Sightings – July 2005

Coombe Hill (29 July, contributed by Robert Homan)

Single Curlew, Green Sandpiper and Snipe and 6, possibly 7, Little Egrets this afternoon.

GLS (27 July, contributed by Gordon Avery)

This afternoon there were 2 Green Sandpipers and an Oystercatcher, which is an unusual species here.

GLS (19 July, contributed by Gordon Avery)

6 young Shelduck and 6 young Tufted plus 3 females and a Green Sandpiper on the GLS pond today.

CWP(W) (16 July, contributed by Gareth Harris)

A male Lesser Emperor was seen at Lake 26 at 12.30 in association with Brown Hawkers, Emperor and Black Tailed Skimmers. This is a Wiltshire pit, but the location is only metres from the county boundary!

Cheltenham (15 July, contributed by Robert Homan)

A very welcome visitor to the garden moth trap in Swindon Lane was this Garden Tiger. Formerly a common species and certainly familiar from its “woolly bear” larvae, there is now some concern about the effects of climate change on the moth.

Lower Lode, Tewkesbury (14 July, contributed by Mike Smart)

A third Sand Martin ringing session on the banks of the Severn at Lower Lode increased the grand total of birds caught to 42, among them seven juveniles, so an estimate of 20-30 pairs nesting in the river bank seems reasonable. In addition, a couple of observations showed that the river clearly acts as a route for migrant waders: three Common Sandpipers were on the “beach” at the base of the bank, and two adult Dunlin, feeding very actively. There was also a Little Owl in the area.

Dymock Woods (13 July, contributed by Robert Homan)

The hot weather over the last few days has meant that insects are to the fore, while bird song has diminished. Seen today in the Dymock Woods area were 2 White Admirals and a good variety of other butterfly species including Brimstone, Comma, Gatekeeper, Meadow Brown and Ringlet.

One of 2 White Admirals in Dymock Woods – this one was in Hay Wood in Gloucestershire. The other was close to the main car park in Queen’s Wood, just over the border in Herefordshire.

Severn Hams (12 July, contributed by Mike Smart)

At Coombe Hill today: 3 Little Egrets, a Tufted Duck, two Green Sandpipers and a Common Sandpiper; the last remaining pair of breeding Lapwings still have their chick which is almost full grown but not yet flying; in addition there is a flock of about 100 non-breeding Lapwings, undoubtedly birds which have arrived from elsewhere, and (like the Green Sandpiper and Common Sandpiper) a sign of return passage and the arrival of autumn.

On Sunday 10 July, good numbers of Sand Martins at three spots along the Severn: about 20 round Haw Bridge, (with at least one pair nesting in a drainpipe emptying into the river!), another dozen at the colony just north of Haw Bridge, and about forty round the colony at Lower Lode; in the evening Mervyn Greening and I had a ringing session at Lower Lode and caught 32 birds, including several juveniles, so there are probably more birds present than you would think from looking at birds flying about. No Hobby on 10 July, but we did see two Oystercatchers flying down river. People who know the river fish better than I do confirm that the big fish we saw jumping in late June must have been salmon, moving up the river to spawn.

Throughout much of the Severn Hams, hay making is almost complete; I have a nasty suspicion that production of young Curlews has been disastrously low. In most places, the adults have left the breeding fields and there are very few places indeed where adults are making the usual alarm calls when there are young about. I have only heard of one young Curlew seen by haymakers, on 7 July, a young one that was a week short of being able to fly. This seems to me to be about the right date for young Curlews; I don’t believe that they had a good season and simply finished early; they have either been hit by early haymaking or by predators (crows, gulls and foxes).

In the meadows during hay-making there has been a phonomenal number of Meadow Brown butterflies this year.

The GWT Coombe Hill Biodiversity Challenge, over the weekend of 2/3 July, had the aim of recording 500 species (all species combined – invetebrates, birds, and flowers) and seems to have reached its target easily: the last figure heard was 538 species, with several species of insect as yet unidentified.

Here are 2 of the species seen: Emperor Moth larva (top) and Peacock butterfly larva (above)

Coombe Hill Meadows (10 July, contributed by Andy Jayne)

In the afternoon there was a juvenile Water Rail in front of the Long Pool hide at 16:50hrs; this is quite a rare breeding bird in the county. Also in the area were 6 Teal, male Sparrowhawk, 40 Lapwing, 2 Curlew, 2 (adult & juvenile) Tawny Owl and 3 Lesser Whitethroats.

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