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September is one of the most exciting months to visit Severnside. The total of 176 species seen at least once in this month, is the third highest in the year. It is the time when most of the summer visitors will depart and a good selection of early winter visitors will arrive towards the end of the month. The weather can be very changeable, rain and gale force winds are to be expected, but calm warm days will also occur. Any West or South West gales will produce the usual seabirds but the more exotic have occurred; Sooty Shearwater (1974), Balearic Shearwater (1988), Long-tailed Skua, Sabine’s Gull. Other  rarities that have appeared in September include; Red-crested Pochard (2 in 1996), Honey Buzzard (1996), Dotterel (1974), White-rumped Sandpiper (1985), Pectoral Sandpiper (1998), Buff-breasted Sandpiper (1989, 2003), Terek Sandpiper (1986), Red-rumped Swallow (1977), Wryneck (2003). Local rarities include Osprey, Hawfinch (1998), Willow Tit (1992), Nightingale (1999) and Ring Ouzel (2001).

September 2004

September 30th
Many Meadow Pipits and Chaffinches were moving over south early morning. The wader roost at Severn Beach remained small with just 20 Dunlin and 8 Ringed Plovers but a Common Sandpiper and 3 Common Snipe were also seen here. The usual 60 Dunlin, 40 Turnstones, 30 Redshank, Kingfisher and a Rock Pipit were present at New Passage this morning and a Little Egret was there at dusk. There were 110 Curlew, 5 Bar-tailed Godwits, 3 Knot, single Black-tailed Godwit, Grey Plover and a Peregrine roosting on Northwick Warth. This morning, hundreds of By-the-wind-sailors were found on tide line at Severn Beach from the previous nights high tide.


September 29th
There was still little evidence of any migration. An adult Mediterranean Gull, a Little Egret and 30 Redshanks were seen from New Passage. There were 60 Dunlin and 2 Bar-tailed Godwits off Northwick Warth. The same or another Little Egret, 20 Dunlin and 8 Ringed Plovers were present at Severn Beach and a Tawny Owl was watched and heard from near the railway station at 9 pm. There were 60 Turnstones and a Green Sandpiper at Chittening Warth.

September 28th
Much of the same today; a Little Egret and a Green Sandpiper were present at Chittening Warth, 4 Bar-tailed Godwits, 40 Dunlin, 32 Redshanks and a Kingfisher were seen from New Passage. Five Bar-tailed Godwits, just 25 Dunlin and 10 Ringed Plovers were found at Severn Beach today. Of interest, Millions of By-the-wind-sailors (Velella velella) have appeared in the Bristol Channel in the last few days. These jellyfish like creatures have been blown in from warm, tropical seas. They are blue in colour with an upright sail. At least 10 “dried out” specimens were found this evening on the tide line at Severn Beach.

September 27th
There was little improvement in either the quality or quantity of birds today. At New Passage there were 6 Bar-tailed Godwits, just 35 Dunlin, 32 Redshank, a Knot and a Kingfisher. A Little Egret, Green Sandpiper, Whinchat and 2 Stonechats were present at Chittening Warth. A Guillemot was reported from Severn Beach on the morning tide, there were just 30 Dunlin and 6 Ringed Plovers here on the evening tide.

September 26th
There was a small movement of Meadow Pipits and Swallows again at New Passage this morning where 125 Teal, 18 Gadwall, 2 Bar-tailed Godwits, 20 Redshank, 20 Dunlin, a Grey Plover and a Knot were also seen. A Whinchat and 2 Stonechats were still present at Chittening Warth. Waders at Severn Beach early evening included 40 Dunlin, 5 Ringed Plovers, 3 Turnstones and a Knot. At least 2 Manx Shearwaters were also seen here in a moderate strength west wind.

September 25th
Autumn migration continued at Severn Beach with parties of Meadow Pipits heading south, a Common Snipe flying high to the west and a number of Goldcrests and Chiffchaffs in the railway scrub. An adult Mediterranean Gull, a Little Egret, 47 Redshank, 3 Black-tailed Godwits, 2 Bar-tailed Godwits, another Common Snipe, a Kingfisher and just 35 Dunlin were seen at New Passage. The hedges on Northwick Warth produced 2 Blackcaps, more Chiffchaffs, Goldcrests and a Lesser Whitethroat. The evening wader roost at Severn Beach was dismal with just 20 Dunlin and a Ringed Plover.

September 24th
An early morning visit to New Passage produced a Little Egret flying south and the first Brambling of the autumn flying north. Nearby on Northwick Warth there were 42 Redshank, 2 Black-tailed Godwits, 2 Bar-tailed Godwits, a Golden Plover, 35 Dunlin and a Wheatear. A Peregrine was seen below Aust Cliff.

