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May is the third most productive month of the year with at least one individual of 180 species being seen. The summer migrants continue to move through  including Garganey, Hobby, Cuckoo, Spotted Flycatcher, more Terns and Skuas with the chance of Pomarine. “Small” wader numbers should rise during the month with Dunlin, Ringed Plover, Sanderling and the chance of a Curlew Sandpiper or Little Stint. Rarer records include Subalpine Warbler (2004), Bee-eater (2007), Spoonbill (1998), Honey Buzzard (1991), Kentish Plover (2004), Buff-breasted Sandpiper (1990), Temminck’s Stint (2004), Broad-billed Sandpiper (1988), Franklin’s Gull (1984), Long-tailed Skua, Sabine’s Gull, Roseate Tern (1990) and White-winged Black Tern (1990).

May 2008

May 31st
Dense fog for most of the morning cleared to a sunny warm afternoon. Sightings from Severn Beach included 2 drake Common Scoter, 90 Ringed Plover, 50 Dunlin, 3 Sanderling, 2 Turnstones and 12 Black-headed Gulls. Two Lapwing, 8 Oystercatchers, a Peregrine, a Hobby, a Lesser Whitethroat and at least 3 singing Reed Warblers were reported from Northwick Warth. Another 4 singing Reed Warblers were heard at the Sea Bank pools, Chittening Warth.

                                                                                            Ringed Plovers, Severn Beach 31.5.8    

                                                                  Reed Warbler, Northwick Warth 31.5.8    

May 30th
The Severn Beach wader roost remained much the same with 120 Ringed Plover, 40 Dunlin, 6 Turnstones and 2 Sanderling. Sightings from New Passage included 2 Whimbrel, a Little Egret, 8 Oystercatchers, 5 Black-headed Gulls and 36 Shelduck.

May 29th
The early afternoon wader roost at Severn Beach contained 120 Ringed Plover, 40 Dunlin, 4 Turnstones and 6 Sanderling including a colour ringed individual (left leg; red over orange, right leg; red over white). Sightings from Northwick Warth involved a Little Egret, a Curlew, 7 Oystercatchers, 12 Shelduck, 2 Great Black-backed Gulls and 3 Black-headed Gulls.

May 28th
The rain returned resulting in poor coverage today. A few Reed Warblers, a Cetti’s Warbler, 3 Gadwall and 2 Shelduck were reported from Avonmouth Sewage Works. A wet evening visit to New Passage produced just 8 Oystercatchers.

May 27th
A drier day. Sightings from Severn Beach included 2 drake Common Scoter, 109 Ringed Plover, 15 Dunlin, 4 Turnstones and a Whimbrel. A Little Egret, 19 Shelduck and 34 Jackdaws were reported from Northwick Warth.

May 26th
The bad weather continued. A visit to Severn Beach in torrential rain produced 2 Little Terns (one North East past the Second Severn Crossing at 11.10 and another grounded bird on the beach at 11.50), 70 Ringed Plover, 6 Turnstones and 2 Common Sandpipers. An evening visit to Northwick Warth produced just a pair of Shoveler and 9 Shelduck.

                                                                                      Little Tern, Severn Beach 26.5.8   

                                                                                     Little Tern, Severn Beach 26.5.8      

May 25th
Atrocious weather; heavy rain, North East wind and poor visibility for much of the day. Sightings from Severn Beach included a single flock of at least 140 Manx Shearwaters that appeared close to shore at 11.00 before disappearing back into the gloom when they realised where they were, 120 Ringed Plover, 35 Dunlin, 3 Turnstones, 3 Oystercatchers, 4 Shelduck and 5 Black-headed Gulls.

May 24th
A dry day with a strong North East wind. Sightings from the shore at Severn Beach included the usual 115 Ringed Plover, 25 Dunlin and 3 Turnstones and unusual sightings of a Fulmar and a drake Tufted Duck. A Little Egret, 2 Curlew and 5 Oystercatchers were reported from New Passage.

May 23rd
Much the same today with 115 Ringed Plovers, 35 Dunlin and 2 Lesser Whitethroats reported from Severn Beach. A Little Egret and 2 Little Grebes were seen on Northwick Warth this evening.

                                                                                   Little Grebe, Northwick Warth 23.5.8      

May 22nd
A quiet day with just 110 Ringed Plover, 60 Dunlin and 4 Turnstones reported from Severn Beach. A Little Egret and a Curlew were seen from New Passage.

