HOT air balloons were spotted in the skies over Stroud this morning.

Residents reported seeing a group of around 16 balloons as they headed from Frampton on Severn, to Stonehouse, Stroud and beyond.

Tracey Kerry took this photo as the balloons passed overhead in Kingscourt, near Rodborough at around 7am this morning.

Many thanks to Tracey, and to Paul Day and Steve Daniels of Gloucestershire Camera Club.

Thomas Lee of the Bluebell hot air balloon team filled us in on what was going on.

He said: "It's competition flying as part of the British National Hot Air Balloon championships, which are being held at Aston Down.

"They took off from Frampton on Severn this morning and hopefully we will be able to catch sight of them again tonight."

Thomas isn't taking part this year, but has done a fair amount of competition flying over the years, so he knows what it involves.

He explained: "The pilots often have several tasks to complete during a flight, or in the case of this morning, six. 

"These can be anything from flying to targets on the ground, to flying the least distance in a given period, to flying to GPS marks in the sky as declared on instruments in the basket.

"This often means lots of ascending and descending in order to find the winds at different altitudes to take them towards their targets.

"It's busy, but highly skilled flying."