May 2013 blog and sightings

The month of May has been one of trying to recover from injuries and full of hospital visits. I have learned a lot from my garden wildlife and taken comfort from how it seems to be thriving. My blog focusses on the days when I could forget about problems to a certain extent and connect with wildlife. Without great friends and family this period would have been much more difficult.


Early Purple Orchid (3) Selsley Common_edited-1

27 May 2013 Another car birding trip out with my mega helpful mate Graham Clarkson. This time on the Cotswolds where we enjoyed a drink and Morris Dancing at Sherborne Tea rooms, a flock of 35+ and 9 Corn Buntings (min counts), Yellowhammers, Red Kites, Hobby and more.


Brown Hare, Windrush Airfield, MJMcGill (3)_edited-1


Corn Bunting, Windrush Airfield, MJMcGill, 27 May 13 (8)_edited-1 Corn Bunting, Windrush Airfield, MJMcGill, 27 May 13 (10)_edited-1


Red Kite, Cotswolds 27 May 13 (4)_edited-1

26 May 2013 Another butterfly hunt within easy reach of the car with my family, this time Rudge Hill, Edge. At least five Duke of Burgundy, 10+ Small Heath, Green veined White, 10 Dingy Skipper and more all noted.


Duke of Burgundy, Rudge Hill, 26 May 13, MJMcGill copy


Small Heath, Rudge Hill, MJMcGill copy

In the evening Graham Clarkson turned up and offered a trip out. We plumped for a look for Turtle Dove and headed for Ruardean Hill in the Forest fo Dean. We have both seen a steep decline in this species in his home county of Lancashire and in Gloucestershire. At one time I could see them very near where I live and also at work easily as an annual breeder. It is sobering that we have to almost twitch a bird locally to hear it’s soporific sound of summer. How long will we be able to do this? The link below is well worth a look and sharing.

TURTLE DOVE singing out…any repsonse or is it the last.

Turtle Dove, Ruardean Hill, 26 May 13, MJMcGill (14) copy

BROAD BODIED CHASER my first of 2013

Broad bodied Chaser, Brierley, MJMcGill (3)_edited-1

We also noted three calling Wood Warbler in the Cannop Valley and of note..the scent from the amazing display of Bluebells at dusk was incredible.

25 May 2013 A visit to Breakheart Quarry, Dursley to look for butterflies.


Dingy Skipper, Breakheart Quarry, Dursley, MJMcGill copy Grizzled Skipper, Breakheart Quarry, Dursley, MJMcGill (3) copy

A Cotswold view

View fom Breakheart Quarry copy

WILLOW WARBLER foraging in Ash.

Willow Warbler, Breakheart Quarry, Dursley, MJMcGill (5) copy

23 May 2013 A windy day with emerging insects was a huge draw for feeding birds over Frampton Townfield Lake.




flycatching gull, terns, swifts and hirundines

22 May 2013 Another kind offer if a lift to somewhere where I could sit and enjoy the wildlife. This time it was Uncle John and an afternoon in the Forest of Dean, we headed for the Cannop Valley and tried our luck with the Turtle Dove at Ruardean Hill. It was far too windy at this site.

GREY WAGTAIL female and a fledged juvenile.
At least two juveniles were being fed by the parents and were joined by a Pied Wagtail. Nearby Siskins were much in evidence.

Grey Wagtail, female, Cannop Ponds, fledging family (3) Grey Wagtail, juvenile, Cannop Ponds, MJMcGill

A snatched shot as it is rather hard to get pictures in my state. Digi scoping is out the question as I cannot carry the scope and tripod easily. There were two of these smashing birds singing at each other.

Wood Warbler, Cannop Valley

18 May 1013 The Garden of England- Kent, Margate Cemetery to be precise, produced this Dusky Thrush.

Dusky Thrush, female, Margate Cemetery Dusky Thrush, female, Margate Cemetery 01

17 May 2013 Went out car birding with JJS and GB. At Leighterton we watched a pair of Yellow Wagtail feeding among the cattle. The female was very grey headed and grey backed. We also noted a Wheatear, Red Kite and a few Yellowhammers.

YELLOW WAGTAIL a grey headed and grey backed bird, Leighterton, Glos, 17 May 2013.

Yellow Wagtail, grey headed female, Leighterton, 17 May 13, MJMcGill Yellow Wagtail, grey headed female, Leighterton, 17 May 2013 MJMcGill Yellow Wagtail, grey headed female, Leighterton, 17 May 13 MJMcGill

Red Kite over…

Red Kite, nr Ozleworth

12 May 2013 A female Great spotted Woodpecker on the peanuts was the first for a while. This species usually appears when all is quiet.

10 May 2013 The strengthening gales, a chance of being dropped off to watch the tide from the canal and the need to focus on other things rather than injuries made me pleased to get going. I later heard from other birders that a Pomarine and Arctic Skua passed through as I was bumbling along to get in position. I did catch a Bonxie passing through at 0910, it circled inland over Saul and dissapeared.



