Sightings – April 2009

Butterflies (Late April, contributed by Juliet Bailey)

Maisemore, 29 April 2009

With recent good weather there seem to be a few butterflies about now. All the lanes, lined with Jack-by-the-hedge (Alliaria petiolata), have at least one Orange Tip every 50 yards, and I finally saw Small Tortoiseshells, though thier numbers seem very low to me. Other butterflies seen today were, Green-veined White, Speckled Wood, Peacock and this Holly Blue.

Hartpury, 26 April 2009

When I saw this Brimstone on bluebell, I thought how lovely it looked, until close-up I noticed the splaying bell and spreading perianth segments of the hybrid of the Spanish Bluebell and the native flower. This was on an open country lane, several hundred yards from the nearest habitation and surrounded by genuine native Bluebells that the butterfly didn’t seem to find nearly as attractive. When my proximity scared it off this flower, it circled round only to resettle on the same clump.

Witcombe Reservoir (30 April, contributed by Gordon Avery and Laurie Pierce)

Among the more typical species for this site were 2 Common Sandpipers and at least 2 Swifts.

Sudmeadow (29 April, contributed by Gordon Avery)

During the first CES session for the season, a most unusual find was a first year male Nightingale in the net. This is the first Spring record here. Also a Shelduck on the Lower Parting.

Wainlode (29 April, contributed by Mike Smart)

The Cetti’s Warbler still singing at the same place; at least fifteen Swifts and three or four singing Redstarts.

Ashleworth (28 April, contributed by Mike Smart)

Two Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers drumming and calling in different tetrads. At least one, perhaps two Grasshopper Warblers reeling. Really good numbers of summer songbirds now seem to have arrived: about ten Redstart singing males and a similar number of Sedge Warblers. Still 2 Wigeon and 2 Shelducks on the pool. The number of Lapwings though is desperately poor with practically none anywhere along the upper Severn Vale this spring.

Walmore (27 April, contributed by Andy Jayne)

A Whinchat at Walmore Common this evening.

Coombe Hill and Wainlodes (25 April, contributed by Mike Smart and Les Brown)

Coombe Hill this morning: a bit windy and therefore none too good for birdsong; the better meadows looking gorgeous with carpets of cuckoo-flower and sedge. 4 Bar-tailed Godwits (first identified yesterday evening by Lawrence Skipp), one male and three females, almost unheard of inland in spring though this would be a classic date for the estuary; 1 Black-tailed Godwit, two Oystercatchers (one with metal ring on left leg), 3 Little Ringed Plovers dropped in, then flew off at 08.25am confirming that LRPs here are generally if not always migrants, 2 Redshanks with a little display, up to 7 Shelducks, at least 6 Sedge Warblers along canal, two or three Lesser Whitethroats, at least three or four Redstarts singing.

River Severn at Wainlodes: 1 Cetti’s Warbler, singing not very frequently from riverside willows; 1 Yellow Wagtail over to north.

Walmore Common (24 April, contributed by Mike Smart)

Seen today: 2 Little Ringed Plovers, only three Lapwing, at least 2 Reed Warblers, 2 Sedge Warblers and 2 Lesser Whitethroats singing. Also four Linnets. The vegetation is looking lovely on the Common with lots of Orange-Tip butterflies.

Leigh Meadows (23 April, contributed by Mike Smart)

Seen yesterday evening: this area has some of the best unspoilt hay meadows in the Severn Vale and they are just beginning to look really full of flowers – carpets of Cuckoo Flowers and sedges growing nicely. The birds were a bit quiet: only one Curlew and 2 Lapwings, 2 singing Lesser Whitethroats, one Redstart with alarm call.

Coombe Hill (22/23 April, contributed by Mike Smart)

On the evening of 22 April: 4 Shelducks, 15 Greylags, 1 hybrid Greylag x Barhead, 2 Oystercatchers, 2 Black-tailed Godwits, 8 Curlew came to roost, 1 Whimbrel, no Lapwings or Redshank, 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Cuckoo.

