Only 4 members plus the leaders braved the grey morning day with the forecast of initial heavy rain. However, we were immediately rewarded with a pair of Kestrels hovering above us, Meadow Pipits and Skylarks were singing and a couple of Swallows dashed past.
At 10am, we departed for the New Passage at Pilning, avoiding a sudden down pour, at a rising high tide which usually brings in waders and ducks. The rain conveniently stopped. In the distance on the grass, many Shelduck and Curlews could be seen with a few Canada Geese. We then walked around the coastal path towards Severn Beach where species seen and /or heard included Linnet, Dunnock, Starling, House Sparrow, and Chiffchaff in the coastal scrub and many Oystercatchers and Shelduck above the tide line. We returned to the New Passage to the walk along the Northwick Warth grassy path, past an inland pool which yielded many water birds, in particular, a flock of about 50 Redshank, a Little Egret, many Gadwall, Shoveler, Tufted Duck and Teal.
On our return walk, Lucy heard a brief snatch of Willow Warbler song and the bird was soon picked up visually; a newly arrived bird from Africa. She also identified a small group of Redpoll flying overhead. We then drove to Shirley’s Cafe in Severn Beach for a welcome drink and home-made cake and to use their very smart Scandinavian style toilet shed. After this break, we returned to our original starting point at Aust Warth for lunch as the clouds cleared and at last the sun appeared.
After lunch, spent listening to Skylark and Meadow Pipit songs, we walked towards the M48 suspension bridge past Aust cliff again hearing and seeing Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs in the trees. Tom P went all the way past the fossil hunters to the bridge and saw a very bedraggled and injured bird of prey crouched unmoving at the bottom of the cliff. Tom’s photograph showed it to be a Peregrine.
On the way back, by amazing coincidence, we met a group of fossil hunters lead by Ed Drewitt, the well-known Bristol Peregrine expert, who said he would collect the bird and see if it could be saved. We spent the rest of the afternoon at Aust Warth waiting for a sighting of the short eared owls which had been reported several times this week by the Severnsidebirds blog; the birds roosted in the long grass during the day, emerging to hunt in late afternoon, around 5pm.
As we waited and scanned the grassy area, we found a couple of male Wheatear, battling for ownership for a nearby log. Unfortunately, no owls were seen by the time our last car left at 17.00, not helped by dog walkers and a man flying his drone. The total bird species count was 54.
TP and LD