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Portbury Wharf’s Birds

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Portbury Wharf’s birds – there are so many. We have the usual garden and hedgerow birds but because we are on the coast we also have lots of visiting wildfowl and waders.

According to the RSPB,  1 in 4 UK birds are now on the Red List of Conservation Concern  as numbers have dropped considerably. Eighteen of the birds that we regularly see among Portbury Wharf’s birds are on this red list with another 23 on the amber list (not quite as bad as the red list). Click here to read about the red and amber lists.

What to look out for at Portbury Wharf

Below is what you might see on the reserve, or close by, but of course this is not exhaustive. There will always be unusual visitors to keep an eye out for like avocets and bitterns. We have divided the lists seasonally so you know what you are likely to see and when.

What you may see at anytime of the year
What you will only see in the spring or summer
What you will only see in the winter

NB birds marked with * or ** may also be “Passage” birds ie passing through at other times of the year

We will be adding photos and more information about each bird in due course. Though with so many species this will be a labour of love and will take a little while to detail all of Portbury Wharf’s birds. So please be patient with us.

You can download our A5 spotting card to take with you to the reserve. You will find it on our Wildlife Monitoring page.

Birds you could see at any time of the year

Name Where they usually hang out
At risk
Barn Owl Anywhere
Blackbird Hedgerows
Blackcap Hedgerows
Black-headed Gull Estuary and Pools AMBER
Blue Tit Hedgerows
Bullfinch Hedgerows AMBER
Buzzard Anywhere
Canada Goose Anywhere
Carrion Crow Anywhere
Cetti’s Warbler Hedgerows
Chaffinch Hedgerows
Common Sandpiper Estuary AMBER
Coot Anywhere
Cormorant Anywhere
Gadwall Estuary and Pools AMBER
Goldcrest Hedgerows
Goldfinch Hedgerows and Salt Marsh
Great Crested Grebe Pools
Great Tit Hedgerows
Great Spotted Woodpecker Anywhere
(Chloris Chloris)
Look out for them in the hedgerows.

They have a fizzy wheezing call.

Green Woodpecker Anywhere
Grey Heron Anywhere
Herring Gull Anywhere RED
House Sparrow Hedgerows RED
Jackdaw Anywhere
Kestrel Anywhere AMBER
Kingfisher Estuary and Pools AMBER
Lesser Black-backed Gull Estuary and Pools AMBER
Linnet Hedgerows RED
Little Egret Estuary and Pools
Little Grebe Pools
Little Owl Anywhere
Long-tailed Tit

(Aegithalos caudatus)

  • Look out for them in the hedgerows
  • Tail longer than body, hence the name
  • Group together in excitable flocks
  • Feed mainly on insects
  • Huddle together to keep warm
  • High-pitched squeaky call

Magpie Anywhere
Mallard Estuary and Pools AMBER
Mistle Thrush Hedgerows RED
Moorhen Anywhere
Mute Swan Estuary and Pools AMBER
Oystercatcher Estuary and Pools AMBER
Peregrine Anywhere
Pied Wagtail Anywhere
Redshank Estuary and Pools AMBER
Reed Bunting Hedgerows AMBER
Ringed-Plover Estuary and Pools RED
Robin Anywhere
Shelduck Estuary and Pools AMBER
Song Thrush Hedgerows RED
Sparrowhawk Anywhere
Starling Anywhere RED
Skylark Anywhere, often high above the salt marsh RED
Tufted Duck Estuary and Pools
Wood Pigeon Anywhere
Water Rail Freshwater Ditches and Ponds
Wren Hedgerows

The Summer Birds

These birds fly from Africa and beyond to spend the summer here. They will nest and raise their families before flying back to warmer climates for the winter.

Name Where they usually hang out At risk
Cuckoo Hedgerows RED
Hobby Anywhere
House Martin Anywhere AMBER
Lesser Whitethroat Hedgerows
Reed Warbler Hedgerows
Sand Martin Anywhere
Sedge Warbler Hedgerows
Swallow Anywhere
Swift Anywhere AMBER
Wheatear* Sea wall and fields
Whimbrel* Salt Marsh and Pools RED
Whitethroat Hedgerows

* these are Passage birds ie on their way through in spring and summer.

The Winter Birds

These birds fly from northern and arctic regions to spend the winter here. So they will escape the worst of the cold harsh conditions to spend a relatively mild winter here. In spring when the arctic temperatures rise and the light increases they will fly back north to nest.

Name Where they usually hang out At risk
Black-tailed Godwit** Estuary and Pools RED
Common Snipe Salt Marsh and Pools AMBER


Read more

Mainly on the salt marsh and estuary,  sometimes the pools.

This bird is the most threatened of all our birds.



Read more

Salt Marsh and Pools AMBER
Fieldfare Hedgerows RED
Grey Wagtail** Anywhere RED
Jack Snipe Salt Marsh and Pools AMBER
Lapwing Salt Marsh and Pools RED
Merlin** Anywhere RED
Pochard Pools RED
Redwing Hedgerows RED
Short-eared Owl** Anywhere AMBER
Shoveler Salt Marsh and Pools AMBER
Teal Salt Marsh and Pools AMBER
Male wigeon


  • Look for them on the Salt Marsh and Pools
  • They eat aquatic plants, grasses and roots
  • They will “graze” on the salt marsh
  • Male wigeon has a distinctive “weeeooo” whistling call
  • It can be heard from quite a distance

You can hear it in this clip:


** these are also “passage” birds ie on their way through in spring and summer

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