Sightings – April 2008

Leigh Meadows (28 April, contributed by Mike Smart)

Two Peregrines (a male and a female) on the pylons, two or three Curlews, one Lapwing, one Green Sandpiper, one Wheatear, two or three Redstarts calling and three Whitethroats singing.

Witcombe Reservoir (24 April, contributed by Gordon Avery)

3 Common Sandpipers at the reservoir this morning.

Cheltenham (23 April, contributed by Robert Homan)

In addition to several Peacocks and a Brimstone, other butterflies seen today were an Orange Tip and Speckled Wood on the Honeybourne Cyclepath and a Holly Blue in Swindon Lane.

Coombe Hill and Ashleworth (22 April, contributed by Les Brown and Mike Smart)

A pair of Garganey at Coombe Hill, and a one o’clock Hobby looking for dragonflies at Ashleworth.(LB)

In the evening at Ashleworth: 76 Teal, 1 Peregrine, still at least 15 Snipe but no drumming despite perfect conditions, 1 Jack Snipe, 1 Green Sandpiper, 2 cuckoos, 2 Lesser Whitethroats singing and at least 6 Redstarts calling. (MS)

Hempstead and Sudmeadow (21 April, contributed by Gordon Avery)

A Whitethroat singing on Hempsted Nature Reserve yesterday and another one singing on Sudmeadow today. 50 Linnets on the tip slope at Sudmeadow this afternoon and a rather unseasonal “abietinus” Chiffchaff by the river at Sudmeadow probably reflecting the strength of easterly winds over the past few days

Aylburton (20 April, contributed by Mike Smart, Barrie Mills and Lewis Thomson)

The easterly winds continue to bring in good numbers of migrants. At Aylburton Warth this morning, a small but steady stream of migrant Swallows and Sand Martins upriver from about 8.15am; fair numbers of skulking Whitethroats doing faint subsong in the brambles, but most spectacularly, the best concentration of wagtails I have ever seen in Gloucestershire: birds sitting just on the edge of the warth, having obviously recently arrived: a carpet of at least 50 Yellow Wagtails and 31 White (not a Pied among them), with associated Meadow Pipits.

Also a good showing of waders, mainly on the warth at high tide: six Oystercatchers, many displaying Lapwing and Redshank, 120 Curlew, 1 Whimbrel, one Little Ringed Plover, four Common Sandpipers, 30 Ringed Plovers, 47 Dunlin, 3 Sanderlings, five Golden Plovers in summer plumage, and a Snipe.

Cheltenham (20 April, contributed by Robert Homan)

A Lesser Whitethroat at Swindon Lane, singing throughout the morning.

Frampton area (19 April, contributed by Gordon Avery)

At a Splatt reedbed north, a Water Rail calling. A single Swift through flying NE and a Whitethroat singing from the scrub further along the canal.

2 Cattle Egrets seen, one with the horses at Splatt and another in the field with horses by the church gate.

Severn Hams (19 April, contributed by Les Brown and Mike Smart)

At Coombe Hill, nine species of wader were present: seven Little Ringed Plovers, one Ringed Plover, seven Lapwings, one Grey Plover, two Greenshanks, three Redshanks, two Curlew, six Snipe, two Black-tailed Godwits; also a singing Whitethroat and two singing Sedge Warblers, three Yellow Wagtails, two White Wagtails and two Pied Wagtails; good numbers of Swallows and Sand Martins, though less than last Thursday.

At Ashleworth, one Green Sandpiper, at least one Redstart, some hirundines. The bottom two boards were removed from the sluice, so the water levels should drop further.

Coombe Hill (19 April, contributed by Mike Smart, Lawrence Skipp et al)

The strong easterly winds continue to bring birds to Coombe Hill: still fair numbers of hirundines, mainly Sand Martins with some Swallows and the odd House Martin, though not as many as yesterday morning. In addition, a winter plumage Grey Plover, two Greenshanks, at least eight Little Ringed Plovers, and a female Merlin which skimmed over the head of the Grey Plover (causing it to lie doggo) landed to be admired for a few minutes, then moved on to the north. A few Yellow Wagtails too.

Matson (18 April, contributed by Juliet Bailey)

A report received this evening that the Bald Eagle had been taken back into captivity on the ski slope at Matson.

Standish (18 April, contributed by Juliet Bailey)

A Bald Eagle was seen in a poplar tree in the garden today, where there was commotion from the local birds. My immediate reaction was that it was the Sea Eagle reported from Slimbridge. Within seconds of first seeing it, it flew off jingling and trailing strings – jesses presumably. It was a huge raptor with a broad white tail very evident. It moved a couple of hundred yards across a field north east, and perched in a tree for a good half hour. It was quite unconcerned at my approach, and I was able to get under the tree to take photos, which show the white head. It then moved on to another tree another couple of hundred yards distant, in a field where there were several vehicles shifting manure.

Bald Eagle, Standish, Juliet Bailey, April 2008

Walmore Common (18 April, contributed by Andy Jayne)

A Hawfinch in a tall hawthorn hedge this afternoon. The only previous record here was on 22nd December 1981. Also a pair of Redstarts present.

Coombe Hill (17 April, contributed by Mike Smart)

The strong easterly wind opened the door for vast numbers of hirundines. There were many over the Canal by the Wharf and even more over scrapes – hundreds of Sand Martins, smaller numbers of Swallows and just a few House Martins. Migrant waders included three Little Ringed Plovers and a Dunlin. Among the breeding birds were a couple of Curlew, three Redshanks, and a Lapwing’s nest with the first egg.

