Wildlife on the Wetlands

Take a tour through the pages below to find out about our wetland wildlife through the seasons.

With 118 species of birds, 24 butterflies, 344 moths, 19 dragonflies and 232 plants found on the meadows so far, Avon Meadows has been revealed as a haven for wildlife and the Friends of Avon Meadows are finding more all the time.

If you would like to get involved monitoring the different plants, insects, birds or mammals that live on the meadows, please get in touch with Liz Etheridge, Wetlands for All project officer

For those of you who are interested in finding out more, detailed lists are on the Species Checklists page. Please use the "Contact Us" page if you would like to request an Excel spreadsheet of the master list.  If you see anything unusual please send your record (and a photograph!) to sightings@avonmeadows.org.uk

For regular updates on wildlife on the meadows, don't forget to look at A Coot's Eye View, (see Links page) a blog from Avon Meadows and the Recent Sightings page on this website.

Summer Highlights 2016

BIRDS:  Breeding species provide the main summer interest and this year our Mute Swans had 5 cygnets.  Other breeding species on the Wetland itself included Cetti's Warbler, Common Cuckoo, Common Whitethroat, Blackcap, Sedge and Reed Warblers, Grey Wagtail, Linnet and Water Rail for the first time.  Unusual species flying over included Red Kite on 30 June and a Hobby on 18 June.  This was the first full summer for our wader scrape and it attracted brief visits from several waterbirds including; Eurasian Oystercatchers on 9 June, a Green Sandpiper on 28 July and a Common Sandpiper on 6 May.

BUTTERFLIES:  Not a good summer for butterflies, changeable weather keeping overall numbers down.  All species normally recorded were seen and Marbled Whites seemed more than usually numerous.

DRAGONFLIES:  As for butterflies, numbers were down but all the usual species have been recorded.  Brown Hawker and Common Darter seem to have been particularly numerous.

FISH:  Tench and Bream have been added to the list of fish species found in the main pool this summer.

FLOWERS:  A Greater Star of Bethlehem was discovered in early may, our first record of this species.  This year the Tubular Water-dropwort occurred in good numbers, a survey revealed over 1000 plants present making Avon Meadows an important site for this species.

MAMMALS:  A Roe Deer bounded across the Wetland to the river in broad daylight on 12 May and a dead Water Shrew was found on a path on 14 July.

MOTHS:  Moths did not seem to be particularly affected by the weather and species counts have been good.  Our first session of the summer on 3 May brought in 3 new species for the Wetland, Oak-tree Pug, Waved Umber and Common Quaker.  Caterpillars of the Emperor Moth and Mullein Moth were both found in late June,  Of course as the total climbs, finding new species becomes more difficult.

Winter Highlights 2015-16 (Photo: Jeff Steady)

BIRDS: The winter was unusually mild with only occasional cold snaps.  Most of the Wetland was flooded for a few days in mid-January.  Thursday counts continued to exceed 40 species resulting in a specious count of 64 already since 1 January.  We made our first record for Yellowhammer (17 Dec) and second sighting only for Great Black-backed Gull (2 on 17 Dec).  A large number of Pied Wagtails were present on the water logged meadows in late December, 2 White Wagtails (the European race of Pied Wagtail) were seen on 31 Dec.  Towards the end of the winter up to 200 Pied Wagtails could be seen at dusk roosting on the new scrape.  Among the less common birds on the Wetland a Merlin flew across on 12 February and a Eurasian Treecreeper was seen on 11 February (most recent record 12 Mar 15).  After the mild winter many winter visitor numbers were declining towards the end of the period making it quite hard to find Common Snipe, Meadow Pipit, Fieldfare and Redwing.  On the other hand the Water Rails were still present and Cetti's Warblers were seen displaying.  Lesser Redpoll were seen occasionally and a flock of 8 Common Linnets were seen over the scrape on 7 January.  Two pairs of Common Stonechats were present throughout the winter period.  Waterfowl are using the scrape as an overnight roost and at 06h00 on 31 Jan, 6 Common Teal and 2 Northern Shoveler were present.  The murmurations of Common Starlings were the sight of the winter peaking at an estimated 12,000 birds.  They were first reported before Christmas but were not seen after mid January.  A Grey Wagtail was seen several times on the flooded car park and a flock of Skylarks flow over on 28 January.

Autumn Highlights 2015

BIRDS:  A Northern Wheatear appeared (26 Oct), the second record for the Wetland, seen for the first time earlier in 2015.  Returning winter visitors and migrants included Water Rail, Northern Lapwing, Common Snipe, Meadow Pipit, Common Stonechat and Lesser Redpoll.  Cetti's Warblers have remained with us and our Starling murmuration has returned although rather later in the year than in 2014.  Occasional visitors for us include Eurasian Wigeon, Red Kite, Peregrine Falcon, Goldcrest, Coal Tit and Rook.  Several birds were late leaving including Barn Swallow (17 Oct) and Common Whitethroat (1 Oct).  Small numbers of Blackcap and Common Chiffchaff appear to be overwintering.  

