Lovely clear autumn day on Tuesday 30 October, just a little mist early on, but no wind, and sharp clear visibility showing the colours in the trees and grassland. Water levels continuing to drop, at Coombe Hill, Cobney Meadows and Ashleworth, as the Severn drops, allowing remaining floodwater to flow off the meadows.
At Coombe Hill, an unusual sighting, probably a first for the reserve: an immature Long-tailed Duck, a maritime species more often seen in Scotland or the North Sea; well seen diving in the ditch in front of the Grundon Hide, then waddling across the bank to the main scrape, which proved too shallow for its liking (it bumped its head when it tried to dive, so returned to the ditch). Presumably a straggler, blown in during the cold conditions with strong northerly winds at the end of last week? Phot below by Will Allen.
Then an object lesson in the difficulty of identifying birds of prey: a brown bird of prey seen in the top of a tree. Head on, it looked quite large and puffed up; at first sight it might have been a Buzzard, then the eye-stripe suggested a Sparrowhawk; but when it flew it was obviously a falcon (because of the long pointed wings) and was thought to be a Kestrel chasing a corvid; until it landed at the top of another tree, giving beautiful views from side on, and was obviously a female Merlin.
Otherwise 220 Teal, 55 Wigeon, 35 Shoveler, 3 Little Egrets, 2 Dabchicks, 80 Lapwings, 5 Snipe, 200+ Fieldfares, 50+ Redwings.
At Ashleworth one Green Sandpiper, 200+ Fieldfares.
At Cobney Meadows two Green Sandpipers, two Little Egrets (maybe the Coombe Hill birds).
Note on the Whooper Swan: The lone adult first seen at Coombe Hill on 13 October, which seems to have been roosting there and feeding by day on Cobney Meadows, was last seen at Coombe Hill on Friday 26 October, and was not found at Coombe Hill or Cobney Meadows either on Saturday 27 October or today. Wonder where it’s gone?