Curlews at roosts at the equinox – 15 to 22 September 2020


15 September 2020 – First report

Exminster Marshes RSPB reserve

First report on this week’s big tides of a roost count from James Diamond. He reports that the evening of 15 September had a roost of 50 Curlews including three colour-ringed birds:

  • Two birds ringed on the Exe in Feb/March this year.
  • The first sighting of a bird ringed as a first-winter male in Ceredigion, mid-Wales in October 2018, marked as Orange: 6E.

James adds that the Welsh bird was ringed by Tony Cross and that this was the first sighting since ringing. “It is one of two birds from the Welsh scheme I recorded on the Exe in September so far.”

 

16 September 2020 – Updates on Curlew roosts

The Skern, Northam, Taw-Torridge

“I checked the roost site on this evening’s high tide (18:01). Too much disturbance from people and dogs. Just three Curlews took a look at the site around high tide but went elsewhere. 26 Dunlin and two Ringed Plover were feeding on the tideline at high tide and one Oystercatcher on the saltmarsh.”

Chris Dee
Devon and Cornwall Wader Ringing Group

 

Guscar Rocks, west bank of the Severn estuary, between Lydney and Chepstow.

This is the area near Wibdon where a BTO team led by Dave Coker and Steve Dodd colour-ringed about 160 Curlews between 2010 and 2013. These birds have been intensively studied and re-sighted since then, in particular by John Sanders, who has authored (with WWT and BTO colleagues) a series of papers on ring loss, dates of return and survival (all referenced on the Curlewcall website).

On 16 September, John had another session at Guscar Rocks on the late afternoon tide, using his hide to get close to the birds. He comments:

“53 Wibdon cr-Curlews and 6 headstarts from WWT, Slimbridge, but only one new bird for the autumn. Despite the wind, forecast at 10 mph but much stronger, the birds came so close to my screen that I was able to read the headstarts. Usually they are wary of the flapping material, and I nearly took off last evening, with a lot of telescope shake. The indications are that there has been a big drop in numbers since last spring, but more counts are needed: 340 on Sheperdine Sands, and about 460 came into roost.”

 

17 September 2020

Usk estuary, Newport, south Wales

This area comprises the Newport Wetlands National Nature Reserve on the west side of the estuary and the east bank of the estuary near the West Usk lighthouse at St Brides. In winter 2015/16, 41 Curlews were colour-ringed near West Usk lighthouse by a BTO/WWT team. These birds have not been as intensively followed up as the Wibdon catches, but we are trying to catch up.

On normal tides, Curlews roost at high tide on the foreshore in the National Nature Reserve, or on the east bank of the Usk. When the foreshore is covered by very high tides, the Curlews may move onto the Golddliff Lagoons, just inside the seawall of the National Nature Reserve, where there are a number of well-placed observation points and hides. Sometimes large gatherings of Curlews occur at dusk at Goldcliff: 400 were reported in the evening of 15 September, and the total number of Curlews in the immediate area is likely to be around 400-500 birds. This morning was the beginning of the high tide cycle, but the easterly wind probably reduced its height slightly.

At first light today, Blair Jones and Mike Smart were in the hides overlooking Goldcliff Lagoons, while Chris Wells was at the beach at West Usk lighthouse. At Goldcliff Lagoons 67 Curlews had roosted overnight (which raises another series of questions about whether Curlews normally join night roosts, for discussion elsewhere and later!); none of them were colour-ringed; they flew out of the lagoons at 7 a.m. (about an hour before high tide) and joined a high tide roost of totalling 120 Curlews on the foreshore Spartina near Boat Road; this area was not submerged by the high tide, so the Curlews stayed on the foreshore, too far off for rings to be read. Nice display of other waders on the foreshore and lagoons: 85 Oystercatchers, 7 Bar-tailed Godwits, 365 Black-tailed Godwits, 145 Knots, 63 Redshanks, not to mention two Glossy Ibises and a male Marsh Harrier. Meanwhile at West Usk lighthouse, the beach was disturbed by a dog-walker, so no rings could be read by Chris Wells; nor were any rings seen when the mudflats were uncovered by the falling tide.

