sandpiper by the waterworks outfall. Also, c10 Whitethroat (inc. MB reports) and 4 Lesser Whitethroat. Plus, a juvenile Robin seen with parents.
Arctic Terns - stills taken from video.
21/4/17 – A Short-eared Owl hunting along the shore at Shepperdine early afternoon. On rising tide: 8 Whimbrel, 11 Dunlin and 3 Little Egret. I'm a grand-parent again ! The Canada Goose pair have 6 goslings ! And there are now 6 Mallard ducklings left. 3 of the 8 Tufted Duck had an excursion to the estuary. AM reported: A Hobby downriver (earliest record, beating 22/4/2006) and a brief Sedge Warbler on Lagoon 3. (Too brief for me to catch it - still haven't had one this year !)
20/4/17 – On rising tide, Shepperdine: 1 Bar-tailed Godwit, 4 Whimbrel and a Tree Pipit over to NE, calling. Early morning, a Grasshopper Warbler reeling from the SW corner of Lagoon 2, 2 Lesser Whitethroat and 12 Reed Warbler singing. (I still have not had a Sedge Warbler !). (And I forgot to mention last weekend, there were 10 Mallard ducklings on the pond.)
19/4/17 – An Osprey flew over Lagoon 3 and out over the estuary, then headed upriver over the Tidal Lagoon at 10.50am. (Thanks to the GBB Gulls for alerting me, with a raucous 'scramble' !) Some birds landed overnight: 16 Reed Warbler (10 x Lagoon 3, 5 x Lagoon 2, 1 x shore), 4 Whitethroat (3 x Lagoon 3, 1 x yacht club) and 4 Wheatear at yacht club. Also, 3 Whimbrel.
And a Swedish friend went to see the 19,000 Cranes gathering at Lake Hornborga !
18/4/17 – This morning, the first Lesser Whitethroat singing and House Martin. Also heading NE into wind: 2 Siskin, 26 Sand Martin 20 Swallow, 30+ each of Goldfinch, Linnet and Meadow Pipit. The only birds upriver approaching HT were 15 Black-headed Gull. And a high count of 11 Willow Warbler singing. 60 species today.
16/4/17 – HT at the yacht club: 1 Greenshank, 8 Whimbrel, 20+ Dunlin and 2 Wheatear. Also: 13 Swallow over, 7 Reed Warbler (5 x Lagoon 2, 2 x Lagoon 3) and a Whitethroat (on Lagoon 3 today).
The Greenshank and one of the Whimbrel (with Redshank).
15/4/17 – MT reported a flyby Avocet. A Whitethroat singing on Lagoon 2. And 4 Reed Warbler there, plus 1 on Lagoon 3. Also 2 Wheatear at the yacht club, and another 12 Swallow through and 4 Sand Martin. Not sure what to make of this, with the Peregrines; Female stood on top of a vent pipe on the Power Station roof, calling continuously. A male circling above, then flew down and attempted to land on the female it looked like (attempted mating I presume). Then a second male came in and pursued the first male - at this point I realised the first male was a juvenile (brown uppers) ! The resident adult male stooped at the other, but (really surprisingly) did not carry on with the attack. At this point the female (still calling) flew down onto the nesting ledge, and the adult male joined her. (Couldn't see what happened, but presume they mated.) The juvenile circled over the top of the towers for a while, with the adult male now sat on the tower roof watching it (and female still on ledge). The juvenile headed off across the estuary and out of sight. Really weird !
Cormorant roosting on ship navigation equipment (with tall-ship behind).
14/4/17 – AM reported: 1 Whimbrel, 1 Sedge Warbler, 21 Chiffchaff, 3 Great Spotted Woodpecker (one still hammering away at streetlight, 2 others trying to compete - not very successfully), and 2 Wigeon. MB reported 2 Reed Warbler on Lagoon 2, and another on Lagoon 3 this afternoon. And 12+ Swallow.
Why didn't I think of this sign for Lagoon 1 ? Brilliant !!
13/4/17 – Pretty quiet migration-wise, but a Tree Pipit briefly on Lagoon 2 then high to South (!). 7 Willow Warbler and 2 Reed Warbler singing. A Redpoll and 3 Swallow over. And what seems to be an aberrant Herring Gull ( Glaucous x Herring Gull ?) - very light (almost white) but (unfortunately) with brownish primaries. Videos of it sat on water and in flight.
