Sightings – March 2008

Severn Hams (31 March, contributed by Mike Smart, Les Brown and Juliet Bailey)

The Severn has risen again since Saturday (surprisingly rapidly, by 1.30 metres at Haw Bridge), following the rain over the weekend; as a result, local streams have backed up and water levels on the meadows at Coombe Hill and Ashleworth have risen again; however, all hides are still perfectly accessible. Rather quiet bird-wise after recent excitement.

At Coombe Hill: a female Sparrowhawk in display flight, 40 Teal, 5 Lapwings (not very demonstrative), 1 Redshank, 1 Curlew, 1 White Wagtail.

At Ashleworth: 40 Wigeon still grazing on grass at water’s edge; 5 Lapwings still displaying; 1 Redshank; 1 Curlew bubbling display.

Walmore Common: 15 Mute Swans (one preparing to nest); 15 Lapwings (some aerial aerobatics); 1 Redshank.

Mike Smart and Les Brown at the Ashleworth Ham sluice, removing one of the boards, in order to lower the water levels on the reserve for the spring and summer, Juliet Bailey, March 2008

Sudmeadow (31 March, contributed by Gordon Avery)

Nothing untoward, just a Kingfisher flying up the East Channel at Sudmeadow late afternoon and 2 or 3 Chiffchaffs now in the osier bed.

Cleeve Hill (30 March, contributed by Robert Homan)

A single Wheatear late morning on the edge of the golf course above the quarry car park.

Cheltenham (30 March, contributed by Robert Homan)

A number of Peacock butterflies in the sunshine in Swindon Lane, together with the first Brimstone of the year.

Woorgreens (30 March, contributed by Andy Jayne)

Twelve Goosander (one adult male) at Woorgreens and a male Goshawk overhead. At Moseley Green a Hawfinch near The Rising Sun.

Sudmeadow (30 March, contributed by Gordon Avery)

2 Little Egrets late this morning over the river at Sudmeadow and flying onto Port Ham, from where I suspect they were initially disturbed.

Woorgreens (27 March, contributed by Robert Homan)

Late morning there were 15 Greylag Geese, 15 Goosanders and a pair of Mandarins on the lake, while in the larch woods close by there were small numbers of Siskins feeding on cones.

Sudmeadow area (27 March, contributed by Gordon Avery)

A Green Sandpiper, 2 Snipe and 3 Teal on Sudmeadow. About 30 Ravens on the Sheep Down (old tip) and GLS and 2 Shelduck on Minsterworth Ham.

Queen’s Wood, Southam (26 March, contributed by Robert Homan)

Bluebells were already in flower on the warm lower slopes of the wood, but the only other sign of spring was a single Chiffchaff singing.

Severn Hams (25 March, contributed by Mike Smart, Les Brown and Andy Jayne)

Coombe Hill this morning: the canal bank is now open, but the hides are still not accessible because of flooding, and floodwater is still extensive on the meadows: 2 Shelduck, 14 Gadwall, 10 Pintail, 10 Shoveler, 10 Tufted Ducks, only 2 displaying Lapwings, 10 Curlews (2 displaying and the other eight probably migrants passing through), 6 Black-tailed Godwits, 5 Chiffchaffs singing, 1 Blackcap in song, 4 Reed Buntings singing. At the Wainlodes end: 9 Shelducks, 15 Tufted, 3 Redshank, 1 Green Sandpiper.

At Ashleworth, the Ham Road is now free of flooding and the hide is easily accessible, but there is still extensive flooding on Hasfield Ham: 15 Tufted Ducks, 30 Wigeon, 1 Peregrine, 1 Curlew displaying, 30 Snipe.

Port Ham & Castlemeads (23 March, contributed by Andy Jayne)

Present this morning were 35 Teal, five Shoveler, a Little Grebe, a Little Egret, two Jack Snipe, 16 Snipe, two possibly four Green Sandpipers, plus a Barn Owl flushed from a tree.

Severn Hams (22 March, contributed by Mike Smart and Les Brown)

Coombe Hill today: extensive flooding, although the water is flowing out rapidly into the Severn via the Deerhurst Parish Drain. The hides are still inaccessible and likely to remain so for another couple of days. The edge of the floodwater is approachable from the north via Apperley, but the water is too deep for many birds to be seen – 3 Great Crested Grebes, 18 Tufted Ducks and 2 Curlew.

Ashleworth: the hide is just accessible with determination and wellingtons if you leave vehicles on the Ham Road at the Tirley end. Another 3 Great Crested Grebes, 20 Mute Swans, 6 Greylags, 1 Peregrine, 300 Wigeon, 25 Pintail, 40 Shoveler, 5 Pied Wagtail and 75 Fieldfares.

Walmore (21 March, contributed by Mike Smart)

Ferocious NW winds had blown the godwits and the cobwebs away, but instead there was a gorgeous pair of Garganey, flying and sitting together, not in the least interested in the Teal. Also 120 Teal, 22 Lapwing (migrants and breeders), 2 Snipe, 1 Jack Snipe and 3 Redshanks, the latter doing a bit of display.

The godwits had not gone to Rodley, as the only birds on the floodwater there were 2 Grey Herons and 12 Shelducks.

