For the first time the reed beds attracted Starlings to roost - along with Reed Bunting, Pied Wagtail and Meadow Pipit.
On the 7th December an adult Yellow-legged Gull was seen amongst a large roost of Lesser Black-backed Gull and Herring Gull. On the 10th 10 Gadwall and 21 Common Gull were present. On the 12th a male Pintail and a female Goosander were recorded. On the 24th the Shoveler numbers peaked at 22.
Throughout December wintering thrushes, Siskins and Redpolls were commonly seen in the surrounding woodlands, whilst earlier in the month at least three Crossbills were seen feeding.
A Jack Snipe was recorded at Kemerton Lake on 5th January 2003. On the 16th, during a guided walk, a large flock about 400 Lapwing together with a small group of unidentified waders took off when a Peregrine passed through. When they settled again the other waders were identified as 27 Knot and this was confirmed by good views through telescopes. There were 2 Jack Snipe there on that date.
February was rather quiet. However, Snipe was common with up to 27 recorded. On sunny days at least six pairs of Lapwing, a pair of Oystercatchers and several pairs of Redshank were displaying. A maximum of 10 Skylarks and 16 Dunlin were counted
Elsewhere on the estate, Barn Owl sightings increased during the winter and pellets were found at three potential nest-sites across the estate. Observers felt that up to three territories may have been established. In the event no Barn Owls bred on the estate. Fifteen pellets were collected from one site and from them John Meiklejohn identified the remains of 14 Field Vole, 9 Wood Mouse and 1 Common Shrew
Song Thrush was in full song by the end of December and there were several reported sightings of Treecreeper in Kemerton gardens during the month. Blackcap was common at garden feeding stations. Small flocks of Skylark were seen in the fields during December-February.
Treecreeper and Goldcrest were also seen/heard in several small woodlands during February. A pair of Mandarin was at Beggarboys on 3rd February - and a small group of Redpolls were seen in a plantation at Bredon. On 7th February a Lesser-spotted Woodpecker was seen near Kemerton Lake Reserve.
The monitoring scheme showed that Breeding Skylark numbers held up but there was a slight drop in Yellowhammers.
On 9th July a pair of House Martin was found breeding in a former Pied Wagtail nest. The nest was sited under the eaves and behind the top course of bricks. It was accessed via a gap in the mortar between the bricks. The Martins successfully reared two broods, the last fledging around 18th September.
On 22nd August a sub-adult Storm Petrel was found dead on a lawn in Kemerton.
A family group of 4 Roe Deer were regularly seen at Kemerton Lake Reserve throughout the winter.
In a six-month period JC collected six records of Polecat within 200 metres of his house. Evidence suggests that these were different individuals.
The dry summer and autumn drought seems to have caused problems for Badgers who have been damaging garden fences in Kemerton in their search for food such as fallen fruit.
On 26th February, whilst tree planting FH dug up a considerable number of Common Smooth Newts which were hibernating underground - presumably in old Mole or mouse runs.
The Earth Star Geastrum pectinatum was discovered in rough ground outside a disused barn and well over 80 were counted on the 6th December. Cyathus olla, the bird’s nest fungus was found at Kemerton Lake Reserve.
The unusually hot spell in late summer produced reports of possible Mole Crickets ‘singing’ very loudly from two sites during the warm evenings. The sound could be heard up to 50 metres away. JWM eventually tracked one down and identified it as a Dark Bush
Kemerton Estate has purchased Brookfield Farm at Bredons Norton. The 200 acres includes some 40 acres of flood meadow on the River Avon. Wintering birds noted include flocks of Redwings and Fieldfares and a small flock of Mute Swans. Breeding birds included Reed Warbler, Reed Bunting, Sedge Warbler and Skylark.
Harry Green, John Meiklejohn, John Partridge, Geoff Trevis and John Day all visited and added considerably to the Estate wildlife records. John Day produced a report which also described the importance of three sites in county terms - Kemerton Lake Reserve as ‘Very High’ in wetland plant diversity and ‘Outstanding’ for Charophytes; Far Frankwells Pond as ‘High’ in wetland plant diversity and swamp assemblages; and the Avon Meadows as of ‘Special Wildlife Site’ quality as MG4 grassland. John Dodge has carried out a basic survey of algae at twelve sites across the estate. He hopes to carry out further work at selected sites.
The estate has installed Recorder 2002 and is receiving much-needed advice
from Simon Wood. Once Kemerton is running and up-to date it will be possible to
transfer many of the 45,000 records onto WBRC computer.