Cleeve Hill field meeting report

by Alan Waterman

Weather is always an important factor and, in the lead up to this meeting it had not been good. We met in the Golf Club Carpark and even there the views are quite spectacular but also give you a good indication of the weather to come. It was quite cloudy and was cold and very windy. Thus, I put on two
extra layers, one to keep warm and one to keep dry.

Giles Alder was the leader he is the warden working for Cleeve Common Trust providing conservation advice, and working with volunteers on conservation and wildlife monitoring projects. He welcomed the small group who had braved the conditions and after negotiating the Car park ticket machine we eventually set off. We had already spotted two Swallows and a Kestrel from the car park.

The first 10 minutes was up and exposed, but Giles had said it would lead us to a more sheltered area, he was right and thank goodness as it was quite bitter to start with. Giles pointed out the rare Purple Milk Vetch which likes the short cropped grass, in April it was not in flower, a bit latter we did see numerous Early Purple Orchids and they were in flower. There were good views of Sky Larks and Meadow Pipits in this area. We also had a look for Adders which could have been out as there was some sunshine and in the sheltered areas where we had headed for it was possible.

Largely it was a bird watching meeting and it had been timed to give us a chance at Ring Ouzels, Giles of course knew the best areas. He said someone had posted a shot with 5 birds all together on FB recently, It was pointed out that with Photoshop anything can be arranged now a days. We saw a good range of
birds, and many were in full song. Lots of Willow Warblers and some Chiffchaffs, also Blackcap, Red Kites and a Buzzard, a particularly nice Goldfinch with a beak full of white sheep’s wool. And then a little distant but not too far off was what we were all hoping for the Ring Ouzel. This was a female so only just a slight lightening of the plumage on the breast not the more obvious white as shown by the male. This one had a peculiar white spot on one side of its head. Those of us with cameras did snap away but the distance was a bit too far, although Giles said it was not as distant as they often are. We followed a route round, and the sun came out more and more and the two layers I had on by that stage seemed a bit excessive. The day warming up had the advantage of bringing out some Adders and we saw three also three slowworms. Along the final stretch we also saw Stone chats.

Many thanks to Giles, an excellent guide and he is also leading another meeting for us on Monday 17th June at Tewkesbury Nature Reserve.

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