 

Dumbles, Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, Slimbridge

The Dumbles is the area of raised saltmarsh grassland outside the sea wall at Slimbridge. A Curlew roost normally develops right at the edge of the Dumbles, generally too far off for colour rings or numbered rings to be read accurately. The hope is that the large tides in the next few days will push roosting birds closer to the Estuary Tower or other observation points, so that rings can be read. This morning’s tide was not exceptionally high, so the Curlews were not pushed very close. Scott Petrek reports: “235 Curlews in total, plus another 16 at Royal Drift, including four head-started birds from Slimbridge 2019, plus another colour-ringed bird. Colours could be seen but not numbers. The additional colour-ringed bird had pale blue over black on the left, and white over red on the right. Tides much bigger next few days, so will try again for numbers: peak day is Saturday morning at 10.30 a.m.; peak over cycle on Friday and Saturday nights in the dark.”

More details are on the WWT website, including a Lesser Yellowlegs which arrived at Slimbridge today. We hope to report later on the origins and life history of the colour-ringed Curlew seen at Slimbridge today.

 

18 September 2020

Usk Estuary, south Wales

Once again today at first light, Blair Jones and Mike Smart were at Goldcliff Lagoons, while Chris Wells was at West Usk lighthouse. The high tide at about 08.37 was a little higher than yesterday’s (despite the continuing quite strong easterly winds; the normal south-westerlies would have pushed the tide quite a bit higher). Only four Curlews were present on the lagoons at first light, presumably birds that had spent the night there. As the tide rose, a few more Curlews came in and started to feed on the grassy islands, making a total of just eleven, none of them ringed. By 08.10, when the saltmarsh along the foreshore was completely submerged by the tide, a group of at least 202 Curlews flew in from the seaward side and landed on the lagoons, close to the seawall hide. Fairly good views were possible (though the birds stood in shallow water so that not all legs could be seen and, in any case, many – as usual – stood on one leg). However in the flock, ten of the 41 birds colour-ringed on the Usk estuary in 2015/16 were definitely identified. One of these birds (Black Red Black) is known to nest in Finland, where it was seen in the same breeding area in 2018 and 2019. Another (Black White Green) was found nesting in Sweden in 2016. Black White Orange, known to nest in Poland and reported there 2018, 2019 and again in April 2020) has not yet been found this autumn. Curlews are well known to be extremely site-faithful, and many of the 41 have been seen back on the Usk in later winters; all ten of those identified today have been seen on the Usk since winter 2015/16, though Black Orange Blue had not been seen since September 2016, and Black Blue Blue had not been seen since February 2017 – mainly because pressure of observation has not been high. Since most of the birds were standing in shallow water, it was not possible to check the rings on the left tarsus, which should all have been Orange over Yellow, the ‘marker’ rings used on all Usk Curlews in 2015/16; but there is no doubt about the identification.

In addition to the ten Usk-ringed birds, another ringed Curlew was seen, this one carrying rings from the series used on head-started chicks released from Slimbridge in summer 2019; these rings are numbered, and the one seen wasn’t close enough for the numbered code to be deciphered; Blair’s photo unfortunately pixelates when magnified, so the ring remains unread; closer look needed!

One point of interest to dedicated readers of rings on Curlews: these rings, placed on the birds five years ago in winter 2015/16 remain very bright and easy to read, and present a strong contrast with the rings used at Wibdon in Gloucestershire between 2010 and 2013, which may fade and/or crack and fall off.

The Curlews didn’t stay for very long; a Marsh Harrier passed over at 09.40, when the tide was dropping, and flushed the birds, which all returned across the seawall to the foreshore where the saltmarsh was now beginning to be uncovered. It really is a case of being in the right place at the right time: to read colour rings at Goldcliff you need to choose a very high tide. Further visits are planned tomorrow morning when the tide is forecast to be a little higher yet, offering good prospects of ring reading.

In addition to the ringed Curlews, a colour-ringed Black-tailed Godwit was seen in the flock of nearly 400 godwits (see Blair’s picture below: the rings are green over blue). Pete Potts reports that it was first ringed as an adult at Langstone Harbour near Portsmouth in October 2013, and since then has been seen many times in its autumn and winter quarters (though not yet in its Icelandic breeding area): in February 2015 and January 2017 in Hampshire; from August to October 2018 in Essex; in January 2019 on the French Atlantic coast; in October 2019 back at Langstone Harbour; since autumn this year at Goldcliff.

On the west bank of the Usk, Chris Wells was less lucky: the high tide drove off all the birds on Lighthouse Beach at St Brides, and he didn’t manage to find any colour-ringed birds on the mudflats as the tide dropped.