11/4/17 – DW reported a Red Kite at 14.35 (from inland and then heading NE) and the Peregrine pair displaying. Mrs T reported: 1 Sedge Warbler, 1 Siskin at the small pond (Lagoon 2) and 8 Tufted Duck. A Great White Egret flew just inland of Shepperdine/Lagoon 2 heading SW, following 2 Grey Heron at 7.30am. Shortly after, 5 Knot flew upriver, gained height and headed North. Also: 2 male Wheatear in field by copse on way to yacht club, 2 Ringed Plover (yacht club) and 2 Swallow to NE. MP reported 2+ Reed Warbler singing on Lagoon 2.
Female Peregrine (this one has darker barring on chest than the male) and Red Kite (photos thanks to Dan (@twit1144)).
10/4/17 – 2 Reed Warbler singing this morning (1 x Lagoon 2, 1 x Lagoon 3 - equal earliest with 2011), 12 Sand Martin and 3 Swallow heading NE.
The Peregrine pair were sat on the Nesting Ledge for 10 minutes, then the female left (she is stood on edge in photo), and the male stayed for another 25+ minutes (his head is just visible).
9/4/17 – The first Hawthorn flowers were open today. AM reported, this morning: 1 Sedge Warbler (Lagoon 2 - earliest ever at OPS, beating 10/4/2016), 1 House Sparrow, 3 Wigeon, 10 Teal, 32 Mallard, 196 Curlew, 15 Redshank, 25 Dunlin, 2 Grey Plover, 2 Little Egret, 7 Tufted Duck, 2 Peregrine, 3 Great Spotted Woodpecker (one still hammering away on metal light pole) and 2 Lapwing.
7/4/17 – A female Teal with a light green nasal saddle, possibly 'L?' at Shepperdine. (Spent an hour trying to read it.) Walking back from Shepperdine towards Lagoon 1, among the Blackcap and Chiffchaff song from the hedge on NE side of Lagoon 1, was an odd 'dink' call that I did not recognise. I scanned the hedge and went to investigate, and after a few minutes searching saw a dark red male Crossbill perched at the top of a pine tree making the calls ! I was only 30 yards from it and it increased the calls, 'dink, dink-dink' and unfortunately flew, and 3 green females joined it. They flew NE along the sea-wall, still calling. First time they have been seen on the deck at OPS. AM counted 58 Shelduck. BL reported a Red Kite at Oldbury-on-Severn at 2.15pm.
The female Teal with nasal saddle.
6/4/17 – A female Black Redstart around a white building that has had the roof removed in the waterworks and a Swallow heading north out over the estuary. A Great Spotted Woodpecker was drumming repeatedly for an hour on the metal cover of the floodlight by the entrance !
The Black Redstart and Great Spotted Woodpecker.
5/4/17 – Mrs T reported a Bar-tailed Godwit upriver in afternoon. A Grey Plover still at Shepperdine and 4 Speckled Wood butterflies today.
4/4/17 – Failed to find any new migrants this morning, except may be an increase in Blackcap to 10. Now 7 Tufted Duck on the lake (4 fem.), 5 Willow Warbler still. And a fantastic sighting of 2 Roe Deer, which were along the shore (!) by Lagoon 1 and wandered towards me until just 50 yards away. When they saw me one of them walked down onto the mud of the shore before returning, and then they spooked and easily jumped the 3 ft fence into Lagoon 1.
Roe Deer on the shore.
2/4/17 – 3 pairs of Tufted Duck on the lake and an Orange-tip butterfly.
1/4/17 – A Sandwich Tern went downriver at 9.30am (short video here), a Wheatear at the yacht club and 5 Willow Warbler singing. Also, a Grey Plover on the shore by the jetty (unusually), a Mistle Thrush in the orchard and 4 Jay flew over Lagoon 2. The Peregrine pair were displaying over the towers, with the male diving at the female and causing her to flip over and show talons.
Grey Plover on shore and the Sandwich Tern downriver.
31/3/17 – A Greylag on the shore at Shepperdine this afternoon and a Water Rail seen on Lagoon 3. The female Peregrine was stood on the edge of the nest-ledge, with male nearby - if they were nesting, she would be sat on eggs by now. AM reported: a nice male Redstart in the Orchard (earliest OPS record by one day, beating 1/4/1999), 5 Blackcap, 27 Chiffchaff, 1 Cetti's Warbler (singing by lake), c50 Turnstone, 2 Wigeon and 5 Tufted Duck (3 male). That is 105 species at OPS for all-comers - a record for the end of March !
