Sightings – April 2006

Hawling (30 April, contributed by Robert Homan)

9 Wheatears by the Salt Way and 2 singing male Redstarts in the vicinity of the village.

The Strand, Westbury (29 April, contributed by Andy Jayne and Tony Eveleigh)

A first-summer Mediterranean Gull, two Yellow Wagtails and a Grasshopper Warbler in the evening.

Aylburton Warth and Guscar Rocks (28 April, contributed by Mike Smart)

One of the highest spring tides (9.6 metres at 0908), which lapped the edges of the Warth but did not quite come over. About 55 Curlews still present at a high tide roost; another little roost of 8 Ringed Plovers and 15 Dunlin which moved from the shore onto a ploughed field in approved Wash Wader Ringing Group fashion when the tide covered the shore. At least four Oystercatchers, lots of Lapwings and Redshanks, 2 Whimbrel, 2 Common Sandpipers and a Green Sandpiper. A couple of Wheatears, at least five White Wagtails (seems late?) and four Pied Wagtails, a Yellow Wagtail giving what passes for a song from a thistle, several Meadow Pipits singing. Reed Warblers singing in very meagre reed stands in the ditches, and Whitethroats singing everywhere.

Sudmeadow (27 April, contributed by Gordon Avery)

At least 10 Swifts and 4 House Martins feeding overhead in the evening.

Bromsberrow (26 April, contributed by Gordon Avery)

A Swift over Aubrey’s Farm today.

Cheltenham (26 April, contributed by Robert Homan)

3 additional species of butterfly seen in Swindon Lane in the afternoon sunshine – singles of Holly Blue, Orange Tip and Speckled Wood. Shieldbugs also much in evidence, with 7 Green Shieldbugs (Palomena prasina) and the first Dock Bug (Coreus marginatus) on a clump of polygonum.

Sudmeadow (24 April, contributed by Gordon Avery)

A mid-day visit produced a singing Whitethroat and Lesser Whitethroat. There were also 2 Common Sandpipers on the river.

Severn Hams (22/23 April April, contributed by Mike Smart)

At Ashleworth on Saturday, the first Constant Effort Site ringing session of the year: four Sedge Warblers caught, three of them already ringed from Ashleworth last year, including one of the very few successful breeders from last year; probably all males come to stake out territories. Not much song from Sedge Warblers though. At least six or seven Redstarts singing first thing, but none caught. An aberrant voiced Cuckoo with a very gruff song. Several Whitethroats singing early morning, but only one caught. Display from Lapwings and Curlew. A Peregrine. At Coombe Hill on Sunday evening (after the Spoonbill, Black-tailed Godwits and Yellow Wagtails had departed): very worthwhile to make an evening visit as the behaviour of waders is quite different, often much more active, coming to scrapes to roost; five Curlews, several Lapwings, a couple of Redshank, two Little Ringed Plovers. Twenty Greylags, including a Barhead x Greylag cross.

Cheltenham (22 April, contributed by Robert Homan)

A Lesser Whitethroat heard singing for much of the day at Swindon Lane.

Coombe Hill (21 April, contributed by Robert Homan)

Fewer migrants, otherwise as yesterday with the addition of 2 Cuckoos as the west end of the reserve.

Coombe Hill (20 April, contributed by Mike Smart)

A combination of southerly winds, overcast sky and spots of rain, seem to have brought about an influx of migrants:

At least three each of Whitethroats, Sedge Warblers and Redstarts, all singing, at least 100 hirundines, mostly Swallows but some Sand Martins, three Yellow Wagtails right in front of the hide with a single Pied, a Whimbrel heard, plus the usual Lapwing, Redshank and Curlew, 28 non-breeding Mute Swans, 12 Greylags; still incredilby few Reed Buntings and almost no song.

Ashleworth (17 April, contributed by Mike Smart)

Most of the boards have been removed from the sluice at the southern end of the reserve, as per the management plan, so water levels are already dropping and will continue to do so over the next few days.

This morning: A little Grebe still whinnying, one Mute Swan incubating and several other adults hanging round as though they too want to nest; duck numbers way down (5 Wigeon, 15 Teal, 5 Shoveler), a Peregrine killed a pigeon but didn’t stop to collect it, instead it went and sat on the pylons, seven Snipe, three singing Redstarts, first singing Sedge Warbler, one Yellow Wagtail flying over.

Wainlodes: a Redstart singing from an oak tree.

Tidenham Chase (17 April, contributed by Andy Jayne)

In the morning: 1 Cuckoo, 5 Tree Pipits, 3 Stonechat, 2 Siskin, 25 Lesser Redpoll, 12 Crossbill and 2 Yellowhammers.

Cleeve Hill (16 April, contributed by Robert Homan)

A singing Redstart and a male Stonechat at Wontley Farm. 2 male Stonechats in the SE area of the common.

