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December is one of the quietest months with only 156 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 2010

December 31st
Just 15 Ringed Plover, 40 Dunlin, 45 Oystercatchers, 12 Turnstones, 30 Redshank, 14 Shelduck and 5 Gadwall were seen from Severn Beach. Reports from the Northwick Warth area involved 3 Short-eared Owls, 2 Bewick’s Swans flying down river, at least 1500 Wigeon, 80 Teal, 2 Shelduck, 4 Gadwall, 600 Lapwing, 50 Oystercatchers, 40 Dunlin and 3 Knot were reported from New Passage. Two Short-eared Owls eventually appeared over Aust Warth at 4.45pm.

December 30th
The mist remained for most of the day with limited sightings. A drake Pintail was seen from Severn Beach and a Short-eared Owl was seen early afternoon in the Stupp Pill area of Chittening Warth. At least 600 Wigeon, 20 Teal, 2 Shelduck and a Peregrine were seen in the fog from New Passage. The Square Pool at Avonmouth Sewage Works was covered with 84 Tufted Duck. Two Short-eared Owls were reported on Aust Warth at dusk.

December 29th
More persistent fog today. The Black Redstart remained at Severn Beach on the lower sea wall path just up river from the burger bar ramp. Other sightings at Severn Beach included a Coot on the river off the shaft beach, 6 Shoveler, 9 Shelduck, 10 Gadwall, 40 Teal, 9 Ringed  Plover, 15 Turnstones, 200 Dunlin, 40 Oystercatchers and 20 Redshank. A foggy visit to New Passage produced just 200 Wigeon and 2 Shelduck on view with 40 Lapwing. Another 400 Wigeon, 150 Dunlin and a Merlin were reported at Aust Warth. The Square Pool at Avonmouth Sewage Works produced 66 Tufted Duck, 10 Pochard and a Shoveler.

December 28th
The thaw continued with fog and light rain. Sightings from the seawall at Severn Beach involved the Black Redstart, a female Goldeneye, 2 Gadwall, 30 Teal, 9 Shelduck, 10 Ringed Plover, a Black-tailed Godwit, 50 Dunlin and 30 Redshank. Combined sightings from the Avonmouth Sewage Works area included 67 Tufted Duck, 38 Gadwall, 40 Teal, 3 Shoveler, single Little Egret, Grey Heron and Great Spotted Woodpecker.

                                                                                    Black Redstart, Severn Beach  28.12.10

December 27th
The area turned green today with a thaw and the temperature reaching 5°C. A party of 7 White-fronted Geese flew east over Aust Warth at 9.15 this morning. Sightings from Northwick Warth area involved 2 male Merlins on view at the same time, thousands of Wigeon. 80 Teal, 2 Gadwall, 2 Shoveler, 700 Dunlin, 30 Curlew, 40 Lapwing, 20 Redshank, a Knot and a Turnstone. Combined reports from Severn Beach included 3 female type Goldeneye, 2 Gadwall, 12 Shelduck, 8 Wigeon, 11 Ringed Plover, 150 Dunlin, 30 Turnstones, 50 Redshank, a Black Redstart and 15 Skylarks. Two drake Goosanders, 3 Goldeneye, 40 Oystercatchers, 40 Curlew and a Woodcock were reported from Chittening Warth.

                                                                                       Goldeneye, Severn Beach  27.12.10

December 26th
A -10°C hoar frost with fog until late morning. Reports from Aust Warth included 4 Short-eared Owls, 5 Bewick’s Swans, 2 drake Tufted Ducks, 30 Linnets, single Peregrine, Kestrel and Green Woodpecker. A ringtail Hen Harrier was seen flying down mid river at 12.15 from New Passage where another 4 Tufted Duck (2 drakes), 2 drake Pochard, 2 female Goldeneye, a Coot, a Gadwall, at least 2000 Wigeon, 80 Teal, 350 Dunlin, 250 Lapwing, 20 Redshank, 25 Curlew and a Buzzard catching a roosting Lapwing were also seen. Combined reports from Severn Beach involved at least 1000 Dunlin, 15 Ringed Plover, a Knot, 30 Lapwing, 60 Redshank, a Woodcock, 60 Oystercatchers, 40 Curlew, 70 Turnstones, 2 Gadwall, 3 Shelduck, a male Yellowhammer, 2 Bullfinches,15 Skylarks and 10 Reed Buntings on the estuary and garden feeders involved the 2 Water Rails, a female Blackcap, Coal Tit, Fieldfares, Redwings and Reed Buntings among the usual visitors.

