Coombe Hill on Saturday 26 May

The floodwater is retreating, but levels in and around the scrapes are still relatively high for the spring/early summer.  The female Red-necked Phalarope in summer plumage (which has attracted nationwide attention and a large number of visitors to the hides over the last ten days) was nowhere to be seen, and may have moved on to northerly breeding areas.  Plenty more to watch however, notably two passing migrants, a full plumage Black Tern which circled the scrapes for a few minutes before moving on to the northwest (along the Severn), and a Greenshank, which landed for a few minutes before moving on northeast.

Also 25 Mute Swans, 32 Greylags and 16 Canada Geese (all probably non-breeding immatures or birds whose nests have been washed out), 1 Wigeon, 8 Gadwall: all the numerous Tufted Ducks which appeared during the flooding had disappeared, as had most of the Great Crested Grebes.

In addition three Cormorants, a Grey Heron, 4 Little Egrets, 3 Buzzards, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Oystercatcher.  As for Lapwings, there were eight round the scrapes on the GWT reserve, together with three large chicks that had survived the floods (perhaps with help from human well-wishers who moved them to higher ground?); off the reserve there was one Lapwing with eggs on arable, another on eggs on grassland near Southern Meadows – both no doubt replacement clutches after the flooding.  Two Curlews, about 20 Black-headed Gulls (moving through to northeast), 30 Lesser Black-backed Gulls (eating dead fish on the tideline – one of them with a blue colour ring, originally ringed at the Gloucester Landfill Site by the Severn Estuary Gull Group in April 2010 and re-seen in late 2011, first on the French Atlantic coast and then in southern Spain.  Plus two Cuckoos,  one Little Owl (becoming increasingly scarce here), 1 Yellow Wagtail over, 4+ Redstarts singing, only 1 Sedge Warbler singing, 1 Raven (also piscivorous).

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