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Hinkley Connection Update September 2019

This update relates to the measures being taken to protect the environment and ecology of the reserve.

This is a briefing we have received from the Community Relations Team of the National Grid Hinkley Connection Project. We are posting these briefings so you are kept up to date with the work being done on Portbury Wharf Nature Reserve.

“As you’ll be aware, during 2018 and 2019, we carried out several ecological surveys in the reserve, including those for bats, badgers, great crested newts and reptiles, otters, water voles, and birds. More recently, we’ve been busy implementing schemes to reduce disruption to wildlife at the reserve. This includes the installation of temporary exclusion fencing and daily checks of pitfall traps and tiles to prevent protected species from entering the construction areas. Any species found are safely translocated to designated sites within the reserve.

To ensure the construction corridor remains free of protected species, we need to manage the vegetation by pruning trees and cutting grasslands, scrub and hedgerows down to ground level. This work will start later this week and be completed in October 2019.

After the hibernation period ends in spring 2020, the next step is to carry out another search to ensure the construction area is free of protected species and to remove any remaining vegetation, including trees and hedgerows where necessary.

Once construction is complete, vegetation that has been removed will be reinstated in its original location, or as close to the route as possible, subject to discussion and agreement with relevant landowners.

To prevent disturbance to wintering birds between September and April, core construction activities will be on hold. This excludes vegetation removal works and, with permission from the Local Planning Authority, we may undertake minor construction activity for a limited duration. We’re taking special care to safeguard nesting sites for species of protected birds by creating specialised buffer zones and relocating designated barn owl boxes. Towards the end of this month, we’re relocating some of the existing barn owl boxes and replacing them at a ratio of 2:1, with a total of four new barn owl boxes being installed at the reserve.

To keep visitors to the reserve informed and updated, we’ve recently replenished the public information boards (Image attached for info). These provide an overview of our work and promote the contact details of our community relations team should any visitors wish to get in touch. We’ve also updated our project website with an overview of this work.

Before starting construction, we’re planning to deliver updated briefings to parish/town councils during November and December. We’ll also be writing to residents and businesses along the route of the underground cable with an update on this work and to invite them to attend a public drop-in event in the area.”

Community Relations Team,
National Grid Hinkley Connection Project

You can read more at and on this website at Hinkley Connection at PWNR and the FAQ page.

Very Scarce Lesser Emperor

We are approaching the end of this year’s dragonfly season, but a few species are still to be seen.  In the last week, or so, we have seen: Common Blue and Emerald Damselflies; Common and Ruddy Darters; Migrant Hawkers and a female Emperor depositing eggs on vegetation in the North Pools.

Ruddy Darter
Emerald Damselfly
Migrant Hawker
Migrant Hawker

Possibly the most unusual sighting was of the very scarce Lesser Emperor. We had suspected that this rare vagrant, which has bred in the UK, was present at PWNR; but we had no photograph to confirm our suspicions. Our luck changed when we managed to photograph a Lesser Emperor. Though it is not a particularly good image it captures a Lesser Emperor attacking an egg-laying Emperor.

Emperor Dragonfly laying eggs
Emperor Dragonfly and again . . .
. . . and now with the Lesser Emperor Dragonfly

See also our Dragonfly and Damselfly section

Nature Trail – What do I eat?

Don’t miss our next Nature Trail!

This Nature Trail – What do I eat? is on Portbury Wharf Nature Reserve from Saturday 24th August to Sunday 1st September.  Find the 35 trail boards dotted around the reserve.  Answers the questions then lift the flaps to reveal the answers to see if you are right.

Don’t miss our next nature trail!

Each trail board features a different species, from birds to mammals and insects to plants. These are species that you might see on the nature reserve. So see if you can identify them and guess what they eat or what eats them?  The trail is on for 9 days so, if you don’t find them all in one visit, you can come back another day to find the rest.

You do not need a map to find the boards, you can just have a wander and enjoy the ones you come across. However if you want to know in advance, here is a map showing the approximate, anticipated locations:

We hope you enjoy the trail
and learn something interesting about the wildlife here.


Looking for dragonflies

After a very quiet start to the season, last week’s survey of PWNR turned out to be one of our best.