                                                                                 Fieldfare, Severn Beach 26.12.10  © Ray Cottrell

                                                                                Green Woodpecker, Aust Warth 26.12.10

December 25th
A bitterly cold dawn (-9°C) with a river fog. A Waxwing was heard calling and seen flying from the Pipits Court end of Riverside Park in Severn Beach and watched dropping towards the railway station. Other reports at Severn Beach included
8 Ringed Plover, 40 Redshank, 30 Oystercatchers, 500 Dunlin, 40 Turnstones and 6 Gadwall from the sea wall and 2 Water Rails in a garden. Sightings from the Northwick Warth area involved ay least 1800 Wigeon, 90 Teal, 350 Dunlin, 150 Lapwing, 20 Redshank, 5 Turnstones,30 Curlew, single Raven and Sparrowhawk. At least 60 Fieldfares were seen heading south this morning.

                                                                            garden Water Rails, Severn Beach 25.12.10  © Mike Pruett

December 24th
A -3°C dawn with a few new arrivals. An immature Hen Harrier was reported flying north east past Chittening Warth this morning. Combined reports from Severn Beach involved a Little Egret, 13 Ringed Plover, 500 Dunlin, 3 Woodcock sightings, single Buzzard and Sparrowhawk, 2 male Yellowhammers, 10 Reed Buntings, 20 Skylarks, a garden visiting Water Rail and a Barn Owl hunting at dusk. An immature Hen Harrier was found over Aust Warth at 13.40 where it showed until dusk and appeared to roost. Other sightings here included the male Merlin, 2 Kestrels, 2 Ravens, 2 Pheasants and 30 Linnets.At least 2000 Wigeon remained nearby on Aust Warth. The male Merlin and a Peregrine were seen this morning at New Passage.

                                                                                            Hen Harrier, Aust Warth 24.12.10
                       almost a mystery bird shot taken at dusk at 250 yards range. I will try and replace it with a better one tomorrow morning
                      while the best bird is in the oven

December 23rd
Another bitterly cold day with snow and ice on the ground. A brief visit to New Passage in a biting north wind produced just 30 Oystercatchers, 600 Dunlin, 20 Lapwing, 160 Wigeon and 20 Teal. The male Merlin remained on Aust Warth and nearby at least 2200 Wigeon were grazing on the north end of Northwick Warth. A Yellowhammer was seen along the sea wall south of Severn Beach. An adult Mediterranean Gull, an amazing 82 Tufted Duck, 4 Shoveler, 5 Wigeon and 50 Common Gulls were reported on the unfrozen square roadside pool at Avonmouth Sewage Works. Just outside the Severnside recording area, 10 Waxwings remained in Third Way at Avonmouth.

                                                                                 Wigeon, Northwick  Warth 23.12.10
                                                      grazing the snow covered salt marsh, in the air and everywhere....

December 22nd
Another slight rise in temperature( -1°C) but the covering of snow remained. A male Merlin, Peregrine and male Sparrowhawk were seen attacking the wader flock at New Passage this morning, The male Merlin was reported again later at Aust Warth where 2 Short-eared Owls, a Buzzard, 40 Linnets and  at least1500 of yesterday’s Wigeon flock were seen. A Woodcock and 2 Snipe were seen at Chittening Warth.

December 21st
A grey and less cold day (-3°C) produced a few refugees from frozen inland waters including 12 Pochard and a Coot on the river off New Passage and 7 Tufted Duck off Severn Beach and many more “large” gulls were present than usual. Other sightings from the Northwick Warth area involved at least 2500 Wigeon (most were in 2 flocks at the north end of the warth), 50 Teal, 240 Lapwing, 500 Dunlin, 10 Redshank and 5 Turnstones. Additional reports from Severn Beach included a Little Egret, 350 Dunlin, 2 Ringed Plover, 40 Turnstones, 40 Oystercatchers, 60 Redshank, 25 Lapwing, 9 Gadwall, 4 Shelduck, 70 Wigeon, 10 Teal, at least 50 Skylarks (30 at the shaft beach and 20 at the saltmarsh) and 8 Reed Buntings. The male Merlin was seen hunting pipits at Aust Warth and causing panic among the huge Wigeon flock on Northwick Warth that must have got the size wrong! A Short-eared Owl was reported again at Aust Warth.

