Birds in Worcestershire – April to September 2014

Gavin Peplow

A mild spring developed into a warm, at times hot summer, which lasted through to the end of September after a slightly cooler August.

The long staying Great Grey Shrike at Hopwood and Yellow-browed Warbler at Uffmoor Wood lingered into April, whilst a juvenile Iceland Gull continued to regularly visit Throckmorton Tip and nearby Lower Moor for most of the month. There was a scattering of Little Gull records in the first week, with three visiting Bittell. A Sandwich Tern dropped into Westwood during a heavy storm at this time whilst Arctic Tern passage was concentrated into the last ten days of the month and included up to 21 birds through Upper Bittell on one date. Three Black Terns lingered for half a day at Upton Warren at the month’s end.

Two Common Cranes seen in flight heading south early in the month could well have been the same as two over Upton Warren a few days later and where the power of modern cameras revealed the giveaway signs of re-introduction – colour leg rings on both birds!

Passage raptors included single Ospreys over Grimley and Little Malvern, with Marsh Harriers reported at the John Bennett reserve, Bittell and Upton Warren.

Wader passage highlights included Bar-tailed Godwits at Grimley and Ripple, a pair of wandering Avocet at Clifton Pits, with a singleton also visiting Ripple. About 14 Whimbrel were seen at various sites including four at Upton Warren, whilst Ruff showed at Clifton, Grimley and Upton Warren.

Other migrants included Ring Ouzels at Bittell, Bredon Hill, Walton Hill and Wassell Grove and single Short-eared Owls were found at Harford Hill and on Bredon Hill.

Two White-fronted Geese lingered at Bredon’s Hardwick until mid-May, clouding whether they were of genuinely wild provenance, whilst other unseasonal records including the juvenile Iceland Gull that continued to visit Lower Moor and then Ripple Pits well into the month. A ringtail Hen Harrier was also unusual in the first week, though a male Montagu’s Harrier that flew over Shenstone in the second week was exceptional, but a typically brief sighting. Just singles of Marsh Harrier and Osprey were seen – over Alvechurch and Westwood respectively, but reports of Honey Buzzard, at Franche and over Upton Warren were a lot more unusual. A Spoonbill at Bredon’s Hardwick that stayed for just one evening was a significant County rarity and this was followed a few days later by a Pectoral Sandpiper at the John Bennett Reserve at Nafford – always very scarce in spring.

Other passage waders included Turnstone at Ripple and Grimley, a Curlew Sandpiper at Clifton Pits, Wood Sandpipers at Upton Warren and Lower Moor, Bar-tailed Godwits at Grimley and Ripple Pits and a very good showing of at least 22 Sanderling at the main wetland sites. Two Little Terns moved quickly through Kemerton Pits mid month and another spent about an hour at Clifton Pits a week or two later. A Hoopoe was also seen briefly near Westwood Pool during the last week.

Rough weather at the beginning of June encouraged a further two Little Terns to drop into Upton Warren briefly, whilst a long staying Little Gull continued to please visitors to the Reserve. Sadly Turtle Dove now seems to have become a really scarce bird in the County and transient birds were only reported from three or four sites during the month.

Probably the main highlight of June was the emergence and then fledging of ten young Shoveler at Upton Warren – only the second confirmed breeding record for the County and the first since 1947!

Quail were very scarce again this year, with only two birds reporting calling on single dates during the first half of July. In a generally quiet month, Little Egret numbers built up to ten at Grimley and a White Stork was reported over Sedgeberrow. Passage waders included an excellent flock of 19 Black-tailed Godwits at Lower Moor during the first week with a further 15 seen elsewhere. A Wood Sandpiper paused briefly at Clifton Pits and three Ruff were seen.

A Black Tern was also seen at Clifton Pits, a drake Common Scoter at Grimley and the month closed with a juvenile Black-necked Grebe at Kemerton Lakes Nature Reserve.

August turned cooler and more unsettled. Two Sandwich Terns visited Westwood at the beginning of the month and another Common Scoter dropped into Grimley. Rough weather mid-month grounded three Curlew Sandpipers at Clifton Pits, along with a Wood Sandpiper – another individual of this species turning up at Upton Warren.

A Spotted Redshank proved popular at Grimley mid-month, whilst up to four juvenile Mediterranean Gulls joined the Black-heads to roost at Upton Warren. The month closed with another two Sandwich Terns, this time at Upton Warren.

September began positively with a juvenile Temminck’s Stint at Clifton Pits, only about the third autumn record ever for the County. In a purple patch for the site there followed two Little Stints and a Curlew Sandpiper and then a Grey Plover – the first and last mentioned, both new species for the site! Remarkably another juvenile Temminck’s Stint dropped into Upton Warren and lingered for a few days until very sadly it was taken by an opportunistic Sparrowhawk. In a very good month for waders in the County, a Grey Phalarope visited Westwood one evening and a Pectoral Sandpiper stopped three days at Lower Moor.

What would have been the highlight of the year for local Birders was unfortunately not broadcast until too late – a juvenile Night Heron at Hawford - only the sixth ever found in Worcestershire, was sadly not reported over a three day period that it was seen by a South Coast visiting birder and it had disappeared by the time news began to filter out after that…

Perhaps the same Marsh Harrier visited both Westwood and then the Nafford Reserves before heading away over Lower Moor during the second week. Rock Pipits were found at later in the month at Upton Warren and Grimley and a Bittern briefly showed at Upton Warren indicating that a change in season was imminent!

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