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Lovely to be out in the Winter Sunshine this morning. Red Shank, Dunlin and a lone Curlew spotted at the beginning of the reserve. Plenty of birds moving on North Pool and Green Finch near South Pool Hide. Lucky enough to spot a Song Thrush on the way home, and this lovely Peacock Butterfly basking in the Winter Suns ... See MoreSee Less
It was twilight. The stars had faded away but it was not yet sunrise when hundreds of pairs of wings purred past my shoulder. What were they? Where had they come from and where were they going?
I was standing on the sea wall path with my back to the nature reserve. As these low flying birds flashed past from behind the sound was just magical. Had I been murmured at by starlings or whispered to by dunlins? In those few seconds, in the gloaming, it was hard to tell. Both can congregate on the reserve in their hundreds, so which was it?
I hurriedly snapped off a couple of photos as they streamed out across the flooded salt marsh and hoped this would give me the answer. My snapshots turned out to be typically blurry but not too blurry to identify a fling of dunlins. I saw them again later in mesmerising flocks, making endless shapes across the skyline and wind turbines. There were in fact over 1200 of them.
Was it because the high tide was right up to the sea wall that they sought refuge in the reserve? After all, the reserve is an excellent place to wait for the tide to ebb! ... See MoreSee Less
Two Goldeneye ducks appeared on the reserve this last weekend. They were seen on Saturday and were on the big North Pool when we started the monthly monitoring count on Sunday, but then moved to the South Pool where I was able to get these pics on my mobile through my telescope. Goldeneye are diving ducks that breed in Scotland and further north, so they have come south for the winter. These are the first I have seen on the reserve - they normally prefer bigger areas of water. These are "red-heads", i.e. they are females or juveniles. The males are a lovely black and white. If you want to know more about our monitoring counts, do visit our website: www.portburywharfnaturereserve.co.uk/nature-reserve/wildlife-monitoring/ You could always come and join us on future counts! ... See MoreSee Less
A date for your diary . . . . . . our winter nature trail 21 Dec - 5 Jan
It is a "What do I do in winter?" trail. Some species will hibernate, others will go to Africa and plenty will come to spend the winter here. It will be a chance to test your knowledge and find out who does what. ... See MoreSee Less
Now is a great time to see members of the thrush family, such as Redwings and Blackbirds, busily feasting on the reserve’s abundant berries. These birds were easily spotted today in the bushes close to the smaller of the two North Pool hides, but keep an eye out wherever you see berry-laden hedgerows. The Redwing's 'chuck, chuck ...' call often gives away its presence. ... See MoreSee Less
Welcome to November! The clocks have gone back, so dusk comes early in November. The first frosts have arrived and the trees are rapidly losing their leaves....but it’s a good time for wildlife spotting. Winter visitors are streaming... Read More
What a contrast between the fine sunny weather of Tuesday afternoon and the gloomy early morning mist of Wednesday. Tuesday's trip to Portbury Wharf, made under blue skies, was rewarded with the sighting of twenty eight different bird species, including a magnificent Barn Owl, as it flew across Wharf Lane in broad daylight. The last of this year's Migrant Hawker and Common Darter dragonflies were still on the wing defending territories and looking for mates. A fox made a brief appearance in the meadows close to the cattle pen. Undoubtedly, a worthwhile trip by any standards.
On the other hand, my approach to the reserve on Wednesday morning was met with thickening early morning mist and visibility levels not conducive to successful bird watching: a stark contrast to Tuesday. I weighed up the appealing option of returning home for breakfast against having a quick look around the hides, just in case. I put breakfast on hold and made my way to the South Pools hide. The shady silhouette of a solitary Moorhen was as good as it got.
I moved to the middle hide overlooking the North Pools. The mist seemed to have thickened. It was as if the pools' usual backdrop of Portbury Dock and its imposing wind turbines, didn't exist. For a couple of minutes, the only bird I could make out was a Lapwing, contentedly settled on the edge of the new scrape. Suddenly, for no apparent reason, the bird started to call as it took flight. Perhaps, two seconds later, a Kestrel flew out of the murk, directly over where the Lapwing had been. It struck me how well the Lapwing must have been attuned to possible danger, even when visibility was so poor. Clearly, the mist was much less of an impediment for the Lapwing than it was for me.
At this point, even though I couldn't see any birds, I could hear that there were plenty of them about. The male Wigeons making their delightful, constant whistling 'whee-oo' call, which was so different from the well recognised 'quack-quack' of a calling Mallard. The Lapwing continued with its 'ee-wit-ee-witting' as the cantankerous coot occasionally let loose with their explosive series of squawks. The Mute Swans were silent, except when they ran across the water's surface with much beating of wings and splashing of their enormous webbed feet. Away from the water, somewhere in the reeds, one of the reserve's seemingly ubiquitous Cetti's Warblers, released its outrageous, disproportionately loud outburst of 'cheweecheweecheweechewee'. And so the next few minutes went on. Herring and Black-headed Gulls, Canada Geese, a Robin and Magpie all confirmed their nearby, but hidden presence.
The strange thing was, because of the mist obscuring the birds, a changed atmosphere was created, which was just as enjoyable as bird watching with full visibility. Perhaps, 'bird listening' is a better description.
The photographs were taken over the two days. I'm certain that you will be able to work on which day each was taken. ... See MoreSee Less