Sightings – November 2006

Walmore Common (30 November, contributed by Mike Smart)

Still extensive floods on the common. At 10.45am, there were three adult Bewick’s on the floodwater, 15 Mute Swans, 250 Wigeon, 100 Teal and 25 Pintail.

Cheltenham (28 November, contributed by Robert Homan)

Another late butterfly, with a Red Admiral feeding in mahonia blossom in Swindon Lane, early afternoon.

Severn Hams (28 November, contributed by Mike Smart and Les Brown)

The level of the Severn was dropping a little today, but water is still rising on meadows as local streams are unable to flow out into Severn.

Coombe Hill: 3 Little Grebes, 2 Whooper Swans, 11 Bewick’s Swans (first recorded here this winter), 380 Canada Geese, 2 Barnacles, 14 Greylags, 800 Wigeon, 150 Teal, 80 Pintail, 20 Shoveler. 6 Tufted Duck, 1 Water Rail squealing, 2 Lapwing, 2 Dunlin.

Ashleworth: 220 Wigeon, 40 Teal, 30 Shoveler, 5 Gadwall, 1 Peregrine, 10 Snipe (sitting on floating grasses).

The total ducks between the two sites, with much movement to and fro, was about 1,500.

NB Bewick’s Swans: Seven Bewick’s Swans (six adults and one yearling) were on floodwater at Coombe Hill with Canadas at first light, and appeared to have roosted there; joined a bit later by two more adults, with massive greeting ceremonies (wing flapping, calling, and heads in the air); then two more adults appeared with less ceremony soon after. At 08.55 am all eleven took off and flew southwards, quite high, calling, in direction of Slimbridge. Looked very much like the birds had arrived late yesterday without going to Slimbridge and continued on to Slimbridge this morning.

Severn Hams (27 November, contributed by David Anderson and Mike Smart)

Waters are rising very fast indeed on the meadows along the Severn and Chelt (the Severn rose from 9.10m last night to 10.06m this morning at Wainlodes; the Chelt broke its banks and flooded Leigh Meaodws); Grundon and Long Pool hides at Coombe Hill are inaccessible; lots of birds moving onto fresh floods to feed, including many ducks (especially Pintail), lots of gulls, crows and starlings; there is a tremendous feeling of movement.

Ashleworth at first light: about 100 Greylags roosting, left early; at least 80 Shoveler, 60 Pintail.

Coombe Hill: 2 adult Whoopers at the Wainlodes end of canal; one has a lot of black at the top of the bill and looks very like the ones photoed and drawn in previous winters; 380 Canada Geese, 2 Barnacle Geese, 500 Wigeon, 62 Pintail, 8 Shoveler, 4 Tufted Ducks, 1 Water Rail calling, 2 Black–tailed Godwits, 1 Dunlin, hundreds of Black–headed Gulls feeding on water and damp grass together with lots of Carrion Crows, Jackdaws and Starlings round the edges; the floodwater must make insects rise to the surface. 40+ Redwings.

Leigh Meadows (26 November, contributed by Mike Smart)

Late this afternoon water was rising rapidly on the meadows. Two adult Whoopers were on flood water, not the usual fields, actually in a privately owned area. At dusk they didn’t seem to fly to Ashleworth Ham to roost, but there is plenty of floodwater on the Leigh Meadows for them to roost on.

Late Butterflies (26 November, contributed by Robert Homan)

A Peacock butterfly in flight in Swindon Lane, Cheltenham late morning while a Red Admiral was seen in flight in Bushcombe Wood, Nottingham Hill this afternoon.

Walmore Common (26 November, contributed by Mike Smart)

Water over the whole area is much higher today than on Friday, and extensive flooding has attracted extra birds:
Only two Bewick’s Swans at 13h15, far off on floodwaters, so not possible to read rings. A lot more ducks: 14 Shelduck, 250 Mallard, 100 Wigeon, 15 Shoveler, 15 Teal, 10 Pintail, 1 Snipe, 1 or 2 Ravens.

Severn Hams (25 November, contributed by Mike Smart and Les Brown)

River levels are much higher following recent rainfall, and water is pouring onto Ashleworth Ham and rising at Coombe Hill. Little change in bird populations however, and still no sign of the Whoopers seen at Leigh Meadows on Tuesday 21 November.

