Sightings – June 2007

Severn Hams (27 June, contributed by Mike Smart)

The Grundon Hide at Coombe Hill was only accessible with waders (or wet legs) the evening of 25 June, and the scrapes and islands were submerged by the following morning because of local streams backing up. On the evening of the 26th, the Severn started to come over its banks below Haw Bridge, thus making the floodwater even deeper and closing the road past the Red Lion. By the evening of the 27th, the Severn had also broken its banks above Haw Bridge on the west bank, which means that the Ham Road from Ashleworth to Tirley is closed and the Ashleworth roadside hides are no longer accessible. The current Severn level at Haw Bridge is 10.93m and rising, which compares with the highest of last winter on 8 March (itself unusually high) of 11.15 m.

The high levels and rainfall in May and early June meant that many ground and long grass birds were having a hard time of it: Sedge Warblers and Reed Buntings were already doing badly, with very few juveniles, but the higher levels of the last few days will undoubtedly drown any remaining nests. Curlews seemed to be doing quite well because the wet weather meant that the hay had not been cut; but any Curlew chicks will not survive the deep flooding that has now occurred. The Sand Martin colonies in the Severn banks were already under water before the river broke its banks, so they will have to start again.

On the other hand, the Redstarts which nest in holes in willows seem to have done fairly well; at least three broods of young birds shave been seen at Ashleworth.

Seen at Coombe Hill on the 26th were a flock of 9 Black-tailed Godwits in full summer plumage by the floodwater, clearly failed breeders returning south already. A Flock of 19 Lapwings, including the only two fledged young produced by the ten pairs which attempted nesting, apart from a tiny non-flying chick, seen on 19 June apparently surviving on 26 June, but disappeared by 27 June, no doubt drowned by the rising water. Three adult Redshanks, which had produced one nearly fledged young; uncertain if the young one survived. Female Tufted Duck with seven ducklings, the second brood at Coombe Hill. One Green Sandpiper.

Coombe Hill on the 27th: two Green Sandpipers, sitting on fence posts, like breeding Redshank to keep their feet out of the water!

Ashleworth on the 27th: the male Shoveler still there; his one wing is damaged, he can shake it, but not fly. One female Wigeon.

Hank’s Gorse, near Brockhampton (21 June, contributed by Neil Pryce-Jones)

Seen today were a Privet Hawk-moth resting on a gate post and hundreds, if not thousands, of Pyramidal Orchids growing among the profusion of ox-eye daisies in the set aside fields in the area.

Privet Hawk-moth and Pyramidal orchid, Brockhampton, June 2007, Neil Pryce-Jones

Cheltenham (4 June, contributed by Robert Homan)

Records of the old and the new from central Cheltenham today. On the left below, a flower spike of Ivy Broomrape ( Orobanche hederae) in the front garden of a house in Malvern Place. This is presumably the site mentioned in the 1948 “Flora of Gloucestershire”. On the right, first generation mines of the the Horse Chestnut Leaf Miner (Cameraria ohridella) in nearby Malvern Road. This adventive insect should become even more evident in terms of the number and distribution of leaf mines during the summer.

Ivy Broomrape, Malvern Place and Cameraria ohridella, Malvern Road, June 2007, Robert Homan

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