Sightings – February 2007

Severn Hams (27 February, contributed by Mike Smart, Les Brown and David Anderson)

The River Severn level continues to drop, but very slowly, so that water cannot flow off the meadows. So, with recent rain, flood levels at both Coombe Hill and Ashleworth have risen slightly since last weekend. No sign of Bewick’s today.

Great Hay Meadow, Twyning on Sunday 25 February: a very early Wheatear seen by Les Brown.

The main interest today was an influx of waders, presumably moving up the Severn towards breeding sites further north.

Coombe Hill: both hides totally inaccessible, birds visible from canal towpath: 2 Shelducks, 300+ Teal, other surface feeding ducks less numerous and probably spread widely; 30 Tufted Duck, 3 Pochard, 120 Lapwing, 19 Curlew, 4 Ruff, 2 Dunlin.

Leigh Meadows: extensive flooding, can be viewed from Wainlodes Hill: 3 Whooper Swans, 26 Mute Swans, 26 Shelduck, 50 Pintail.

Ashleworth: floods extensive on meadows but roads free of water, hides easily accessible. 75 Pintail, 1 Oystercatcher, 5 Black-tailed Godwits (only one showing any sign of summer plumage).

Sudmeadow (24 February, contributed by Gordon Avery)

There were 3 Stonechats by the Lower Parting today, 1m & 2f. All but one of the Snipe have moved on.

Severn Hams (24 February, contributed by Mike Smart and Les Brown)

The River Severn remains high, and water levels have not dropped at all in the riverside meadows.

The main feature was movement of Bewick’s Swans presumably departing migrants: flock of 35 flew north over Coombe Hill, very high at 07.40am, in V formation and calling, going north east following the line of A38 and M5; then four birds, three adults and a cygnet, flew in at about 08.30am, landed on floodwater at Coombe Hill, fed for a while, then flew off to west at 09.45am, and not seen again. There were another four, all adults found on floodwater on Cobney Meadows, south of canal, feeding and not moving.

Coombe Hill: flooding is still extensive, and both hides are still completely inaccessible. Viewing still possible from canal bank however: 2 Little Grebes whinnying, 2 Great Crested Grebes on floodwater, 2 Shelducks, 350+ Teal, 350+ Wigeon, 6 Curlews (calling and bubbling) and at least 5 Reed Buntings singing.

Leigh Meadows (from the hill at Wainlodes, flooding extensive): 3 adult Whooper Swans, 9 Shelducks, 50+ Pintail.

Ashleworth: flooding very extensive, hides along roadside easily accessible. 60+ Pintail, 7 Snipe, 1 Stonechat.

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

The Severn level has dropped by a metre since Sunday, but tides are high (9.8m tide at Sharpness this morning and one of the biggest bores of the year), so the water keeps getting pushed back upriver. In any case the river level still hasn’t dropped enough to let water flow off the meadows at Coombe Hill and Ashleworth yet, so floods remain extensive.

At Coombe Hill, the hides are still inaccessible, but you can see birds from the canal bank: at least 1,000 ducks this morning, with about 500 Wigeon, an absolute minimum of 300 Teal and probably many more, all hidden in the Long Pool as the air was full of their calls; Little Grebe still whinnying, and a couple of Curlew were taking up territory and doing their bubbling display call.

At Walmore, no Bewick’s, though there are reports of up to 20 in the last few days. About 425 Teal on light flooding, 160 Lapwing, 1 Little Egret.

At Rodley (Wilmer Common) however, 19 Bewick’s (6 cygnets – two families of three) probably the ones missing from Walmore; three of them had darvic rings, in all cases birds that have been about all winter and not birds that have wintered further west on their return migration. Also 37 Shelducks on farmland.

On the Leigh Meadows, three adult Whoopers and a Stonechat.

Winchcombe (19 February, contributed by Thelma Mallard)

This spectacularly marked Blackbird has been recorded in a Winchcombe garden for well over a year. The photograph was in part a response to a recent article in a national paper concerning a similarly marked individual in South Devon said to be “one of a kind.”