Guscar Rocks and Aylburton Warth (15 April, contributed by Mike Smart)

On the high tide: 60 Shelduck, 5 Teal, 5 Oystercatchers, 20 Ringed Plover, 5 Dunlin (one in summer plumage), 210 Curlew, lots of Lapwing and Redshank

Walmore Common (15 April, contributed by Mike Smart)

1 Little Egret, 2 Shelduck, 12 Teal, 6 Lapwing, 5 Redshank and 12 Snipe

Severn Hams (15 April, contributed by Mike Smart and Les Brown)

A quiet, windless and calm day, which ought to have been really good for arriving migrants, but there was not a vast deal to show for it.

Coombe Hill: 2 Little Grebes whinnying, rather few ducks (12 Wigeon, 15 Teal, a couple of Pintail), 11 Lapwings (they do not appear to have laid yet and are still displaying), 2 Redshank, 2 pairs of Curlews and 1 Wheatear.

Ashleworth: very quiet and as the boards have been moved from the stank, water levels will decrease considerably in the next few days. Very few ducks, one Cuckoo calling and also seen; at least three Redstarts singing or calling.

River Severn (Deerhurst – Haw Bridge) (14 April, contributed by Robert Homan)

A total of 5 drumming Great Spotted Woodpeckers, 2 Great Crested Grebes on the river and a Fieldfare at Deerhurst.

Aylburton Warth (13 April, contributed by Andy Jayne)

In the morning there were two Peregrines, two Oystercatchers, nine Golden Plover, two Bar-tailed Godwits, 150+ Curlew, eight Redshank, one Common Sandpiper, three White Wagtails, two Wheatears and two Ravens.

Ashleworth (13 April, contributed by Mike Smart)

With heavy cloud and cold west wind, the weather was not conducive to bird-song: a Little Grebe whinnying, 9 Shelducks, very few Wigeon left, 25 Teal, 15 Shoveler, a Peregrine on the pylons, 50 Coot, 7 displaying Lapwings, 15 Snipe, a Barn Owl coming from a pollarded willow, two Great Spotted Woodpeckers drumming at one another only fifty metres apart, and, at last, two singing Redstarts

Coombe Hill (12 April, contributed by Robert Homan)

Very few waders in the morning, with just 5 Lapwings and a single Curlew seen. 56 Coot, mainly feeding on pasture next to the scrape and 23 Mute Swans in the meadows on the south side of the canal. Other wildfowl included 1 Wigeon, 2 Shovelers, 4 Canada Geese, 2 Greylags and 8 Shelduck, including the odd hybrid. Blackcap song was an addition to the Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers.

Longlevens, Gloucester (12 April, contributed by Mike Smart)

Two displaying Sparrowhawks, soaring high then swooping to meet, and touching in mid-air.

Severn Hams (11 April, contributed by Mike Smart and Les Brown)

Cold and unpleasant southwest wind, spitting rain, which didn’t encourage birds to migrate or sing. Some Swallow passage with 20 or 30 birds each at Coombe Hill and Ashleworth; odd few Sand and House Martins with them.

Otherwise very quiet; at Coombe Hill, still two Black-tailed Godwits, but the Ruff and Oystercatcher have moved on; the funny hybrid Shelduck was there with eight others. At Ashleworth, one Jack Snipe, 30 Snipe, lot less ducks only 30 Wigeon. Mute Swans nesting at four sites.

Lower Lode/Deerhurst (11 April, contributed by Robert Homan)

In the morning before the onset of rain, Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler heard singing from the Long Plantation. 2 Swallows and 2 Sand Martins over the River Severn. 2 Oystercatchers flew up river.

Cheltenham (11 April, contributed by Robert Homan)

A Siskin briefly on a garden feeder in Swindon Lane in the morning.

Severn Hams (8 April, contributed by Mike Smart and Les Brown)

With the rapid drop in the level of the Severn, water has begun to flow off the riverside marshes at Coombe Hill and Ashleworth, but there is still some floodwater left, and plenty of birds.

At Coombe Hill, the Avocet was heard calling late on Thursday evening, and may have left then, under cover of the vast numbers of passing gulls. It was not found on Friday or Saturday. On Friday evening, there was a Barn Owl hunting at 19h30, and still 14 Black-tailed Godwits, plus at least 13 Curlews coming to roost; some Snipe flying about but no drumming. At least two Little Owls calling after dark.

Today (Saturday) at Coombe Hill, in a cold WNW wind: still two Black-tailed Godwits, one Greenshank, two Ruff, two Oystercatchers, plus tremendous views of displaying Lapwings, which don’t appear to have laid as yet. Few summer migrants, a couple of Swallows and a few Sand Martins, Chiffchaffs and a few Willow Warblers singing.

At Ashleworth today about 30 Snipe and a Jack Snipe, about 15 Lapwings and a couple of bubbling Curlew, two immature Peregrines (male and female); no Redstarts yet.

Cleeve Hill (8 April, contributed by Ian Ralphs)

A single Muntjac in the open gorse scrub on the gently sloping westerly approaches to the Washpool on Cleeve Hill at lunchtime.

Cleeve Hill (7 April, contributed by Robert Homan)

Mid-morning there were 60 Fieldfares in pasture fields near the aerials, a male Stonechat on the SE side of the common and 2 Ring Ouzels in the valley above the Washpool.