Greylag at Shepperdine and Wood Anemones.
30/3/17 – A loose flock of 6 languid Sandwich Tern went downriver into wind (2 days later than one doing same last year), and a faster flock of 7 Common Tern in a line did the same, all at about 7.55am. Also: 2 Willow Warbler singing (Lagoon 2 and track to Lagoon 3), a Swallow and 3 Blackcap. The Mute Swan pair are back on the lake. The Canada Goose is sitting tight (and will do for a month), but the Raven and Carrion Crow both seem to have abandoned. JS reported c90 Redshank and 1 Dunlin at Pillhead Gout. That is 100 species at OPS this year for me, and 104 for all-comers.
28/3/17 – AM reported, after fog cleared: c45 Sand Martin, 5 Blackcap, 39 Chiffchaff, 1 Cetti's Warbler and 1 Water Rail. Also, Mrs T reported 2 Mute Swan and 12 Swallow.
27/3/17 – 100 Sand Martin E/NE into wind in an hour this afternoon. And a Blackcap singing by the entrance.
Blackthorn in full flower.
26/3/17 – MP reported a Blackcap singing and the Peregrine pair displaying.
25/3/17 – A glorious sunrise this morning, but 0 deg C. Continuous movement of Meadow Pipit into NE wind. Also 80 Black-headed Gull in 3 flocks and 20 Snipe on Lagoon 3. In a timed hour migration watch 8-9am (by which time the earlier movement had slowed considerably), to NE: 63 Meadow Pipit, 14 Linnet, 14 Woodpigeon, 5 Goldfinch, 2 Greenfinch, 1 Siskin, 1 Chaffinch and a female House Sparrow (!) which came down in a hedge. AM reported a Coal Tit and Brimstone butterfly.
24/3/17 – A Grey Plover still at yacht club, 16 Oystercatcher, 2 Comma and 2 Tortoiseshell butterflies.
23/3/17 – ML/CL reported the first Blackcap of the year, singing. The Canada Goose pair have built a nest in the last 2 days, with the female sitting now. And 2 Lapwing in the flooded field to SW of Lagoon 3, and 11 Chiffchaff around.
A few Cowslips out this week.
18/3/17 – Avonbirds reported: 35 Wigeon, 9 Teal, 9 Oystercatcher and 55 Turnstone at Shepperdine.
17/3/17 – AM reported: 3 Peregrine - male displaying to female on nest shelf, when another female came in to look and male didn't know which one to display to ! Female on shelf ignored her and second female disappeared. Male continued to display. A couple of hours later a female spent sometime drinking and bathing in pools in fields SW of Lagoon 3. Also 43 occupied Rook nests in small copse just before entrance to OPS.
16/3/17 – A Carrion Crow on a nest this morning, and yesterday, a Lesser Redpoll singing its buzzing song from the top of a Pussy Willow by the lake. Also yesterday, 2 Tortoiseshell and 1 Comma butterfly.
15/3/17 – PK reported: 6+ Chiffchaff singing, c90 Meadow Pipit (40 x lagoon 1), Peregrine pair showing very well around towers and brief 'symbolic food-pass' display ! Very few waders - 43 Curlew and 8 Oystercatcher.
13/3/17 – AM reported: 2 Great Crested Grebe floating upriver on incoming tide (the first since 2014, and before that 2008), 1 Wheatear, 4 Chiffchaff, 109 Wigeon, 28 Teal, 165 Curlew, 55 Turnstone, 14 Shelduck, 54 Redshank, 5 Tufted Duck, 2 Water Rail, 79 Snipe and a Jack Snipe. Also a Bank Vole almost ran between feet and a Peacock butterfly.
11/3/17 – 7+ Chiffchaff landed around the site overnight. 2 Greylag Goose flew downriver at HT and a Jack Snipe flushed from saltmarsh. MB reported a Sand Martin over Lagoon 3 (earliest ever at OPS, beating 15/3/2008), and 4 Water Rail (3 showing well and keeping 'Fil' company and 1 heard on Lagoon 2). And another probable Sand Martin seen distantly by AI over Lagoon 2.
10/3/17 – A Water Rail has been showing well all week on the flooded Lagoon 3.
