by Gavin Peplow

After rather a cold spell in May, the summer developed into one of the warmest on record with some very hot weather in July and August. September continued fine and warm before giving way to cooler weather and some rain during October.

Almost certainly the avian highlight for many local birders this summer, was the totally unexpected first ever County breeding record of Avocet. A pair that had initially been seen at Grimley in April moved to Upton Warren and on finding one of the gravel islands to their liking, built a scrape and laid four eggs! They successfully raised all four young with the help of a fox ‘resistant’ fence surrounding the site, along with the vigilance of local volunteers and Worcestershire Wildlife Trust staff who mounted a round the clock watch whilst the birds were incubating. This is one of only a few inland breeding records within the UK, though ironically this high productivity level has occurred at a time when it seems success rates for the East Anglian populations are dropping due to extensive predation.

There were one or two other notable breeding records, including a pair of Long-eared Owls that hatched at least one juvenile in the west of the County, though sadly no young are thought to have survived. After two or three spring sightings from around Worcestershire, a male ‘Blue-headed’ Wagtail paired up with a female Yellow and they raised two or three young near Upton-upon-Severn. The ‘hybrid’ offspring of these two races now seemingly being called ‘Channel’ Wagtail to reflect the divide between their distribution! Elsewhere, Greylag Geese continued their increase with several breeding pairs around the County. A pair of Great Black-backed Gulls failed to raise any young at Bredon’s Hardwick this year, unlike their close relatives - the Lesser Black-backed & Herring Gull, which continued to flourish on the rooftops of Worcester!

In a relatively quiet spring for wader passage, the main highlight was the appearance of two Dotterel on Bredon Hill, though sadly they didn’t stay long. A Little Stint was a good seasonal record at Kinsham whilst Wood Sandpipers were found at this site and Upton Warren. May tern passage was unexceptional but a flock of ten Black’s at Westwood was noteworthy. A Little Tern visited Bredon’s Hardwick mid month. A Red Kite was seen on a few dates around Bredon Hill but was never predictable in it’s appearances, whilst late news filtered through of an adult Rose-coloured Starling feeding in a Tenbury garden over a period of several days - sadly the second bird of this rare species appearing in the County in the last two years that hasn’t been enjoyed by more than their fortunate finders!

June was a fairly quiet month for passage birds though a Quail was heard on one or two dates near Grafton Flyford. A further individual was then calling near Chaddesley Corbett for a few days in July whilst later that month and into August, one or two Little Egrets were located at the Gwen Finch Reserve, Bittell and at Upton Warren. In what has been a good year for the species, further Wood Sandpipers were found at Upton Warren, Kinsham and then Nafford, whilst Spotted Redshanks were seen at this first site and at Grimley as autumn wader passage picked up pace. Six Whimbrel flying south over Abberton around this time provided a good local count.

A Pied Flycatcher was identified amongst a family party of Spotted’s at Lower Moor, also in August, and constituted a good record away from the Wyre Forest. Two Sandwich Terns paused briefly at Kinsham one early morning whilst after a blank spring, a juvenile Black-necked Grebe appeared at Upton Warren at the end of the month, before two further birds then spent time at Throckmorton Landfill lagoons and Westwood in September.

September also witnessed two records of Wryneck - one at Woodcote Green and another at Grafton Flyford, whilst two Pectoral Sandpipers were found at Upton Warren - part of an exceptional national influx during the month but surprisingly the first records of this American wader for this site since 1986! A Black Redstart visited Ryall Gravel Pits and an Osprey was seen over Bittell, whilst a Quail inadvertently flushed at the Gwen Finch Reserve was the first site record. The month concluded with a report of a Woodlark at Wilden.

October started quietly but soon produced a series of excellent records. A Dotterel joined the newly arrived Golden Plover flock near Lower Moor for a day mid-month - only the second autumn record of this species in the County, whilst a drake Ferruginous Duck was at Westwood the following day. Another approachable drake of this species, present on the canal in Worcester, was however of far more suspect origin! Two Red Kites were seen together near Childswickham, one of these carrying a colour wing-tag and therefore presumably originating from one of the English re-introduction schemes. A Short-eared Owl was watched one evening near Throckmorton Tip whilst five Little Egrets that paused at Upton Warren were later in the year than most previous records for the County.

Other late autumn records included a Scaup at Grimley, several Rock Pipits at Bittell and one at Westwood and a Water Pipit at Nafford. A Firecrest was seen briefly at this last site whilst other late migrants included several Ring Ouzels on Bredon Hill and the North Malverns, with a Redstart also present around North Hill. October finished on a high note when two Shore Larks found the exposed weedy shoreline at Upper Bittell to their liking and a Woodlark located just north of the border in the West Midlands was also seen to fly over Worcestershire air-space near Halesowen!


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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