 

Dumbles, WWT, Slimbridge

Scott Petrek reports: “Fewer Curlew this morning, 198. One head=started bird, but remained too far to read the ring number.” Also of note were six juvenile Bar-tailed Godwit, two juvenile Knot, a juvenile Ruff, seven Little Egret, 31 Great Black-backed Gull and flock of small waders. Two Marsh Harrier were also seen over the morning, one resting on the spartina island until the last of the tide forced it to take flight. And the Lesser Yellowlegs still present.

Scott Petrek

 

Littleton Warth, South Gloucestershire

Just north of the first motorway bridge across the Severn.  High tide of 11.97m tide at 09.07

“The wind was so strong I could not set my screen, so sheltered behind a huge log under the sea wall.

70 Curlews were at roost on the shore at 07.45, but were quickly flushed by a Peregrine. They circled around and landed again on the shore behind a bank. The incoming tide pushed them up into grass where I read 8 ringed Wibdon birds and 2 headstarts. All were totally disturbed by two dog walkers at 08.50 and two hikers at 09.05.”

John Sanders

 

Steart Point, Bridgwater Bay, Somerset

“The Curlew flock in Bridgwater Bay is now around 500 birds. The majority of birds roost at high tide along the Steart foreshore and on Stert Island and are widely dispersed when feeding out on Stert Flats. As you well know, close access to the roosting birds on the foreshore with neap tides can be difficult and feeding birds are generally too far out to find marked birds.

This weekend’s high tides hopefully are high enough to push roosting birds on to The Fenning, where they should be viewable or, very likely,  over to Stert Island, where they would not be so viewable.  This weekend is a WeBS  count and we organise a co-ordinated count for Bridgwater Bay with up to 10 counters placed to cover the coast from Hinkley to Stert Points and both Parrett and Brue Estuaries.

All counters have been primed to look for marked birds! At the moment the weather looks favourable.”

Dick Best

 

19 September 2020

Usk Estuary, south Wales

Again, from first light, Chris Wells was at the West Usk lighthouse while Blair Jones, Neville Davies and Mike Smart were at Goldcliff Lagoons. Chris read one colour ring (Black Green Orange, from the 2015/16 Usk catch) by the lighthouse at 07.55 as the tide rose. With a big equinoctial tide (pretty much the top of the cycle) the whole of the foreshore of the Newport Wetlands National Nature Reserve was submerged a little later, forcing the Curlew flock to find another site for the peak of the tide. A flock numbering almost 400 came in at 08.40, some landing on Bec Lagoon, some on Monk Lagoon, where Blair took a series of photos; ten ringed birds from the 2015/16 Usk catch were seen, including Black Green Orange which had been by the lighthouse 45 minutes previously; in all 12 of the 41 birds ringed in 2015/16 were seen yesterday and today. In addition, one of the head-started birds from Slimbridge was seen and photographed, presumably the one seen yesterday; the photos are still not absolutely conclusive, but we think we have identified it. The top of the tide was at 09.20, and the Curlews didn’t stay long, all leaving the lagoons at 09.35, showing (just like yesterday) that Curlews only come into the lagoons in numbers on the very highest tides.

Other waders present included: 17 Avocets, a Grey Plover, a Ruff, a couple of hundred Dunlin with a juvenile Curlew Sandpiper, at least ten Bar-tailed Godwits, about 350 Black-tailed Godwits, 150 Knot, at least 40 Redshank an at least one Greenshank; plus a Glossy Ibis, a different Marsh Harrier and a Peregrine.

 

WWT, Slimbridge

The WWT website notes: “A good high tide just failed to cover the Dumbles but was high enough to force waders into the scrapes. The Curlew roost peaked at 260 with two Bar Tailed Godwits. Highlights were at least 8 Curlew Sandpipers, a Little Stint, four Grey Plover briefly from the Zeiss Hide. Dunlin were very mobile but certainly over 100 with the South lake sheltered from the strong northerly wind giving the best views and counts, among them were at least nine Ringed Plover.”

In addition, Dave Evans looked for Curlews on some of the fields at The Moors, just inland of Slimbridge, a favourite feeding area for head-started birds at this time last year. He found no sign of Curlews there today, noting that one of last year’s main fields is now stubble and not suitable for Curlews at present.