May 21st
A warmer day with light wind coming from the South East. A brief early morning visit to Severn Beach produced 11 Common Terns, 20 Black-headed Gulls and a Peregrine. The evening wader roost was similar to previous days with a mixed flock of 200 Ringed Plover and Dunlin with 3 Sanderling. Two Whimbrel and a Spotted Flycatcher were seen at New Passage this evening.

May 20th
Much of the same today with waders roosting on the rocky beach near the Second Severn Crossing on both high tides. There were 160 Ringed Plover, 110 Dunlin, 3 Sanderling and 7 Turnstones at Severn Beach.

May 19th
The cool Easterly weather continued. Sightings from Severn Beach included 150 Ringed Plover, 120 Dunlin, 7 Turnstones, 7 Sanderling, 4 Grey Plover, a Knot, a Curlew, 3 Gadwall and 17 “Commic” Terns. This evening most of the waders were roosting on the rocky beach, 200 metres south of the Second Severn Crossing.

May 18th
A few migrants were found suggesting spring is not over yet. Waders seen from Severn Beach included 5 Knot, 8 Sanderling, 4 Grey Plover, 3 Turnstones, a Whimbrel, 250 Ringed Plover and 140 Dunlin and other sightings included a pair of Shoveler, 40 “Commic” Terns and 2 Peregrines. Two drake Common Scoter were feeding off New Passage where 70 Ringed Plover, 30 Dunlin and 2 Turnstones were roosting on the beach. Sightings from Northwick Warth included 3 Curlew, a Whimbrel, a Little Egret, 30 Shelduck, a pair of Tufted Ducks, 2 Little Grebes, a Whinchat, 2 Yellow Wagtails, 3 Lesser Whitethroats and a Reed Warbler.

                                                                                Common Scoter, New Passage 18.5.8        

                                                                            Turnstone, Severn Beach 18.5.8 © Rich Andrews

                                                                                    Whinchat, Northwick Warth 18.5.8

May 17th
Another cool day with a light North East breeze. Waders at Severn Beach included 320 Ringed Plover, 120 Dunlin, 12 Sanderling, 2 Whimbrel, 3 Knot, 5 Oystercatchers and 10 Turnstones. Other sightings from here prior to 9 am included an adult Shag on the river, 3 Common Terns, 26 Black-headed Gulls, 2 Yellow Wagtails, a Wheatear, a Peregrine and an obvious movement of Cormorants (12), Swifts (120), Swallows (240) and House Martins (140) low into the wind. This evening a dark form Arctic Skua flew East over Severn Beach at 17.50 and 25 “Commic” Terns flew up river 30 minutes later. A Raven was seen at Chittening Warth.

                                                                                           Knot, Severn Beach 17.5.8

                                                                                      Shag, Severn Beach 17.5.8 © John Martin  
                                                      A very distant  digiscoped image  taken at about a mile range. A rarity on
                                                      Severnside , the first record for five years and the first to be photographed.

May 16th
A cloudy, cool day with a North East breeze. A pale form Arctic Skua flew inland over Severn Beach at 06.50 this morning and sightings from there this evening included 2 Sandwich Terns, 12 Common Terns, 41 “Commic” Terns (that were probably also Common), 15 Sanderling, 3 Whimbrel, at least 270 Ringed Plover, 60 Dunlin, 6 Turnstones and a Peregrine.

                                                                                  Sanderling, Severn Beach 16.5.8

May 15th
A wet start to the day and some wader migration. Reports from Severn Beach included 6 Sanderling, 120 Ringed Plover, 40 Dunlin, 4 Turnstone, singing Garden Warbler, Sedge Warbler and Reed Warbler. A Water Rail, 3 Lesser Whitethroats and 4 Reed Warblers were reported from Chittening Warth.

May 14th
A sunny day with a strong North East wind. Just one Whimbrel  and 40 Shelduck were seen from New Passage. Four “Commic” Terns were seen in a brief river watch from Severn Beach this evening.

May 13th
The only report received so far today was of a Wheatear on Northwick Warth.

