Latest on water levels and birds in the Severn Hams

The Severn level has been dropping sharply for the last few days, but not enough yet to allow all its tributaries to discharge their waters into the main river; so while water has dropped on some riverside meadows, such as Upham Meadow along the Avon near Twyning, or the Severn Ham and Breakingstone Meadow at Tewkesbury, paradoxically, water levels on meadows at Coombe Hill and Ashleworth Ham continue to rise.

At Coombe Hill the top of the stage boards on the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust reserve (at 1.00 metre) are now under water; the footpath to the circular walk is under water and impassable for the moment; there is just a little water on the lowest part of the boardwalk leading to the Grundon Hide, but the hide is easily accessible with wellingtons still. Shallow floodwater everywhere, as is normal at this time of year, and a fantastic wildfowl spectacle of sound and colour.

Numbers of ducks and geese are even higher: on Tuesday and Wednesday there were about 550 Canada, 250 Greylag and one Barnacle Geese, plus the usual crosses: 1 White Farmyard Goose, 1 Swan Goose, at least four of the family of Canada x Greylag hybrids; one of the Greylag Geese had an orange neck collar, inscribed PXS, which identified it as a bird marked in Windermere during the moulting season in June 2015. There were probably some Canada and Greylag Geese with leg rings, but they mainly had their feet in the water so couldn’t be seen.

Even more Wigeon, at least 1,780; at least 900 Teal, 10 Shoveler, 56 Pintail, all the latter in lovely plumage and doing noisy courtship flights.  A Water Rail squealing from Broadmere; nearly 350 Lapwings, a Ruff, a Dunlin and a Black-tailed Godwit; slightly surprisingly perhaps, no sign of Snipe at dusk. Also birds feeding on invertebrates pushed to the surface by floodwater: about 310 mixed crows, mainly Jackdaws with some Rooks and Carrion Crows, and a couple of hundred Starlings.

No Canada Geese left at Upham Meadow, but two Buzzards, a Kestrel, about five Skylarks and at least two, maybe three, Stonechats (one definite pair).

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