Bonxie 2 10 May 2013 Bonxie 10 May 13

I also noted a really good candidate for a male Red-breasted Merganser but it turned out be a small Mallard x domestic duck type.The green head and wide white neck collar made me zoom up to study it. Other birds noted included two lingering and feeding Arctic Terns, a single and a pair of Common Terns which by behaviour seemed to be local breeders. A couple of military helicopters went over very low and flushed 5 Greenshank among the other birds present. The only migrant waders were 5 and 2 Dunlin flying over. Local resident and territorial birds included Lapwing, Redshank and Yellow Wagtail (pair).

Chopper over Splatt Lapwing, Saul, 10 May 13

I met my lift (mother in law) and was dropped at Quedgeley to do a talk for the children if Beech Green School. The topic was the Spoon-billed Sandpiper expedition of 2011. All went well and the children were great, really interested with lots of questions, the best of which was..’If you could choose a bird which best descibes you, what would it be’. What a great question. On the way home at midday I heard the blast of a Nightingale song from the open window of the car. It was singing in a very built up part of the town next to busy dual carriageway and a busy road. I glimpsed it from the bus stop as it broadcast the fine song.

8 May 2013 A morning on the canal towpath with a Lesser Redpoll over N and a good selection of birds including Greenshank. In the evening I was picked up by Nick Goatman and dropped on the canal with Shane Long who carried my scope. Well done chaps. Shane and I shared duties with him picking up a Gannet flying over the river and Yellow Wagtail, I helped out chipping in with Garganey, 4 Greenshank and 20 Whimbrel.

Jackdaws collecting winter coat for nest material

Jackdaws harvesting Cow winter coat for nests, MJMcGill

The Blackbird sneaks in to feed her young. I have had the chance to study these birds of late. The front garden pair have reared a youngster to fledging and I have seen the female collecting grasses for a second nesting attempt. This (back garden) female seems to be doing the feeding, shading young to keep cool and brooding (keeping them warm) all by herself. The male alarm calls at cats etc but I have not seen him near the nest. Maybe the late burst of beech leaf and the possibility of him giving the nest away as he is not camougflaged, maybe this is normal for the female to do everyhting earlier, maybe he has a couple of females to attend to. I have noted three males squaring up on the lawn so maybe I have three pairs. A lot of maybes…

Blackbird nest, garden

7 May 2013 Out on the canal this morning I noted two Ravens, Cuckoo, two male Garganey, 3 Greenshank, 10 Dunlin and a few Yellow Wagtails. Also a Common Tern was over the WWT Slimbridge reserve. I noted a further 7 feeding at Frampton Townfield Lake.



I was delighted to have an evening out to watch a breezy Severn sunset, have a look at the breeding waders and do a bit of birding with Neil Smart. We expected terns as 400+ were off Severnside but none appeared for us, too clear. We logged a Little Stint, 190 Dunlin, 140 Ringed Plover, 12 Sanderling, 5 Whimbrel, 9 Curlew and 6 Oystercather on the estuary. The stint and a small band of waders visited the Top New Piece but were flushed. A Cuckoo flew over.

Severn shelduck

Severn Sunset, Middle Point Shelducks, MJMcGill 8 May 13

Stormy Severn Shelduck.

Stormy Shelduck over Severn, MJMcGill 8 May 2013

6 May 2013 An afternoon sat on Frampton Village green and a flock of 21 Whimbrel flew low over toward the court lake. In the morning some of the local Cranes flew to the West of my house and were calling.

5 May 2013 I was taken to Ozleworth to a National Trust property and pushed around the grounds in the wheelchair by Harriet, we had a picnic looking over the valley.The only birds of note were Peacocks which my children just could not help feeding.

4 May 2013 Graham Clarkson drove down fron Lancashire via a night stop in Hereford to meet up with Neil Smart and Rich Hearn at my house. My friends had rallied to take me out to the Forest of Dean for a day out. They carried my gear, pushed me up hills in the wheelchair and remained very patient all day. We had a smashing morning out with Firecrest, five Tree Pipits, Lesser Redpolls Siskins, Pied Flycatcher, Redstart, Garden Warbler, Willow Warbler and more. I missed out on the Dippers through being too tired so waited in the car.


Garden Warbler


Pied Fly 02 Pied Fly, Nagshead 01

Punture…glad these blokes were able to sort it while I watched on.

Puncture in FOD

Down at the 100 Acre GC and I had 10 Yellow Wagtails and 7 Cranes and a pair of Shelduck were a Whitminster tick.

2 May 2013 Orange Tip, Holly Blue, Small and Large White Butterflies in the garden.

Robin sunning itself

Robin sunning itself, Whitminster garden, 2 May 13, MJMcGill

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