                                                                                        Merlin, Aust Warth 21.12.10

December 20th
An even colder dawn with one intrepid visitor reporting -9°C on arrival at New Passage this morning where a female Merlin and a Kingfisher were seen. There were snow showers for most of the day.

December 19th
An icy day (-6°C dawn) with the north wind keeping the temperature below zero all day. Combined reports from the Northwick Warth area involved 3 Black-tailed Godwits, 500+ Lapwing (290 at New Passage and another 200+ at north end of Northwick Warth), 110 Dunlin, 40 Oystercatchers, 6 Curlew, 10 Turnstones, 1400+ Wigeon and a Peregrine. Another 250 Dunlin, 2 Ringed Plover, 70 Redshank, 30 Lapwing, a Golden Plover, 14 Shelduck, 12 Skylarks and 10 Reed Buntings were reported from Severn Beach. Single Little Egret, Jack Snipe and Woodcock were reported from Chittening Warth. Single Short-eared Owl, Raven, Buzzard, male Sparrowhawk and Kestrel were seen at Aust Warth this evening.

                                                                                  Wigeon, Northwick  Warth 19.12.10
                                                            just a fraction of the large flock this evening

December 18th
A cold day following several inches of overnight snow. A visit to Northwick Warth produced 6 Bewick’s Swans flying north east over the sheep field at 10 am. Other sightings here included the male Merlin, a Black-tailed Godwit, 5 Bar-tailed Godwits, 400 Lapwing, a Golden Plover, 60 Oystercatchers, 30 Redshank, 330 Dunlin, 10 Snipe, 30 Curlew, at least 1300 Wigeon and 50 Teal. Another 150 Redshank, 40 Oystercatchers, 400 Dunlin, 60 Turnstones, 90 Curlew, 2 Golden Plover, a Snipe, 8 Gadwall, 8 Teal, 5 Wigeon, 15 Shelduck, 20 Skylarks, 10 Reed Buntings and 4 Rock Pipits were seen on an afternoon visit to the shore at Severn Beach. The frozen shore at Chittening Warth produced 17 Redshank, 2 Snipe, 3 Buzzards, at least 20 Fieldfare and 9 Blackbirds. Two Short-eared Owls, 2 Peregrines, 2 Ravens and 2 Buzzards were reported from Aust Warth.

                                                                 Northwick Warth looking north towards Aust Cliff  18.12.10

                                                                 Northwick Warth looking south towards New Passage 18.12.10

December 17th
A cold day with a north west wind and a dusting of snow. Reports from Northwick Warth involved just 240 Wigeon,100 Teal, 70 Oystercatchers, 16 Redshank, 55 Lapwing, 370 Dunlin and a Snipe. Another 80 Oystercatchers, 110 Redshank, 50 Turnstones, 2 Black-tailed Godwits, 500 Dunlin, 3 Ringed Plover, a Snipe, 10 Curlew, 19 Shelduck, 5 Teal, 3 Gadwall, 5 Rock Pipits and 2 Bullfinches. Two Ravens and 60 Lapwing were seen at Aust Warth.

                                                                                Black-tailed Godwits, Severn Beach  17.12.10

December 16th
No reports were received today.

December 15th
A Black Redstart was seen on the sea wall at Severn Beach where a Peregrine was seen chasing a Redshank. Reports from New Passage involved 3 Black-tailed Godwits, 250 Dunlin, 6 Oystercatchers, 6 Redshank and the large flock of Wigeon and Teal. A Short-eared Owl was seen hunting over Aust Warth at 4.25 pm.

                                                                            Black Redstart, Severn Beach  15.12.10 © Mark Coller

December 14th
An icy start to a dry day. A male Black Redstart was seen in Severn Beach opposite Downs Bakery (breakfast roll recommended) on the footpath steps leading up to the seawall. Other sightings at Severn Beach involved a female Merlin chasing a Meadow Pipit, at least 12 Ringed Plover, 20 Turnstones, 25 Dunlin, 15 Redshank, single Golden Plover and Bar-tailed Godwit, 50 Oystercatchers, 3 Grey Herons, 10 Shelduck, 8 Gadwall and a Peregrine. Two Black-tailed Godwits, 25 Dunlin, at least 100 Wigeon, 12 Teal and 4 Gadwall were reported from New Passage. Two Short-eared Owls were seen from Cake Pill Sluice over Aust Warth from 4.20pm.