May 12th
Another hot day (26°C) with few sightings. Sightings from Severn Beach involved just 6 Grey Plover, 4 Knot, 25 Dunlin and 4 Ringed Plover. Just 15 Oystercatchers and a Ringed Plover were reported from New Passage and sightings from Northwick Warth this evening included a Greenshank, 2 Lapwings, at least 70 Shelduck and a late Merlin.

May 11th
A hot day (27°C) with a North East breeze and less than expected being found. A 1st summer Mediterranean Gull, 22 Black-headed Gulls, 3 Common Gulls, just 6 Ringed Plover and 8 Dunlin, an Oystercatcher, a Lesser Whitethroat and 2 Sedge Warblers were reported from Severn Beach. Just 3 Whimbrel, 3 Dunlin, 3 Ringed Plover, 18 Oystercatchers and 2 Teal were reported from New Passage.

May 10th
A misty dawn following an impressive thunderstorm last night, turning hot and sunny in the afternoon. Sightings from Severn Beach included a 2nd summer Mediterranean Gull, a Sandwich Tern, 5 “Commic” Terns, 5 Black-headed Gulls, 3 Greenshank, 2 summer plumaged Knot, 2 Whimbrel, 35 Dunlin, 10 Ringed Plover, a Wheatear and a Yellow Wagtail. Another 2 Sandwich Terns, 15 Oystercatchers, 93 Shelduck, a drake Teal and  a Yellow Wagtail were reported from Northwick Warth. A Common Sandpiper was seen in the pill at New Passage. Five Reed Warblers and 2 Reed Buntings were singing at Aust Warth. A mist netting session at Severn Beach resulted in a number of warblers being caught including 6 Whitethroats, 4 Blackcaps and 2 Sedge Warblers.

                                                                                         Sedge Warbler, Severn Beach 10.5.8

                                                                                          Whitethroat, Severn Beach 10.5.8

May 9th
A change in the wind direction and strength resulted in a quieter day. A Great Crested Grebe, 2 Whimbrel, a Sanderling, 6 Ringed Plover, 10 Dunlin were seen from Severn Beach and a Kingfisher was seen nearby at the Orchard Pools. A Wheatear was seen on the beach at New Passage. A Whimbrel, 4 Black-headed Gulls and a Spotted Flycatcher were seen on Northwick Warth this evening.

                                                                      Spotted Flycatcher, Northwick Warth 9.5.8 © John Martin

May 8th                
Another fine day with a stronger East wind. Sightings from Severn Beach this morning included a dark form Arctic Skua heading North East at 09.25, a Little Tern, 12 “Commic” Terns, 3 first summer Little Gulls, an adult Yellow-legged Gull, 3 Common Scoter, 9 Bar-tailed Godwits, 3 Whimbrel, 5 Sanderling, 15 Grey Plover, 3 Common Sandpipers, 24 Dunlin, 15 Ringed Plover, a Turnstone and 2 Wheatears. Two Yellow Wagtails and 2 Lesser Whitethroats were reported from Chittening Warth. Another 3 Whimbrel, a Common Sandpiper, 54 Shelduck and a Wheatear were seen on Northwick Warth. A Grasshopper Warbler was heard reeling this morning.

                                                                  Grey Plovers & Bar-tailed Godwits, Severn Beach 8.5.8

May 7th
Another warm day (25°C) with a light mist over the river and a North East breeze. The best find of the morning was a male Hen Harrier flying up river off Severn Beach at 9.05. Other sightings from here today included a Little Tern, 12 Black Terns, 4 Arctic Terns, 12 Common Terns, 160 “Commic” Terns, 20 Black-headed Gulls, 11 Whimbrel, a Grey Plover, a mixed flock of 20 Dunlin and Ringed Plover, 2 Peregrines, 2 Canada Geese and 2  Tree Pipits. Another 3 Whimbrel and 12 Black-headed Gulls were seen from New Passage. A Wheatear, a Yellow Wagtail, 2 Lesser Whitethroats, a Whimbrel and 30 Shelduck were present on Northwick Warth.
Below is a very distant record shot of the Harrier taken at  over 1 km range. It was closer when first seen but by the time I had juggled with my binoculars, telescope, mobile phone and eventually my camera this will have to do until next time.

