Sightings – March 2006

Coombe Hill (31 March, contributed by Mike Smart)

With the rainfall of the last few days and the high equinoctial tides, the Severn is currently higher than it has been all winter, which is causing water to flow back into the reserves at Coombe Hill and Ashleworth, and to cause light flooding on the Leigh Meadows. And it is undoubtedly still rising. The Long Pool and Grundon hides were still accessible today, but may become more difficult to reach over the weekend.

Toady at Coombe Hill, the spring migrants noted in the last week continued to show, so it’s worth going out for a look since you never know what may turn up. Star bird today undoubtedly a passing Osprey, which flew very purposefully and powerfully westwards across the Coombe Hill reserve at 1310 today, not stopping, and disappearing over Apperley in the direction of the Severn, no doubt en route to an eyrie somewhere in Scotland. There were also at least 15 Sand Martins, also going northwest, plus at least three singing Chiffchaffs. There were two Little Ringed Plovers at the water’s edge, plus a Green Sandpiper that had probably over-wintered.

The floodwater has attracted rather more Shelducks than of late, about 15 in all. Displaying Redshanks (about 8), Lapwing (about 6), Curlew (at least 3). But this spring flood will wash out any early Lapwing clutches, though Redshank and Curlew are unlikley to have laid yet.

Cheltenham (31 March, contributed by Robert Homan)

A Comma butterfly and a singing Chiffchaff in Swindon Lane today.

Charlton Kings, Cheltenham (30 March, contributed by Tom Mabbett)

2 Barn Owls seen regularly on the edge of Charlton Kings during the past week.

Frampton Sailing Lakes (30 March, contributed by Ian Ralphs and Steve Owen)

Brimstone and Peacock butterflies seen at 1.30 this afternoon.

Coombe Hill: The Wharf – Grundon Hide (30 March, contributed by Andy Jayne and Robert Homan)

In the morning were: 15 Mute Swans feeding in pasture fields and later on the scrapes; 2 Canada Geese; 4 Shoveler; 10 Wigeon; 2 Teal; a Sparrowhawk hunting along the drainage ditches; 4 Little Ringed Plovers; a single Golden Plover; 9+ Lapwings; 5 Redshank, including a pair mating; 16 Sand Martins; 1 Swallow; 3 Chiffchaffs singing; at least 2 Bullfinches and a pair of Reed Buntings.
Frogs were heard croaking from the ditches and there was a Brown Hare at the eastern end of the reserve.

Walmore Common (29 March, contributed by Andy Jayne)

50+ Teal, 27 Lapwing, 4 Jack Snipe, 30 Snipe, 11 Black-tailed Godwit, 3 Redshank, 1 female Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, 1 Sand Martin and 1 female Stonechat.

Severn Hams (27/28 March, contributed by Mike Smart, Les Brown and Colin Butters)

The change of wind from north-east to south-west since the end of last week has clearly opened the doors for the flood of migrants waiting to move north. The level of the Severn has risen a little too, partly because of rainfall higher up in the catchment in North Wales, partly because of high equinoctial tides, so that some fields have become lightly flooded, creating excellent conditions for passage birds.

Monday 27 March: 15 Sand Martins at Ashleworth

Tuesday 28 March, Coombe Hill: 1 Little Ringed Plover and 1 Ringed Plover in the same telescope field of view, the LRP definitely in different plumage from the one seen here on 21 March; one Dunlin; at least 25 Sand Martins passing through, at least 5 Chiffchaffs singing. Five Redshanks, 13 Lapwings and a couple of Curlew, all displaying. About 10 Snipe, a few Wigeon and Teal, one Shelduck.

Tuesday 28 March, Ashleworth Ham: lots of Sand Martins feeding over the reserve, probably continuous through passage, may have been as many as 100 birds, at least two Swallows, one House Martin, at least two Chiffchaffs singing. A single first winter Little Gull briefly with passing Common Gulls. Very good numbers of Snipe, no doubt migrants – will any stay to nest?? – spread over fields, minimum of 80, with at least two Jack Snipe. One Lapwing, one Curlew, Green Sandpipier heard in distance. One Peregrine in flight. Usual ducks: about 200 Wigeon, 50 Teal, 20 Pintail, 20 Shoveler, 5 Shelducks.

Wallsworth (26 March, contributed by Andy Jayne)

A Curlew “bubbling” for much of the afternoon.

Betty Daws Wood, Oxenhall (26 March, contributed by Ian Ralphs)

Wood Anenome, Lesser Celandine and Primrose (as well as the Wild Daffodils) all well in flower this afternoon.

Cheltenham (25 March, contributed by Robert Homan)

A male Brimstone butterfly at Swindon Lane this morning with a male Blackcap under garden bird feeders. In Pittville Park, 25 Redwings feeding in the afternoon.

Sudmeadow (23 March, contributed by Gordon Avery)

A little movement noted this morning: a Curlew flew over to the NE and was the first for the year and there are now 4 Snipe in the marsh. In addition 13 Teal were also around first thing.

Severn Hams (21 March, contributed by Mike Smart and Les Brown)

Coombe Hill this morning: water levels still fairly low: star bird a Little Ringed Plover, in very messy plumage, looked like a juvenile moulting into adult plumage or winter plumage bird moulting into summer, black on forehead unclear, back plumage very mixed. Also about nine Lapwings , one Redshank, two Curlews, all displaying; with 10 Snipe, 1 Dunlin not displaying; nice views of a hunting Sparrowhawk. At the Cobney Meadows end (near Wainlodes), more displaying Lapwings and Redshank, about 90 Wigeon, a Mute Swan nest building already; still about 50 Redwings and 50 Fieldfares, most of which seem to have disappeared in the last few weeks.

Leigh Meadows: the Whoopers have gone; last seen on Saturday 18 March by Les Brown, who comments that this is the usual time for them to leave on their way back to Iceland.

Ashleworth Ham: At least three Redshanks, some display from the roadside hide, which is excellent, they haven’t bred here for a couple of years. Still a good 250 Wigeon.

No sign of Garganey, Sand Martin or Chiffchaff anywhere!

Walmore (17 March, contributed by Mike Smart)

7 Mute Swans with 1 Little Egret, 2 Canadas looking as though they are going to breed on the island, 20 Lapwings (a flock of non-breeders), 5 Common and 1 Jack Snipe, 1 Stonechat. No sign of breeding waders, as at Leigh Meadows and Coombe hill yesterday.

Severn Hams (16 March, contributed by Mike Smart)

Still a mixture of wintering birds and arriving breeders. The seven Whoopers still grazing on Leigh Meadows this morning. On Cobney Meadows, 150 Wigeon, 40 Teal, but also some breeding waders taking up territories with at least three displaying Curlews, 10 Lapwings, 1 Redshank, also 30 Snipe (no doubt birds on passage), one Dunlin and a Green Sandpiper. Other Curlews giving their lovely bubbling call, the absolute epitome of the Severn Hams in spring at Ashleworth and Wainlodes. At Ashleworth 19 Snipe and three Jack Snipe.

Walmore (10 March, contributed by Andy Jayne)

Walmore Common, this afternoon, held 40+ Teal, one Little Egret, immature Peregrine, 28 Golden Plover, two Jack Snipe, 20 Snipe, a male Stonechat, 20 Ravens and also a Mink.

Sudmeadow (9 March, contributed by Gordon Avery)

The Barn Owl seen again today in the vicinity of the marsh.

Sudmeadow (5 March, contributed by Gordon Avery)

A Barn Owl seen in the osier bed today.

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