BIRDS IN WORCESTERSHIRE - April 2002 to October 2002

by Gavin Peplow

Another summer has passed with a mix of early season wet weather before drying out into a very warm and rain free September, before the rainfall and strong winds came back with a vengeance later in October. This was perhaps a less spectacular season than of late for unusual visitors, though a few more scarce migrants were reported towards the end of the period.

Late April saw a fairly typical though always welcomed flush of passage waders and returning summer visitors, with highlights including a Sandwich Tern at Upton Warren, an Arctic Tern for several days at Grimley New Workings and a Bar-tailed Godwit at Kinsham.

Early May witnessed the discovery of a first year Shag at the Gullet Quarry, Malvern Hills, that had reportedly been first seen during January. It surprisingly remained tolerant of considerable human disturbance into at least July. The month continued to pick up pace with wader passage featuring three Bar-tailed Godwits at Wilden sludge lagoons (before their sad demise/infilling in the autumn) with further birds at Grimley and Ryall. Turnstones were seen at Bredon's Hardwick, Throckmorton Tip, Grimley and Kinsham, whilst Wood Sandpipers at Upton Warren and Grimley provided an attractive alternative to the passage Green Sandpipers at that time. A White Stork circled low over Lower Moor before soaring steadily north mid-month but despite the apparent lack of any human handling (in the form of metal or plastic rings !) could needless to say not be certainly assigned to origin with ever-increasing numbers of escaped birds known to be roaming the Country. Two Sanderlings paused briefly at Grimley and a Little Stint visited Upton Warren.

As summer progressed into June, an adult Honey Buzzard was an exciting find drifting over Kinsham and led to thoughts that this could one day conceivably become a breeding species in the County, with increasing numbers being recorded each year nationally. The rest of the month was fairly quiet with the breeding season well under way for common and scarcer species alike A Little Egret was still unusual at Upton Warren, but this time stayed over a few days before re-locating to the west of the River Severn in the Grimley/Hallow area at the beginning of July.

A Quail showed to a few patient observers near Chaddesley Corbett at the start of the month, whilst breeding species included Oystercatchers with three young at Bredon's Hardwick, and for the second year Great Black-backed Gulls raised two chicks there and Common Terns nested for the first time, rearing three juveniles. Nearby Greylag Geese were successful at Kinsham again, further establishing their westward spread across the Country. It was also encouraging to hear of six juvenile Barn Owls being seen during the month near Pershore. Later in the month six separate Mediterranean Gulls were seen at Upton Warren and Yellow-legged Gulls returned to Throckmorton Landfill site.

August arrived with a glut of Garganey, six being seen at Upton Warren and three at the Gwen Finch Reserve, Nafford. The Little Egret lingered in the Grimley area and was joined by a second bird for a short period. A Common Scoter was seen during a period of thunderstorms at Westwood Pool and Wood Sandpipers appeared at Grimley and Ryall Pit. This month also saw the arrival of several parties of Crossbills, including at least forty in the Wyre Forest and ten in the Lenches, whilst a Wryneck paid a brief visit to a High Green garden in the last week.

Early September yielded an adult Spotted Crake at Grimley Old Workings, perhaps even the same bird that was seen there a couple of years ago?! Anyway, it found the reed bed fringe habitat to its liking and stayed there over two weeks. Four Curlew Sandpipers paused a while at Upton Warren and two Knot were seen along the Bittell shoreline whilst a Spotted Redshank proved elusive in the virtually dry habitat comprising the Gwen Finch Reserve at this time.

This has proved to be a very good autumn for Rock Pipits with several multiple sightings culminating in a group of five seen at Kinsham at the end of October. A controversial eclipse drake Scaup at Westwood promoted debate at the time, whilst a Ferruginous Duck at Grimley and then Westwood, proved popular. The second half of the month gathered pace with a double figure total of Little Gulls being recorded around the County, and returning wild Swans included up to five Bewick's at Westwood, joined by an adult Whooper for a couple of days. A family party of this last species also visited Bredon's Hardwick a short while later.

Brief glimpses of Bitterns were reported at Podmoor Pool, Kidderminster and at Westwood, whilst a Grey Phalarope visited Bittell after strong winds. The review period finished on a high note with a female Long-tailed Duck again at Westwood, whilst two or three Grey Plovers were recorded around the County and a pair of Red-breasted Mergansers dropped into Upton Warren at the months' end.

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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