9/3/17 – A Little Grebe coming into breeding plumage on the lake. Not many over-wintering waders left at yacht club at HT: c100 Curlew, 11 Dunlin, 2 Redshank and 1 Grey Plover.
8/3/17 – A male Wheatear at the yacht club is the earliest ever at OPS (beating 9th March 1997), and c300 Pied Wagtail still in the roost on buildings by the jetty.
Wheatear at yacht club.
7/3/17 – A Water Rail showed well on the flooded part of Lagoon 3 (by 'Fil' the plastic flamingo). And a female House Sparrow at the yacht club. AM counted 14 Stonechat this morning ! (6 x lagoon 1, 1 x lagoon 2, 4 x Yacht Club and 3 on shore towards yacht club.) The site record has increased over the years, as the lagoons have matured. Up to 2004 the historical record was only 5, then 7 in 2005, 8 in 2007 (and also 8 in 2008). Then the numbers reduced for the next 5 years with only 1 or 2 in 2010-2012 (may be as Lagoon 2 over-matured, but Lagoon 3 was still unvegitated.) 8 was hit again in 2014, then 9 in 2016.
5/3/17 - Rainbow over the Shepperdine bay.
4/3/17 – A male Yellowhammer was on the hedge along the road to the yacht club, then flew to farms inland. And 10 Stonechat around the site (site record ! 2 pairs x Lag 3, 1f x jetty, 1m x waterworks/Lag 2, pair x Shepperdine, pair at yacht club). A sunny Spring-like morning, but I couldn't find any summer migrants !
2/3/17 – A nice 1st-winter Kittiwake slowly moving downriver off Shepperdine at 8am in high (& cold!) W wind.
1/3/17 – 8 Stonechat today (4 x Lagoon 1, 4 by jetty) and yesterday, a singing Cetti's Warbler on Lagoon 3.
25/2/17 – I was hoping the male Hen Harrier had roosted, and spent the night deciding the most likely place - saltmarsh/Lagoon 2/Lagoon 3. From where it was last seen, I guessed Lagoon 2. So I was there before sunrise and then looked at Shepperdine. Nothing - Damn! Walking along the shore to Lagoon 3, by the Waterworks, the bird circled up highish beyond the jetty and started flying along the shore towards me at pace (in a brisk SW wind). I reached for the camera, but too slow, and it flew virtually over my head at 100m height. Then across Lagoon 2 and out of sight. I went to Shepperdine as fast as I could and it was quartering the saltmarsh at the far end of the bay (where I got a brief 'scope view). Then went upriver. I walked up past the Windbound (now just a parking lot !) as far as the boat radar station, but no sign. This is the 7th record of Hen Harrier for OPS, the last was in Apr 2012. It is the 3rd male (last Mar 2012). (Last time I saw a male was on Outer Hebrides, when one chased a SE Owl for food - photos here.)
24/2/17 – A Raven sat on a nest near OPS - nest first spotted in first week of February. The adult male Black Redstart was on the roof of the SW side of the towers, briefly. And 7 Stonechat on Lagoon 1 ! But PK had the best spot by far - a male Hen Harrier at about 4.30pm - "I was standing on the flood bank at the NE corner of lagoon 1 when it took off from the grass by the small patch of reeds (at the far end of the bay at Shepperdine). It came all the way along the river side of the flood bank to within about 50 yards of me before flicking over the bank and disappearing round the back of lagoon 1 - absolutely stunning and completely unmistakable!!" Also a Gadwall on the Tidal Res. and 2 Jack Snipe at Shepperdine.
And a touch of Spring, with this Blackthorn blossom.
23/2/17 – No sea-birds blown up the estuary by storm Doris in 2 hours this afternoon.
18/2/17 – A drake Gadwall on the Tidal Res., and a Lesser Redpoll over, calling. (60 species this morning which is equal best so far this year, with two other dates on same number.) MP/AM reported 2 Grey Wagtail at the yacht club. (And the Dunlin 'M1X', JS confirmed, was from the Vistula Delta, north Poland - same as '1YE' I had in September 2016.)
