Sightings – March 2005

“Daffodil Country” (27 March, contributed by Robert Homan)

Plenty of Wild Daffodils in the Dymock and Kempley Green area, including those above in the GWT Gwen and Vera’s Fields Reserve. A Chiffchaff was heard here early afternoon. Despite these signs of spring there were 24 Fieldfare’s near Dymock and a flock of 25 Waxwings feeding on mistletoe at Kempley Green.

Sudmeadow (25 March, contributed by Gordon Avery)

A Willow Warbler singing this morning with 7 Buzzards overhead.

Cheltenham (24 March, contributed by Robert Homan)

4 male Blackcaps feeding on apples, suet or ivy berries in a Swindon Lane garden with a Peacock butterfly in the afternoon sunshine.

Coombe Hill (22 March, contributed by Robert Homan)

3 Chiffchaffs singing between the Wharf and the entrance to the Meadows Reserve. On the scarpes were: 21 Lapwings, 5 Shelducks, 3 Pintail, 35 Wigeon, 11 Teal, 4 Redshank. 2 Curlews in flight over the reserve.

Cleeve Hill (21 March, contributed by Robert Homan)

A male Wheatear was seen on the golf course this morning with 12 Fieldfares and 3 Redwings at Postlip Warren. In the afternoon, a Brimstone butterfly at Swindon Lane, Cheltenham.

Cheltenham (19 March, contributed by Robert Homan)

Chiffchaffs heard singing at Swindon Lane and Wyman’s Brook this morning. In the afternoon, a Small Tortoiseshell at Swindon Lane.

Cheltenham (16 March, contributed by Gordon Avery)

2 Sand Martins over the racecourse this afternoon – the first spring migrants of the year.

Cheltenham (week ending 11 March)

A large Starling roost has formed in the Windyridge Road/Swindon Road area with thousands of birds congregating on the pylons that run over Wymans Brook with the birds doing their spectacular pre-roost flights over the area between 5 and 6 pm. Blackcaps have been more in evidence this week with males heard singing both early morning and evening at Swindon Lane and along the Honeybourne Cycle Path. John Sanders has noted that, despite the cold weather and ice earlier in the week, the Great Crested Grebes in Pittville Park hatched their first brood on 6th , thus repeating last year’s precocious behaviour.

Walmore (6 March, contributed by Andy Jayne)

25 Bewick’s Swan, 1 Jack Snipe, 50 Snipe and 2 Stonechats at Walmore Common today. This is a high count of Snipe for Walmore these days and suggests that early spring passage is underway despite the inclement weather.

Standish (1 March, contributed by Juliet Bailey)

There were 20 species of wild plant flowering in my garden in Standish on 1 March 2005, plus 25 cultivated genera. All of the wild plants are considered weeds, though I like them. The only one that is at all unusual is Veronica polita, which is under-recorded rather than rare. The easiest way to tell it from Veronica persica is from the fruit. The two halves of the fruit of V. persica are flattened and divergent like butterfly wings, whereas the fruit of V. polita is rounded like a hairy little bottom, as shown in the detailed view of the seeds below. (I get several other Veronicas – but they aren’t yet in flower.)

1.  Bellis perennis   Daisy
2.  Capsella bursa-pastoris   Shepherd’s-purse
3.  Cardamine hirsuta   Hairy Bitter-cress
4.  Euphorbia helioscopia   Sun Spurge
5.  Euphorbia peplus   Petty Spurge
6.  Lamium album   White Dead-nettle
7.  Lamium purpureum   Red Dead-nettle
8.  Matricaria discoidea   Pineapple Weed
9.  Mercurialis annua   Annual Mercury
10. Poa annua   Annual Meadow-grass
11. Senecio jacobaea   Common Ragwort
12. Senecio vulgaris   Groundsel
13. Sinapis arvensis   Charlock
14. Sonchus oleraceus   Smooth Sow-thistle
15. Stellaria media   Common Chickweed
16. Taraxacum aggregate   Dandelion
17. Tripleurospermum inodorum   Scentless Mayweed
18. Veronica hederifolia   Ivy-leaved Speedwell
19. Veronica persica   Common Field-speedwell
20. Veronica polita   Grey Field-speedwell

Cheltenham (1 March, contributed by Robert Homan)

Now 3 Goosanders on Pittville Park boating lake, the lone male being joined by a male and female.

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