Coombe Hill (6 April, contributed by Mike Smart and Andy Jayne )

The wind went round to the northwest this morning, with a less severe frost than on previous days. This seems to have triggered a migratory movement through the Severn Vale, where the water levels at Coombe Hill are just beginning to drop. Ian Ralphs found an Avocet this afternoon, probably a first for the reserve and perhaps one of the birds noted on the estuary a couple of days ago on its way to Worcs. where they have bred for the last couple of years. In addition he noted two Ringed Plovers, two Little Ringed Plovers, four Black-tailed Godwits, two Oystercatchers and a Green Sandpiper. Nearly all of these (except the LRPs) were still present in the evening, together with a Merlin, at least 15 Curlews coming to roost – a huge number given the numbers currently holding territories in the vicinity, a Water Rail calling and large numbers of gulls dropping off for a wash and a drink on the way back to the estuary.

Aylburton Warth/Guscar Rocks (6 April, contributed by Mike Smart)

On the rising tide were: 34 Shelducks, which is a lot for this site; 5 Teal; about 50 Lapwings with at least three incubating; 10 Redshanks with much display; 2 Oystercatchers; 10 southern Golden Plovers in summer plumage, on same field as Lapwings, which chased them off; 90 curlews on the mudflats; at least three Meadow Pipits doing flight display.

Walmore Common (6 April, contributed by Mike Smart)

No less than 7 Little Egrets, 2 Shelduck, about 120 Teal, 10 displaying Redshank, 6 displaying Lawpings, 30 Snipe.

Cheltenham (5 April, contributed by Robert Homan)

A Small Tortoiseshell in Swindon Lane today, together with a Dunnock apparently sun-bathing in the lee of some over-grown currant bushes, lifting its wing to expose the underside to the sun and raising the feathers on its head and neck.

Severn Hams (5 April, contributed by Mike Smart, Les Brown and Colin Butters)

Frosty and cold, though bright and sunny; wind still northeasterly, so flow of migrants seems to have dried up. We need the winds to go southerly. Water levels still high at Coombe Hill and Ashleworth, not dropping yet, though the high tide cycle is now over.

Great Hay Meadow, Twyning: 2 Oystercatchers (probably the ones that nest at Bredon’s Hardwick); at least two pairs of Redshank and probably seven of Curlew, an odd Snipe, a Kingfisher, but very little sign of songbirds.

The Mythe, Tewkesbury: no sign of any breeding waders; one Swallow and about 15 Sand Martins; song from two Blackcaps, five Chiffchaffs and a single Willow Warbler.

Severn Ham, Tewkesbury: one, maybe two, pairs of bubbling Curlews; another 10 Sand Martins over Severn; a couple of Reed Buntings which seem very late taking up territories and beginning to sing this year.

No Corn Buntings anywhere yet. Same negative records as yesterday!

Slimbridge (4 April, contributed by Ian Ralphs)

A single Small Tortoiseshell and a Brimstone seen mid-afternoon.

Severn Hams (4 April, contributed by Mike Smart, Les Brown and Colin Butters)

Although the cycle of high tides is more or less over (today’s high tide was only 6.6 metres at Sharpness which is too low to come over the weir at Maisemore), flood levels in the meadows are still rising: at Coombe Hill, the Grundon hide is only just accessible. At Coombe Hill and at Ashleworth, water levels are at their highest this year (there have been no comparable floods since last December).

Little change in the birds since last weekend, probably because the cold weather and easterly winds have stopped the flow of migrants.

At Coombe Hill and Cobney Meadows: 8 Canada Geese plus one Barnacle Goose and one Greylag; about 100 Wigeon, 80 Teal, 10 Gadwall, 6 Shoveler; still 8 displaying Redshanks and at least seven displaying Lapwings, a couple of displaying Curlews; a few singing Chiffchaffs, Willow Warblers and the first Blackcap (subsong). The Lapwings had really bright red legs (never noticed it before, Redshank hue, which suggests that they are in peak breeding condition, and may have lost eggs with the flood).

At Ashleworth: 5 Shelducks, 220 Wigeon, 8 Pintail, 20 Shoveler, 50 Teal, 16 Lapwings, 2 Curlews, 30 Snipe, 2 Willow Warblers A few negative records of all the birds that should be there in these conditions but weren’t: Garganey, Black-tailed Godwit, Ruff, Yellow Wagtail, Redstart, Sedge Warbler.

Severn Hams (1 April, contributed by Mike Smart and Les Brown)

Water levels continue to rise: at Coombe Hill, there ahs been a striking increase since yesterday, the Grundon hide is still accessible but the extent of water is much greater and there are no muddy patches left uncovered. The water is also higher at Ashleworth and Hasfield. Overall things were rather quieter today.

At Coombe Hill, at least six Redshanks, eight Lapwings and three Curlews displaying, the Little Ringed Plovers have disappeared; a few Swallows, Sand Martins, at least Six Chiffchaffs singing, but still very few Reed Buntings.

At Ashleworth, one Oystercatcher, about eight Lapwings, one Curlew displaying, still at least 200 Wigeon. At least three Chiffchaffs singing; when the wind dropped and the sun came out, three Willow Warblers started singing.

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