 

Littleton Warth, south Gloucestershire

Matt Plenty reports: “34 Curlew at Littleton this morning including two colour-ringed birds. I saw them half way between Whale Wharf and Pillhead Gout. Luckily, there was nobody walking up that way early on”. Matt’s two photos below show that his birds were two of those ringed across the Severn at Wibdon Warth in September: Blue Red Red, and Blue Red Lime. Blue Red Red is known to nest in the Severn Vale just upstream of Gloucester, where it has been recorded in practically the same field every summer since 2011, so does not, like some of its wintering companions, breed in far-off Scandinavia. The picture of Blue Red Lime illustrates the fading of the lime-coloured rings which has occurred on the 2010 birds.

 

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Oldbury Power Station, south Gloucestershire

Pete Hazelwood notes: “I was at Pillhead Gout over the high tide this morning, but just three unringed Curlew. Numbers have been low here all week, with 38 here yesterday (WeBS)  and 25  the day before (both flushed). c40 is the most all September here. Also, there have only been <5 at Shepperdine in September and no attempt to roost. This area has been more popular for walking this year.”

 

20 September 2020

Usk Estuary, south Wales

Chris Wells was in the seawall hide at Goldcliff Lagoons from first light today. He comments: “We are counting on you to get a definite identification of this pesky head-started bird.” No pressure then! I accepted the challenge and failed with consummate ease.

  • 7:38 a Peregrine arrived, was then sitting on a stone on the island.
  • 7:54 a single Curlew arrived, it did not settle, it was calling frequently, disappeared by 8:03.
  • 9:06 second Peregrine arrived and the two produced some interesting arial interactions.
  • 9:09 a Marsh Harrier flew through the reserve causing mayhem disturbing the small waders on the other lagoons.
  • 9:13 single Curlew arrived, then 14 more non ringed birds soon after, landing the hide side of island.
  • 9:16 main flock arrived landing on far side of the island. These were almost immediately joined by the 15.
  • 9:41 Single Peregrine passes overhead. This disturbed the Curlew, they moved closer to island, making any counts unrealistic.
  • 10:13 approximately a dozen more Curlew flew into the lagoon.
  • 11:09 a light aircraft flew over the lagoon; this disturbed the Curlew which took to the wing flying over the sea wall to the feeding grounds.
  • 11:16 all the Curlew had gone.

Nine rings were observed from the 2015/2016 ringing project. I observed a Slimbridge head-started Curlew with a yellow ring on right tibia and a white inscribed ring on the left tibia, but was unable to read the alpha numerical. There was another colour-ringed Curlew from the Shropshire project; this bird ringed by Tony Cross had an orange ring on the right tibia and a yellow ring on the left tibia. Again I was unable to read the inscription because the Curlew were too far away. (Tony has sacked me for failing to read the inscriptions)

I would estimate there were at least four hundred if not more, Curlew in Bec Lagoon, I was unable to count them because many of them were close to the island out of my line of sight.”

Of the nine 2015/16 rings read by Chris, eight had been recorded in the previous three days. Over the present high tide cycle, 13 of the 26 birds ringed in 2015/16 at West Usk Lighthouse have been re-sighted; none of the 15 birds ringed a little further off at Newton Farm have been found. The observation of one of Tony Cross’s birds today is a new finding.

 

Upper Severn estuary, Gloucestershire and South Gloucestershire

Several observers were active today (the official WeBS count day) in the basin of the Severn between Lydney and Sharpness in the north, and the first Severn bridge (Aust to Beachley)  in the south. The tide was at the top of the cycle, high at about 10.30.

On the east bank at Littleton Warth, John Sanders noted: “31 Curlews on the shore were disturbed by two walkers on the sea wall and a dog walker on the salt marsh at 0900. I read rings on two Wibdon birds and a head-started bird from Slimbridge. 20 of the birds flew inland to feed in a recently cut grass field over high tide.”

On the west bank, Barrie Mills covered the area from Lydney Harbour to Aylburton Warth, while Mike Smart watched the Curlew roost site at Guscar Rocks. At Aylburton there were some bird-watchers on the grass of the warth (a Saxon word meaning a foreshore area flooded at high tide, also used in German in the Wadden Sea), so no high tide roost of Curlews.

The observer’s view of the Curlew roost at Guscar Rocks an hour before high tide.

The observer’s view of the Curlew roost on the highest grassy “step” at high tide.

