Coombe Hill today

The Severn has dropped considerably, but flood levels on the riverside meadows are slow to recede, because the outfalls to the river are so narrow.  The Grundon and Long Pool hides on the GWT reserve are still inaccessible (unless you have chest waders), though likely to become accessible with wellingtons only in a day or two.  Excellent views across the floodwater are available from the canal towpath however.

The feature of the last week’s flooding has been an incursion of unusual numbers of species which like deep water, in larger numbers than at any time over the last couple of winters.  Where did they come from at this advanced stage of the breeding season?  And how did they know about the flooding?  Today there were still 9 Great Crested Grebes (two doing the display dance), 2 Little Grebes (doing the whinnying display call), 36 Shelducks (some of them first summer immatures), 65 Tufted Ducks (very lively and active); also a pair of Shoveler and five other males, together with six Gadwall.  The flooding had also attracted fair numbers of gulls, all feeding (no doubt like the other species) on the water surface, apparently on aquatic insects: 100 Black-headed Gulls, perching on posts and behaving as though they were in a colony, perching on fence posts and calling noisily (though most were first year immatures), about 150 Herring Gulls (the vast majority immatures) and 50 Lesser Blackbacks; plus an immature Mediterranean Gull; in addition large numbers of hirundines were feeding low over the flood water – difficult to assess numbers, but there were at least 200 Sand Martins early on, joined by 200 Swallows and 20 House Martins in mid-morning, together with 30 Swifts mid-morning ( several hundred seen later, round midday).

Two Little Egrets, a pair of Oystercatchers in display flight, at least two bubbling Curlews, and ten Lapwings, one female with three large young (almost flying) that had escaped the floodwater somehow; but no sign of Redshanks.  A pair of Coot along the canal with four newly-hatched red-headed young.  Among songbirds at least six singing Redstarts, two Lesser Whitethroats and a Reed Warbler (first of the year at this site?).

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