Friday 14 May – Frampton on Severn Leader: Mike Jackson

Six of us met at 18:00 for this evening walk. Under fine bright skies we ventured first to the sailing lake, passing a Great Spotted Woodpecker in mature garden trees as we went. At the lake we could see Tufted Duck and up to a dozen Common Tern, some on the floating structure that always attracts them and some hunting low over the water, continually dropping to the surface to pick off morsels. Swifts were in good numbers with scores forming a dense gathering over the lake’s shoreline and the adjacent meadow. Sand Martin numbers matched those of Swifts but Swallows and House Martins were less numerous. A sizeable dark raptor appeared in the sky and arced around and across the lake without actually giving much away. We all agreed it was not a Buzzard, Osprey or Kite, but we couldn’t absolutely nail it as a Marsh Harrier which we felt was its probable identity. Reed Warbler, Blackcap and Song Thrush gave their renditions as we reached the south bank. Whitethroat, Chaffinch and Greenfinch joined the list, as well as a ground dwelling Rook.
Hirundines on the overhead wire appeared to all be Swallows but a couple of them stayed after the others had flown. We spent a while picking out the two remaining birds field-marks from their right rear, only for one of them to realight and face the other way offering us the full view, these two now easily identified as Sand Martins.
A fly-by Stock Dove, and a close to shore Great Crested Grebe and Green Woodpecker raised the tally before we stopped at the cereal fields for a patient search for a not found Yellow Wagtail. On we went to the damp woodland where common bird song surrounded us. Cetti’s Warbler was close, but as usual remained completely hidden, while a group of Long-tailed Tits were more obliging. Then an unexpected sound of a loose metal stake being hit with a metal hammer was identified as a Coot pinging from the dense vegetation!
The rain set in for the next ten minutes but when it stopped a dark falcon raced across the now dim skyline to quickly veer out of sight – Hobby! Nearing the end of the walk we scanned the parkland in front of Frampton Court to find a gaggle of geese. This gave rise to a conversation about wild, introduced and feral birds, and particularly the origin of the Ross’s Goose we were watching, while a hybrid Snow x Bar-headed Goose encouraged further comment. Greylag, Canada and Barnacle were the other three. We ended just before 21:00 with 42 species (including the harrier and geese).
Thanks to the group for making it such an enjoyable walk (and thanks to Mike for leading). Mike Jackson