BUTTERFLIES:  A late Painted Lady (27 Oct) was photographed on a Wetland path.

FUNGI:   On 19 December a Wood Blewit Lepista nuda was found near the bridge over the drainage channel on the river path. 

MAMMALS:  Bats made the news this autumn and a monitoring exercise during October produced Common, Soprano and Nathusius' Pipistrelles, Daubenton's Bat, Brown Long-eared Bat, Noctule, Natterer's Bat and possibly Leisler's Bat bringing our bat count to 8 species.

MOTHS: We made what turned out to be only the second record for Worcestershire when on 30 October a Tomato Leafminer Tuta absoluta was found in our moth trap.   Our last moth night of the year on 30 October brought in 5 were new species for the Wetland which were; Garden Rose Tortrix (a micro moth), Green-brindled Crescent, The Brick, Red-line Quaker and Beaded Chestnut bringing our total species count to date to 336.

Summer Highlights 2015

BIRDS:  A Little Egret flew over on 17 Sep.  Common Teal returned to the main pool on 17 Sep.  A new late date for Black-tailed Godwit on 1 Aug for a bird that stayed around for a few days.  A Green Sandpiper was heard landing on the main pool on a moth night on 7 Aug and Hobbies passed through on 8 and 28 Sep.  The first Common Snipe of the winter were seen on 15 Sep and a Common Greenshank was recorded on 18/19 Sep.  A  Common Stonechat returned on 27 Sep and Meadow Pipits the following day.  The last Common Cuckoo, a juvenile having bred on the Wetland, left on 16 July.  The most exciting event of the quarter was confirmation that Cetti's Warblers bred on Avon Meadows.  

BUTTERFLIES:  The end of the butterfly monitoring season arrived with overall butterfly numbers down by 24% on last year presumably due to cool, wet weather occurring at the wrong time.  However this was offset by our first record for Clouded Yellow on 7 September followed by several more 10 days later.  These records kept our total species count up to a respectable 20 species recorded throughout the summer.

DRAGONFLIES:  Dragonflies were affected even more than butterflies as they were affected by windy conditions as well as the cooler periods resulting in numbers being down by 66% on 2014 which was a particularly good year.  The species count of 18 was roughly average for the Wetland.  

MOTHS:  Unlike the other insect groups moths do not seem to have been affected by the summer weather and counts have been very good with nightly moth counts up by 129% and the annual species count (to date) by 78%.  It should be noted that these statistics are based on only 2 years' data and will moderate in years to come.  New species comprised 40 macro moths and 24 micro moths bringing the current Wetland total to 329 species.

Spring Highlights 2015

BIRDS:  Common Cuckoo arrived on 23 Apr and stayed throughout the period and we are fairly sure they bred.  Similarly Cetti's Warbler was present throughout, the first time this has happened and we strongly suspect they have bred too.  The main event was the appearance of a Northern Wheatear on 14 May which is a new species for the Wetland.  On 14 May we recorded a pair of  Whinchats in the reed beds which represented only our second record for this species.The average bird count for the quarter was 39 species, a new high count, and 50 species were recorded throughout the day during the Bioblitz on 22 May which included our first Hobby of the year.All the resident waterbirds produced good numbers of young, apparently better than 2014, albeit the Mute Swans original 7 cygnets were quickly reduced to 4.  The Common Kingfisher, which breeds nearby, has been seen fishing on the pools from time to time and Grey Herons rather more regularly.

BUTTERFLIES:  The cool spring did not do much for butterfly numbers although all the usual species were present.  The highlight was 2 Painted Ladies, our first record of this species since 2012.  This is a migrant species from Continental Europe.  By the end of the quarter numbers were beginning to rise in response to the warm weather.

DRAGONFLIES:  This is  turning out to be a good year for dragonflies.  As usual it was the Large Red Damselfly that appeared first, and our first ones were seen on 18 Apr, a new early record.  Since then 11 were recorded during the Dragonfly Identification Course on 19 June, a new high daily count, including several species we think of as scarce such as  Beautiful Demoiselle and White-legged Damselfly.

MOTHS:  We started our moth count on 17 April which was a cool night resulted in 4 moths of 3 species!  Thankfully things did pick up on 22 May, the night of the Bioblitz when we recorded 50 species.  So far this year we have recorded a total of 94 species of which 30 are new records for the Wetland.  Elephant and Eyed Hawk-moths are turning up regularly now.  No really uncommon moths have been recorded but we have been pleased to see Scorched Wing, Obscure Wainscot, Sycamore and Beautiful Hook-tip among our new records for the year.

OTHER SPECIES GROUPS:  The above notes refer to species groups we monitor regularly but a large variety of other species are recorded on the Wetland from time to time.  We are very pleased to discover a single Large Burnet plant which is an indicator species for good wildflower meadows.  A Weasel has been recorded for the first time.  Other species groups that have been recorded, mainly on the Bioblitz day include, bees & flies, beetles & bugs, caddis flies, snails, spiders and various water insects.  The work on these groups is far from complete.

Page last updated 2 March 2016


The Friends of Avon Meadows CIO is a Registered Charity, registered number 1174083

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