The BTO project to colour-ring Curlews on the Severn Estuary below Lydney (66 ringed in September 2010, another 29 ringed in September 2011) has generated considerable interest (see previous posting about a colour-ringed bird seen at Coombe Hill).
Over the last week or so, there have been several new developments: John Sanders has continued his observations of high tide roosts on the estuary. It’s very difficult to approach the birds close enough to read their colour-rings; they are very nervous and fly off if they notice the slightest movement; so John has developed a movable hide, which he places just below the lip of the warth (see picture below), and sits and waits for a long time until the birds are pushed into range by the tide. On 28 March there were still as many as 500 Curlews between Aylburton and Wibdon Warth; clearly they have not all yet left for continental breeding grounds.
In addition to the many readings made at Aylburton Warth by John, Martin McGill has found one of the colour-ringed birds at high tide at Slimbridge.
One of the colour-ringed birds (Blue Red Red) was seen, as previously reported, at Coombe Hill from 20 to 26 March; it has appeared by day and also in the evening, when surprisingly large numbers of Curlews congregate round the scrape to roost, 36 on 26 March, 35 on 31 March; they come in at the very last minute when it is nearly dark, so the ring may have been overlooked at times. Where do all these Coombe Hill Curlews come from, and what are they doing? Are they migrants on their way to those continental breeding places? Or are they local breeders? Ian Ralphs saw Blue Red Red on 1 April at Ashleworth Ham, with a second bird, behaving like a pair preparing to breed.
Any new observations of colour-ringed Curlews, from anywhere in the county, would be very welcome.