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December is one of the quietest months with only 160 species recorded during the month. It can be a good month for wildfowl with the chance of Red-breasted Merganser and Goosander 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, Waxwing (2010) and in the winters of 1940 & 1941, Cirl Bunting.

December 2013

31st December
A quiet end to the year with 38 Canada Geese, 100+ Teal, 150 Wigeon, 13 Shelduck, 18 Shoveler, 7 Gadwall, 8 Tufted Ducks, 2+ Water Rails, a Little Egret, 600 Dunlin, 120 Curlew, 100+ Lapwing  and a Water Pipit were reported in the Northwick Warth/Pilning Wetland area. At least 80 Turnstones and 5 Shoveler were seen from Severn Beach and 2 Jack Snipe and 2 Stonechats were reported at Aust Warth.

30th December
Reports from New Passage included 300 Dunlin, 30 Lapwing, 20 Redshank, 69 Oystercatchers, 60 Curlew, 38 Canada Geese, 20 Shelduck and fewer Wigeon and Teal.

29th December
A frosty dawn followed by a sunny and cool day. The Green-winged Teal was reported again at great distance from New Passage where additional sightings included at least 700 Wigeon, 160 Teal, 3 Shoveler, 24 Shelduck, 38 Canada Geese, 44 Redshank, 47 Oystercatchers, 50 Turnstones, 600 Dunlin, 70 Lapwing and a Merlin. Two Ravens, 150 Dunlin and a pair of Stonechats were seen at Aust Warth.

                                                                                             Stonechat, Aust Warth  29.12.13

28th December
The drake Green-winged Teal, a Greylag Goose, the usual Canada Geese (including the Todd’s), Wigeon, Teal and Shelduck, 5 Gadwall, 13 Tufted Duck, 2 Water Rails, 2 Little Egrets, usual Dunlin, Redshank, Curlew, Lapwing and Oystercatchers were seen in the New Passage/Northwick Warth area. At least 60 Turnstones and 20 Dunlin were seen at Severn Beach on the shaft rocks roost.

27th December
Another day that proves everything will turn up eventually when I found the first Severnside record of Green-winged Teal swimming in the mouth of Chestle Pill at New Passage. Other sightings from New Passage included 2500 Dunlin, 50 Lapwing, 30 Redshank, 100 Curlew, 35 Canada Geese, 28 Shelduck, 550 Wigeon and 90 Teal. Earlier, at least 10 Kittiwakes, 120 Turnstones, 15 Ringed Plover and a female Common Scoter were seen at Severn Beach.

                                                                                   Green-winged Teal, New Passage 27.12.13

                                                                                 Green-winged Teal, New Passage 27.12.13

26th December
The only reports received were from the Orchard Pools at Severn Beach and included 9 Tufted Duck and 2 Gadwall and 2 Stonechats still at Aust Warth.

25th December
A dry, sunny and settled Christmas day. A visit to New Passage produced just 24 Canada Geese, 350 Wigeon, 50 Teal, 16 Shelduck, 80 Lapwing, 40 Redshank, 400 Dunlin and 20 Curlew. At least 65 Turnstones, 24 Dunlin, 7 Ringed Plover, 15 Oystercatchers and 15 Curlew were seen from the shore at Severn Beach,

24th December
Another breezy day. A brief visit to New Passage produced just 11 Canada Geese, 19 Shelduck, 350 Wigeon, 30 Teal, 80 Lapwing, 600 Dunlin, 40 Redshank and 30 Curlew. Three Pintail were seen from Severn Beach and 2 Stonechats remained at Aust Warth.

23rd December
A very wet day with nothing of note reported.

22nd December
The only report received was of an adult Mediterranean Gull on the Pilning Wetland at Northwick Warth.

21st December
A morning visit to Northwick Warth/Pilning Wetland produced an adult Mediterranean Gull, 45 Canada Geese (including the Todd’s look alike), 13 Shelduck, 14 Shoveler, 10 Tufted Duck, 6 Gadwall, 460 Wigeon, 30 Teal, a Little Grebe, at least one Water Rail, a Little Egret, 40 Redshank, 35 Turnstones, 160 Lapwing, 70 Curlew, 800 Dunlin and a Raven. Sightings from the Severn Beach shore included 5 Grey Herons, 11 Ringed Plover, 11 Snipe, 60 Turnstones, 28 Shelduck and 4 Rock Pipits.

                                                                             Mediterranean Gull, Pilning Wetland 21.12.13

                                                                           Canada Geese and Todd’s, Northwick Warth 21.12.13  © Dan White

                                                                                  Little Egret, Pilning Wetland 21.12.13  © Dan White

20th December
The Little Stint, 50 Redshank, the usual Dunlin, Bar-tailed Godwits, Black-tailed Godwits,10 Shelduck and a Merlin were seen at Northwick Warth today. A Jack Snipe was flushed from the Severn Beach salt marsh.

