Sightings – December 2008

Severn Hams (30 December, contributed by Mike Smart and Les Brown)

Everything very quiet, passerines especially so, with cold weather and partly iced water surfaces.

At Coombe Hill, where the hides are now easily accessible, two Shelducks, 3 Wigeon, 120 Teal, 60 Mallard, 10 Pintail, six Shoveler, one Merlin, maybe 20 Snipe all very scattered.

At Ashleworth, the four Whoopers (three adults and one cygnet) feeding on the same field along Stank Lane; maybe 80 Canadas, 160 Wigeon, 140 Teal, 30 Pintail, 70 Shoveler, six Tufted Ducks and two Peregrines on pylons.

Sudmeadow area (29 December, contributed by Gordon Avery)

Seen in the morning over Sudmeadow were 19 Teal flying NE and a Peregrine with a kill. There was one Chiffchaff in riverside willows below Llantony Weir.

Sudmeadow area (28 December, contributed by Gordon Avery)

Seen in riverside willows adjacent to Sudmeadow this morning was a ‘flock’ of 4 Chiffchaffs and 2 Goldcrests by Llantony Weir.

Ashleworth Ham (27 December, contributed by Les Brown)

The solitary adult Whooper Swan at Ashleworth has been joined by a family of two adults and a cygnet, seen in a field along Stank Lane.

Tewksbury area (26 December, contributed by Robert Homan)

A Chiffchaff in Lower Lode Lane and 16 Cormorants in the “usual” tree at Lower Lode. In the autumn sown cereal fields at the junction of the lane to Deerhurst and the B4213 were 120 Lapwings and 4 Golden Plover. In the churchyard at Deerhurst, a small “Glastonbury Thorn” tree (Crataegus monogyna ‘Biflora’) is just coming into flower.

Severn Hams (23 December, contributed by Mike Smart and Les Brown)

At Coombe Hill(MS), the floodwaters are dropping only slowly and the Grundon Hide was still not accessible today, though it will probably become accessible in the next day or two. As usual, the falling flood attracted a good number of ducks, visible from the canal bank: 800+ Wigeon (the biggest number this winter so far), at least 500 Teal, 80+ Pintail, 10 Shelduck, 280 Lapwing and a single Golden Plover.

The lone Whooper has moved to Ashleworth (LB), feeding on a field north of Stank Lane. A couple of Peregrines and a Water Pipit also present.

Hempsted Meadows Nature Reserve (SO 809166) (23 December, contributed by Gordon Avery)

2 pairs of Stonechats and 15 Teal were found here midday.

Walmore Common (22 December, contributed by Mike Smart)

The floods have dropped very rapidly and the fields, though wet underfoot are green again.

No Bewick’s Swans this morning. 11 Mute Swans, 2 Shelduck, 275 Teal, 12 Snipe, 2 Jack Snipe, 2 Stonechats.

Sudmeadow (20 December, contributed by Gordon Avery)

On Sudmeadow Marsh this morning were 11 Teal and 1 Woodcock and at Sudmeadow: 1 Chiffchaff and 25 Goldfinches.

Severn Hams (20 December, contributed by Les Brown and Mike Smart)

The Severn has gone down considerably in the last two or three days, but water only moves slowly off the meadows. The hides at Coombe Hill are still inaccessible, but good views across the floodwater looking towards the Long Pool can be obtained from the towpath. One Whooper still feeding with the family of Mutes on good grass on higher ground south of the canal. Fair numbers of ducks: 620 Wigeon, 100+ Teal (many more calling from the Long Pool), 70 Pintail, 30 Shoveler, 7 Gadwall, 3 Tufted Ducks. Red lion road now open.

At Ashleworth, the hide is still easily accessible from the Ham Road (which never flooded), but there is still deep water on the meadows. 330 Canada Geese, 2 Tufted Ducks, small numbers of Wigeon, Pintail, Gadwall, all rather scattered. On an old setaside by Stank Lane conditions were perfect for Snipe: 60 Common Snipe, 4 Jack Snipe, also about 15 Meadow Pipits, 4 Skylarks and 6 Yellowhammers (the latter not often found here).

Rodley and Longney Sands (19 December, contributed by Andy Jayne)

Seen briefly this afternoon were a first-winter Glaucous Gull and an immature (second-winter ?) Iceland Gull amongst the thousands of other large gulls present. Also a Sparrowhawk, about 1000 Golden Plover, 1000 Lapwing, 25 Snipe, 151 Curlew, a Kingfisher and a pair of Stonechats.

Cannop Ponds and Oakenhill Wood (19 December, contributed by Andy Jayne)

At Cannop Ponds this morning there were 104 Mandarin, seven Tufted Ducks, eight Goosander (six adult male) and eight Little Grebes. At Oakenhill Wood there were eight Crossbills.

Meysey Hampton (18 December, contributed by Gordon Kirk and Mike Smart)

Seen today at Meysey Hampton, straddling the Glos/Wiltshire border, a Little Egret on a tiny pond where a family of Mute Swans appeared to have nested this year. Bullfinches and Yellowhammers present as well.

