Sightings – October 2006

Glos (late October, contributed by Roger Gaunt and Robert Homan)

There has been a marked increase in the number of records of the tortrix moth, Crocidosema plebejana with 3 at St Briavals and one in Cheltenham. The foodplant is Tree Mallow Lavatera arborea which is normally associated with mild coastal areas in the south west. The Cheltenham specimen is shown here.

Crocidosema plebejana, Cheltenham, 31 October 2006. (R. Homan)

Severn Hams (31 October, contributed by Mike Smart and Les Brown)

We carried out a general survey of the Ashleworth /Coombe Hill area in the hope of finding Bewick’s or Whooper Swans, but there were no records of either species. In general, Severn levels are continuing to fall, water a bit lower at Coombe Hill, still about the same at Ashleworth because the sluice is retaining water inside the reserve.

Coombe Hill: 230 Wigeon, 42 Shoveler, 4 Pintail, 2 Sparrowhawks, 15 Snipe (many of these birds probably moved on to Ashleworth).

R. Severn, Wainlodes: 1 Great Crested Grebe, 1 Kingfisher.

Leigh Meadows: 2 Sparrowhawks, 1 Buzzard, 1 Stonechat.

Ashleworth: 50 Canada Geese, 700 Wigeon, 200 Teal, 30 Shoveler, 80 Mallard, 10 Pintail, 40 Snipe, 3 Stonechats.

Walmore Common (29 October, contributed by Andy Jayne)

4 Bewick’s at Walmore again plus a real bonus of 2 adult Whooper Swans. All of these unringed and present at 0750 when I arrived and still there mid-day. Also 54 Wigeon, 75 Teal, 3 Pintail, 1 Shoveler, 1 ad Peregrine and 1f Stonechat. Yesterday, 250 Mallard which is a high count here. Water levels already dropping very slightly and it looks like being a dry week.

Severn Hams (29 October, contributed by Mike Smart)

A surprisingly rapid change in water levels overnight. Whereas the Severn at Haw Bridge had been at 8.40 metres at midday yesterday (28th), it had dropped to 7.60 by early afternoon today. As a result ditch levels dropped and water was flowing out of the reserve at Ashleworth (instead of inwards) and water levels were much lower at Hasfield Ham; the Deerhurst Parish drain was flowing into the Severn which will mean a decrease in water levels at Coombe Hill. It shows how sensitive water management is; I inserted the remaining boards in the stank at Ashleworth, so that no water will be lost and conditions will be right for wintering ducks and swans. It looks as though water levels should stay stable for a few days, as there is no rain forecast, and the tides are at the low point of their cycle.

Otherwise birds at Ashleworth much as yesterday; four or five Stonechats again, and plenty of Wigeon and Teal on the main reserve fields.

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

Water levels continue to rise at Coombe Hill and Ashleworth (and according to Andy Jayne at Walmore). No Bewick’s at Coombe or Ashleworth, but Andy had three ads and a yearling at Walmore.

At Coombe Hill: 350 Canadas, 100 Greylags; 600 Wigeon (increase) 150 Mallard, 10 Shoveler, 1 Tufted Duck.

At Ashleworth: 1 Peregrine; 6 Pintail, 150 Wigeon, 10 Shoveler, 3 Gadwall, 5 Stonechats.

Severn Hams (27 October, contributed by Mike Smart and Andy Jayne)

Together we covered Leigh Meadows, Coombe Hill and Ashleworth this morning, mainly to look for possible arrivals of Bewick’s or Whoopers. Alas, no sign of them, though conditions look quite favourable; the Severn is still highish, with water from local streams not able to get away, so backing up onto fields. Water is pouring on to the reserve at Ashleworth. Birdwise, not too much to report: Wigeon at Coombe Hill increased to 440, a few Stonechats there, still 250 Canada Geese. Half a dozen Fieldfares at Ashleworth and about 30 Redwings.

Slimbridge (26 October, per Mike Smart)

With a brief spell of south-easterly winds overnight, the first three Bewick’s Swans were seen on the Slimbridge reserve this morning a few days later than the usual arrival date They are adult pair Dario and Dorcus who have been together since 2002 (Dario first wintered here in 1999) Both are dark-neb birds that have also frequented Walmore Common in the past. Tagging along with them was a yearling named Dumbles (no relation to Dario/Dorcus). All three have been contently feeding and preening on the main Rushy Pen.

Severn Hams (25 October, contributed by Mike Smart)

With the current rain and high tides, water levels are rising at both Coombe Hill and Ashleworth. At Ashleworth, water is pouring onto the reserve over the stank at the southern end, and the main reserve field opposite the hides is beginning to assume its normal winter appearance of a sheet of shallow water. It is not full yet, but probably will be by the coming weekend. The ducks have already found it, and there were 100 Mallard, 50 Teal and a couple of Shoveler on the water at midday today.

Cameraria ohridella (23 October, contributed by Robert Homan)

The extraordinary spread of this micro-moth, also known as the Horse Chestnut leaf miner, continues with records in the last few days from Stroud, Painswick, Badgeworth, Apperley Court, Down Hatherley, Corse and Highnam. Although most records are from VC 34 (East Gloucestershire) it is also quite widespread in VC 33 (West Gloucestershire).

Walmore Common (23 October, contributed by Andy Jayne)

Seen today were: five Snipe, a Kingfisher, female Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, a Whinchat and three Stonechats.

Standish (16 October, contributed by Juliet Bailey)

Redwings were heard flying over during the night – the first of the year.

Severn Hams (16 October, contributed by Mike Smart and Les Brown)

Water levels still low everywhere, though scrapes at Coombe Hill are well filled.

Coombe Hill: Roosting geese had already left by 0720, only 30 Canadas left, and they soon departed. 120 Wigeon, grazing nicely; 7 Shoveler; 2 Sparrowhawks perched; light Meadow Pipit passage; Stonechat heard.

Ashleworth Ham: 3 Snipe, 1 Little Owl, 4 Stonechats, 10 Meadow Pipits, 2 Ravens.

Walmore Common: 2 Teal, 5 Snipe, 1 Stonechat, 2 Ravens

Cheltenham (15 October, contributed by Robert Homan)

Red Admirals were enjoying the sunshine in Swindon Lane today with upto 12 feeding on ivy blossom and resting on an adjacent sunny wall. A single Comma was with them.

Coombe Hill (14 October, contributed by Mike Smart and Les Brown)

There has been an increase in Wigeon up to about 195 (from 65 last week), they are not yet in full plumage and are sitting on the scrape, then coming to graze along the edges, just as they are supposed to; quite noisy and active, prodding one another and calling. About 10 Shoveler, 10 Teal, 4 Gadwall with them. Also three Little Grebes, and an unusually early Goldeneye, female or immature, on the Long Pool. Only a few geese early on. No sign of Fieldfares or Redwings yet.

Recent observations from the Severn Hams: the scrapes in front of the Grundon Hide at Coombe Hill have held water all summer and attracted a good variety of birds. Since the beginning of October, good numbers of feral geese have been spending the night there, over 150 Canada Geese, more than 100 Greylags and a couple of Barnacles, all of which presumably nested higher up the Severn and Avon and are now back for the winter. They only stay until shortly after first light, and then fly out noisily, the Canadas to Tirley Court Lake, where there is a newly sown grass field that they appreciate, and the Greylags to Boddington ponds. At Ashleworth, there is still water in the overgrown pools, but no flooding as yet. Since late September there have been good numbers of Stonechats at Coombe Hill, Ashleworth and the Leigh Meadows.

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