Sunday evening at Coombe Hill

Another look at Coombe Hill, this time in the evening, staying until it was practically dark at 8.30 p.m.  – mainly with the object of seeing how many Curlews came into roost; some interesting differences from yesterday morning’s observations there.

In the end 35 Curlews came to roost on the island in the scrape (the same number as on 2 April), many coming in very late, when it was almost dark; a surprisingly large number, given that in daylight it is rare to see more than half a dozen together there; they were not very excitable, sitting quietly with little interaction between individuals.  The question has been whether these roosting Curlews are local residents, breeding somewhere nearby, and gathering to roost communally; or do the large numbers represent a concentration of migrants, just passing through en route to breeding places much further north (they breed as far north as Finland, as shown by recoveries of ringed Curlews in Gloucestershire).  Since the same number were seen on 2 and 7 April, this could suggest that they were more likely to have been local residents; but are there 17 pairs nesting in the immediate area of Coombe Hill?  From how far do they come to join the roost?

No Little Ringed Plovers were present (as against five yesterday morning, presumably migrants which had moved on northwards); on the other hand 5 Black-tailed Godwits, were present, four brightly coloured males and one female, no doubt en route to Iceland, as they were very skittish and jumpy (unlike the Curlews) , but did stay to roost.  One Oystercatcher came in to roost.  Six Little Egrets, which flew off just before it was completely dark, apparently roosting elsewhere.  A single Chiffchaff, which didn’t deign to sing (though one at Boddington did).  About 30 Fieldfares and  20 Redwings. late winter visitors which had not yet departed for Scandinavia.

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