Severn Hams (16 December, contributed by Mike smart and Les Brown)

The Severn itself is now dropping, but water is backing up in the meadows. The Ham Road is still open and the Ashleworth hide is still easily accessible. The water is quite deep at Ashleworth and fair numbers of ducks about (though some appeared to have moved to Longdon Marsh in Worcs., where there were 600 ducks, including 61 Pintail): 1 Little Grebe, 100 Wigeon, 150 Teal, 50 Mallard, 4 Gadwall, 40 Shoveler and 21 Pintail.

At Walmore, the water is also rising: no Bewick’s at 11.00 this morning, but there were 11 Mute Swans, 30 Canada Geese, 120 Wigeon, 300 Teal, 20 Shoveler, 20 Pintail and 50 Mallard.

Walmore and Minsterworth (15 December, contributed by Andy Jayne)

At Walmore Common there were six Bewick’s Swans, ten Canada Geese, four Shelduck, 180 Teal, 160 Mallard, 24 Pintail, 26 Shoveler and a Yellow-legged Gull.

At Minsterworth Ham there were 100 Wigeon, 210 Teal and singles of Pintail, Dunlin, Green Sandpiper and Kingfisher.

Sudmeadow (15 December, contributed by Gordon Avery)

On Sudmeadow marsh there were 10 Teal, 1 Water Rail, 6 Snipe and 1 Green Sandpiper. Flying north were c120 Wigeon and a nominate race adult male Chiffchaff was trapped during a ringing session.

Severn Hams (14/15 December, contributed by Les Brown and Mike Smart)

The Coombe Hill hides were inaccessible on 14th with viewing from the canal bank only; a Whooper Swan was still present (Les Brown).

On the 15th the Severn had risen a bit more, and was beginning to overtop its banks between Haw Bridge and the Red Lion, so that road will very soon be closed. The Chelt was also overtopping its banks which means levels will rise at Coombe Hill. The Ham road from Tirley to Ashleworth was still open and the Ashleworth hide easily accessible; it may get more difficult if the river rises any more. In the morning at Ashleworth there were at least 14 Gadwall, 40 Pintail in courtship display, about 50 Shovelers and a male Peregrine sitting on a pylon. There were no Canadas roosting; does anyone know where they feed by day? (Mike Smart).

Coombe Hill and Ashleworth (9 December, contributed by Mike Smart and Les Brown)

A slight frost this morning, with light icing on much open water; at Ashleworth the edges of the water were thinly iced over (not cleared by midday) but the middle remained clear, probably because of the numbers of Canada Geese there. At present, the majority of the ducks and geese seem to prefer Ashleworth to Coombe Hill.

At Coombe Hill, a lone Whooper had roosted, and flew out to feed on rich grass on the southern meadows at 07.30am. It seems likely that this was the bird seen briefly at Slimbridge on Sunday; it definitely seems to have lost its mate.

At Ashleworth, 320 Canada Geese, one Barnacle Goose and 25 Greylags had roosted and most had flown out to the north by 08.15am; where do they go? No swans. 120+ Wigeon, 160+ Teal, 31+ Pintail, 47+ Shoveler and 70 Mallard. The only ducks feeding were Shoveler (upending); lots of display from the Pintail, the rest asleep. Two Coot. About 20 Snipe, dotted over three or four partly iced rough fields, 1 Jack Snipe. Surprisingly large numbers of Reed Buntings, maybe 25 in hedges and rough vegetation; quit a lot of Greenfinches too in the hedges. 1 Peregrine on the wires.

Severn Hams (6 December, contributed by Mike Smart and Les Brown)

Coombe Hill: a distinct decrease in duck numbers following the ice earlier in the week: No Wigeon, only 120 Teal, 1 Pintail, 20 Shoveler. Still only a single Whooper Swan which had roosted but flew at first light flew with Mutes to graze on the good grass south of the canal. 60 Lapwings, 5 Snipe, 5 Bullfinches, 4 Reed Buntings; a Great tit already singing .

Walmore Common: the November floods have gone but the grass is still very wet underfoot. No Bewick’s Swans (it seems that none at all have been recorded yet this winter), 8 Mute Swans, 60 Teal and 2 Stonechats.

Coombe Hill (4 December, contributed by Mike Smart)

Coombe Hill and Ashleworth were both iced over at the beginning of the week, but the ice had all disappeared today.

Rather few birds at Coombe Hill, maybe they had all moved to the estuary because of the ice. Since Sunday, only one Whooper has been in the area, and it was there again today, grazing with Mutes in the fields south of the canal, then flying onto the scrapes at nightfall. Has the other one flown somewhere else because of the ice? This seems unlikely, as pairs almost always stick together and the two looked like a pair; a worrying thought is that it may have hit the overhead power-lines like so many other birds, especially swans in the area. One piece of good news is that Central Networks say they are going to fit bird diverters when they next overhaul the lines; they only do this once every thirty years, so it’s a once in thirty years opportunity!
Castle Meads, Gloucester (4 December, contributed by Mike Smart)

A Short-eared Owl flew over the by-pass into Castle Meads at 10.25pm.

Skip to content