Sightings – May 2007

Walmore Common (31 May, contributed by Andy Jayne)

A huge count of 254 Ravens flying into roost at Walmore Common in the evening, all arriving from an east or north-east direction with a few stragglers still coming in at dusk. There may well have been a higher total at a similar time last year when 208 were counted before 7.15pm on 27th May 2006.

Eastleach (18 May, contributed by Ian Ralphs)

There are several hundred Common Broomrape (Orobanche minor) plants in a broad strip along the southern side of the access road to Eastleach Downs Farm, SP10 Z, Eastleach in a recently sown Rye-grass and White Clover ley. Probably accidentally sown in to the ley with some wildflower mix added to the field margins.

Common Broomrape, Eastleach, 1 June, Ian Ralphs

East Wood, near Tidenham Chase (18 May, contributed by Roger Gaunt)

A mating pair of the spider Micrommata virescens was found in a Heath Trap placed in the wood to record moths. The species is quite uncommon, but I have recorded two females before in this wood in the same way.

According to David Haigh, the Society’s spder recorder, this is only the second time that the male of this species has been seen in the county (the yellow and red abdomen of the male is shown very clearly in the picture below), indeed that seeing spiders mating is rare and that this coupling would be very rarely seen.

Micrommata virescens, mating pair, East Wood, May 2007, Roger Gaunt

Sudmeadow (15 May, contributed by Gordon Avery)

A Roe Deer in the marsh in the evening constitutes a first record for the site.

Witcombe (14 May, contributed by Gordon Avery)

2 Dunlin at Witcombe Reservoir today plus a small hirundine flock brought down by the north west wind. The flock consisted of c.30 Sand Martin, 20 Swallows and 120 House Martins.

Ashleworth Ham and Coombe Hill (12 May, contributed by Les Brown and Mike Smart)

The continuing cool, wet windy weather seems of the last week to have played havoc with breeding Lapwings. On the other hand the chorus of song from warblers must be at its peak now.

At Coombe Hill: the Mute Swan by the Wharf has hatched five cygnets. A pair of Canada Geese with five goslings by the scrape (unusual here as a breeding bird; is this perhaps the first breeding record for the site?). Still five Shelducks; four male Wigeon, a pair of Gadwall. Lapwings behaving very differently from earlier in the week: no sitting females, no sign of any young birds; instead the males were back to doing aerial display flights with excited calling, as in early spring, very aggressive to one another, and constantly doing tail-up display to females; one attempted mating seen; looks very much as though they have lost their nests and are starting again. Three or four Redstarts singing, one Reed Warbler (first of year), at least a dozen Sedge Warblers along the canal, half a dozen Whitethroats, and the usual Blackcaps, Lesser Whitethroat, Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff. Big passage of over 100 Swifts and maybe 20 House Martins during a shower.

At Ashleworth, the three pairs of Lapwings which appeared to have young a week ago have all disappeared. A pair of Great Spotted Woodpeckers going into a nest-hole in an oak in Meerend Thicket to feed their noisy young. The Grasshopper Warbler still reeling at Hasfield.

Severn Hams (10 May, contributed by Mike Smart)

Continuing unsettled, with heavy cloud and showers not really suitable for birdsong.

Ashleworth/Hasfield Ham: Crack Willows justifying their name: a tree with a huge old pollarded head had cracked at the top and one half had fallen over , blocking Stank Lane. 1 Grasshopper Warbler reeling and several Redstarts singing, despite the wind; one drake Shoveler still present. No sign of Lapwings: have they all failed? And only one non-demonstrative Curlew.

Severn Ham, Tewkesbury: 1 Corn Bunting, singing from the electric wires. One bubbling Curlew. Couple of Sand Martins.

Ashleworth Ham (5 May, contributed by Les Brown, Mervyn Greening and Mike Smart)

One Shelduck, two Wigeon, two Teal, up to ten singing Redstarts, maybe eight singing Sedge Warblers. Two Hobbies chasing one another at midday, rather than hawking flying insects (too few insects, too much wind).

Coombe Hill (5 May, contributed by Les Brown)

The Meadows are all incredibly dry following a month without rain and with drying easterly winds; no surface water left, except in the scrapes and pools. The pair of Garganey has been seen every day since 2 May, and were still present today; also two Oystercatchers and two Little Ringed Plovers.

Sudmeadow (3 May, contributed by Gordon Avery)

The first Little Egret for 4 years flew off in the evening from the East channel and headed over Sudmeadow towards the tip.

Coombe Hill (2 May, contributed by Mike Smart)

In general, the last couple of weeks have been rather a quiet period for bird migrants at Coombe Hill, with few passing waders to report, mainly a small number of Whimbrel stopping to roost on their way to their Icelandic breeding quarters, and the odd Little Ringed Plover (there was one on the afternoon of 1 May). However, today 2 May, Les Brown saw the first two Coombe Hill Garganey of the spring, a male and a female.

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