Coombe Hill, by Mike Smart

A report from Mike Smart:

04/11/21

Although the Severn level at Haw Bridge has peaked, the level has not dropped enough for water to flow out from riverside meadows. So the levels on the meadows, and especially Coombe Hill, continue to rise; this morning the southern meadows were still quite deeply flooded and the north scrape was on about 1.05 (up at least 10cms since Monday), and there is now a lake in front of the Grundon Hide, and the circular walk is not passable. Continuing rise in duck numbers.

At least 3 Mute Swans, 160+ Greylag Geese (probably others grazing nearby), 5 Canada Geese, 445 Wigeon (considerable increase), only about 10 Teal (maybe more on the Long Pool or they may have moved out to shallower sites nearby), 4 Gadwall, 15 Mallard, 3 Pintail (first of the winter for me, though five were seen on Tuesday), 52 Shoveler (good number for this early in the season), 1 Tufted Duck, 2 Grey Herons, 2 Lapwings, 2 Dunlin, 1 or 2 Skylarks going over, flock of 20 Pied Wagtails (feeding round edge of floodwater), 1 Stonechat, about 80 Redwings in the hedges, 1 Cetti’s Warbler (song), 1 Blackcap (subsong), 1 Chiffchaff (calling), at least 1 Reed Bunting.

11/11/21

Now that the Severn level is dropping. I thought I ought to have another look for the missing Teal.

At Coombe Hill, water levels have dropped quite a bit: there is still extensive water in front of the Grundon Hide (level 0.95) but the circular walk round the back of the Long and Short Pools is now just about passable, with wellingtons. Water levels are high on the Long Pool and Short Pool – Long Pool didn’t seem to have any Teal on it, some hiding in the willows on the Short Pool.

5 Mute Swans (one very aggressive resident pair), 31+ Greylags, 20 Canadas (geese very mobile, flying in and out), NIL Shelducks, 392 Wigeon, 140 Teal, 20 Mallard, only 23 Shoveler, NIL Pintail, 1 Lapwing, 4 Snipe, big numbers of Redwings (150+), smaller numbers of Fieldfares (40+) along the canal bank, 1 Cetti’s Warbler singing well.

The Teal numbers were a bit higher than on Saturday when the circular walk was not accessible, but not very high, so I had a quick look at Hill Court in Worcs (from the northern Hill Court Farm end) thinking that the Teal might have taken refuge there. But water levels were not very high (only the scrape proper held water), and there were no very large numbers of Teal: 55 Teal, 1 Mallard, 20 Greylags, 45 Canadas.

So it looks as though there hasn’t yet been a very large influx of Teal.

13/11/21

Coombe Hill: Water levels continuing to drop on reserve, though area of floodwater in front of Grundon Hide still quite extensive: north scrape on 0.89. Water levels on Long and Short Pools still high.

5 Mute Swans, one male as usual very aggressive.  Most geese had probably already left: only 40 Greylags, 20 Canadas left. Duck numbers a bit lower than in recent visits: only 133 Wigeon, not more than 15 Teal, 12 Shoveler, 2 Gadwall, but nice group of 11 Pintail, in fresh plumage (7 males, 4 females). Two Grey Herons, 2 Cormorants drying their wings on the island, 1 Buzzard and a lone Lapwing, 1 Snipe. At least two Water Rails squealing. Two or three Skylarks going over (no song) one or two Meadow Pipits. Good numbers of winter thrushes in the hedges along the canal bank – at least 50 Fieldfares and probably 150 Redwings. One Cetti’s Warbler singing.

Went on to Mitton, along the Avon just north of Tewkesbury (still just in Glos), to see if there were any ducks there: on the field with open water by the sailing club, a nice gathering of 125 Wigeon, 40 Mallard, 5 Shoveler and 10 Teal, with 125 Greylags. Also large numbers of Fieldfares (50) and Redwings (100).

On Bredon’s Hardwick Pits and Meadows (adjacent to Mitton, just in Worcestershire); on the pits 35 Tufted Ducks, 1 Little Grebe; on the meadows: 5 unringed Mute Swans, 220 Canada Geese, 60 Greylags.

16/11/21

Coombe Hill: I went at first light yesterday, in an attempt to see the ducks and geese before they dispersed, and to get a better count. Of course it was foggy, so I could hear the geese leaving, but couldn’t see or count them.

Water levels continuing to drop: north scrape on 0.84, but water still extensive in front of Grundon Hide. 13 Mute Swans roosting, most flew out early on, leaving the aggressive resident pair. Many hundreds of Greylags flew out to the northeast while it was still foggy. 35+ Canada Geese. Counts of ducks: 111 Wigeon, 76 Teal (don’t think there are many on the Short Pool); 200 Mallard (surprisingly large number); only 8 Shoveler and two Pintail; 1 Sparrowhawk; at least one Water Rail squealing from Broadmere; 4 Lapwings; 3 Snipe asleep, huddled together on the island; no Redwings in the hedges at first light, about 20 later; 1 female Stonechat; 1 Cetti’s Warbler singing.



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