Worcestershire Record No. 21 April 2007 p. 18
by Gavin Peplow
This has been another warm summer compared to recent temperature averages with July and September in particular being above historical records. Generally dry, August provided some relief with cooler and damper conditions whilst some interesting sightings kept local birders enthused throughout.
As usual, April witnessed an acceleration in the arrival of summer migrants along with a scattering of less expected visitors such as an adult Ring-billed Gull - seen at Bredon’s Hardwick over a couple of days early in the month. This species has become more regular in recent years and it may be that the Avon valley is actually on a northern migration route for birds moving up from the south west via the Severn estuary. Sandwich Terns are always spasmodic in their appearance in the County and a party of four moving north over Lower Moor and one through Bittell later in the month proved typical records for the species. Larger raptors included single Ospreys over Upton Warren and Stourport during the first week, whilst a smart male Hen Harrier was over Bredon Hill a few days later. The first Marsh Harrier of the spring was then seen at Upton Warren at the end of the month. A Little Egret that visited Grimley was the first of several there this summer.
Interesting waders during early May included four Whimbrel at Ryall and a party of five Bar-tailed Godwits at Upton Warren. Spotted Redshank, Turnstone and three Sanderling were also seen there whilst more surprising was an unseasonal sub-adult male Long-tailed Duck for several days at Grimley. A brief passage of Black Terns witnessed a nice gathering of 22 birds at Bittell whilst nine visited Bredon’s Hardwick later in the month. A female Montagu’s Harrier was a great find for one fortunate observer on Bredon Hill and rather surprisingly, presumably the same male Hen Harrier that was seen in April and earlier in the winter appeared again hunting over cereal fields near Upton Snodsbury and then at Martin Husingtree a couple of days later. More expected were two or three Marsh Harriers in the Avon valley and at Grimley.
May’s star bird however was Worcestershire’s second ever Black-winged Stilt – nearly 20 years after the last and a first year bird that graced Upton Warren for a couple of days during the third week. Interestingly, it seems this individual arrived with two adult birds and paused at several sites across eastern and northern England before leaving the older birds at Martin Mere in Lancashire and then heading south. Much enjoyed, it provided a fine spectacle sharing the flash pools alongside a pair of nesting Avocets! The Avocets successfully hatched four young in June and the same site hosted a late passage Temminck’s Stint towards the end of the month. Bizarrely the same Long-tailed Duck as in May reappeared at Grimley mid month whilst up to six Quail were heard calling around the County.
Small numbers of Little Egrets turned up at the usual wetland sites as July progressed, whilst a summer plumaged Black-necked Grebe was unusual at Throckmorton Tip. A Knot at the same site was the first for the locality whilst elsewhere wader passage began to gain momentum with up to 17 Green Sandpipers gathered around the receding shoreline at the new Trust Reserve at Longdon Marsh, whilst a Wood Sandpiper found the Gwen Finch Wetland Reserve to it’s liking mid month. A smart drake Common Scoter spent a couple of days at Upton Warren whilst the Avocet chicks grew larger daily as several Black-tailed Godwits also paused there on passage.
August began with a couple of Sanderling dropping into Bittell whilst one of several juvenile Mediterranean Gulls visited both this site and Upton Warren. An Arctic Tern at this last site showed well beside the breeding Common Terns and a smart adult Little Gull was followed by a juvenile Black-necked Grebe at Westwood. Wood Sandpipers visited Grimley and Longdon Marsh and another Knot spent a day at Throckmorton Lagoons. The highlight of the month appeared in the form of a family party of three Dotterel on Bredon Hill in the third week following an atypical influx on the east coast over the preceding few days.
Two Sandwich Terns flew through Upton Warren in early September, whilst a run of good wader records started with a Pectoral Sandpiper at Kinsham – the first for the locality. News of a Red-necked Phalarope at Bittell a few days later unfortunately wasn’t broadcast, whilst a Spotted Redshank at Westwood Pool was very unusual for the site. A Little Stint at Grimley was the first of several this autumn and followed an Osprey over the same site. Another Osprey then visited Bredon’s Hardwick daily for a week whilst other large raptors included a Red Kite lingering over nearby Bredon Hill for several weeks and a Honey Buzzard that was reported flying south over Worcester. A Wryneck revealed itself briefly to the owner of a Bromsgrove garden and a disorientated Manx Shearwater picked up in a Tenbury Wells flowerbed was happily released unscathed on the Welsh coast. A Bittern returned early to Upton Warren during the third week whilst the biggest surprise was a Long-billed Dowitcher that found the exposed shoreline at Upper Bittell to its liking, lingering into October. This was again the second County record of this American wader and was welcomed by all that saw it in spite of remaining distant from all the public viewpoints.
An early Snow Bunting on Worcestershire Beacon at the beginning of October was indicative of the changing seasons and was followed the next day by three juvenile Gannets over Upton Warren. Two Black Redstarts and up to 15 Ring Ouzels were found along the Malvern Hills and a good passage of Brambling and Redwing there included counts of 110 and 1000 respectively towards the month end. Bittell continued to enjoy an excellent autumn wader passage with several Little Stints, a Knot and finally a late Wood Sandpiper whilst the period concluded with the Bittern starting to show more regularly again at Upton Warren.
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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