Birds in Worcestershire – May to October 2010

Gavin Peplow

This has been rather a mixed summer, starting quite cool with limited hotter weather in May and June, before turning more unsettled thereafter. Early indications were that it was generally quite a good breeding season for many commoner species, potentially allowing some population recovery from the very cold preceding winter.

As always, May was a very active month in the Birder’s calendar with a good number of scarcer passage birds appearing in the County. Up to four Marsh Harriers were seen at Upton Warren and another flew north over Strensham early in the month. Red Kites continue to increase and were widely reported, but only two Ospreys were noted – concluding rather a poor passage for this species.

Tern and wader passage was typically concentrated when the weather turned less favourable, with at least 16 Arctic Terns and 23 Whimbrel passing through Upton Warren at the start of the second week. Probably the same flock of Whimbrel were later seen flying north over Wassell Grove. A Black Redstart lingered a few days on Bredon Hill and was then followed by two Dotterel on a single date mid month. Two Sandwich Terns spent a short time at Upton Warren after a Long-eared Owl was a surprise find roosting on the east side of the Moors Pool. A little later in the month a Spoonbill flew over the reserve before heading south-west and was then being picked up over Grimley, though sadly it didn’t land at either site.

A Red-necked Phalarope near the end of the month was the first record for Westwood and was enjoyed by many, but perhaps most unexpected was the reappearance of a Bittern at Upton Warren – presumably a failed or non-breeding bird. It continued to be seen intermittently throughout the summer and this is the first time there’s been such a record in the County.

June was typically quiet, though with some notable highlights. Most exceptional was a pale phase Arctic Skua that flew north over Ripple Pits mid month. This has always been a rare and difficult bird to see in Worcestershire and invariably when they do occur, they only seem to be seen by the finder!

A Little Tern spent a short while at Upton Warren, but a female Red-necked Phalarope later in the month at this site was much appreciated by many observers. Elsewhere Quail were heard calling at Abberton, Bluntington and Longdon Marsh.

Little Egrets were seen at many wetland sites during July, with the highest count being six birds roosting at Bredon’s Hardwick, whilst two or three juvenile Mediterranean Gulls joined the Upton Warren roost during the month. A Wood Sandpiper lingered a few days at Bittell and a Common Scoter was found at Grimley.

Wader passage picked up in August with the highlights being a Spotted Redshank at Clifton Pits, two Knot at Grimley, a Little Stint and a party of eight Curlew Sandpipers at Upton Warren, though both of the latter records were brief. A Marsh Harrier also passed through Upton Warren mid month and further Mediterranean Gulls continued to be seen there. Little Gulls visited Bittell and Grimley, the latter being particularly confiding during its ten day stay.

September was mixed in terms of the weather, but the stormy conditions produced some interesting sightings. Two Black-necked Grebes spent a couple of days at Westwood and a few Black Terns were seen, including a party of five at Clifton, welcomed after a very poor spring passage for this species. Strong winds drove an unprecedented two Grey Phalaropes into the County on the same day mid month - at Grimley and Upton Warren, whilst both a Great Skua and a Pectoral Sandpiper were also seen at this last site.

The most eagerly anticipated event of the autumn came to fruition for local birders during the third week, when a party of five Lapland Buntings landed on North Hill, Malvern. There were then further sightings of up to three birds over the following few days. This followed several weeks of exceptionally large numbers of this species being reported in northern Britain, with a gradual southwards movement as the autumn progressed. With the increased observer coverage, a Dotterel was also reported flying over North Hill at this time. An Osprey visited Grimley over a couple of days and another Marsh Harrier was seen at Upton Warren, before an Arctic Skua flew through Westwood at the end of the month.

A Sandwich Tern flew through Upton Warren in early October and several Rock Pipits were seen around the County, whilst a Scaup dropped in to Westwood. Bredon and the Malvern Hills continued to get good coverage, with observers rewarded with several Ring Ouzels at both sites, Short-eared Owl, Black Redstart and Hen Harrier on Bredon, a Woodlark, another Lapland Bunting and Great Grey Shrike on the Malverns. Also before the end of the month, both sites hosted a small number of Waxwings, the precursor of good numbers ‘irrupting’ south following a poor autumn berry crop in Scandinavia. The month concluded with a Whooper Swan calling in to both Bittell and Upton Warren and a party of two, then increasing to four White-fronted Geese also at the former locality, whilst yet another Black Redstart, this time at Lower Moor, concluded a very good series of records for the species.

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).