Birds At The New Gwen Finch Wetlands, Birlingham: July/August 1999

By John Hodson (Worcestershire Wildlife Trust)

I visited Gwen Finch Wetlands on the 30th July with Andy Graham in order to check on the water levels in the various pools. They were low due to lack of rain, several leaks and failing wind pumps. To counter these problems Andy had arranged for a large diesel pump to be delivered in the next few days, by which time he would be up to his knees in a Hungarian wetland. It was therefore to be my job to arrange installation of the pump, start it each morning, stop it each evening and take water level readings for the three weeks that Andy would be on holiday. The prospects of doing this were greatly enhanced by the birds that were present on that first visit. Andy had already told me of Green Sandpipers and lots of Lapwing but nothing about the Greenshank, Little Ringed Plovers, Sanderling and first-summer Mediterranean Gull that we saw on that first day.

The following weeks saw bird numbers increasing daily and increasingly interesting birds, such as both Common and Wood Sandpiper on the following day with Ruff the next. The first Common Snipe and Ringed Plovers appeared on August 3rd with two and four birds respectively. On the 5th three Black-tailed Godwits dropped in followed by five more on the 7th. On Sunday 8th August a Curlew Sandpiper in superb full summer plumage arrived together with the first Little Stint. The following day provided two Little Egrets and Green Sandpiper numbers reached eight. The first Teal and Common Terns appeared on the 10th with three and two birds each, and an adult Dunlin on the 11th The next few days saw Green Sandpiper numbers rise to ten by the 17th, with a juvenile Red-necked Phalarope, Peregrine, another Little Stint, Curlew Sandpiper and Little Egret together with Greenshank numbers up to eight on 21st. The Phalarope remained until the 25th and the Curlew Sandpiper until well into September.

Another new wader species arrived on August 27th in the shape of a Spotted Redshank and a further eight Curlew Sandpipers stopped off briefly on the 29th By the end of the month Greenshanks peaked at 13, small numbers of Teal together with three Wigeon arrived, and Peregrine, Hobby, Raven, Cuckoo and Turtle Dove were seen.

The total number of wader species for August reached 18 with most of them probably new for the site. Species other than waders were recorded but it was the waders that were able to exploit the site in such an exciting way. It may not prove to be so attractive to migrant waders in future years, and there will certainly be more competition for the aquatic invertebrates on which they were feeding , but as the site develops it will hopefully provide breeding habitat for some of them.

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