Ashleworth Ham CES Visit – April 2018


After a delay caused by the spring flood, the first visits to set up the ringing site have been made. Access was only possible wearing waders, and on Friday afternoon, waders were necessary to get into some of the net lanes. Today however, the water had subsided sufficiently, to make waders only necessary to get across to the ringing site. Once there, wellingtons were sufficient.

The customary greeting from across the ham of a curlew calling was made, and throughout the morning bubbling calls were heard, and at one point three birds came into the reserve. With much flood water still around waterfowl were present in reasonable numbers, a flock of twelve mute swans were on the flooded fields, along with Canada geese, greylag geese, mallard, shelduck and a few teal. Three grey herons and two little egrets were patrolling the edges of the flood. A pair of lapwing, that were no doubt hoping to breed were displaying over the flooded front field.

The late spring, with cold weather, then a flood, has led to the summer migrants arriving late, and although a few were caught, numbers were low, and only a few birds were singing. Willow warblers were the most noticeable, and a chiff chaff was also singing. A couple of bursts of Sedge warbler song were heard, a single whitethroat and late in the morning after it had warmed up two lesser whitethroats became very vocal. All around the reserve Skylarks were singing strongly, and a blackbird sang briefly. A few reed buntings were caught, but none were in breeding condition, and none were heard singing. One of the willow warblers caught had a ring on, that was not from Ashleworth, so where it came from will be reported later.

On the way out, at the end of the session, the remains of an otter’s dinner were found on the sluice gate bridge, along with lots of footprints and a fresh spraint alongside some old spraints. The bream and a carp had been brought to the bridge to eat, presumably caught in the flood water as it dropped. A number of large carp had been observed Friday afternoon swimming in the flood water, and presumably become easy prey as the water drops. Elsewhere across the ham a large flock of gulls could be seen, also feeding from the spoils of the flood. Back at the car in “dirty lane” two roe deer were observed for a while grazing in one of the new fields.

Birds trapped: Blackbird 1, Blue tit 3, Reed Bunting 3, Sedge warbler 2, Willow Warbler 2, Blackcap 1, Bullfinch 1, Chaffinch 1.

Birds seen: Mute Swan 12, Canada Goose 9, Greylag Goose 2, Grey heron 3, Mallard 16, Teal 4, Coot 5, Moorhen 1, Little egret 2, Skylark, Blue tit, Great tit, Blackbird, Song thrush, Robin, Dunnock, Wren, Sedge Warbler, Chiff Chaff 1, Willow Warbler 2, Whitethroat 1, Lesser Whitethroat 2, Reed Bunting, Linnet, Chaffinch, Bullfinch, Carrion Crow, Lesser Black Backed Gull, Kestrel, Buzzard, Curlew 3, Lapwing 2 , Oystercatcher 2, Woodpigeon.

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