SEVERNSIDE BIRDS























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December is one of the quietest months with only 153 species recorded during the month. It can be a good month for wildfowl with the chance of Red-breasted Merganser, Goosander and Ruddy Duck if inland waters freeze or some fly by Bewick’s Swans. A good selection of seabirds have occurred in December gales including Black-throated and Great Northern Divers, Leach’s Petrel, Little Auk, Grey Phalarope and Pomarine Skua. Other rarities have included Glaucous Gull and in the winters of 1940 & 1941, Cirl Bunting.
December 2007
December 31st
A quiet end to the year with just a Little Egret, 20 Dunlin, 16 Lapwing, 14 Oystercatchers and the usual Wigeon, Teal and Shelduck flock reported from New Passage. Just 17 Ringed Plover, 12 Dunlin and 10 Turnstones were seen at Severn Beach. Two Short-eared Owls showed again over Aust Warth at 14.15. One that was missed by the birders but not the local Peregrine; fresh remains of a wader killed by a raptor including part of the wings were found on Severn Beach today and later identified as a 1st winter Grey Phalarope by comparison of skins at Bristol Museum.

December 30th
A change to settled weather and no wind. Sightings from New Passage included 2 Little Egrets, 60 Dunlin, 21 Oystercatchers, 15 Lapwing, 46 Curlew, 500 Wigeon, 200 Teal, 20 Shelduck, 6 Shoveler and a Kingfisher. A visit to the shore at Severn Beach produced 400 Dunlin, 90 Redshank, 40 Curlew, 35 Oystercatchers, a Water Rail, 14 Shelduck, 6 Rock Pipits, 2 Peregrines and a Stonechat. Two Short-eared Owls were seen hunting at the South end of Aust Warth at 14.30 and another Stonechat was present here.

December 29th
After a wet and windy night it was a case of quality rather than quantity of seabirds off Severn Beach; the first Leach’s Petrel of the year was seen from 10.30 until 11.25 when it was last seen being closely pursued by a Peregrine. A Storm Petrel and just 7 adult Kittiwakes were seen at 14.10. Other sightings from Severn Beach involved 170 Turnstones with 200 Dunlin on the Severn Tunnel beach and 34 Gadwall and a drake Shoveler on the Orchard Pools. It was quiet elsewhere with just a Little Egret, 20 Dunlin, 35 Lapwing, 6 Turnstones, 32 Shelduck and the usual Wigeon and Teal flock reported from New Passage.

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                                                                            Leach’s Petrel, Severn Beach 29.12.7  

                           Not the best picture of a Leach’s Petrel as this one never came closer than 100 metres.
                                   See the Leach’s Petrel page by clicking here to see how close they usually come to shore.

December 28th
No reports were received on an increasingly wet and windy day.

December 27th
A Little Egret, 3000 Dunlin, 160 Lapwings, 48 Oystercatchers, 39 Redshank, 8 Turnstones, at least 600 Wigeon, 100 Teal, 12 Shelduck and 4 Shoveler were reported from New Passage. A Peregrine was seen at Aust Warth and 11 Gadwall remained on the Orchard Pools at Severn Beach.

December 26th
An adult Mediterranean Gull was seen from New Passage today where at least 3000 Dunlin, 600 Lapwings, 34 Redshank, 700 Wigeon, 100 Teal, 12 Shelduck and 6 Shoveler were also seen. A Short-eared Owl showed over Aust Warth at 3.10pm and a Little Owl called from the hedge here. No Owls were seen later but a massive flock of Starlings, a thick band of them at least half a mile in length, flew over the estuary to roost.

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                                                                               Starlings, Aust Warth 26.12.7  

December 25th
A morning visit to Northwick Warth produced 3000 roosting Dunlin, 500 Lapwing, 60 Oystercatchers, 35 Redshank, 30 Curlew, a Snipe, 600 Wigeon, 120 Teal, 8 Shelduck, 2 Shoveler and 2 Water Rails. A flock of 16 Siskins flew North from New Passage.

December 24th
A frost free but cloudy day. The bird of the day was a Grey Partridge seen in flight at Chittening Warth this morning (the first record here since 2002 and only the 3rd since 1989). A Brambling flew over Severn Beach this morning. A low tide visit to New Passage this afternoon produced at least 600 Lapwings, 300 Dunlin, 30 Redshank, 40 Oystercatchers, 40 Curlew, 600 Wigeon, 140 Teal, 3 Shoveler and a Stonechat. Two Short-eared Owls eventually showed over Aust Warth at 4.20pm and a Little Owl was heard calling from the sheep fields here. Many thousands of Starlings were seen heading across the estuary at dusk.