19th December
A cool and bright morning. Sightings from Northwick Warth involved a late Little Stint, 3 Bar-tailed Godwits, 5 Black-tailed Godwits, 150 Lapwing, 47 Turnstones, 120 Redshank, 160 Curlew, 50 Oystercatchers, 13 Snipe, 3000 Dunlin, 650 Wigeon, 50 Teal, 36 Canada Geese, 18 Shelduck, 10 Tufted Duck, 13 Shoveler, 2 Gadwall, 2 Water Rails, a Little Grebe, 2 Rock Pipits, 2 Ravens and a female Merlin. Two Short-eared Owls, 2 Snipe, 100 Dunlin, 300 Wigeon, 20 Teal were reported at Aust Warth.

                                                                                    Little Stint, Northwick Warth 19.12.13

                                                                                    Merlin, Northwick Warth 19.12.13

18th December
No reports were received today.

17th December
Combined reports from the New Passage/Pilning Wetland area included 7 Black-tailed Godwits, 300 Dunlin, 30 Redshank, 100 Lapwing, 30 Canada Geese, 500 Wigeon, 80 Teal, 12 Shoveler, 5 Gadwall, 7 Tufted Duck, 2+ Water Rail and a Little Grebe. Sightings from Aust Warth involved 2 Twite, 2 Stonechats and our latest ever and first December Swallow.

16th December
Once again the only report received was of 2 Stonechats at Aust Warth.

15th December
Two Stonechats were seen at Aust Warth.

14th December
An increasingly breezy and wet day. The Severn Beach Desert Wheatear was very obliging today spending a lot of time approaching towards birders at just a metre range. There are mixed opinions regarding it’s health; in some pictures it looks tired but it certainly is feeding well on meal worms, earwigs etc. The deteriorating weather may cause the bird to move on or finish it off. An Egyptian Goose was reported off Severn Beach, only the 2nd site record. A visit to Northwick Warth produced 35 Canada Geese, 10 Shelduck, 600 Wigeon, 20 Teal, 4 Shoveler, 4 Tufted Duck, a Little Grebe, 2 Water Rails, 2 Kingfishers. 90 Oystercatchers, 100 Lapwing, 70 Curlew, 5 Turnstones, a Snipe and a Rock Pipit. Two Twite and a Jack Snipe were seen at Aust Warth.

                                                                                 Desert Wheatear, Severn Beach 14.12.13

                                                                    Desert Wheatear, Severn Beach 14.12.13  ©  Stephen Portlock

13th December
The Desert Wheatear continued to show very well on or near the sea defences at Severn Beach. A female Merlin, at least 200 Lapwing, 70 Oystercatchers, 300 Dunlin, 100 Curlew, 200 Wigeon and 20 Teal were reported in the Northwick Warth area and 2 Stonechats were seen at Aust Warth.

12th December
The Desert Wheatear attracted a steady stream of visitors to Severn Beach all day. Three Twite and 4 Stonechats were seen at Aust Warth. Reports from the Northwick Warth area involved 32 Canada Geese, 7 Tufted Duck, 2 Gadwall, 275 Lapwing, 100 Dunlin, 200+ Black-tailed Godwits and 37 Redshank. Click HERE for a map of where to look for the Wheatear.

                                                                            Desert Wheatear, Severn Beach 12.12.13  © John Martin  

                                                                       Desert Wheatear, Severn Beach 12.12.13  ©  Allan Chard

11th December
What an afternoon. I met some visiting birders at New Passage late afternoon who said they had seen a “Wheatear” briefly on the sea wall at Severn Beach earlier in the day and that it looked paler than usual but despite searching they could not relocate. Hoping/suspecting that the bird could be interesting for the time of year I dashed back to the Burger Bar area of the sea wall at Severn Beach and wandered around for 5 minutes and was just about to give up when the first Severnside record, a male Desert Wheatear popped up on the railings in front of me. I managed a few decent shots just before the light failed. The bird was seen by about 10 other birders and was last seen in near darkness at the top of the shingle beach 100 metres south of the concrete sea defences. Hopefully it will still be in the area tomorrow(the sea defences are opposite the shops in Beach Road). Reports from the Pilning Wetland at Northwick Warth included a Little Egret, 150+ Black-tailed Godwits, 340 Lapwing, 500 Dunlin and 28 Teal. Nearby at least 600 Wigeon were on the Northwick Warth salt marsh and at least 2 Twite and 2 Stonechats were seen at Aust Warth. Click HERE for a short Youtube video of the Desert Wheatear on the rocks below the sea defences.

