The British Trust for Ornithology organises regular monthly counts of water birds at wetlands throughout the United Kingdom – the Wetland Bird Survey, or WeBS. Counts are carried out on the same day each month at a number of wetlands across the country; in Gloucestershire some sites are on the estuary, some in the Severn Vale and some at pools in the Cotswolds. Today was the day for the December count, and three observers covered the three main sites in the Severn Hams – Coombe Hill Meadows; Ashleworth and Hasfield Hams; and the Leigh and Chelt Meadows along the Chelt between the A38 and the Severn at Wainlodes. There was shallow extensive flooding at all these sites, still rising slightly as the Severn level is not dropping very much, if at all. The main concentration of birds is still at Coombe Hill; but the total at all three sites was best part of a thousand geese, and over four thousand ducks (Wigeon and Teal each at two thousand birds), but no sign of the rare American Green-winged Teal, picked out yesterday among all the other Teal at Coombe Hill by one lucky observer.
Coombe Hill: 5 Mute Swans, 450 Greylag Geese, 113 Canada Geese, 1970 Wigeon, 1810 Teal, 3 Gadwall, 30 Mallard, 60 Pintail, 50 Shoveler, 2 Grey Herons, 1 Little Egret, 1 Kestrel, 20 Coot, 5 Moorhens, 210 Lapwings, 2 Dunlin, 100 Black-headed Gulls, 1 Common Gull, 1 Stonechat, 10 Redwings, 75 Starlings
Cobney Meadows: 6 Mute Swans, 1 Greylag, 325 Canada Geese (that’s why there weren’t so many at Coombe Hill), 1 White Farmyard Goose (frequently seen at Coombe Hill with the Canadas recently), 40 Wigeon, 30 Mallard, 425 Lapwings, 40 Black-headed Gulls, 50 Starlings
Leigh Meadows (from A 38 end): 1 Cormorant, 1 Snipe, 1 Grey Wagtail, couldn’t find the Green Sandpiper that is often there.
Ashleworth/Hasfield Hams: 4 Mute Swans, 3 Greylag Geese, 2 Canada Geese, 50 Wigeon, 80 Teal, 60 Mallard, 18 Shoveler, 2 Grey Herons, 1 Cormorant flew downriver, 1 Buzzard, 1 Water Rail squealing, 6 Lapwings, 2 Snipe, 40 Black-headed Gulls, 5 Lesser Blackbacks, 1 Barn Owl, 2 Meadow Pipits, 10 Fieldfares, 10 Redwings, couldn’t find a Stonechat, 3 Bullfinches, one lone Reed Bunting (they are really not numerous in winter!).