On the morning of 23 April: mMost of the above, plus: 2 Little Ringed Plovers, 2 singing Lesser Whitethroats, at least three singing Redstarts and birds of the day were 2 Linnets.

Northleach (21 April, contributed by Gordon and Margaret Avery)

A Red Kite was seen being harassed by a Carrion Crow over the A40.

Little Rissington (21 April, contributed by Gordon and Margaret Avery)

A female Wheatear was on Little Rissington airfield.

Cheltenham (19/21 April, contributed by Robert Homan)

A Lesser Whitethroat was singing in Swindon Lane on the morning of the 19th and late afternoon on the 21st there was the first Holly Blue of the year.

Sudmeadow (19 April, contributed by Gordon Avery)

Seen this afternoon at Sudmeadow were: a Green Sandpiper and a Cuckoo, while there were 2 Wheatears on the GLS slope.

Standish (11 April, contributed by Juliet Bailey)

An astonishing cloud formation, straight as a die, the sky divided blue to the west, flat grey cloud to the east, running from horizon to horizon. We checked it up on the Met Office website and the satellite image showed it extending in pretty much a straight line from the Bay of Biscay, through southern England, up the Welsh Marches, out across the North Sea roughly on the Scottish borders and continuing up past the Shetlands. It was visible as a curious line on the southern horizon when we got up at around 7am, and this photo was taken at around 10am after it had passed overhead.

Forest of Dean (11 April, contributed by Andy Jayne)

In the Woorgreens/Kensley area today, highlights were nine Goosander, two Goshawks and a Sparrowhawk high overhead, a male Redstart, a male Pied Flycatcher, four Ravens, about 20 Lesser Redpolls and two Hawfinch. Also two Tree Pipits nearby at Yewtreebrake.

Sudmeadow (11 April, contributed by Gordon Avery)

Seen this afternoon were:

3 Teal on the Plantation Pool
1m Peregrine over Sudmeadow
1 Green Sandpiper at Sudmeadow
1 Red-legged Partridge on the GLS slope
1m Wheatear on the GLS slope
2 Willow Warblers at Sudmeadow marsh (at last)!

Ashleworth and Coombe Hill (11 April, contributed by Mike Smart, Les Brown and John Wiltshire)

Coombe Hill: the water level continues to drop. Ducks and waders were very few in number. 2 pairs of Shelduck, one at the Long Pool and one at Cobney Meadows; 15 Teal on the Long Pool, a single Wigeon. 25 Mute Swans had roosted and went to graze on the neighbouring farmer’s field. Absolutely no sign of breeding Lapwing or Redshank, either around scrapes or on Cobney Meadows, Curlews few in number. 2 Whimbrel flew in mid-morning. Summer visitors on the other hand increasing hand over foot: at least 15 Willow Warblers, 10 Chiffchaffs, 2 Sedge Warblers, 1 Whitethroat, at least six Redstarts (the latter mainly at western end of canal), all singing their hearts out.

Ashleworth : a Cuckoo seen and heard.

Walmore (9 April, contributed by Mike Smart)

It was very quiet during a walk around today at midday. There were 6 Mute Swans (all grazing immatures, I couldn’t find any nests), 5 Shelducks (two pairs prospecting), 5 Teal, a flock of 5 Curlew which must have been passing migrants, no Lapwings and no Redshanks which is disappointing. 20+ Swallows, 2 House Martins. The local farmer said their first Swallow this year was on what for them was the early date of 28 March.

Saul Warth (9 April, contributed by Andy Jayne)

Seen today: a drake Red-breasted Merganser. Also a pair of Pintail, a Little Egret, two Water Rails, two Oystercatchers, 16 Black-tailed Godwits and a Spotted Redshank.