                                                                                  Desert Wheatear, Severn Beach 11.12.13

                                                                                 Desert Wheatear, Severn Beach 11.12.13

10th December
No reports were received today.

9th December
Sightings from Pilning Wetland and Northwick Warth included a Little Egret, 52 Black-tailed Godwits, 350+ Lapwing, 3 Bar-tailed Godwits, 500 Dunlin, 17 Ringed Plover, 32 Turnstones, 52 Redshank, 60 Curlew, a Snipe, 62 Pied Wagtails, 37 Canada Geese, 8 Shoveler, 5 Tufted Duck, 4 Gadwall, 5 Shelduck, 800 Wigeon, 30 Teal and this evening many thousands of Starlings going to roost in the Grebe pond reed bed which flushed 11 Water Rails (one at a time from the reeds and across the pond). A Peregrine and 2 Stonechats were seen at Aust Warth. Click on the Starling picture below for some video of part of the flock going to roost.

                                                                   an “arty pic” of Starlings at dusk, Pilning Wetland 9.12.13

8th December
A morning high tide visit to the shore at Severn Beach produced at least 150 Redshank, 31 Turnstones, 60 Curlew, 50 Oystercatchers, 110 Dunlin, 4 Snipe, 35 Shelduck, 4 Gadwall, 24 Teal and 3 Rock Pipits.

7th December
A good number and variety of birds were seen at Northwick Warth/Pilning Wetland with at least 3,000 Dunlin, 150+ Black-tailed Godwits, 3 Bar-tailed Godwits, single Little Egret and Grey Plover, 90+ Oystercatchers, 60 Curlew, 30 Turnstones, 51 Redshank, 360 Lapwing, 13 Ringed Plover (on wetland scrape), 30 Canada Geese, 590 Wigeon, 20 Teal, 7 Shelduck, 5 Gadwall, 8 Tufted Duck, 4 Shoveler, an adult Mediterranean Gull (plastic red ring with white lettering on right leg), 52 Common Gulls,  a Water Rail, 2 Ravens, a female Merlin with a kill, a pair of hunting adult Peregrines, a Sparrowhawk, a male Kestrel, single Brambling and Rock Pipit, 44 Pied Wagtails and finally, thousands of Starlings going to roost this evening. Two Twite and 2 Stonechats were seen at Aust Warth. A brief early morning visit to Severn Beach produced 100 Turnstones, 70 Dunlin, 2 Ringed Plover, 9 Redshank and 2 Rock Pipits.

                                                                  Mediterranean & Common Gulls,  Pilning Wetland 7.12.13

                                                                                   Twite, Aust Warth/Old Passage 7.12.13  © Vic Savery
                                     It would seem that the 2 birds from last winter have returned to the same area of Aust Warth.

6th December
A morning high tide visit to the Northwick Warth/Pilning Wetland area produced at least 140 Black-tailed Godwits, 2500+ Dunlin, 220 Lapwing, 60 Curlew, 60 Oystercatchers, 27 Redshank, 32 Turnstones, 2 Snipe, single Knot and Jack Snipe, 36 Canada Geese, 220 Wigeon, 30 Teal, 9 Shelduck, 3 Shoveler, 2 Tufted Duck, 2 Gadwall, 2 Ravens, single female Merlin, Peregrine and Water Rail. Another 100 Dunlin and 19 Wigeon were seen from Severn Beach.

                                                                            Black-tailed Godwits, Northwick Warth 6.12.13

                                                                                    Dunlin, Northwick Warth 6.12.13

5th December
A Bar-tailed Godwit was seen at Severn Beach and single Merlin and Raven were reported at Aust Warth.

4th December
At least 170 Black-tailed Godwits, 200 Lapwing, 30 Curlew, 50 Redshank, 2 Little Egrets, 6 Tufted Duck, 40 Canada Geese, the usual Wigeon and Teal flock and 50 Meadow Pipits were seen in the Northwick Warth area. A Short-eared Owl was seen hunting over Aust Warth (Old Passage end at 16.36).

3rd December
The only report received was from New Passage this morning involving 200+ Black-tailed Godwits, 207 Lapwing, 300+ Dunlin, 25 Oystercatchers, 400 Wigeon, 60 Teal, 3 Canada Geese, 10 Common Gulls and 2 Ravens.

2nd December
A Barn Owl and 45 Canada Geese were seen at Aust Warth at dusk.

1st December
The only reports were of a Merlin, a Bar-tailed Godwit, 237 Black-tailed Godwits, a Water Rail, 4 Gadwall and 2 Stock Doves at Northwick Warth.