Coombe Hill: 12 Greylags, 35 Canadas, 350 Wigeon, 15 Teal, 1 Water Rail calling, 1 Stonechat, 40 Fieldfares.

Ashleworth: 175 Canadas, 700 wigeon, 200 Teal, 10 Gadwall, 60 Pintail, 50 Shoveler, 2 Coot, 32 Snipe, 25 Meadow Pipits.

Severn Hams (24 November, contributed by Mike Smart)

No sign of the Whoopers at Leigh Meadows, either yesterday or today.

At Walmore today, the water was rising with high tide cycle: 6 Bewick’s (five adults and a ringed yearling, probably 670), 11 Mute Swans, 125 Mallard, 115 Teal, 40 Fieldfares.

There seem to be more Fieldfares in the last few days with nearly 300 in the general area of Maisemore yesterday.

Leigh Meadows (20 November, contributed by Les Brown)

Two adult Whooper Swans on the Meadows today, the first of the winter.

Walmore (20 November, contributed by Andy Jayne)

At Walmore Common this morning: a first-winter female Goshawk was present for at least 90 minutes. Also 70 Teal, a Shoveler, a Sparrowhawk, ten Snipe, five Stonechats and three Blackcaps.

Severn Hams (18 November, contributed by Mike Smart and David Anderson)

In general, the rain of the last couple of days has caused Severn levels to rise; water levels in riverine marshes are likely to rise a little in the next few days, since local streams cannot discharge into Severn.

Ashleworth 0700- 1130: 1 Little Grebe, 2 Grey Herons, no Bewick’s or Whooper Swans, 375 Canada Geese (200 roosting and flying downstream; where are they going?; 175 arrived from Tirley Court), 48 roosting Greylags left at first light; 700 Wigeon, 80 Teal, 70 Mallard, 10 Gadwall, 45 Pintail (very active, males displaying to females and forming pairs), 50 Shoveler, 4 Buzzards, 25 Snipe, 1 Barn Owl hunting actively at first light and on show for at least 15 minutes, 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker drumming persistently (why, at this time of year??), 2 Stonechats, 200 Fieldfares, 5 Bullfinches, 5 Reed Buntings.

Coombe Hill (16 November, contributed by Mike Smart)

Most ducks are still at Ashleworth; early morning observations from Coombe Hill: 1 Little Grebe, 17 Greylags, 35 Wigeon, 4 Gadwall, 20 Teal, 9 Shoveler, 3+ Water Rails calling, 10 Snipe, 1 Jack Snipe, 1 Green Sandpiper, 70 Fieldfares, 1 Redpoll flying over.

Cheltenham (14 November, contributed by Robert Homan and David Iliff)

Yesterday’s news was indeed the tip of the iceberg. A prolonged search today on the Honeyborne Cyclepath revealed another adult Harlequin Ladybird along with 31 pupae which were almost certainly of this species. Meanwhile, David has been monitoring a population at Pittville Park which has steadily increased in size during the autumn and now consists of some 40 individuals at various stages of development and showing the range of colour forms which typify this species. Other recent records from elsewhere in Gloucestershire are of an adult in September at Upper Cam (M McGlone) and about a dozen adults at Huntley (E Butler). The reason for the concern about the spread of the species is made very clear on the Harlequin Ladybird Survey Web site.

Cheltenham (13 November, contributed by Robert Homan)

A Red Admiral flying in lunchtime sunshine across the Winston Churchill Memorial Gardens near the Lower High Street. Not such good news was the discovery of a Harlequin Ladybird (Harmonia axyridis) in shrubs by the Honeybourne Cyclepath in the town centre. News from David Iliff, the Society’s ladybird recorder, suggests that this is just the tip of the iceberg as far as the presence of the species in the town is concerned.

Harlequin Ladybird, Cheltenham, 13 November 2006. (R. Homan)

Cheltenham (12 November, contributed by Robert Homan)

The first Fieldfares of the autumn passed over Swindon Lane this morning; this late date seems to accord with a broader picture of delayed arrival. In the late afternoon a Song Thrush was singing in the area.

Severn Hams (10 November, contributed by Mike Smart)

Ashleworth this morning 0700-0845: Light frost but no icing. Birds very much as they have been for the last few days: no roosting Whoopers, 50+ Canada Geese, 2 Barnacle Geese, 300+ Wigeon, 6 Gadwall doing courtship flights, 50+ Teal, 15 Shoveler, only 3 Snipe, 3+ Stonechats, Fieldfares rather more in evidence, couple of medium sized flocks probably 150+, 30 Redwings, 1 Raven, 5+ Reed Buntings.