                                                                  Hen Harrier, Severn Beach 7.5.8

May 6th
A warm day (22°C) with an East wind produced a few migrants over the water. Sightings from Severn Beach included 2 Mediterranean Gulls (2nd summer& 1st summer together), 2 Little Gulls (1st summers feeding off the shore for an hour this morning), 2 pale form Arctic Skuas flying low and East over the beach this evening, 13 “Commic” Terns, 22 Black-headed Gulls, 4 Common Scoter, 2 Gadwall, 24 Shelduck, 3 Bar-tailed Godwits, 7 Whimbrel, 5 Oystercatchers, 2 Grey Plover, a Common Sandpiper, 10 Dunlin, 6 Ringed Plover, a Sanderling, 2 Yellow Wagtails, 2 Lesser Whitethroats and a Redpoll. A visit to Northwick Warth this morning produced the usual 6 Whimbrel, 20 Oystercatchers, 2 Wheatears and 2 Lesser Whitethroats. Another 2 Lesser Whitethroats were reported from Chittening Warth. A Grasshopper Warbler was heard this morning.

May 5th
Sightings from Severn Beach today included 3 Black Terns, a Common Tern, 2 dark morph Arctic Skuas, 22 Black-headed Gulls, 3 Black-tailed Godwits, 9 Whimbrel, a Sanderling, a Common Sandpiper, 30 Dunlin, 14 Ringed Plover, a Hobby, a Peregrine, a Yellow Wagtail, 3 Wheatears and a Redpoll. A Greylag flew South past Chittening Warth. Another 2 Wheatears and 5 Whimbrel were reported from Northwick Warth. There was a steady passage of Swallows and Swifts throughout the day.

                                                                                     Common Sandpiper, Severn Beach 5.5.8

                                                                                        Sanderling, Severn Beach 5.5.8

May 4th
A warm day with lightning and occasional heavy showers. Three Black Terns, 6 Common Terns, 33 “Commic” Terns, 13 Black-headed Gulls, 8 Whimbrel, 12 Ringed Plover, 3 Dunlin and a Wheatear were seen at Severn Beach this morning and an Arctic Skua, 11 Common Terns and 30 “Commic” Terns were seen there this evening. Sightings from Northwick Warth involved, 10 Whimbrel, 5 Curlew, 3 Bar-tailed Godwits, 4 Grey Plover, a Common Sandpiper, 5 Dunlin, 3 Ringed Plover, 3 Teal, 3 Wheatears, 2 Lesser Whitethroats, a Yellow Wagtail, a Whinchat and a Spotted Flycatcher. A Wood Warbler, 3 Lesser Whitethroats and a Peregrine were reported from Aust Warth. A Garden Warbler was found at Chittening Warth. A Common Sandpiper was seen at Hoar Gout.

May 3rd
A quiet morning followed by some migrants late afternoon as the day got warmer. Sightings from Northwick Warth this morning involved just 3 Whimbrel, 2 Teal, 30 Shelduck, 3 Wheatears, 3 Lesser Whitethroats, 2 Sedge Warblers, a Yellow Wagtail and 3 Swifts. Sightings from Severn Beach involved 14 Grey Plover, 30 Knot (nearly all summer plumaged), 2 Bar-tailed Godwits, 4 Whimbrel, 30 Dunlin, 10 Ringed Plover, 2 Gadwall, 40 Shelduck, 20 Common Terns, 8 Arctic Terns, a Peregrine, 6 Wheatears, a Whinchat, a Yellow Wagtail, 3 Lesser Whitethroats, a Cuckoo and by the evening a steady passage of Swifts and Swallows heading North East.

                                                                                   Grey Plover, Severn Beach 3.5.8

May 2nd
Sightings from Severn Beach involved just 5 Wimbrel, a Bar-tailed Godwit, 40 Dunlin, 30 Ringed Plover, 8 Black-headed Gulls, 6 Wheatears and 2 Lesser Whitethroats. Another 6 Whimbrel, a Canada Goose, 8 Wheatears, 2 Sedge Warblers and 3 Lesser Whitethroats were reported from Northwick Warth. Two Little Ringed Plovers were seen today.

May 1st
Another day of heavy showers and quiet start to the month. Just 2 Whimbrel, 9 Oystercatchers, 52 Shelduck and 3 Wheatears were reported from New Passage. Sightings from Severn Beach involved another Whimbrel, 25 Dunlin and 15 Ringed Plover from the shore and a Canada Goose, a Tufted Duck and 4 Gadwall from the Orchard Pools.