December 23rd
A day of freezing fog and poor visibility. A male Merlin and 200 Lapwing were seen on Northwick Warth and 2 Short-eared Owls were hunting in the fog over Aust Warth this afternoon.

December 22nd
An Avocet remained viewable from the southern end of Chittening Warth where at least 1000 Dunlin, 60 Redshank, 20 Shelduck, 2 Great Black-backed Gulls, 10 Snipe, 4 Rock Pipits and 4 Stonechats were also seen. With both high tides in darkness today, there was little to report from Severn Beach other than 2 Ringed Plover, 14 Shelduck, 5 Rock Pipits, 2 Stonechats, a Grey Wagtail and 2 flyover Redpolls. Sightings from New Passage included 160 Lapwing, 100 Dunlin, 50 Redshank, 600 Wigeon and 120 Teal. Two Short-eared Owls and 2 Stonechats were seen on Aust Warth this afternoon.

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                                                                          Short-eared Owl, Aust Warth 22.12.7  

December 21st
Sightings from New Passage involved 53 Oystercatchers, 10 Turnstones, 8 Redshank, the usual Wigeon and Teal flock and 2 Shoveler.  It was also quiet at Severn Beach with just 4 Ringed Plover, 3 Redshank and 18 Shelduck reported. The male Merlin was seen again on Aust Warth. An adult Mediterranean Gull, 39 Tufted Ducks and 2 Pochard were seen at Avonmouth Sewage Works.

December 20th
An even colder day with the afternoon temperature in the fog only reaching -2°C. A Snow Bunting was found in Severn Beach feeding on the road near the Riverside Park street sign. It was eventually flushed onto the beach by a dog walker. Other sightings from the shore in poor visibility were a Grey Plover, 30 Turnstones, 10 Ringed Plover, 11 Redshank and 100 Dunlin. Nearby, there were 16 Coot (a high count for here) on the near frozen Orchard Pools. The only reports from New Passage were of 160 Lapwings, 20 Dunlin, 15 Oystercatchers, 4 Common Gulls and 2 Great Black-backed Gulls and a visit to Aust Warth late afternoon produced just a roadside Stonechat.

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                                                        Snow Bunting, Severn Beach 20.12.7           

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                                                       Snow Bunting, Severn Beach 20.12.7  

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                                                      Snow Bunting, Severn Beach 20.12.7  

December 19th
A quiet day with just 43 Oystercatchers, 5 Redshank, 10 Shelduck and the usual Wigeon and Teal flock reported from New Passage. A visit to Severn Beach produced just 40 Turnstones, 5 Redshank, 5 Ringed Plover, 50 Oystercatchers, a Snipe and 16 Shelduck. Two Stonechats remained on Aust Warth.

December 18th
The cold spell continues. The first Avocet of the year was found at Chittening Warth this morning along with 55 Oystercatchers, 11 Redshank, 18 Turnstones, a Great Black-backed Gull and 2 Stonechats. Sightings from the Severn Beach shore involved 10 Turnstones, 36 Oystercatchers, 17 Lapwing, 5 Redshank, 15 Dunlin, 8 Ringed Plover, 26 Shelduck, 9 Teal and another 2 Stonechats. Nine Gadwall, 10 Teal and a Tufted Duck were seen nearby on the Orchard Pools. The usual 500 Wigeon, 100 plus Teal, 4 Shoveler, just 32 Dunlin, 16 Turnstones and 10 Oystercatchers were seen from New Passage. A Short-eared Owl was seen and a Little Owl was calling at dusk on Aust Warth.

December 17th
Little was seen in an eye watering cold wind. The usual Wigeon, Teal, Shelduck, Dunlin, Lapwings, Redshank, Curlew and Oystercatchers were reported from New Passage. A flock of 20 Wigeon were seen from Severn Beach. No Owls were seen on Aust Warth by 2pm.

