1-30 April 2009 blog and sightings

29-30 April 2009 The month finished on the same note with a few waders appearing on the Severn on 30th. Four Grey Plover (two stunning breeding plumage birds), 4 Bar-tailed Godwit, 42 Dunlin, 20 Ringed Plover swelled the ranks. A drake Garganey was my first WWT bird of the year.

28 April 2009 A very cold morning, ice all over my car at 0600. It led to a nice sea-fog moving up the estuary later in the morning and a good backdrop for the Roe Deer at Middle Point. Very few migrants around but a nice surprise came in the form of a singing Wood Warbler at WWT. Only my fourth on the reserve. I feel it probably arrived a day or two ago rather than overnight. Many birds had again departed, I saw only 3 Greenshank and Little-ringed Plovers around the Bottom New Piece but another of the latter in the 100 Acre this afternoon in the company of a stunning White Wagtail were what were likely to be the only non-large gull or hirundine migrants around. The calmer weather did make it easier to hear all the Lesser and Common Whitethroats today but again no Willow Warbler noted, the wave has passed, will we see any more locally in the Vale this Spring?

Wood Warbler, WWT MJM


Severn sea-fog


Roebuck at Middle Point


27 April 2009 My sightings for the day included 5 Brown Hares seen today at WWT. Some birds from the past few days still showing up like the breeding plumaged Bar-tailed Godwit in the WWT 100 Acre which was joined by 5 Ringed Plover and 4 Dunlin. Very little seen on the estuary and apparent that a clearout had happened overnight. I saw a single Large Red Damselfly seen in the 100 Acre. as well as Hobby fattening up. A pair of Little ringed Plover and two Snipe are notable for the Bottom New Piece. Again at lunchtime the Mediterranean Gulls were on South Lake, for the second year we have displaying birds in the B.H.Gull colony and it has been a target for our breeding birds addtion list on the WWT reserve. All the hard work on the reconstruction of this island in Nov 2007 is really paying off, I wait to see what happens…

Late in the afternoon large numbers of hirundines built up over the reserve.

26 April 2009 On the rounds the resplendent Curlew Sandpiper was joined by 20 Dunlin, two of which were in non-breeding plumage and were of the larger and longer legged and billed race. They may have been responsible for numerous accounts of three Curlew Sandpipers, see images.

The two long billed/legged Dunlin and Curlew Sandpiper on the WWT TNP.



Three Greenshank were also present here, a good number for Spring these days. A pair of Little-ringed Plover seem to be on territory on the Bottom New Piece marsh. Lots of migrants around at WWT and only my second Roe Deer on the reserve, a good safari produced this and a number of migrants including 4 Whimbrel, male Whinchat and 2 active Hobbies feeding on insects. Sadly many deer drown in the canal as they cannot get out after crossing making them scarce, they have been seen crossing the estuary.

A lunchtime look at WWT South Lake and no less than three Mediterranean Gulls were noted with 2 Common Sandpiper, a third on the Rushy. All three can be seen here, two first summers and a second summer (like and adult but with black chevrons in the wingtips or black mirrows).

1st summer #1


1st summer #2 with Common Gull


Second summer washing but showing black in wing.


As I walked into the Peng Obs to collect a special visitor I noted a calling LRP over and my first Swifts. It was the conclusion of Paul Walkdens book launch, Geese of the New Grounds (details will appear on the news page soon). I was delighted to spend the afternoon with DIM Ian Wallace and look around some of his old birding grounds in the late 1960’s. It was fascinating to hear the accounts of  Gloucestershire rarities and the habitats of the great Severn bowl but I was somewhat relieved that he was only in the county for a few years. At least this left some rarities for the rest of us to find for the future. An inspiring man and very sharp birder with an amazing memory for everything to do with birds. We noted some good birds with a flock of 50 Swift descending above us whilst out.

25 April 2009 A spectacular dawn chorus in the Forest of Dean (0430-0540 when the rain started) was followed at midday by a look at a Whiskered Tern at Frampton.


24 April 2009 I noted my first Blue-tailed Damselflies of the year locally (two teneral and one mature) and 15 Large Red Damselfies. Lots of Speckled Woods and two Common Sandpiper as well.

20-23 April 2009 Back in Glos and a good week of migrants, insects and weather. On Monday 20 April I was back at work for a couple of hours when I spotted a harrier heading up the reserve, JSL and I managed to get a scope on it when it perched on a post and it turned out to be a female Montagu’s Harrier, a Buzzard attacked it after which it dissapeared. I relocated it over Saul Warth ten minutes later as it thermalled and then headed off over my house in Whitminster. My first Large Red Damselflies of the year were noted (2).

Also whilst I was at work this week…on 21 April my first Whinchat, Grasshopper Warbler and Cuckoo of the year plus a brief Pectoral Sandpiper in the WWT 100 Acre. A male Ruff in breeding plumage was also good to see. The latter two singing and displaying. On 22 April it was a breeding plumaged Curlew Sandpiper that stole the show whilst I was on the rounds but also a Common Sandpiper was a first of the year locally. I also saw a first summer Mediterreanean Gull was on WWT South Lake and an adult summer was on the WWT 100 Acre later in the day.

The 23 April continued in good form with a lovely full breeding plumaged Bar-tailed Godwit flying around the 100 Acre early in the morning another Common Sandpiper, 3 Whimbrel, a Garganey, Wheatear, 2-3 Ruff in breeding plumage (a black male that was at WWT the other day), 11 Black-tailed Godwits 14 Redshank, a Greenshank and the first Lapwing chicks of the year. A first summer Mediterranean Gull was in the WWT 100 Acre. The Grashopper Warbler was still reeling in the WWT 100 Acre and I saw it displaying to a female. A male Whinchat was on the fence in the afternoon.

My first Whinchat of the year and for Glos? 22 April 2009 MJM


Painted Lady seen 22 and 24 April with my first Large Red Damelflies on 21 April and first Hairy Dragonfly on 23 April were all on the WWT Slimbridge reserve.



My first Grasshopper Warbler of the year MJM


Kingfisher MJM


6-19 April 2009 I was in Spain for two weeks in Andalucia and Extremadura, a lot of birds and wildlife seen. The Extremadura trip report is now on the trip reports section.

Greater Flamingo, Donana MJM


5 April 2009 A White Wagtail, Little ringed Plover and 2 Short-eared Owls were highlights at WWT today. A party of 40 Meadow Pipit were also noted.

Meadow Pipit MJM


Shortie and Severn Shelducks MJM


4 April 2009 No birding but last night on return from a victorious skittles match at the pub where Harriet won the game for us I got a shot of what is only my second of the year so far. Her scream resulted in me seeing a Hedgehog not a Rat in my garden, I have left access points under my new fence to allow them in and out.


3 April 2009 Out and about at Frampton on Severn where I saw my first Garganey of the year, a lone male which is no doubt waiting for the females to arrive. c20 Swallow, 10 Sand Martin and a 4 Black-tailed Godwit were also seen but the mist made it hard to see too far. In my garden was the first Orange Tip butterfly of the year!

Orange Tip male Whitminster, Panasonic Lumix DMC FZ28 M.J.McGill


2 April 2009 A decent large gull passage through N at WWT all day. 6 Swallow N and the American Wigeon were also of note.

1 April 2009 A great start to the month with some fine views of an Otter at WWT Slimbridge. A single Sand Martin and a  flock of 200+ Black-headed Gull around the 100 Acre/Frampton was of interest. A Little-ringed Plover flew around the tractor where I was topping on the Bottom New Piece and a Red Kite made it’s way N in the afternoon.


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