Blackbird, Winchcombe, February 2007 (T Mallard)

Sudmeadow (19 February, contributed by Gordon Avery)

A good total of 22 Snipe this afternoon in the marsh, the largest number for many years.

Severn Hams (18 February, contributed by Mike Smart)

The Severn is still high, so smaller streams such as the Chelt continue back-flooding. At Coombe Hill, the hides remain inaccessible, but birds can be observed from the canal bank: still a fair number of ducks on the floodwater, with at least 300 Teal, several hundred Wigeon, 20 Shoveler and 30 Pintail: there were some signs of spring with at least two Little Grebes whinnying, at least two Curlews bubbling (very early for this) and at least three Reed Buntings singing.

There was fairly widespread flooding on Leigh Meadows as well: one Shelduck, three Stonechats, 8 Gadwall, 60 Lapwings and a flock of 15 Pied Wagtails and 25 Meadow Pipits with a couple of Reed Buntings, probably migrants, feeding in flooded fields.

The floods were also extensive at Ashleworth, but the hide is easily accessible; about 12 Tufted Ducks, usual Wigeon, Teal, Shoveler, Pintail.

No sign of the Whooper Swans, though they have been seen in the last week and no Bewick’s.

Cheltenham (17 and 18 February, contributed by Robert Homan)

A male Blackcap in full song in Swindon Lane on both mornings.

Sudmeadow (12 February, contributed by Gordon Avery)

A Woodcock was in the osier bed this afternoon, the first here since January 2004.

Cheltenham (12 February, contributed by Robert Homan)

The bright floodlights around the Prince of Wales Stadium induced 6 Robins and a male Blackbird to sing this evening at 6.45 along the Honeybourne Cyclepath.

Standish (8 February, contributed by Juliet Bailey)

Today brought the first snow of the winter to the Vale. Many birds were feeding on the grassland of old air field, including Golden Plover (flock of 80 seen overhead), Lapwing, Common and Black headed gulls, Fieldfare and Redwing.

Sudmeadow (6 February, contributed by Gordon Avery)

A Water Rail was seen in the marsh today.

Cheltenham (5 February, contributed by Robert Homan)

A Great Crested Grebe in breeding plumage was an unlikely visitor to the River Chelt in the Royal Well area of Cheltenham town centre this morning.

Sudmeadow (5 February, contributed by Gordon Avery)

A Green Sandpiper was seen in flight over Sudmeadow this afternoon.

Gloucester Hospital (3 and 5 February, contributed by Rob Purveur)

A female Peregrine Falcon was present on the 3rd February and a male bird was there on the 5th.

Sudmeadow (4 February, contributed by Gordon Avery)

A pair of Stonechats were by Lower Parting today.

Woorgreens, Forest of Dean (4 February, contributed by Robert Homan)

5 Goosanders, including 4 males, on the lake today. A male Brambling feeding in the larch plantation to the north of the lake.

Severn Hams (2 February, contributed by Mike Smart)

On World Wetland Day (36th anniversary of the adoption of the Ramsar Convention on Wetland of international importance): water levels are dropping everywhere and are nearly back down to normal, non-flooded winter levels.

Ashleworth at first light: about 60 Canada Geese roosting and a total of about 1200-1500 ducks, many over on Hasfield side, the majority Wigeon, but a couple of hundred Teal, 70 Shoveler, 50 Pintail, 13 Tufted duck, 2 Shelduck. Six (!) Whoopers flew off from Hasfield early, heading northwest: a group of six Whooper Swans were seen later on Hasfild Ham, all apparently adults and all definitely not ringed. They may have been the same six, but it is just possible there is a total of twelve in the area; the six Hasfield birds flew off towards Coombe Hill at 09.00.

Walmore Common 11.00-12.00: the floods have almost disappeared. There were no Bewick’s Swans, about 500 Teal, 2 Shelduck, 1 Pintail, 1 Stonechat and about 25 Meadow Pipits.

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