Sightings – November 2008

Severn Hams (29 November, contributed by Mike Smart and Les Brown)

The big floods of mid-November have now receded: the Grundon and Long Pool hides at Coombe Hill have been accessible since last Tuesday; the Ashleworth hide is easily accessible. The meadows are still very damp with some surface water (partly because the worms were drowned by the September 2008 flood, as in the summer 2007 floods, which means that normal drainage of the soils is impeded).

At Coombe Hill, after a good showing of 275 Pintail on the falling flood on Tuesday 25 November, there were moderate numbers of ducks this morning at first light: 200 Wigeon, 300 Teal, 70 Mallard, 12 Pintail, 30 Shoveler; two adult Whoopers had roosted on the scrapes at Coombe Hill, and flew out early on with a family of Mutes to graze on good grass on slightly higher ground near the southern meadows. A male Peregrine, 70 Lapwings. On Cobney Meadows (at the Wainlodes end), at least 66 Snipe and a Green Sandpiper.

At Ashleworth (where another stretch of hedge has been laid in front of the hide and looks tremendous), an early Shelduck, 350 Wigeon, 25 Pintail, 35 Shoveler, and surprisingly (at absolutely the wrong time of year) a Redshank.

Ashleworth (14 November, contributed by Mike Smart)

The Severn floods have extended over the meadows now. The Red Lion road is closed at Wainlodes, and the Coombe Hill hides remain inaccessible.

At Ashleworth, the Ham Road is flooded and impassable; with grit and determination, you can reach the hide from high ground over the back, but it’s hardly worth it: birds very dispersed over the floodwater: no sign of the Whoopers, one Barnacle Goose with 200 Canada Geese. At Hasfield a Great Spotted Woodpecker drumming, the first I’ve heard this autumn.

Guscar, Aylburton and Walmore (12 November, contributed by Mike Smart)

Seen this morning were: 8 Shelduck, 20 Wigeon, 280 Curlews, 200 Dunlin, 150 Golden Plover, 500 Lapwing; a skein of wild geese, either Pinkfeet or Bean, almost certainly the former, flew over high, going southwest down the estuary and disappeared into the distance.

At Walmore, where flooding is quite high, there were: 110 Wigeon, 150 Teal, 40 Mallard, 13 Pintail; no sign of any Bewick’s Swans.

Coombe Hill and Ashleworth (11 November, contributed by Mike Smart, Les Brown and Colin Butters)

The Severn has risen with alarming rapidity in the last couple of days, following the heavy rain locally and higher in the catchment in mid Wales. It is breaking its banks both above and below Haw Bridge, and the Chelt is also overtopping on the Leigh Meadows. The road past the Red Lion is already impassable, and the Ham Road between Tirley and Ashleworth is likely to be flooded in the next couple of days. Environment Agency forecast is for the flood to peak tomorrow.

At Coombe Hill, the Grundon Hide is inaccessible; there was a nice showing of ducks on freshly flooded grass visible from the canal bank, but nothing very unusual: 145 Wigeon, 250 Teal, 4 Gadwall, 150 Mallard, 34 Pintail looking very dapper and 17 Shoveler; a lone Curlew, 2 Lapwings, 2 Snipe.

At Ashleworth, the hide is still accessible pro temp; odd few ducks (Teal and Wigeon) on the floodwater, but the main item of interest was the presence of two adult Whooper Swans on a field along Stank Lane: they appeared to be newly arrived (still a bit nervous), unringed, with no cygnets, hence probably different birds from the family of six that made a brief appearance two weeks ago after very strong northerly winds.

Coombe Hill and Ashleworth (8 November, contributed by Mike Smart and Les Brown)

After a slight rise in water levels on the meadows in last week, there has been a drop in the last few days, and normal winter water levels are to be found at both Coombe Hill and Ashleworth, with hides readily accessible (though the towpath at Coombe hill is, as usual, muddy.

At Coombe Hill, there were about 10 Wigeon, 240 Teal, four Gadwall, seven Pintail, 20 Shoveler, 12 Lapwings, nine Snipe and one Green Sandpiper. At Ashleworth 90 Canada Geese, 40 Wigeon, 6 Gadwall, one Golden Plover flew over calling, at least 50 Snipe rose from the reserve.

There was no sign of any Whooper Swans at either site. Perhaps the most striking observation was the large numbers of Fieldfares and Redwings in tall hedges at both sites: at Coombe Hill, 100 Fieldfares and 40 Redwings, at Ashleworth 250 fieldfares and 100 Redwings.

Batsford (8 November, contributed by Mary Palfrey)

A Red Kite, being hassled by Rooks, was seen over the lake at Batsford today.

Swindon Village (4 November, contributed by Robert Homan)

Several small flocks of Redwings feeding in hawthorn hedges between Swindon Village and Elmstone Hardwicke. Also, 2 Ravens in the area.

Cheltenham (1 November, contributed by Mary Nicholson)

A single Snow Bunting was recorded in a garden in the Benhall area; it was seen in the afternoon, mostly eating seeds on the ground, perching in fruit trees and having the occassional drink from a birdbath on the ground.

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