At Guscar a roost of 520 Curlews (plus a couple of Bar-tailed Godwits) developed (including 40 Curlews which later flew upstream to Aylburton) and 20 colour rings were read from the 2010 to 2013 Wibdon ringing project, though no Slimbridge head-started birds were seen today. This flock probably includes all the Curlews in this basin (other than the inland feeders at Littleton), since the colour-ringed birds observed included two pictured in yesterday’s report from Littleton (BRR and BRL) and other birds normally found on the east bank. In recent years numbers have generally been higher in this basin, so this low figure is a matter of concern.

Fortunately (and unusually) the flock remained undisturbed throughout the high tide period. While the foreshore at Aylburton and Guscar are part of the Severn Estuary Special Protection Area, the whole area is subject to much disturbance from both the river (motor boats, jet-skis, yachts) and the landward sides (wildfowlers, fishermen, dog walkers, bird-watchers), and does not have the benefit of undisturbed, off-limits areas like Slimbridge or Goldcliff. Wintering Curlews need undisturbed high tide roost sites!

 

WWT, Slimbridge

Slimbridge is situated in the basin of the Upper Severn north of Lydney and Sharpness. There is only limited interchange of Curlews between the two basins. Today the Slimbridge website reported the results of today’s WeBS count there, which included 138 Curlews.

 

21 September 2020

The peak of the current equinoctial high tide cycle was on Saturday 19 and Sunday 20 September. Today the high tides were slightly lower, but still massive, so observations of Curlew high-tide roosts continued.

Major news today is from Steart Point, where a bird with the ringing combination used on head-started birds from Slimbridge was found in the National Nature Reserve (though the bird was too far off for the inscription to be read); the same combination had also been used on a few wild chicks, so the bird might have been a wild bird, but was probably a head-started bird. This is the furthest down the Bristol Channel that head-started birds have been so far been found.

Another interesting observation relates to the 152 birds colour-ringed at Wibdon on the Upper Severn in Gloucestershire in autumn between 2010 and 2013, about half of which are now though to be dead. Extensive studies of these birds in their Severn wintering area have been made (mainly by John Sanders), but the colour-rings also allow them to be identified in their breeding areas; the breeding areas of 17 had so far been discovered: four in Finland, one in Sweden, one in lowland Germany, four in The Netherlands and, in the UK, two in Yorkshire, one in East Anglia, one in Oxfordshire, one in Worcestershire, two in Gloucestershire. Today news was received of two more birds breeding in Breckland, East Anglia, one of which (Blue Red Lime) was reported two days ago (see picture on the report for 19 September) back on its wintering ground at Littleton Warth. This brings the total whose breeding ground is known to 19; and another bird ringed in lowland Germany until recently regularly wintered in the Upper Severn.

 

Stert Point, Somerset

Dick Best reports:

On Saturday 19 September, as predicted, the bulk of roosting Curlew had moved with the tide to higher ground viewable from the new Stert Point hide, giving me a good chance to examine mainly one-legged roosting birds, but no sign of marked birds. I have had no sightings from any other of our WeBS counters. Highlight of the WeBS has been a very early flock of over 400 Avocet in the Parrett!

However, this morning, Monday 21 September, success – I found in the roosting flock on the Point one bird with the yellow right and white left head-started combination. Absolutely confident in the position and colour of the yellow and white rings, although I was unable to see any codes. I was viewing through my new telescope (!!) x50 at a range of at least 200m and in good light.  The roosting flock is very flighty and it might be difficult to get much closer. There was also a second bird carrying what appeared to be only one red ring above the left hand joint. and a metal ring above the right ankle.

We will keep looking!

Regarding the size of the wintering population of Curlew in Bridgwater Bay, numbers rise from late summer to peak in mid-winter population but the years of flocks of over a thousand birds have gone. Below I attach a graph demonstrating the population trend over the last few decades.  I have collated the data from Somerset Annual Bird Report, which incorporates data from WeBS, other surveys and casual observations.

Usk Estuary, south Wales

Chris Wells  and Blair Jones were back  in the seawall hide at Goldcliff Lagoons today. Chris reports:

I arrived at the reserve at first light and was joined by Blair Jones. We popped into the Curlew hide (Monk’s Lagoon), where there were zero waders. Checking Prior’s Lagoon from the Marsh platform there were c. 200 Black-tailed Godwits plus Ruff, Greenshank, Knot and Redshank. I checked the mudflats from the sea wall viewing area, there were 17 non-ringed Curlew plus two Grey Plover, Avocet and Bar-tailed Godwits. When I arrived at the Avocet hide (Bec’s Lagoon) again there were zero waders. This again confirmed the theory that Curlew do not habitually roost overnight on the reserve.

