Worcestershire Record No. 17 November 2004 p.14
by Gavin Peplow
The summer of 2004 was unremarkable in terms of weather and will probably be recalled as being significantly wetter than many in recent years. There was still however a nice range of birds recorded across the County including some notable wader highlights.
May began with a Little Egret and a Marsh Harrier being seen at Upton Warren on the annual spring day count there. Further Marsh Harriers visited the same locality on a couple of other dates during the month whilst an Osprey was seen over the Wyre Forest. Upton did very well for raptors at this time with a Red Kite and then a Honey Buzzard also seen towards the month’s end.
Following the initial failure of a pair of Avocets at Upton Warren during April and their subsequent disappearance from site, it is very pleasing to report that presumably the same pair returned in May and quickly settled down to nest, this time successfully. As last year, four young were raised and remained through to the early autumn.
Migrating waders included a Grey Plover at Bredon’s Hardwick, Spotted Redshank and Little Stint at Upton Warren, Bar-tailed Godwit and Turnstone at Kinsham, with another Turnstone at Lower Moor. The highlight for many though were the three Dotterel that spent a couple of days on the southern slopes of Bredon Hill.
Also seen during the month were separate pairs of Black-necked Grebes at both Upton Warren and Westwood, though neither lingered for more than a day. A White Stork was seen drifting south west over Hopwood during the last week.
June began with an Osprey passing over Upton Warren but was otherwise generally rather quiet for any scarcer migrants. A Little Egret was found along the River Severn at Grimley though late in the month and proved to be the start of a series of sightings there, with up to four birds present on and off through into the autumn.
Summer storms pushed a sub-adult Gannet inland to Kinsham at the beginning of July where it looked somewhat incongruous resting on the water amongst the local Coot and Great crested Grebes ! The following day a Temminck’s Stint was found at Upton Warren – certainly an unseasonal record and perhaps an early returning individual that had failed to breed due to inclement weather further north? More expected were two or three Turnstone that dropped into Bittell at this time.
There was an increased scattering of Little Egret records from mid-July onwards with birds seen from Bewdley south to Bredon’s Hardwick.
After a lean spring for the species, a County record of 46 Black-tailed Godwits flew south over Throckmorton Tip whilst three were also seen at Upton Warren.
A Little Gull on the River Severn in Worcester was unusual though several juvenile Mediterranean Gulls were more expected and were seen at various localities around the County from mid-month.
A pair of Black-necked Grebes accompanied by a juvenile was an interesting find at Westwood in early August and presumably had bred not far outside Worcestershire. Returning waders included Wood Sandpiper, Little Stint, Knot and 16 Greenshank at Grimley, whilst an exceptional count of 27 Green Sandpipers was made at Upton Warren. Four Black Terns were seen and three Sandwich Terms also visited Bittell.
Ten Stonechats watched on Hollybed Common indicated good local breeding success, but the month’s highlight was a Wryneck in a Claines garden. Perhaps the same individual then moved to Grimley for a couple of days at the beginning of September whilst another was seen briefly at Abberley.
Upton Warren continued to attract some of the most interesting birds during September, hosting two Curlew Sandpipers, a Grey Plover and an immature Shag. The Avocet family finally left site in mid-month and then surprisingly paused briefly on one of the lagoons at Throckmorton Tip as they headed south. A Red-breasted Merganser was a good record for Grimley and a Marsh Harrier over Bittell was perhaps the first for that site.
October was generally cool and damp. A spell of northerly winds produced several Rock Pipits whilst a Snow Bunting favoured the North Malverns for several days. A Woodlark which flew over Happy Valley at this time was unexpected but hopefully an indication of more regular records for this species in the future. Several Ring Ouzels enjoyed the Rowan berry crop in the valley whilst a count of 1000 Redwings on Walton in the first part of the month was unusually high for so early in the season.
Another Black-necked Grebe appeared at Westwood and stayed for several weeks whilst a Bearded Tit at Grimley was the first in the County for several years – this species’ recent scarcity probably reflecting the lower population levels on the near continent where there has been a reduction in it’s favoured reedbed habitat on the Dutch polders. As is often the case, the attention this last species attracted from birders resulted in another good bird being found at the same locality a couple of days later – this time a Grey Phalarope. It unfortunately only stayed briefly but even so provided an excellent finale to this birding period.
Records compiled from reports received by Birdline Midlands. Please phone through details of all your interesting sightings to the 24-hour Hotline on 01905-754154 (free on application to regular callers). For all the latest information on birds currently within Worcestershire and the Midlands Region, call 09068-700247 (calls charged at 60p per minute).
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