Worcestershire Record No. 6 April 1999 p. 18


Gavin Peplow

Editor's note.The Worcestershire Wildlife Trust Newsletter Panel has decided not to continue publishing the regular bird notes. It is hoped that  some notes on Worcestershire bird records will appear regularly in Worcestershire Record. The notes below were originally prepared for Worcestershire Wildlife News.

This has been another wet, though rather mild winter with perhaps the most interesting avian feature being the record numbers of wild geese stopping over in the County. Most exiting was the discovery of two parties of Bean Geese at Bredon's Hardwick. Firstly, two birds accompanied a flock of 28 White-fronts there at the beginning of December, and these were followed by a further five birds at the end of the same month. These are only the fourth and fifth records ever of this species in the County and perhaps reflect an increasing wintering population of this 'Tundra' race on the near continent.

Following October's flock of Pink-footed Geese at Wilden, an amazing skein of 83 birds were located at Strensham one day at the end of January, whilst a Brent Goose at Larford around the New Year was slightly more predictable. To cap these records off, an Egyptian Goose (though undoubtedly originating from captive ancestry) appeared briefly at Westwood, also in January.

Other notable sightings from our wetland habitats included a Slavonian Grebe at Bittell in mid November; red head Smews there and at Bredon's Hardwick and Westwood on various single dates; a Red-breasted Merganser also at Westwood in early November and drake Scaup again there and at Grimley. Three Whooper Swans only paused briefly at Upton Warren in late December whilst only single figure counts of Bewick's Swans were made - at Bredon's Hardwick, Grimley and Longdon Marsh, early in the winter.

A somewhat elusive Red Kite was seen over several days on Bredon Hill in November whilst one over Tiddesley Wood in early February was believed to be the first for the reserve. Merlins, never easy to catch up with, were reported from at least six scattered localities and a 'ringtail' Hen Harrier was reported from Dunclent, also in November.

Winter isn't recognised as being the best time to look for waders in the County, so a long-staying Knot at Upton Warren from November into mid-December was a pleasant surprise as were six Black-tailed Godwits at the same site during this period. Elsewhere the highest count of Golden Plover has been of 600 over Pirton in early January - disappointingly low, as were reports of Lapwing flocks throughout the County.

Gulls are an ever present feature of local birdlife these days but the 'unusual' always attract some interest. During the review period the highlights from this group included four Mediterranean Gulls, five Kittiwakes and first winter Glaucous Gulls over Frankley in January and at Westwood on one date in February. As this family of birds are scrutinised ever closer, the boundaries of identification are pushed further and further back and as an illustration of this, a Caspian Gull - a middle-eastern form of Yellow-legged Herring Gull (itself not yet universally recognised as a full species), was identified at Westwood in February

Remaining from October, the Great Grey Shrike was seen around Bredon Hill until mid November and at this time up to four Snow Buntings were found on the Malvern Hills, with other singletons on Bredon and over Ombersley Golf Course.

A Black Redstart lingered around Castlemorton Church at the end of November whilst nearby two Firecrests and up to seven Hawfinches attracted local birders to Chase End Hll on the Malverns. Indeed this has been a good winter for Firecrests with additional birds also found at Flyford Pool and at Powick.

Other notable records included up to eight Redpolls of the larger Scandinavian "Mealy" form at Holt and a report of two Bearded Tits briefly at nearby Grimley in early January. Finally, on a slightly more optimistic note for two species believed to be declining, flocks of 28 Tree Sparrows and 78 Corn Buntings were counted in southeast Worcestershire.

Records compiled from reports received by Birdline Midlands

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