December 16th
Daytime temperatures only reached 3°C in an East wind. Sightings from Severn Beach involved a Grey Plover, 60 Turnstones, 200 Dunlin, 2 Snipe, 3 Ringed Plover, 50 Curlew, 50 Oystercatchers, a Water Rail, 6 Rock Pipits, a Stonechat and a Peregrine from the shore and a male Brambling graced a garden bird table. Another Water Rail, 14 Snipe, 700 Dunlin, 250 Lapwing, 20 Oystercatcher, 500 Wigeon, 150 Teal and 2 Shoveler were seen at Northwick Warth. A female Merlin, a Jack Snipe and 2 Short-eared Owls were reported at Aust Warth this evening.

December 15th
A dull, cloudy and cold day. Sightings from New Passage included a Black-tailed Godwit, 300 Dunlin, 250 Lapwing, 25 Redshank, 500 Wigeon, 90 Teal and 5 Shoveler. A visit to Severn Beach this morning produced a Grey Plover, 11 Ringed Plover, 60 Turnstones, 20 Shelduck, 5 Rock Pipits and a Water Rail. A male Merlin and 3 Stonechats were seen at Aust Warth this afternoon but most of the Owl watchers left a few minutes before 2 Short-eared Owls eventually showed at 4.35 pm and a Tawny Owl called from the wooded garden at Old Passage.

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                                                                                 Grey Plover, Severn Beach 15.12.7  

December 14th
Another cold day with an East wind and a good variety of birds. The day got off to an excellent start when a Red-throated Diver flew North past Severn Beach at 8.35 this morning and dropped onto the river near the 2nd Severn Crossing. Surprisingly this was only the 6th Severnside record and the first since May 2000. Other sightings from Severn Beach today included a Great Crested Grebe, 12 Shelduck, 200 Dunlin, 80 Curlew, 40 Turnstones, 2 Ringed Plover, a Water Pipit, 3 Rock Pipits, 2 Peregrines and a male Blackcap. Sightings from Northwick Warth included a male Merlin, 500 Wigeon, 80 Teal, 7 Shoveler, 6 Shelduck, 30 Redshank, 50 Curlew, 1200 Dunlin, 250 Lapwing, 17 Snipe and a Water Rail. An afternoon visit to Aust Warth produced 2 Short-eared Owls, a Peregrine and 3 Stonechats. A Woodcock was flushed late afternoon near the Sea Bank Pools at Chittening Warth.

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                                                                            Short-eared Owl, Aust Warth 14.12.7  

December 13th
The cold snap continued with another frosty morning. There was little change at New Passage with the same 2000 Dunlin, 30 Redshank, 50 Oystercatchers, a Black-tailed Godwit, 6 Shoveler with the usual Wigeon, Teal and Shelduck flock reported. Two Short-eared Owls showed well again from mid afternoon at Aust Warth where 2 Stonechats were also seen.

December 12th
Another cold day. The usual 2000 Dunlin, 150 Lapwings, 30 Redshank, 50 Oystercatchers, 200 Wigeon and 90 Teal were reported from New Passage. A visit to the Orchard Pools at Severn Beach produced just 15 Gadwall and 4 Tufted Ducks. A Short-eared Owl was hunting over Aust Warth at 2pm. A female type Scaup was seen with 39 Tufted Ducks and 18 Shoveler on the square roadside pool at Avonmouth Sewage Works and a Redpoll flew over here.

December 11th
A cold day following a frosty night(-2°C). Sightings from New Passage at least 2000 Dunlin, 250 Lapwings, 60 Oystercatchers, 40 Redshank, 6 Turnstones, 20 Shelduck, 3 Shoveler, 150 Wigeon and 90 Teal. A male Merlin was seen on perched on fence posts on Northwick Warth and 3 Short-eared Owls remained on Aust Warth including 2 that were calling and “talon grappling” just after midday.

December 10th
Sightings from New Passage involved 600 Dunlin, 107 Redshank, 150 Lapwings, 50 Oystercatchers, 12 Shelduck and 5 Shoveler. There were 12 Gadwall and 8 Tufted Duck on the Orchard Pools, Severn Beach. Three Short-eared Owls showed at dusk over Aust Warth.

