Worcestershire Record No. 28. April 2010

BIRDS IN WORCESTERSHIRE – November 2009 to April 2010

Gavin Peplow

After some flooding in the river valleys in November, December became significantly colder from mid-month and the following few weeks then went down on record as the coldest winter for 30 years! There were several spells of significant snowfall and regular sub-zero temperatures, but despite this an interesting selection of birds were seen. It remains to be seen though whether some of our smaller resident birds have suffered significant population declines as a result.

The star bird of the period was Worcestershire’s first ever Glossy Ibis in the third week of November. It was seen very briefly at Grimley before again reappearing a few days later on a farm near Hallow, but frustratingly could not be found there the following day. There had been an influx across the UK over the previous few months and by this time most birds had moved on so it had appeared that the chances of a bird visiting the County had gone!

Slightly more expected, but still a very good record was a Great Northern Diver that was picked up near Longley Green. It was transferred to the Vale Wildlife Centre to recuperate before being released at Kemerton Lake, but sadly it didn’t survive. Other highlights for the month included two Whooper Swans, again over Kemerton Lake, small parties of Crossbills on Bredon and Lickey Hills and Mediterranean Gulls at Upper Moor and Westwood.

To the relief of the local birding community, the Glossy Ibis was relocated in early December a couple of weeks after last being seen. It fed in flooded fields near Holt Fleet and Grimley though was often mobile, but nevertheless stayed into the New Year in spite of the cold weather.

Another two Whooper Swans, or perhaps the same, flew over Grimley and a single adult was seen at Pirton Pool when many waters became frozen. Six White-fronted Geese passed through Lower Park Farm near Redditch, whilst two Pink-feet lingered in the Grimley area. Three Bitterns were seen intermittently at Upton Warren and a Common Scoter was seen on a single date at Westwood.

The first Iceland Gull of the winter was seen at Throckmorton Tip later in the month, whilst a smart male Hen Harrier over Rous Lench was much appreciated by its observers on Christmas Day. The year ended with a Black Redstart being found on Worcester Cathedral and a Ring-billed Gull found resting on the frozen lagoons at Throckmorton Tip, both being seen spasmodically into the New Year.

New arrivals in January included redhead Smew on the River Avon at Lower Moor and later, another bird at Westwood. Up to eight Red-crested Pochard lingered at Bredon’s Hardwick, whilst Mandarin numbers peaked at an impressive 112 at Trimpley. A female Hen Harrier quartered game cover crops near Wick mid month and a single Bewick’s Swan flew over Lower Park Farm. Whooper Swans seem to be the more regular of the two ‘wild’ Swan species these days in the County and following the records earlier in the winter, three dropped in briefly at Bredon’s Hardwick. Crossbills showed quite regularly at Eymore Wood and on the Lickeys, but only a single Hawfinch was seen at Croome Park.

Despite the cold weather, Little Egrets continued to be seen during the winter with single birds in February at Upton Warren and Croome Park. Finch concentrations included 150 Lesser Redpoll at Lineholt and careful scrutiny rewarded observers with one or two Mealy’s. Up to three of birds of this species were also seen nearby in Stourport.

A female Scaup only stayed one day at Grimley New Workings mid month, but the undoubted highlight was a confiding Slavonian Grebe that was found at Feckenham Wylde Moor towards the end of February. A few days later the same Slavonian Grebe relocated to Top Barn Farm Lakes, Holt and remained there for most of March.

A party of 20 Bewick’s Swans flew north over Strensham early in the same month and may have been birds from Slimbridge, whilst four adult Whooper Swans broke their migration north by spending a few hours at Bittell during the last week. Two White-fronted Geese lingered in the Lower Moor area and up to three Little Egrets continued to be seen at Upton Warren.

Two juvenile Iceland Gulls were seen – one at Throckmorton Landfill and another at Wildmoor Tip in mid March, but scarce wintering gulls were otherwise in short supply.

Some of our regular summer visitors began returning quite promptly whilst scarcer passage migrants included a Black Redstart at Summerfield and a Firecrest at Stoulton towards the end of the month.

Avocets built up to fifteen birds by mid April at Upton Warren, but competition with the flourishing Black-headed Gull colony there is likely to restrict the possible suitable breeding areas this year. A good number of Red Kites were seen during the month, though only a couple of Ospreys were reported in spite of the increasing UK population. Similarly only one Marsh Harrier was picked up as it headed through Upton Warren.

A Hoopoe was a welcome find at Lower Moor and attracted many admirers during its four day stay. Only a light Tern passage was noted with the highlight being two Sandwich Terns showing well at Upton Warren late in the month. Little Gulls appeared mid month at Bredon’s Hardwick and Westwood, whilst two Mediterranean Gulls were found at Kemerton Lakes.

A Black Redstart was typically elusive on Bredon Hill along with several Ring Ouzels, with more of this last species also seen along the Malverns. Wader passage has been much lighter in the County in recent years, so two Whimbrel at Grimley and then a party of 14 at Clifton Pits were welcomed. Many breeding migrants had arrived back by the end of April, but a Quail heard near Ab Lench was surprisingly early, though presumably on passage as it was only heard to call a few times.

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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