09.59: a single Curlew flew around the lagoon, calling twice before returning over the sea wall.

10.06: two non-ringed Curlew flew into Bec’s Lagoon landing on the far side of the island from the hide. Birds started streaming into the lagoon in varying numbers.

10.21: the vast majority of Curlew had arrived, joining the above birds. A few more drifted in intermittently. I made a minimum count of 437 Curlew. More were present but out of my line of sight.

I was able to read eight colour rings, all from the 2015/16 ringing session; one of these had not been observed since 2016. This means that 14 of the 26 birds ringed at West Usk have been seen at Goldcliff during the current high tide cycle.

The Shropshire colour-ringed bird seen yesterday was present but, again, I was unable to read the inscription. The Slimbridge head-started bird that was present during the past few days was not visible today.

11.54: the first few Curlew departed, others departed in ones and twos.

12.24:  two Grey Herons arrived and the majority of Curlew departed over the sea wall.

 

Upper Severn, Gloucestershire

Guscar Rocks, west bank

Mike Smart covered the major roost at Guscar Rocks on the west bank again, today from a hide, which allowed a closer approach, and better views.

Numbers of Curlews in the roost today were a little smaller than yesterday (390 instead of 520, again with a couple of Bar-tailed Godwits). Some Curlews from this basin must have spent the high tide period at other roosts, probably across on the east bank at Littleton or Oldbury or a little further upstream on the west bank at Aylburton Warth. The Guscar roost remained mercifully undisturbed throughout the high tide period, and after a misty start the sun came out giving excellent views of the birds. 28 colour-ringed birds were seen, all of them birds ringed in autumn at nearby Wibdon between 2010 and 2013; all were familiar birds on this stretch of the river, to which they return for the winter, year after year. Disappointingly, despite the excellent observation conditions, no Slimbridge head-started birds could be found today, though several have been reported here in recent weeks; they must have been at one of the other smaller roosts.

 

22 September 2020

The current cycle of big tides is nearly over, so this will be the last of these reports for a little while.

Cornwall

Mark Grantham notes: “Sadly not much to report. No ringed birds on the Hayle Estuary, but birds have roosted quite far out. At Devoran on the River Fal, 88 birds roosted on the evening of 21 September, with just the Dutch-ringed bird AS present”. AS is a bird that has wintered at Devoran most years since 2013 – see this news item: Colour-ringed Curlews in Cornwall.

The roost at Devoran on the River Fal, Cornwall (Photo by Mark Grantham).

 

Usk Estuary, south Wales

Chris Wells visited Goldcliff Lagoons again today but found ‘not a single wader on Bec’s Lagoon. Not a Curlew on the reserve’. He comments: “The visit to Goldcliff today provided interesting information, confirming that Curlew do not visit Goldcliff unless the tide is greater than 11.71m. Probably somewhere near 12m is more realistic.” The Usk estuary Curlews clearly roost on the foreshore of the National Nature Reserve or on the west bank of the Usk on these lower tides, so to see Curlews in numbers and to read any rings present at Goldcliff you have to choose the highest tides.

 

Upper Severn, Gloucestershire and South Gloucestershire

Sheperdine and Pillhead Gout, near Oldbury Power Station, South Gloucestershire (east bank)

Pete Hazelwood notes that, yesterday, 21 September, when only 390 Curlews (out of a possible 520) were found at Guscar Rocks on the opposite bank: “There were only five Curlew in total at Sheperdine and Pillhead Gout.” So the missing birds weren’t on that part of the east bank

 

Guscar Rocks, near Lydney (west bank)

Mike Smart covered the roost at Guscar Rocks on the west bank again, once more using the portable hide, which allows very close range views, and detailed scrutiny of the presence and condition of the rings. John Sanders has for years used a portable hide, which allows him to make such detailed and meticulous observations. It would be interesting to know whether other observers of Curlew roosts use such portable hides – as opposed to the permanent observation hides like those at many nature reserves.

Today at Guscar, the number of Curlews at the roost built up to about 350, about 30 of them colour-ringed in the operations by Steve Dodd and Dave Coker from 2010 to 2013. All the rings seen were very familiar, birds which have returned winter after winter to the same sector of the Severn estuary shoreline. Disappointingly, no head-started birds from Slimbridge 2019 were found, and if they had been present, they would surely have been noticed at close range and in good light. Sadly the roost was disturbed by yachts sailing very close to the shore on the high tide.

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