September 23rd
A day with settled weather and the wind decreasing in strength. At Severn Beach a Manx Shearwater was seen paddling down river against the incoming tide and another was released onto the sea wall after being found exhausted in Oxfordshire (see mobile telephone picture below). Two Peregrines were seen here roosting on the beach. A first winter Mediterranean Gull, a Little Egret and 18 Gadwall were seen at New Passage. There were 4 Black-tailed Godwits, 3 Bar-tailed Godwits, 70 Dunlin, 10 Ringed Plovers and 2 Wheatears at Northwick Warth. A pair of Stonechats and a Whinchat were seen at Chittening Warth.

                                                                                   Manx Shearwater, Severn Beach 23.9.4

September 22nd
The windy weather continued, producing 4 Manx Shearwaters, a first winter Little Gull, a Fulmar, an adult  Sandwich Tern and 2 “Commic” Terns off Severn Beach. Waders at Northwick Warth included 3 Black-tailed Godwits, 3 Bar-tailed Godwits, 80 Dunlin, 8 Ringed Plovers and a Sanderling. A Kingfisher was seen in Stupp Pill, Chittening Warth.

September 21st
Another breezy day at Severn Beach but the only seabirds present were 3 Manx Shearwaters. A Knot and a Wheatear were also seen here. The wader flock at New Passage contained 140 Dunlin and 20 Ringed Plovers, another Wheatear and a Peregrine  were seen on Northwick Warth.

September 20th
The strong overnight winds continued during the day. Seabirds seen off Severn Beach by 1 pm included an adult pale phase Pomarine Skua, at least 6 Manx Shearwaters, 2 Fulmars, 2 Arctic Terns and a first winter Little Gull. Additional birds reported between 2 pm and 4.30 pm included single Leach’s Petrel, Gannet, 3 Sandwich Terns, a White Wagtail and a Peregrine. Finding birds elsewhere was difficult in the wind but 2 Bar-tailed Godwits, 120 Dunlin, single  Black-tailed Godwit, Grey Plover and Wheatear were present at Northwick Warth and a juvenile Curlew Sandpiper was seen from New Passage in the evening.

September 19th
A juvenile Curlew Sandpiper remained at New Passage this morning with 20 Knot, 4 Black-tailed Godwits, 16 Ringed Plovers and a Grey Plover. Other autumn migrants here included Meadow Pipits, Pied Wagtails and 4 Mistle Thrushes all flying south. There were 4 Wheatears and 2 Whinchats on Northwick Warth. A Manx Shearwater floated close to shore at Severn Beach over the high tide and nearby, a Common Sandpiper was seen at the Orchard Pools.

September 18th
A juvenile Yellow-legged Gull, a Little Egret and 2 juvenile Curlew Sandpipers were seen at New Passage where a Common Sandpiper, 60 Turnstones, 40 Redshanks, 13 Knot, and 16 Ringed Plovers were also present. A search of Northwick Warth produced 11 Black-tailed Godwits, 2 Bar-tailed Godwits, 150 Dunlin, and 4 Wheatears.

                                                                                                    Knot, New Passage 18.9.4

September 17th
A wet, breezy and overcast day. Birds seen at Northwick Warth on the morning high tide included 30 Wigeon, 180 Curlew, 45 Oystercatchers, 18 Black-tailed Godwits, 1 Bar-tailed Godwit, 140 Dunlin, 40 Redshanks, 4 Knot, a Grey Plover, 3 Wheatears, single Hobby and Yellow Wagtail. Additional birds seen at New Passage included a  heavy passage of Swallows (at least 800 birds heading south in 2 hours this morning), 14 Ringed Plovers, 70 Turnstones and a Peregrine.

September  16th
A good selection of birds were seen from New Passage including an adult Mediterranean Gull, a Little Egret, 44 Knot, 4 Black-tailed Godwits, 100 Dunlin, 8 Ringed Plovers, a Grey Plover and 2 Wheatears.
The wader roost remained small at Severn Beach with just 40 Dunlin, 15 Turnstones and 8 Ringed Plovers. A  Ruddy Shelduck flew west here early this morning.

September 15th
A day with much less wind and less exciting birds. At Northwick Warth there were 150 Dunlin, 37 Knot, 3 Black-tailed Godwits, 9 Wheatears, a Yellow Wagtail,  a Peregrine and 2 Hobbies. The wader roost at Severn Beach contained just 16 Dunlin and 3 Ringed Plovers. Another Wheatear was also seen here.  A Spotted Flycatcher, 2 Sedge Warblers, Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers  were seen this morning at the Sea Bank Pools, Chittening Warth.