Walmore: 0900-1000: No Bewick’s (yet) but a local observer had seen 30 last Saturday, 35 Teal, 5 Snipe, 4+ Stonechats

Severn Hams (8 November, contributed by Mike Smart and Les Brown)

Ashleworth: At least 200 Canada Geese roosting at first light, 500 Wigeon, 150 Teal, 20 Shoveler, 10 Pintail, 1 Water Rail calling, 15 Snipe, 100 Fieldfares (lots more than of late), 4 Stonechats, 5 Reed Buntings. Most of the geese and ducks in the Severn Hams have clearly moved from Coombe Hill (even though conditions there still look right for grazing Wigeon) to Ashleworth where water levels are higher.

Leigh Meadows: no sign of Whooper or Bewick’s Swans.

Coombe Hill: 2 Little Grebe, 1 Little Egret (rather late), 40 Wigeon, 40 Teal, 7 Gadwall, 12 Shoveler, brilliant views of a female Merlin washing in the scrape just in front of the hide, 2 Water Rails calling, only 1 Snipe.

Walmore (7 November, contributed by Mike Smart)

I arrived at Walmore at 1300, to find nine Bewick’s present, six adults and three cygnets. I managed to take a closer look; it was definitely a pair with a family of three: one of the parents had a faint café au lait tinge on the neck and topknot, making it look a bit like a yearling; it was a pennyface, with the penny only just separated from the rest of the yellow, and rather pale yellow. I couldn’t see any yearlings, the other four looked like two pairs. One of them was ringed, with a yellow ring with black letters on the left leg, read as 607 reading up. They were feeding happily in the field at the bottom of the slope, but were disturbed by someone lighting a bonfire; they circled several times as though they wanted to land in another field, but them headed off in the Slimbridge direction at 13h55.

No sign of any Whoopers.

Other birds noted: 16 Mute Swans, 48 Teal, 15 Mallard, 15 Snipe (mostly on the edges of ditches), 3 Stonechats, 10 Meadow Pipits.

Severn Hams (4 November, contributed by Mike Smart and Les Brown)

The third frosty morning in a row, with a fine sunny day afterwards, underlining the attractive scenery of the Severn Hams: long flat vistas, willows changing colour, and a clash of green grass and older yellow vegetation.

The scrapes at Coombe Hill were largely frozen over, but there was some open water in the deeper parts of the Long Pool: a Little Grebe, 50 Wigeon, 30 Shoveler, 2 Sparrowhawks, at least 10 Coot, at least 3 Water Rails heard, a flock of 40 Fieldfares, 1 Stonechat, 1 Raven.

Leigh Meadows were quiet, no sign of any Whooper Swans, 1 Great Crested Grebe and 1 Kingfisher at Wainlodes.

At Ashleworth, still some open water, most of the ducks in the area seemed to be here: at least 300 Wigeon, over 100 teal, 20 Shoveler, 20 Pintail, 20 Snipe, 200 Black-headed Gulls on open water, 40 Fieldfares, one or two Reed Buntings.

Basically everything very quiet, no sign of Bewick’s or Whooper Swans, all much as it has been for the last week until, just as we were leaving, a Red-throated Pipit flew over, calling in a group of Meadow Pipits, which have been passing through for the last month or so. Identified by its very distinctive call; despite much searching, it was not seen again.

Severn Hams (3 November, contributed by Mervyn Greening, Mike Smart and David Anderson)

Ashleworth this morning was iced over, but had good numbers of geese that had roosted overnight: over 100 Canada Geese, about 100 Greylags, 2 Barnacles, probably all the birds that had been roosting at Coombe Hill; lots of ducks probably 1,000 in all, mainly Wigeon, but at least 20 Pintail; a Water Rail squealing; Snipe completely disappeared, no doubt because of ice; flock of about 40 Fieldfares, one Stonechat; last ringing session of the year produced 68 birds including 28 Long-tailed Tits (many retraps) and 12 Reed Buntings (two retrap adults ringed earlier in the season, plus ten new juveniles, probably birds born outside the area).

At Walmore this evening, no sign of Bewick’s (probably already back at Slimbridge), 30 Teal, 30 Snipe, 40 Fieldfare, 2 Ravens.

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