Contact us at

What’s Happening

Spring wildlife – blackthorn is in full flower

Last updated 22 April 2019. This WHAT’S HAPPENING page tells you about the wildlife that you are likely to see on the reserve and latest events. We will also tell you when we add new species pages to the website so you don’t miss out.

So on this page:


Latest wildlife news

Spring fever is in the air. So this is such an exciting time of year with plenty of spring wildlife to look out for. Buds are budding and the first blossom of blackthorns and then hawthorns are pretty as a picture. The hedgerow by the North Pool Hide is worth a look, open the side shutters to see what birds are among the blossom. Last time I looked through the shutter a chiffchaff sang to me.

Butterflies and insects

Look out for the first butterflies and insects . . .

Speckled Wood
Pale green Brimstones look like leaves
Peacock butterfly













click here to read more wildlife news
The earliest damselfly is the Large Red Damselfly


New spring-time arrivals

The distinctive Wheatear with its “bandit” face mask comes all the way from Africa for the summer. You might seen them anywhere, this one was on a washed up log on the salt marsh.

Breeding plumage

Many of our regular visitors are showing off their breeding plumage.

For most of the year Black-headed gulls have white heads with just a telltale white spot behind the eye. But this time of year they actually live up to their name.

Courtship displays

Our wildlife are looking to nest and rear young so this is the time for courtship displays.

Male shelducks display to impress a mate, though clearly it is not working here! She looks decidedly disinterested. Look out for them on the foreshore and on North Pool Island.
Or you may be lucky enough to see oystercatchers strutting their stuff on the North Pool island or on the foreshore.
Water voles

Water Voles are becoming more active in the rhynes. Now is a chance to glimpse one swimming. It gets harder to see them once all the reeds start growing.

While on the Salt Marsh

Sea scurvy grass in flower on the salt marsh. It is rich in vitamin C and sailors used to eat it to prevent scurvy.

 There is so much going on among our spring wildlife so this is just a taster of things to look out for. 



Helping the warden

The reserve is managed by North Somerset Council. The Council employs a warden who is responsible for maintaining the nature reserve and with so much to do he needs volunteers. The meeting place is normally Wharf Lane car park (BS20 7TD). Tools, gloves and refreshments will be provided.

The next Volunteer Community Work Session date yet to be confirmed 

PS You can get in touch with the warden via their Facebook page at Portbury Wharf Community Volunteers.



Wildlife Counts

Both the Warden and the Friends carry out wildlife counts. You need to know what wildlife is visiting the reserve so you can manage the land effectively. These counts also feed into national wildlife records. There are at least two counts per month. You can read more about the Friends’ wildlife counts and download a spotting card on our Wildlife Monitoring page.

Next “Friends” counts:

  •  Sunday morning 28 April 7.00 am walk from Wharf Lane car park 
  •  Wednesday evening 15 May 6.30 pm walk from Wharf Lane car park 
  •  Sunday morning 26 May 7.00 am (to be confirmed) 

Anyone is welcome to join us but we recommend that you contact us to confirm time and meeting place contact us. Whatever your experience this is a great opportunity to learn about the wildlife.


Wildlife Talks

The Friends give illustrated talks about Portbury Wharf Nature Reserve.  So if you would like to organise a talk or a walk for your group please contact us.


Just added to website

We hope you enjoy our latest page about Portbury Wharf’s Roe Deer


Latest from Facebook

Lots of wildlife sightings get posted on our Facebook page so we thought it appropriate to add the latest excerpts here. .  .

Click to see recent FB posts

Facebook Latest

The uplifting power of cranes?

This was the amazing sunrise that greeted me as I walked by the nature reserve. A flight of Canada Geese completed the picture.

There was a roebuck snoozing in the North Pool field while out on the salt marsh several curlews, many shelducks, a number of teal, a pair of oystercatchers, a duo of gadwalls and a common sandpiper was the icing on the cake.

It was so worth getting up early!
... See MoreSee Less

View on Facebook

Spring has Sprung ... See MoreSee Less

View on Facebook

It was a lovely afternoon for a wildlife count with plenty to see from swallows and martins to orange-tip and peacock butterflies. Plenty of birdsong too including the joyful song of a skylark drifting down from over the salt marsh.

Though this kestrel hunting across the reserve stole the show. His hour long search for food ended successfully and he flew off to the salt marsh with his prey.
... See MoreSee Less

View on Facebook

With landing gear down these redshanks were among 60 that came to North Pool Island during our wildlife count yesterday.

It was another high tide covering the salt marsh and reaching almost to the top of the sea wall. So waders like redshanks had few safe places to hold up until the water receded.

The hedgerows were also full of life from wrens to green and gold finches and cuties like this long-tailed tit. With larger birds cropping up in unexpected places. This heron was in the rhyne next to the sea wall. So engrossed in hunting it was ignoring the walkers, runners, cyclists and dogs three metres away on the sea wall.
... See MoreSee Less

View on Facebook

1 month ago

Friends of Portbury Wharf Nature Reserve Community Group

So much March blossom surrounding the North Pool Hide! Such a wonderful sight . . . a sign that spring has arrived perhaps? ... See MoreSee Less

View on Facebook

Lesser Black Backed Gulls on North Pool. One minute they are quiet...the next a Little Dear spotted at the back of South Pool. ... See MoreSee Less

View on Facebook

The sun brought in some unusual visitors to the North Pool yesterday - 3 Gadwall. These beautifully elegant birds are " amber" on the RSPB conservation list and whilst not rare they are fairly scarce. ... See MoreSee Less

View on Facebook

Some of our recent posts have shown roe deer bucks in velvet. The velvet is the soft hairy skin that covers and protects the new antlers while they grow. So here are a few more of our Portbury Wharf roe bucks in varying stages of velvet.

Only the male roe deer have antlers and each year, around November time, they lose their antlers. However, new ones soon start to grow and by December you can just see the little velvet nobs of new antlers showing.

The developing antlers are more visible in February and are almost fully grown by April. So in April and May the blood supply to the velvet dries up and falls off to reveal this year's hardened antlers. Rubbing their antlers on trees and posts often helps to remove the velvet.
... See MoreSee Less

View on Facebook

Avon Wildlife Trust local group is hosting a talk tomorrow night on Plants of North Somerset's Special Habitats by Rupert Higgins

Friday 22nd February 2019 at 7.30pm at the Folk Hall, Portishead High Street.

Entry £2

There is a talk on 29th March onThe Wildlife of the Gordano Valley by Dr Bill Dixon. Same time, same place
... See MoreSee Less

View on Facebook