17/2/17 – The adult male Black Redstart still on top of the SW side of towers and 300+ Pied Wagtail gathering on roofs to roost. Only one Mute Swan on the lake calling for other (not as quiet as name suggests). PK reported: 2600 Dunlin (50@Shepperdine, 850 on way to yacht club, 1000 SW of yacht club and c700 on mudbanks.), 330 Lapwing, 150 Curlew, 27 Turnstone (Shepperdine), 20 Snipe, 3 Ringed Plover, 20 Shelduck, 450 Wigeon, 120 Teal, 300 Redwing, a Cetti's Warbler and 6 Stonechat (2m & 1f Shepperdine and same by jetty). SE/MH reported 2 Peregrine flying across from far side of river and one landing on the towers. JS reported 2 Grey Plover and a Polish ringed Dunlin ('M1X'). (Wow ! Unprecedented numbers of birders visiting !)
16/2/17 – A Ruff flying around with the Lapwing flock at the yacht club, and then towards Littleton. The Mute Swan pair are back on the lake, and 5 Stonechat still (2xLagoon1, 1xLagoon2, 2xYacht club).
14/2/17 – 2 Golden Plover with c300 Lapwing at yacht club at HT, then flew upriver. And a Mistle Thrush in the newly cut hedge there.
The Golden Plover above the Lapwing flock.
13/2/17 – MP, PD and 29 Thornbury U3A birders reported a Red Kite moving upriver at 10.40am. 35 species seen. MP reported the male Black Redstart still, by the waterworks. At lunchtime, Lagoon 1 had a pair of Stonechat and 20+ Meadow Pipit.
12/2/17 – AM reported: 254 Curlew, 745 Lapwing, 2000 Dunlin, 47 Redshank, 16 Oystercatcher, 31 Turnstone, 53 Snipe, 1 Jack Snipe, 166 Wigeon, 87 Teal, 24 Mallard.
11/2/17 – Out walking before dawn this morning, in the snow/sleet - didn't help me find much though ! A Golden Plover was heard (only) over the yacht club, and 350-400 Lapwing there. And a male Stonechat on the shore by Lagoon 3. But the best find was the remains of an Otter meal by the lake, i.e. a load of fish scales, with a fresh, sweet smelling, spraint !
10/2/17 – 4 Tufted Duck (3 male) on the lake now.
9/2/17 – A Mediterranean Gull was in the evening roost on the Tidal Res., and 3 Gadwall (2m+1f) on the lake.
Med Gull with quite an advanced black hood.
8/2/17 – 2 Coot back on the lake with the 3 Tufted Duck.
7/2/17 – An adult male Black Redstart was still on top of the towers, fly-catching at south end in glorious morning sun. (It may have been here since 20th Nov 2016.) And 6 Pintail at Shepperdine (4m+2f). AM also reported: 2600 Dunlin, 495 Lapwing, 58 Snipe (inc. 27 at Shepperdine), 12 Oystercatcher, 295 Wigeon and 46 Teal. Plus, a Peacock butterfly - newly hatched and flying on Lagoon 3 !
Some of the male Pintails at Shepperdine.
6/2/17 – 3 Tufted Duck (2m+1f) back on the lake.
4/2/17 – A nice crisp (-1 deg C) and sunny morning. In the run-up to High Tide, a Golden Plover was with the Lapwing flock on the shore off Lagoon 3, before flying off downriver. At the yacht club: 4 Shoveler (3 male), 6 Pintail (3m,3f) and an adult winter Little Gull drifted upriver with a flock of c30 Black-headed Gull. Also, 8 Snipe, 3 Ringed Plover and 3 Water Rail heard on Lagoon 3 (where there is some standing water). AM reported from Shepperdine: 235 Wigeon, 170 Teal, 180 Lapwing, 46 Turnstone and 9 Oystercatcher.
This Little Gull was asleep as it drifted upriver past the yacht club and all the way to the Tidal Res..
The Golden Plover with Lapwing.
2/2/17 – A Short-eared Owl was at the saltmarsh by the yacht club this morning, and went to roost nearby. Also 2 Grey Plover and c2,500 Dunlin at HT. (Highest count at OPS is 2,700, in 2001.)
. . . it was raining, ok !
1/2/17 – 29 Skylark in a field to SW of Lagoon 3 this evening and 2 Little Egret at yacht club. JS reported good numbers of waders at HT from Pillhead gout (& Littleton Wharth): 1,500 Lapwing, 2,000 Dunlin, 20 Redshank, 15 Knot, 9 Turnstone, 6 Snipe, 3 Ringed Plover, 2 Grey Plover, a Black-tailed Godwit, a male Ruff and about 100 Curlew (and another 100 in fields between the yacht club and lagoon 3).