September 14th
An excellent variety of birds were seen today in windy conditions. At Severn Beach, a Leach’s Petrel showed from first light and at least 5 Storm Petrels, 40 Manx Shearwaters, 20 Gannets, 2 Great Skuas, single Fulmar, Kittiwake, Black Tern, Sandwich Tern, Bar-tailed Godwit, Little Egret, Hobby, Wheatear and 60 Dunlin  were seen today. There were 20 Wigeon, 57 Knot, 14 Black-tailed Godwits, 2 Bar-tailed Godwits, a Grey Plover and 6 Wheatears at Northwick Warth.

September 13th
With winds gusting to gale force and heavy rain showers, there were surprisingly few sea birds this morning. The best that could be found at Severn Beach included 3 Manx Shearwaters and a Black Tern. The wader roost here contained 120 Dunlin and 20 Ringed Plovers. There were 48 Knot, 19 Black-tailed Godwits, 150 Dunlin and 5 Wheatears at Northwick Warth. The evening tide at Severn Beach was far more productive with single Leach’s Petrel and Storm Petrel, 2 Gannets, 2 Common Scoters, 3 Manx Shearwaters, single Black Tern,  Bar-tailed Godwit and Grey Plover being seen.

September 12th
A  sea watch at first light from Severn Beach produced 2 Manx Shearwaters and a first winter Little Gull.  The usual 10 Black-tailed Godwits, 35 Knot, 80 Dunlin and 8 Ringed Plovers were seen from New Passage and there were 2 Kingfishers in the Pill here. Three Wheatears and a Common Redstart remained on Northwick Warth. Other migrants today included 3 Bar-tailed Godwits, another Wheatear and a Yellow Wagtail at Severn Beach. There were at least 3 Manx Shearwaters here again on the evening tide.

September 11th
More overnight rain and an increasing strength south west wind. The usual waders were present at New Passage; 11 Black-tailed Godwits, 29 Knot, 100 Dunlin and 9 Ringed Plovers. A Kingfisher was in the pill here. There were a number of migrants on Northwick Warth including 4 Wheatears, a Common Redstart, Chiffchaffs, Blackcaps, Common Whitethroats and a Lesser Whitethroat.  There were 70 Oystercatchers, 6 Black-tailed Godwits, a Golden Plover and a Wheatear at Severn Beach this morning. A Green Sandpiper was present at Stupp Pill, Chittening Warth. The wind reached gale force by the evening producing 2 Arctic Skuas and 3 Fulmars off the sea wall at Severn Beach.

September 10th
Overnight rain and a change in wind direction from the south resulted in a “fall” of migrants. At New Passage there were many Blackcaps, Chiffchaffs, 4 Garden Warblers and a Reed Warbler near The Glen.
Waders seen from New Passage included 13 Black-tailed Godwits, 30 Knot, 35 Redshanks, 80 Dunlin and 12 Ringed Plovers. A Hobby and a Little Egret were also seen from here. The wader roost at Severn Beach remained small with 110 Dunlin and 12 Ringed Plovers. A Peregrine was present here on the shingle spit and a moulting male Common Redstart was found at the Orchard Pools.

September 9th
The warm, dry settled weather continued. The adult Mediterranean Gull, 6 Common Terns, a Kingfisher and a Lesser Whitethroat were seen at New Passage today. Birds present at Northwick Warth today included 21 Knot, 4 Black-tailed Godwits, 33 Redshanks, 90 Dunlin, a Sanderling, 154 Teal, 4 Wheatears and a Raven. A Little Egret, 100 Dunlin, 14 Ringed Plovers and 6 Knot were  all seen at Severn Beach. A Hobby flew north east over Aust Warth.

September 8th
Yet another warm day (25°c) with a north east wind. Birds seen from New Passage included the adult Mediterranean Gull, 80 Turnstones, 12 Knot, 7 Black-tailed Godwits, 70 Dunlin and a Hobby. Nearby  there were 3 Wheatears, 2 Whinchat and a Common Redstart at the Grebe Pond on Northwick Warth. The Severn Beach wader roost was small on the low high tide (9.1 metre). The first juvenile Curlew Sandpiper of the autumn was present with 90 Dunlin and 15 Ringed Plovers. Another Wheatear and a Clouded Yellow Butterfly were seen here. There were 5 Bar-tailed Godwits with 155 Curlew at Chittening Warth.

                                                                              Whinchat, Northwick Warth 8.9.4

September 7th
An adult Mediterranean Gull was present at New Passage again today. Other birds seen from here and Northwick Warth included 96 Teal, 12 Wigeon, 24 Knot, 3 Black-tailed Godwits, 70 Dunlin, 3 Wheatears, single Common Snipe and Yellow Wagtail. There were 220 Dunlin, 21 Ringed Plovers, 5 Wheatears and a Spotted Flycatcher at Severn Beach this morning and a Little Egret there this afternoon. A Hobby was seen at Old Passage and 3 Bar-tailed Godwits remained at Chittening Warth. A constant stream of Swallows moving north into the wind was noted all day.

