Worcestershire Record No. 23 November 2007 p. 27


by Gavin Peplow

The summer of 2007 will go down on record as one of the wettest ever, with the County being subjected to torrential rain in both June & July. On both occasions this lead to extensive flooding of the Severn and Avon River valleys – something that is virtually unprecedented for this time of year. The full impact on breeding birds has yet to be assessed, though early starters enjoyed good conditions through April and May. Migrant passage though, in both May and September, through into October has yielded some excellent birds, some of which lingered long enough to be enjoyed by many.

May began with a Hoopoe being seen by a few observers at Upton Warren, whilst a Marsh Harrier drifted over Grimley New Workings. Further individuals of this last species were later seen near Hollywood and again at Grimley mid-month. Ring Ouzel passage was atypically protracted this year with birds remaining on Bredon Hill, Clent and the Malverns through until 10th. Tern passage though was very poor, with just a couple of Black’s and one Arctic reported.

Several un-seasonal records mid-month included a Snow Bunting on Worcestershire Beacon, an Iceland Gull at Kinsham and a Jack Snipe at Upton Warren Flashes. Grimley attracted a Temminck’s Stint, four Sanderling, two or three Garganey, an Osprey and then two drake Red-crested Pochard. What would have been the highlight for all if it had lingered, was a dazzling Bee-eater at Upton Warren. A new bird for the reserve and only the third County record, it sat out a period of heavy rain and then promptly flew off high to the east as soon as there was a break in the weather, having only been enjoyed by a few fortunate observers.

A couple of Quail were heard calling at Longdon Marsh in early June whilst Upton Warren attracted two Little Terns briefly, a migrant Osprey and then a cracking female Red-necked Phalarope mid-month. Two Avocet families here included eight juveniles and they continued to do well, thankfully being quite well grown and therefore able to survive the torrential rain later in the month. Other highlights for the month included a Wood Sandpiper and a pair of Garganey at Grimley New Workings, but all of these records were significantly over-shadowed when it was belatedly reported that a Squacco Heron had visited a small Fishing Pool near Hanley Swan on two separate dates. This is the first record for Worcestershire and only the third ever in the West Midlands Bird Club area.

July was also dominated by wet weather, though this was seemingly enjoyed by an increasing number of Little Egrets at several sites. A Quail called at Grimley during the first week and was followed by a Little Gull and then a Black Tern. An Osprey was seen near Barnt Green and early returning waders included a couple of Wood Sandpipers and a party of 20 Black-tailed Godwits at Upton Warren.

Little Egret numbers continued to increase during August, with a new County record total of ten being seen at Grimley New Workings. The now expected run of juvenile Mediterranean Gulls appeared and as usual, mainly favoured the Upton Warren roost, with a peak of three birds early in the month. Several eclipse Garganey were found, but perhaps the most interesting wildfowl record was of six juvenile Ruddy Shelduck that visited Kinsham and Bredon’s Hardwick. Although normally passed off as ‘presumed escapes’, young birds at this time of year could conceivably have originated from further east in Europe. It will probably though take the observation of a ringed bird at some point to prove this as the source of this attractive species.

Two or three Marsh Harriers were seen at Upton Warren, with a single through Lower Moor, whilst an adult Sandwich Tern was accompanied by a juvenile as it commuted between Bittell and Upton Warren during the last week.

September proved to be an exceptional month for rare and unusual birds. It began with a Great White Egret at Grimley, though sadly it moved on after only a couple of hours of active feeding alongside several Little Egrets. This species is becoming more regular in the UK with an increasing population on the near continent, so this second record was much anticipated, but nonetheless widely enjoyed.

A good selection of waders were seen during the month, with a muddy flash pool at the Trust’s newly created Longdon Marsh reserve attracting a Little Stint and then two Spotted Redshank as well several commoner species. Three Knot visited Bittell, whilst several Curlew Sandpipers stopped for a few days at this site and also at Upton Warren. The star bird though was a juvenile Wilson’s Phalarope that spent four days on the Upton Warren flashes. It performed very well for an extensive and appreciative audience and again constituted the second record for the County – 22 years after the first !

A selection of other notable species included a Wryneck at Stoke Prior, juvenile Gannets over Bittell and Upton Warren, an Osprey over the Gwen Finch Reserve and both Scaup and Common Scoter at Grimley.

Remarkably, the third Phalarope species of the year for the County, a Grey, visited Bittell at the end of the Month, though it only paused briefly. To round off a ‘red-letter’ month, a juvenile Sabine’s Gull (only the fifth for the County) also passed through Bittell whilst the fortunate observers were watching the previous species!

October continued in much the same rich vein as September, with another (or perhaps the same ?) Great White Egret visiting Upton Warren briefly on the opening day. A Richard’s Pipit was then seen briefly at Grimley New Workings one late afternoon at the end of the first week, before being disturbed by a Sparrowhawk, sadly not to be seen again. Remarkably, the same observer found the County’s first confirmed Lapland Bunting at the same site a few minutes later! It roosted overnight and was heard calling as it flew of high to the south-east the following morning. In what has turned out to be a good autumn for this species nationally, another bird of this species was heard over the North Malverns a week or so later, with a possible further two birds glimpsed flying off from the slopes of Worcestershire Beacon.

A late Marsh Harrier was seen over Upton Warren, before a ‘ringtail’ Hen Harrier also flew through the Moors, later being viewed near Hanbury Hall. Other birds of prey included a Red Kite over Abberley, Short-eared Owl at three sites and a late Hobby at Lower Moor.

Winter migrants arrived and included two Brent Geese that spent a short time at Upton Warren, whilst six Pink-footed Geese were seen flying over Malvern Link. A Bittern returned to Upton Warren mid-month and unexpectedly, another juvenile Sabine’s Gull passed through Upper Bittell. Black Redstarts were found on the edge of Kempsey Common and near British Camp, with a Snow Bunting on North Hill rounding off an excellent autumn for birds in the County.

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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