Some surprises included a Red-veined Darter (well done Dave) on the North Pools. It’s an uncommon species that comes across here from Europe. This seems to be a good year for them.

There was also Small Red-eyed Damsels (previously only seen on the Sanctuary pool) and Brown Hawker on one of the ponds in the grazing meadow.

Small red-eyed damselfly
Brown Hawker

We also spotted five Scarce Chasers close to the Seasonal Path rhyne during June’s survey. All very positive despite last year’s drought.

Scarce Chaser

Here are a few other images from the day:

Editor’s Note: We would like to thank the talented Dragonfly Survey Team for this post.

Related pages:

Roe Deer Antlers

Roe deer antlers regrow each year

Only the male roe deer have antlers. Each year, in late autumn they shed their antlers and grow new ones. It doesn’t take long, after casting off the old ones, before these new roe deer antlers start to grow. If you look very closely at this “December” buck (above) you can just see the “nobs” of next year’s antlers.

By February these antlers have put on a spurt. A velvety, soft hairy skin covers and protects them while they grow and harden.

Their antlers are nearly fully grow by mid March but still covered in velvet. This fine buck was sitting in the North Pool field last year.


In April and May the blood supply to the velvet dries up and it falls off to reveal fully grown, hardened antlers. Often the deer will help this process along by rubbing their antlers on posts and tree trunks to remove the velvet.

Read more about Portbury Wharf’s Roe Deer here


Keeping water voles safe

A Portbury Wharf water vole having breakfast in the rhyne
A Portbury Wharf water vole breakfasting in the rhyne

Keeping water voles safe at Portbury Wharf is very important. So the warden and his Portbury Wharf Nature Reserve Volunteers have been busy repairing the hurdles alongside the rhynes. You may have noticed them along Water Vole Lane, the path to the sea wall.

The hurdles are there to keep the water voles safe by deterring unwanted swimmers.

They live in the rhynes and will soon start breeding (we hope). In the UK their numbers are falling, so it is important that our Portbury Wharf water voles thrive.

The vegetation along the bank is their lunch and they eat a lot of it! It also keeps them hidden from predators. So if we (and our dogs) stay away from the water and don’t trample down the bank, that will help them a lot.

Water voles can be hard to spot. But if you are lucky enough to see one here, do tell us.


You can read more about water voles here

Gordano Valley lapwings

Gordano Valley Lapwings

This morning at sunrise I watched 18 lapwing lift off from the North Pool. Once upon a time you would have seen flocks of a hundred strong. Sadly over the last 20 or so years, numbers have fallen dramatically.

Portbury Wharf is an important staging post for wildlife heading into the Gordano Valley. That is exactly where these lapwings were going this morning.

Bringing back lapwings to the Gordano Valley is a project that the Avon Wildlife Trust have been working on.  Let’s hope we see many more of these delightful birds in the future.

Look out for these lovely Gordano Valley lapwings on the pools in winter time.

Winter Birds

Look out for the winter birds:

From August onwards lots of birds migrate here to escape the harsh northern winters. These winter birds will stay until the spring before heading back up to breed so in the meantime we get to enjoy them.

  •  Look out for the winter birds . On the pools will be the winter waders and ducks which are visiting us from the cold north. In the hedgerows you may see the winter thrushes, feeding on the berries.


On or by the water

Keep a look out for these birds on the ponds and along the shoreline:

  • The winter ducks including the  wigeon ,  teal  and  shovelers  and even the occasional  pochard . You can see these on the ponds and the shoreline.
    Shovelers with dark heads, wedged beaks, white/russet bodies and wigeon. The wigeon are the ones that whistle.
  • The winter wading birds such as the  dunlin ,  lapwings  and  curlews .
    Lapwings and the smaller dunlins
In the hedgerows
  • You might also see the winter thrushes on the hedgerows. The  fieldfares  and  redwings  will stay until all of the berries are eaten and then move on.
  • Amphibians – Over the next month you will see  frogs, toads and newts  migrating to the ponds, particularly Frog Pond. They do this every year in winter to mate and lay their spawn here. If you want to help them migrate safely get in touch with the Portishead Toad Patrol.

|Click here to see where the Frog Pond is.