Guscar Rocks & Aylburton Warth (8 April, contributed by Andy Jayne)

At Guscar Rocks & Aylburton Warth today sightings included two Canada Geese, c. 26 Shelduck, 11 Teal, an adult male Peregrine, two pairs of Oystercatcher, a Ringed Plover, c.50 Lapwing (including numerous pairs on territory), a Snipe, one Bar-tailed Godwit, 190 Curlew, 23 Redshank, single Green and Common Sandpipers, a male Yellow Wagtail, seven White Wagtails, two female Wheatears and two Ravens. Also two Brown Hares.

Poor’s Allotment, Tidenham Chase (8 April, contributed by Andy Jayne)

At Poor’s Allotment, Tidenham Chase today a pair of very active Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers and also two Lesser Redpolls.

Coombe Hill (7 April, contributed by Mike Smart)

An evening session at Coombe Hill: everything is drying out with the lack of rain over the last six weeks, but birds were a bit thin. A single Little Ringed Plover, sitting on the edge of the scrape, no doubt a migrant. Only nine Curlews came to roost (against 28 a week ago), largely in pairs, all very noisy, bubbling, males chasing larger females. No Lapwings, Redshank or Snipe, though it was a bit windy. 27 Mute Swans (nearly all immatures) still stuffing themselves with the neighbouring farmer’s grass and coming in to roost very late. Two pairs of Shelducks, one per scrape, looking well established. About 25 Sand Martins over the Long Pool; a note in the logbook said there had been considerable passage in the morning, with some Yellow and White Wagtails.

Sudmeadow (6 April, contributed by Gordon Avery)

A walk around this afternoon produced the following:

2 Red-legged Partridges
1 Green Sandpiper
1 female Wheatear
Pair of Linnets (the first returning birds of the year)

Ashleworth (5 April, contributed by Mike Smart and Mervyn Greening)

The year’s first ringing session this morning (sharp frost and thick mist over the Severn), produced 22 birds, a fair figure for the time of year. Among the birds of interest were:

a one year old male Redstart (quite heavy and still carrying a good deal of fat, so probably a bird on the way through); also at least one bird singing.
a Willow Warbler (also heavy with a good fat score, so also probably a bird moving through); at least one other singing
a female Blackcap
six Reed Buntings (every single one a retrap from previous summers, so we are clearly monitoring them effectively); many more singing.

Otherwise quiet: two Curlews bubbling, one non-displaying Lapwing.

Coombe Hill and Ashleworth (4 April, contributed by Mike Smart and Les Brown)

Coombe Hill: still very quiet around the scrapes. Three Shelducks, 20 Teal, two Shoveler, 1 Sparrowhawk. 1 Little Ringed Plover (an adult present early in the morning but moved off calling at about 07.30am, so likely to have been a migrant); still no Lapwings displaying round the scrapes, one pair of Curlew bubbling, eight Fieldfares went over high to the north east, at least three Willow Warblers singing. At Wainlodes end, four displaying lapwings, one Redshank, one Green Sandpiper, 2 Ravens, one Willow Warbler singing.

At Ashleworth, the water levels on the reserve have dropped sharply since the boards were removed from the sluice: still 55 Wigeon, 58 Shoveler, 38 Teal, 6 Pintail, one Treecreeper singing.

Coombe Hill (1 April, contributed by Mike Smart)

An evening visit revealed 1 Little Egret, at least 7 Shelducks, 25 Mute Swans which came in to roost at nightfall after laying bare the neighbouring farmer’s prime grass all day. Most interesting were, as always on spring evenings, the waders: 2 Little Ringed Plovers, really looking like passing migrants (non-vocal and retiring), 3 Redshanks (a pair and a gooseberry perhaps, agitated but no real display), but no Lapwings; most interesting were the Curlews with additional birds coming in all the time, chasing one another, making display calls and generally very excited. The final total at nightfall was not less than 28. I am sure this is a communal roost for all the neighbouring breeders. Snipe started to fly round at dusk but there was no drumming. A Blackcap and five Chiffchaffs were singing but as yet no Willow Warblers.

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