December 9th
A very wet morning followed by a dry and brighter afternoon. The only seabirds seen from Severn Beach were a Diver species at 9 am that flew along the sea wall and then over the Second Severn Crossing and a 1st winter Little Gull. Other reports from Severn Beach included 500 Dunlin, 120 Turnstones, 11 Grey Herons, 2 Great Black-backed Gulls and a Peregrine. Sightings from New Passage included 160 Redshank, 400 Dunlin, 40 Turnstones, 60 Oystercatchers, 100 Lapwings, 70 Curlew, 150 Teal, 300 Wigeon, 9 Shovleler, 5 Shelduck and 2 Stonechats. An afternoon visit to Aust Warth produced an impressive 5 Short-eared Owls on view together along with sightings of a Water Rail, a Raven, 20 Skylarks and 2 Stonechats. A quick visit to Chittening Warth in search of additional Owls produced just another 3 Stonechats. A good selection of ducks were seen on the square rooadside pool at Avonmouth Sewage Works including 15 Shoveler, 14 Tufted Ducks, a Pochard and few Teal and Gadwall. A Chiffchaff was seen in the hedge here.

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                                                                            Short-eared Owl, Aust Warth 9.12.7  

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                                                                          Short-eared Owl, Aust Warth 9.12.7  

December 8th
A wet and windy day. Even less than usual was seen from New Passage with just 300 Dunlin, 3 Turnstones, 50 Oystercatchers, 50 Lapwings, 2 Shoveler and 12 Common Gulls the only birds reported. It was so overcast today a Short-eared Owl showed early (from 1.30 pm) at Aust Warth.

December 7th
Reports from New Passage included 300 Dunlin, 250 Lapwings, 24 Redshank, 30 Turnstones, 60 Oystercatchers, 4 Shoveler and 12 Shelduck. Two Ravens were seen at Chittening Warth and a visit to the Orchard Pools at Severn Beach produced 16 Gadwall and 4 Tufted Ducks. Three Short-eared Owls were seen over Aust Warth late afternoon despite the unsettled weather. Many thanks to Gary Thoburn for supplying the magnificent image below.

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                                                                   Short-eared Owl, Aust Warth 7.12.7  © Gary Thoburn

December 6th
Little to report on another wet and windy day. Sightings from New Passage included the usual 76 Oystercatchers, 50 Dunlin, 12 Redshank, 40 Curlew, 4 Shoveler, 70 Teal and a male Stonechat.

December 5th
The only report received related to a low tide visit at New Passage where 91 Oystercatchers, 200 Lapwing, just 30 Dunlin, 10 Turnstones, 14 Shelduck, 18 Shoveler, 200 Wigeon, 70 Teal and 12 Common Gulls were seen.

December 4th
Almost a repeat of yesterday. At least 500 Dunlin, 250 Lapwing, 38 Redshank, 20 Oystercatchers, 6 Turnstones, 32 Common Gulls, 200 Wigeon, 70 Teal and 2 Shoveler were reported from New Passage. Another 38 Oystercatchers and 2 Stonechats were seen at Chittening Warth. Thirty Turnstones, 9 Shelduck, 22 Curlew and 15 Oystercatchers were seen at Severn Beach. A Short-eared Owl was seen hunting over Aust Warth this evening.

December 3rd
A drier and less windy day. Reports from New Passage included 500 Dunlin, 250 Lapwing, 26 Turnstones, 24 Oystercatchers, 40 Redshank, a Knot, 7 Shoveler, 200 Wigeon and 70 Teal. Sightings from Severn Beach involved another 30 Turnstones, 18 Oystercatchers and 10 Shelduck from the shore and 16 Gadwall were seen on the Orchard Pools. There were 55 Oystercatchers and 2 Stonechats at Chittening Warth. Two Short-eared Owls showed well again at Aust Warth this evening.

December 2nd
Another wet and windy day. Seawatching from Severn Beach produced just 90 Kittiwakes, a female Common Scoter and a very late Arctic Tern. Sightings from New Passage in poor conditions involved 50 Turnstones, 40 Redshank, 40 Oystercatchers, 200 Wigeon and 60 Teal. Three Short-eared Owls were hunting over Aust Warth again at dusk.

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                                                                                   Kittiwakes, Severn Beach 2.12.7
                                                                               
December 1st
A very wet start to the month with occasional strong West wind and hail showers. An adult Mediterranean Gull, 1000 Dunlin, 40 Redshank, 50 Turnstones, 300 Lapwing, 240 Wigeon, 70 Teal, 16 Shelduck, a Great Black-backed Gull and 2 Stonechats were seen from New Passage. Sightings from Severn Beach involved just 4 Ringed Plover, 30 Turnstones, a Peregrine and none of the hoped for “seabirds”. A late afternoon visit to Aust Warth when the rain stopped produced at least 3 Short-eared Owls and a pre roost gathering of at least 5000 Starlings.
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