Aylburton, Guscar and Walmore (20 March, contributed by Mike Smart)

At Aylburton/Guscar: 1 Little Egret, 40 Shelducks, 90 Wigeon, 30 Teal, 2 Oystercatchers, 5 Ringed Plover (probably wintering birds), 8 Golden Plover, 120 Lapwings (mixture of passage birds and birds preparing to breed), 10 Dunlin, 1 Bar-tailed Godwit, 140 Curlews, 20 Redshanks (like Lapwing, beginning to show signs of display), 1 Meadow Pipit in song flight and another 20 migrants, 2 chiffchaffs in song, 2 Ravens.

At Walmore there is moderate flooding: 7 Gadwall, 10 Pintail, 10 Lapwings (beginning to do their aerial display), a flock of 42 Black-tailed Godwits including six brightly coloured males, obviously migrants, feeding feverishly and flying round chattering excitedly, and 2 Curlews landed on the grass, this is an infrequent species here.

Severn Hams (18 March, contributed by Mike Smart)

Here we go again! The Severn has risen very sharply since the rain of last Saturday and Sunday and is breaking its banks both above and below Haw Bridge, which means that the meadows will flood in the next day or so and be slow to clear of water.

At Coombe Hill, the canal bank is still accessible, and the edge of the floodwater can be reached from the Apperley side, but there is no chance of reaching either the Grundon or Long Pool hides; all the areas where breeding waders were beginning to hold territory is under water. 17 Tufted Ducks on the floodwater, 2 Redshanks on the edge of the flood, 8 Sand Martins and at least four Chiffchaffs singing.

At Haw Bridge a solitary Curlew on the edge of the flood and a Sparrowhawk.

At Ashleworth, the hide was still accessible this morning, but for how long with floodwater rising fast in the meadows? No sign of the Whooper Swans (last noted on Sunday 17 March), 140 Wigeon, 73 Shoveler, 55 Teal, 1 Sparrowhawk.

A40 (17 March, contributed by Gordon Avery)

In the early hours of the morning there were 2 Barn Owls along the A40. The first at the Shipton turn off and the other at the Windrush turn off.

Badgeworth (14 March, contributed by Gordon Avery)

A male Merlin was seen today flying near Badgeworth just east of the M5 at 10.12 am.

Coombe Hill (14 March, contributed by Andy Jayne)

During what proved to be a very quiet afternoon, there were: two Shelduck, three Wigeon, 20+ Teal, five Pintail, 16 Shoveler, three Little Egrets, 1 Water Rail (heard), eight Lapwing, 25 Snipe, 17 Curlew, two Redshank, one Chiffchaff and a female Stonechat.

Severn Hams (10 March, contributed by Mike Smart and Les Brown)

After a longish dry period, the canal bank at Coombe Hill has dried out and the hides can be reached with relative ease, comfort and without much mud.

A rather quiet morning: two short bursts of song from a Chiffchaff, a flock of 30 Pied Wagtails, mostly males in resplendent plumage with a few females and a solitary male White Wagtail plus a few Meadow Pipits. 40 Lapwings, 4 Curlews, far fewer ducks with only 50 Teal, 20 Shoveler and 3 Shelducks.

Even more Pied Wagtails and Meadow Pipits were on the Leigh Meadows; also a flock of 50 Redwings and 25 Fieldfares, most of which seem to have departed from other locations. Four Curlews were also present.

At Ashleworth, the three Whoopers were still present with 25 Mutes still grazing greedily; duck numbers were low here as well.

Cheltenham (10 March, contributed by Robert Homan)

A Chiffchaff singing this morning at the northern end of the Honeybourne Cyclepath.

Castle Meads (7 March, contributed by Gordon Avery)

The Little Egret was present again today at about 11.40am.

Cheltenham (7 March, contributed by Robert Homan)

After their (surprisng?) absence during the winter, Blackcaps have become far more evident this week with upto 3 males singing at different points along the Honeybourne Cyclepath.

Severn Hams (5 March, contributed by Mike Smartand Les Brown)

The meadows are drying nicely now after the sunniest February on record and the driest since 1998; all hides are easily accessible.

It was a cold, frosty morning at Ashleworth; the three Whoopers had already left the reserve at 7.00am, and were found later at the usual grazing area below Great House Farm with 26 Mutes. The Wigeon were again performing brilliantly with up to 350 grazing along the edge of the reserve very close to the road almost under the hedge; also 70 Shoveler, 40 Pintail, 60 Teal, 2 Little Grebes, 30 Coot. The frost caused the Snipe to spread out over a wide area with at least 40 present plus at least six Jack Snipe. Eight Lapwings displaying. A pair of Stonechats and at least five Reed Buntings singing.

At Coombe Hill, rather few ducks but a flock of 31 Curlews, undoubtedly passage birds. At the Wainlodes end 3 Green Sandpipers, another 30 Snipe and at least three Curlews displaying.

Castle Meads (5 March, contributed by Gordon Avery)

The Little Egret was present again today at midday. It is probably living on the pool at Port Ham but gets disturbed by dog walkers so flies over to CM. It is Easily seen with care from the causeway.

Kingscote (4 March, contributed by Gordon Avery)

An adult female Peregrine flew north-east over the A4135 near Kingscote round about midday.

Sudmeadow (3 March, contributed by Gordon Avery)

A few signs of early spring movements with 10 Snipe and 8 Teal in the marsh this morning. Yesterday (2nd) the Little Egret was still at nearby Castle Meads.

Castle Meads (1 March, contributed by Gordon Avery)

A Little Egret was present, feeding for at least 2 hours over the lunchtime period.

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