September 6th
Another warm day with a moderate north-north east wind. The birds also remained much the same with 22 Knot, 90 Dunlin, 30 Redshanks and a Hobby at New Passage, 5 Black-tailed Godwits, 3 Yellow Wagtails and a Wheatear on Northwick Warth. There were just 200 Dunlin and 24 Ringed Plovers at Severn Beach. A Clouded Yellow Butterfly also present here. Three Pintail flew north east over Aust Cliff this evening.

September 5th
A glorious warm sunny day with the first easterly wind for a some time produced some interesting birds. The best bird today was a moulting adult Curlew Sandpiper with 450 Dunlin and 30 Ringed Plovers at Severn Beach. Other birds here included single Little Egret, Wheatear and Whinchat. There were 3 Bar-tailed Godwits roosting on Chittening Warth with 150 Curlew. An unusual record at Northwick Warth involved a party of 33 Canada Geese (they are still scarce here fortunately!), where 7 Black-tailed Godwits, 3 Common Snipe, a Spotted Flycatcher, 3 Wheatears and 7 Yellow Wagtails were also seen. Nearby at New Passage there was a small “fall” of migrants including 8 species of Warbler; at least 15 Blackcaps, 3 Common Whitethroats, 2 Lesser Whitethroats, 2 Garden Warblers, 8 Chiffchaffs, single Reed Warbler, Sedge Warbler and Willow Warbler. Other birds at New Passage included another Spotted Flycatcher, a Hobby, 22 Knot, 7 Wigeon and a Common Sandpiper.

                                                                           Curlew Sandpiper, Severn Beach 5.9.4

September 4th
A Little Egret and 3 Common Terns were seen early this morning at New Passage, a flock of 21 Knot, 150 Dunlin and 8 Black-tailed Godwits were also seen from here. Nearby there were 12 Yellow Wagtails, 3 Wheatears, a flock of 100 Meadow Pipits, single Tree Pipit and Hobby on Northwick Warth. The wader roost at Severn Beach was smaller today, with just 200 Dunlin and 30 Ringed Plovers. A Spotted Flycatcher was seen at the Sea Bank Pools, Chittening Warth.

September 3rd
The Rose-coloured Starling was not seen today. The wader roost at Severn Beach contained 250 Dunlin, 40 Ringed Plovers and a Common Snipe. A Little Egret was seen here near the pipes. A Hobby, 2 Peregrines and a Common Sandpiper were seen at New Passage this morning, a Black Tern and an adult Mediterranean Gull were present there this evening. There were 70 Knot, 8 Black-tailed Godwits, at least 4 Yellow Wagtails,  2 Wheatears, a Lesser Whitethroat and another Common Snipe at Northwick Warth.

September 2nd
Another fine sunny day. The remarkable run of rarities continued this evening, when I was fortunate to find the first patch record of Rose-coloured Starling with a very mobile Starling flock at New Passage. It was a juvenile bird, last seen just before dusk by at least 6 other birders. All other sightings today were an anti climax but included a flock of 69 Knot, 8 Black-tailed Godwits, single Grey Plover, Common Sandpiper, 2 Wheatears and 3 Yellow Wagtails at Northwick Warth. A Whinchat was seen in a garden at New Passage and the wader roost at Severn Beach held 200 Dunlin, 60 Ringed Plovers, 2 Whimbrel, 2 Knot and a Sanderling. The coastal scrub south of Severn Beach produced 2 Lesser Whitethroats and good numbers of Common Whitethroats and Blackcaps.

The image on the left is one of the few record shots I managed to take at distance in fading light. For those who are unfamiliar, it is a juvenile bird, the “sandy” coloured  individual with a yellow bill at the bottom right.
The species breeds from eastern Europe into Asia with an average of about 12 sightings a year in the UK.
John Martin kindly provided the better image on the right of the bird settled on a chimney.

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September 1st
A warm and dry start to the month. The wader roost at Severn Beach contained 250 Dunlin, 80 Ringed Plovers and a Sanderling. Other migrants seen here along the Severn Way included 2 Lesser Whitethroats, many Blackcaps and Common Whitethroats, a Wheatear and 3 Grey Wagtails. Birds seen from New Passage included a juvenile Mediterranean Gull,  38 Knot, 5 Black-tailed Godwits, 134 Turnstones, 150 Dunlin and a Common Sandpiper.