31/1/17 – A Black-tailed Godwit in the HT roost at the yacht club this morning. Also 4 Stonechat and 2 Rock Pipit there.
The Snowdrops are out - only 2 months of winter left !
30/1/17 – c150 Redwing in the paddock to south of Lagoon 2 this afternoon. AM reported: 145 Teal, 20 Wigeon, 80 Lapwing, 58 Curlew, 5 Redshank and 9 Bullfinch.
28/1/17 – Dan@twit1144 reported the Peregrine pair.
27/1/17 – An excellent hour for birds of prey this afternoon, in still air and overcast skies. A Red Kite was inland of Lagoon 2, slowly heading low SW at 2.35pm and then at 3.30pm a female Marsh Harrier headed upriver along the shore, and quartered Lagoon 2, before seeming to go down in the reedbed at 3.40pm.
25/1/17 – The 2 adult male Black Redstart were along the shore by the waterworks this afternoon, with a pair of Stonechat.
21/1/17 – DP reported the Peregrine pair on the towers at midday. Driving through frozen fog at dawn, the signs were not good, but amazingly it was completely clear at OPS. (-4 degrees C though.) And there were some interesting birds about: the adult male Black Redstart was back on the towers, having been invisible since 2nd Jan.. The orchard is now home to c250 noisy Fieldfare eating apples. There were 2 Grey Wagtail on the sea-wall, and 4 Stonechat about. Also a Grey Plover on the shore (and a probable adult Yellow-legged Gull briefly). Lastly, an impressive c40 Reed Bunting were on Lagoon 3, eating seeds from the top of reed stems, including c20 together.
17/1/17 – A very grey morning, but a pair of Stonechat at the yacht club.
Male Stonechat and Robin.
14/1/17 – The HT roost at the yacht club was pretty much the same as all winter: 1 Grey Plover, 2 Ringed Plover, 15 Oystercatcher, c20 Redshank, c200 Curlew, c1000 Dunlin, 300+ Lapwing, 7 Snipe and 2 Rock Pipit.
There are 100+ Fieldfare eating the scrumpy apples in the Orchard and c150 Redwing in the fields.
CL found this Fox in the Orchard.
13/1/17 – Lagoon 3: 1 Jack Snipe, 35 Snipe and 6 Skylark.
10/1/17 – AM's Low Tide Count: 120 Curlew, 800 Dunlin, 330 Lapwing, 14 Snipe, 54 Teal, 113 Wigeon, 110 Fieldfare.
8/1/17 – AM reported: 1 Jack Snipe, 15 Snipe, 1 Tufted Duck (drake back on lake), pair of Mute Swan, 63 Blackbird, 65 Fieldfare (in orchard) and a Stonechat.
7/1/17 – In the fog this morning, a Grey Plover called from the Tidal Res. shore. And 2 Mute Swan reported by a dog-walker yesterday, checking out the lake briefly.
6 Fallow Deer seen in a field inland of OPS.
6/1/17 – 3 Water Rail seen this morning: 1 on ice at edge of reeds on lake and 2 ran across the path around Lagoon 2. (Also 3 flushed by a dog from Lagoon 2 reeds 'a couple of days ago'.).
5/1/17 – c100 Fieldfare late afternoon (inc. c75 in orchard). Also the first Cetti's Warbler of the year heard on Lagoon 3 and a Little Egret along the main rhine. And a Treecreeper seen on 3rd with tit flock.
4/1/17 – Mrs T reported: 6 Stonechat and c800 Dunlin.
3/1/17 – No American Wigeon at the OPS end of Littleton Wharth this morning, but a Grey Plover, 2 Ringed Plover, c350 Lapwing and 500+ Dunlin at Pillhead Gout.
2/1/17 – Ben Ofield found this American Wigeon at Littleton Wharth this morning, flying up and down the estuary.(Photo by Ben - Thanks !) (And apparently it did fly into OPS patch air-space, i.e. viewable from yacht club.)
The adult male Black Redstart is still following the sun around the towers. And 4 Stonechat still. A Water Rail was flushed from Lagoon 3.
Black Redstart fly-catching. And yachts at start of race off salt-marsh at yacht club.
1/1/17 – A juvenile Marsh Harrier quartered the reedbed on Lagoon 2 a couple of times before disappearing. (Moulting wing feathers, so rather tatty looking.)
(since Jan 2004)