December 13th
A sunny, cool day with persistent mid river fog. A male Merlin, at least 650 Wigeon, 40 Teal, 350 Dunlin, 10 Lapwing, 3 Buzzards and a female Sparrowhawk were seen on Northwick Warth this morning. Sightings from Severn Beach involved the first Purple Sandpiper record for 4 years, 70 Turnstones, 2 Knot, 15 Ringed Plover, 2 Snipe, 80 Redshank, 400 Dunlin, 50 Oystercatchers, 40 Curlew, 10 Shelduck, 2 Gadwall, 2 Great Black-backed Gulls. 5 Rock Pipits, 6 Reed Buntings, 10 Skylarks and 40 Redwing.

                                                                                   Merlin, Northwick  Warth 13.12.10

                                                                                Purple Sandpiper, Severn Beach 13.12.10

                                                                                Purple Sandpiper, Severn Beach 13.12.10

                                                                                 Purple Sandpiper, Severn Beach 13.12.10

December 12th
A return to frost and fog this morning. Combined reports from Severn Beach involved 8 Ringed Plover, 80 Oystercatchers, 110 Turnstones, 70 Redshank, 400 Dunlin, 60 Curlew, 14 Gadwall, 13 Shelduck, a female Merlin, 20 Fieldfares, 30 Redwing, 6 Bullfinches, a flyover Yellowhammer and a Rock Pipit. At least 800 Wigeon, 40 Teal, 2 Gadwall, 250 Dunlin and 3 Black-tailed Godwits were reported from New Passage. Single Jack Snipe and Snipe were flushed near Stupp Pill at Chittening Warth this morning.At least 60 Teal, 2 Peregrines and a Raven were seen at Aust Warth.

December 11th
A continuation of the thaw today. The male Merlin, a Peregrine, a Black-tailed Godwit, 200 Dunlin, at least 1000 Wigeon and 50 Teal were reported from New Passage. A Woodcock, 3 Tufted Duck, 3 Mallard, 6 Mute Swans, 5 Coot, a Little Grebe, 15 Redwing and 3 Bullfinches were seen at the Orchard Pools in Severn Beach. A Waxwing remained at Avonmouth  today.

December 10th
The first frost free day for weeks. Sightings from Northwick Warth involved a male Hen Harrier for over 30 minutes early morning, at least 10 Knot, 5 Bar-tailed Godwits, a Black-tailed Godwit, 300 Dunlin, 5 Lapwing, 30 Curlew, 40 Turnstones, 20 Oystercatchers, at least 2000 Wigeon, 140 Teal, 4 Shelduck, a Peregrine, 90 Fieldfares, 20 Redwing and 4 Bullfinches. Reports from the shore at Severn Beach involved 14 Ringed Plover, 70 Dunlin, 60 Redshank, 10 Shelduck, 4 Gadwall, 10 Wigeon, another Peregrine and 60 Redwing and nearby there were 4 Tufted Duck, 4 Gadwall and 10 Coot on the Orchard Pools. A Woodcock was flushed near Stupp Pill, Chittening Warth. Just one Waxwing was reported from Avonmouth today.
                                                               Male Hen Harrier, Northwick Warth 10.12.10 © Richard Bowerman

                                                                                           Wigeon, Northwick  Warth 10.12.10

                                                                                     Waxwing, Avonmouth 10.12.10 © Tim Fell

December 9th
A -4°C dawn followed by a thaw. Combined reports from the New Passage area involved a Little Egret, 6 Black-tailed Godwits, 7 Bar-tailed Godwits, 11 Knot, 800 Dunlin, 5 Lapwing, 10 Redshank, a Snipe, 2 Goldeneye, 350 Wigeon and a female Merlin. At least 80 Turnstones were seen on the shaft rocks at Severn Beach. Just 2 Waxwings were reported just outside the recording area at Avomouth today and  I could not resist posting the images below.

