Worcestershire Record No. 25 November 2008 p. 35


Gavin Peplow

This summer has been a little better weather-wise than that of 2007, though there were only short periods of higher temperatures and dryer spells. Nonetheless a good range of bird species have been found and enjoyed by many with some notable highlights particularly during the spring and autumn migration periods.

Black Terns were a notable feature during the first half of May, with sightings from most of the main wetland sites and peak counts of 19 at both Bredon’s Hardwick and Upton Warren on two separate dates. A Stone Curlew sitting in the middle of a tilled field near Shenstone was completely unexpected during the first weekend and was only the fourth modern Worcestershire record of this species. The same day saw a party of three Common Cranes drift steadily south, being picked up over Hartlebury Common and later Clifton Gravel Pits. Wader passage was fairly concentrated with the highlights including both Little and Temminck’s Stints at Lower Moor, a Knot at Clifton, two separate Turnstone at Throckmorton Lagoons and several Wood Sandpipers and Sanderling seen at expected sites. A Honey Buzzard was reported over British Camp, but perhaps more surprising was an unseasonal Brent Goose that lingered at Ryall and then Clifton Pits towards the month’s end.

June and July were typically quieter months but it’s pleasing to report that the Upton Warren Avocets were again successful, with three pairs raising young this year. Wandering birds of this species were also noted at Lower Moor and at Throckmorton Tip. Quail were heard at Longdon Marsh, seemingly becoming a favoured locality for this species, with another calling at Shenstone. Little Tern and Wood Sandpiper at Holt and Grimley respectively in early June were probably late migrants still moving north, whilst Little Egrets began to be found from this time, building up to higher numbers through July. Two Common Scoter and a Sandwich Tern at Bittell were good mid-summer birds and a few small parties of Crossbill were found at several scattered sites, though any anticipation of a more substantial influx remained unfulfilled !

Little Egrets were increasingly reported throughout August with a maximum of seven at both Bredon’s Hardwick and Grimley during the month. Several Mediterranean Gulls joined the Upton Warren Black-head roost, whilst poor weather mid-month encouraged a Knot to pause at Clifton Pits. This site was then visited by a County record of 12 Red-crested Pochard the following day, before these birds seemingly dispersed over the next week or so with individuals being seen at Pirton and subsequently Kemerton, Throckmorton Lagoon and Westwood. A few Black Terns moved through during the third week, but the highlight at the end of a month was a summer plumaged Red-necked Grebe that spent a day at Clifton Pit. On the same day Upton Warren attracted both a Marsh Harrier and a Grey Plover.

Early September witnessed a strong Tern passage, coinciding with a period of heavy rain and flooding of the lower Severn and Avon river valleys. Sandwich Terns were found at Upton Warren, Bredon’s Hardwick and Clifton Pit, whilst counts of Arctic Tern peaked with parties of 32 then 55 at Bredon’s Hardwick and 33 at Clifton Pit. Several Ospreys drifted through the County, with Bittell attracting one or more birds on three separate dates. Mid-month passage encouraged birders onto North Hill, Malvern to enjoy close up views of a juvenile Dotterel, whilst on the same day a Grey Phalarope arrived at Upton Warren. Wrynecks were found in an Inkberrow garden and near Lincomb, but neither hung around for long. In what has been a very good year for the species another Brent Goose turned up in the Kempsey – Clifton area, but this time attracted additional interest as it was identified as being a juvenile of the Pale-bellied race – a sub-species that some observers believe merits full specific status. Needless to say, this is the first County record of this form, the majority of which winter in Ireland. The first Black-necked Grebe of the year was found at Westwood Pool and Little Stints were found at Ryall and Upton Warren. Lower Moor attracted some quality waders in the form of a Grey Plover and then two Pectoral Sandpipers, though these latter birds only remained one evening. In what has been a good autumn nationally for the species, at least three Honey Buzzards were reported passing over the County but none lingered. A Red-backed Shrike was an unexpected find in a weedy field just south of Larford Pool in the last week and was surprisingly followed at the month’s end by a Great Grey Shrike feeding from farmland hedgerows just north of Bredicot. This bird was well watched as it lingered for nearly two weeks.

Two Bitterns returned to Upton Warren in early October and another was reported on a single date at the Gwen Finch Reserve, Nafford. Late Ospreys were seen over Clifton Pit, at Kyre Pool, Witley Court and over Bewdley whilst returning Lesser Redpoll flocks contained at least three Mealy Redpolls at Old Storridge. Only one Black Redstart was reported – on Bredon Hill, but the find of the month was a Shore Lark that gave excellent views on the shingle islands at Upton Warren Flashes – only the seventh County record. More expected records included two Red-breasted Merganser at Bittell and a Snow Bunting on Worcestershire Beacon, but one or more Gannets near Bewdley and four days later flying over Diglis Lock were a bigger surprise.

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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