R. Severn, Deerhurst to Haw Bridge (10 April, contributed by Robert Homan)

Apart from a few Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps singing, summer migrants were few and far between with only 2 Willow Warblers heard and a single Sand Martin near Haw Bridge. 4 late Fieldfares were also seen.

Sudmeadow area (9 April, contributed by Gordon Avery)

The first Willow Warbler in the osier this year and a Green Sandpiper on Sudmeadow as well.

This morning there were 45 Carrion Crows loafing and generally making a lot of noise in the Grey Poplar near Hemmingsdale Road. This seems to be a annual event much to the annoyance of the breeding pair who have a nest in the same tree!

Longford (9 April, contributed by Andy Jayne)

There were two Green Sandpipers in Horsbere Brook today.

Coombe Hill (9 April, contributed by Andy Jayne)

Highlights at Coombe Hill Meadows this evening were three Redshank, a Green Sandpiper, a Common Sandpiper, 200 Sand Martins, 20+ Swallows, a House Martin and male Yellow Wagtail.

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

Another frosty start that must have made the swallows think again!

At both sites, the hedgerows are clearly still suffering from the effects of last summer’s flooding: lots of hedges are sprouting from the top; while the lower parts, submerged in the big flood look dead and have no green areas; some blackthorn hedges have very little blossom. On the other hand, some of the fields already have a good showing of Great Burnet leaves – maybe this plant really is adapted to immersion. At Ashleworth, a must unusual observation: two Roe Deer ran across one of the meadows – the first we ever remember seeing: wherever did they come from?

Birds at Coombe Hill: the Lapwings were very quiet and it looks as though they are not yet paired up; one Little Ringed Plover, two Common Sandpipers, half a dozen Pied Wagtails, a couple of Willow Warblers singing; one pair of Mute Swans nest-building just by The Wharf. At Ashleworth (where water levels on the main reserve fields have dropped following removal of boards from the sluice last Saturday), still about 50 of Teal, Wigeon and Shoveler; the non-breeding flock of Mute Swans feeding on one grass field which escaped flooding now numbers over 30; a distinct increase in willow Warblers in the last couple of days, at least half a dozen singing, but no Redstarts on World Redstart Day.

Walmore Common (7 April, contributed by Mike Smart, Barrie Mills and Lewis Thomson)

About 60 Teal, 7 Shelduck, five Lapwings, two Redshank and a female Peregrine hunting.

Aylburton, Guscar and Lydney (7 April, contributed by Mike Smart, Barrie Mills and Lewis Thomson)

Aylburton and Guscar: a massive tide of 9.5 metres (one of the highest of the year) covered most of the area outside the seawall, and probably inundated most nesting Lapwings and Redshanks. Some Lapwings inside the seawall survived.
About 50 Shelducks, two to three pairs Oystercatchers, c. 100 Lapwings, c. 15 Redshanks, c. 80 Curlew; 1 Little Ringed Plover flew over, going north; a fair amount of movement upriver of 80+ Swallows and 10+ Sand Martins mid morning, one male Wheatear; also a gorgeous female Merlin sitting on top of a hedge, waiting to be admired through the telescope.

Lydney Harbour Pools: 1 Little Egret, a female Mallard already with a duckling, 20 Tufted Ducks, a few Swallows, a Willow Warbler singing.

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

This morning at Coombe Hill there was a pretty standard selection of species: one Great Crested Grebe on the Long Pool, four Shelducks, 40 Teal, 10 Shoveler, 14 Lapwings, only two or three Curlews, five Redshanks, one Green Sandpiper, one Willow Warbler singing, one Blackcap singing and about 10 Swallows. Last week’s large flocks of Fieldfares with a few Redwings have disappeared. Two Mute Swans (not the usual ones) on eggs.

At Ashleworth four half boards and one whole board were removed from the sluice, so the water levels will fall sharply in the coming days. 1 Great Crested Grebe, still 40+ Wigeon, a few Teal, 10 Swallows, 30 Sand Martins, 1 House Martin, 2 Willow Warblers, 1 Blackcap.

Slade Bottom, near St Briavels (4 April, contributed by Ivan Proctor)

During a pleasant warm afternoon there were chiffchaffs and blackcaps singing and skylark on the fields at the top. The flora was looking very good with with wood anemones and lady’s smock at their peak, bluebells coming on nicely and ramsons and herb paris still in tight bud. Butterflies included peacocks, comma and a single male orange tip. 16-spot ladybird was swept from grassland near Orles Barn and along the main ride through the wood there were 7-spot, kidney spot and pine ladybirds. Other insects included several bee flies, Bombylius major, nectaring at bluebells, and a sloe bug, Dolycoris baccarum.

Wood Anemones and Sloe Bug Dolycoris baccarum, Slade Bottom, Ivan Proctor, April 2008

Coombe Hill (4 April, contributed by Mike Smart)

I was at Coombe Hill during the evening to see what migrant waders might be passing and what breeding waders might be assembling. No migrants were present, but the breeding waders were very interesting: as usual they assembled to roost very late, and numbers were much higher than during daylight hours: six Redshank, 10 Lapwings, and as many as 16 Curlews, the latter all arriving very late with bubbling display calls, so they were not migrants. They then gathered to roost in the dusk in a tight flock, not looking territorial at all; the question arises as to where 16 (eight pairs!) of Curlews come from? They must be birds from a long way round, all gathering together. 1 Green Sandpiper, two or three Snipe calling at nightfall, but no sign of drumming.

Standish (3 April, contributed by Juliet Bailey)

Swallows have returned to the area with sightings today and yesterday.

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