                                                                               Waxwing, Avonmouth 9.12.10 © Allan Chard

                                                                               Waxwing, Avonmouth 9.12.10 © Michael Woodman-Smith

December 8th
The male Merlin was seen early morning on the frozen Northwick Warth. A Woodcock, at least 15 Redwings and 3 Bullfinches were reported at the Orchard Pools in Severn Beach where a small unfrozen area held 3 Tufted Duck, 6 Mute Swans, 3 Mallard, 5 Coot and a Little Grebe. Up to 10 Waxwings were seen in Avonmouth today.

December 7th
Another -8°C dawn with a hoar frost. Combined reports from Aust/Northwick Warth area included 550 Wigeon, 80 Lapwing, 10 Redshank, 100 Dunlin, single Peregrine, Sparrowhawk and Kestrel. The strangely ice free square pool at Avonmouth Sewage Works produced 6 Gadwall, 15 Tufted Duck, a Little Grebe and 80 bathing Black-headed Gulls. Nearby there are now 7 Waxwings on Third Way in Avonmouth.

                                                                                   Waxwings, Avonmouth 7.12.10 © Ed Drewitt

December 6th
A winter wonderland with a heavy frost and freezing fog for most of the day. The usual suspects were partially seen and heard at New Passage. Four Waxwings were found just a few miles away from the Severnside recording area in Third Way, Avonmouth near the Stage Electrics building. This stunning picture was taken by James Packer

                                                                                   Waxwing, Avonmouth 6.12.10 © James Packer

December 5th
A morning of ice (-4°C) and fog. Combined reports from Northwick Warth included single Little Egret and Black-tailed Godwit, 8 Bar-tailed Godwits, 19 Knot, 150 Dunlin, 90 Lapwing, 2 Snipe, at least 1000 Wigeon, 40 Teal, the male Merlin, 2 Buzzards, 3 Siskins and a mixed flock of 30 berry feeding Redwings and Fieldfares. Another 300 Dunlin, 60 Redshank and 40 Turnstones were seen from Severn Beach. A Water Rail and 30 Fieldfares and 10 Song Thrush were reported from Chittening Warth. Two Chiffchaffs were seen near Avonmouth Sewage Works.

                                                                      Chiffchaff, near Avonmouth Sewage Works 5.12.10 © BOC

December 4th
An icy dawn followed by a balmy plus 5°C day with rain. Combined reports from the Northwick Warth area involved the male Merlin, a Black-tailed Godwit, 6 Bar-tailed Godwits, 7 Knot, 2 Golden Plover, 50 Lapwing, 250 Dunlin, 35 Oystercatchers, 40 Curlew, a Snipe, 20 Redshank, 650 Wigeon and 50 Teal.

December 3rd
Another cold day (-6°C at dawn) producing a flyover Lapland Bunting flying south over Northwick Warth towards New Passage where the usual ducks, 4 Bar-tailed Godwits, 12 Knot, 50 Dunlin and 54 Oystercatchers were also seen.

December 2nd

                                                                                              Scaup, New Passage 2.12.10

The cold spell has produced an influx of wildfowl including a drake Scaup, a drake Pintail and 2 Gadwall among a flock of at least 900 Wigeon and 70 Teal off New Passage. Other sightings from New Passage involved 70 Oystercatchers and 20 Dunlin. A high tide visit to the frozen shore at Severn Beach produced 25 Shelduck, another drake Pintail, 10 Wigeon, 4 Gadwall, 40 Mallard, 3 Ringed Plover, 350 Dunlin, a Snipe, 70 Redshank, 30 Curlew, 40 Oystercatchers and 5 Rock Pipits. A pair of Blackcaps were feeding in a Severn Beach garden.

December 1st

                                                                 Merlin with breakfast, Northwick Warth 1.12.10 © Richard Bowerman

The biting cold east wind and icy weather continued into the new month. The male Merlin was seen again early morning feeding on a kill on Northwick Warth.Just 300 Wigeon and 19 Oystercatchers were reported from New Passage. A late afternoon visit to the frozen mudflats and shoreline at Severn Beach produced 200 Dunlin, a Ringed Plover, 50 Redshank and 40 Curlew and nearby 4 Tufted Duck, 2 Mute Swans, a Little Grebe, 18 Redwing and 8 Fieldfare were seen at the near completely frozen Orchard Pools. At least 27 Teal, 9 Gadwall, a Shoveler, 9 Tufted Duck,130 Black-headed Gulls and 2 Common Gulls were were reported on the unfrozen square pool at Avonmouth Sewage Works.