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May is the third most productive month of the year with at least one individual of 176 species being seen. The summer migrants continue to move through including Garganey, Hobby, Cuckoo, Spotted Flycatcher, 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 Spoonbill (1998), Honey Buzzard (1991), Kentish Plover, Broad-billed Sandpiper (1988), Buff-breasted Sandpiper (1990), Franklin’s Gull (1984), Roseate Tern (1990) and White-winged Black Tern (1990).


May 2004



May 31st

A very settled and warm start to the day. A dawn high tide visit to Severn Beach produced just 5 Ringed Plovers, 2 Turnstones and a Dunlin. A brood of 9 Gadwall were seen on the Orchard Pools. There were 6 Lapwings on Northwick Warth, the first seen here for a while. Rainfall this evening did not improve the situation with just 2 Ringed Plovers and 2 Dunlin on Severn Beach at high tide. A Grasshopper Warbler was heard reeling late this morning.


May 30th

There was little improvement today with 3 Ringed Plovers and 7 Dunlin at Severn Beach, a Raven and 11 Curlews at Chittening Warth.


May 29th

A thorough search of the area produced just a Cuckoo at Severn Beach and 8 Curlews at Chittening Warth.


May 28th

A very quiet day with just 6 Dunlin at Chittening Warth and 10 Curlews at Severn Beach the only sign of migration. Whitethroats were seen feeding young.


May 27th

The 2 Fulmars were seen again off Severn Beach but no “small” waders were seen at high tide. There were at least 6 Spotted Flycatchers in dead Elms below Aust Cliff and another was seen at the Orchard Pools, Severn Beach. There were 3 Bar-tailed Godwits at Chittening Warth.


May 26th

The number of migrating waders continue to fall with just 14 Ringed Plovers and 10 Dunlin at Severn Beach. There were 2 Fulmars seen here which are unusual in a North East wind. The Shelduck flock on Northwick Warth had increased to at least 170 birds.


May 25th

The dry settled weather continues, producing few migrants. A summer plumaged Knot was seen off Northwick Warth and a pair of Lesser Whitethroats were seen feeding young in a hedge here. There were 20 Dunlin, 6 Ringed Plovers and 6 Sanderling on Severn Beach and a Cuckoo was calling from Hawthorns here.


May 24th

A very warm sunny day with very few birds to report. The only waders seen at Severn Beach  this morning were 4 Sanderling, yesterdays Grey Plover remained at Northwick Warth. The only other birds of note were 4 Lesser Whitethroats.


May 23rd

Yet another warm dry day. There were at least 100 waders at Severn Beach early morning; 70+ Dunlin, 32 Ringed Plovers and 4 Sanderling, but by high tide most had moved on. A Grey Seal was seen offshore. A Grey Plover was the only notable bird on Northwick Warth, a Cuckoo, Spotted Flycatcher, 3 Bar-tailed Godwits and a pair of Shoveler were the best birds seen at Chittening Warth.


May 22nd

The wader flock at Severn Beach was very mobile but contained at least 100 Dunlin, 25 Ringed Plovers, 11 Sanderling with 2 Whimbrel. A flock of 23 Common Terns flew north east past here. The evening roost was larger with at least 250 birds; mainly Dunlin and Ringed Plovers with at least 2 Sanderling.


May 21st

At the Severn Beach morning high tide there were 200 Dunlin, 65 Ringed Plovers and 5 Sanderling. A Bar-tailed Godwit and a Peregrine were seen at Chittening Warth. A Hobby was present at Northwick Warth early this morning and a high count of 134 Shelducks was made here. The evening roost  at Severn Beach appeared to contain the same birds plus a summer plumaged Bar-tailed Godwit.


May 20th

The high tide roost at Severn Beach contained a “flighty” mixed flock of 300 Dunlin and Ringed Plovers with 11 Sanderling also present. Nearby a Spotted Flycatcher was seen at the Orchard Pools. A Little Egret was present on Northwick Warth.


May 19th

This morning there were 2 Whimbrel and a Peregrine on Northwick Warth. This evening there were 12 Sanderling,  300+ Dunlin, 60+ Ringed Plovers, 5 Turnstones and a Knot on Severn Beach.


May 18th

The early evening high tide roost at Severn Beach contained 260 Dunlin, 90 Ringed Plovers, 14 Sanderling and 3 Bar-tailed Godwits. A Great Crested Grebe was present on the river and a Whinchat was seen in Hawthorn scrub along the railway line.


May 17th

Another settled warm day produced some interesting birds. This morning, there were single Pied Flycatcher and Spotted Flycatcher at New Passage, White Wagtail and Redstart at Old passage. The evening Severn Beach high tide roost produced 19 Sanderling, 80 Ringed Plovers, 150 Dunlin and 2 Ruddy Shelducks flew upriver here. There were 2 Common Sandpipers in the pill at New Passage.



                                                                                    Common Sandpiper, New Passage 17.5.4


May 16th

The morning high tide wader roost at Severn Beach held 150 Dunlin, 50 Ringed Plovers, 14 Turnstones and this evening, 17 Sanderling with a summer plumaged Curlew Sandpiper.  Also this evening at least 25 Bar-tailed Godwits were seen at Chittening Warth, at  least 75 “Commic Terns” and 2 Little Terns flew past Severn Beach. A Short-eared Owl  was seen at Chittening Warth early this morning. There were Cuckoos at Severn Beach and Old Passage today.


May 15th

Waders seen at Severn Beach today included 130 Dunlin and 50 Ringed Plovers, 2 Sanderling and a Bar-tailed Godwit. At New Passage, a Great Crested Grebe flew down river and 2 Tree Pipits flew west. A visit to the Sea Bank Pools, Chittening Warth produced 3 Ravens and a Cuckoo.


May 14th

A warm day without any rarities. The wader roost at Severn Beach contained 220 Dunlin, 35 Ringed Plovers, a Knot and 3 Whimbrel. There was another Whimbrel at Northwick Warth with at least 80 Shelducks. The local Skylarks were busy feeding young.


May 13th

The afternoon high tide produced the first patch record of Temminck’s Stint. It was was found at 3.30 and remained on view for about 10 minutes with a mixed flock of 140 Dunlin and 30 Ringed Plovers. I managed to take a few record pictures before it flew off like yesterdays Plover. A Little Egret and  a Whimbrel were also seen here on the rising tide. A Short-eared Owl was mobbed by Crows at Chittening Warth at 7.30 this morning, a Whinchat and a Cuckoo were present here later in the day.


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                                                                                 Temminck’s Stint, Severn Beach 13.5.4


May 12th

The May magic continues at Severn Beach with only the third ever “patch” record  of Kentish Plover. It was a female with a small group of Ringed Plovers, watched on a shingle island for more than 45 minutes before it flew north towards the main wader roost. Despite an extensive search it was not relocated. There were 2 Whimbrel at Severn Beach late afternoon. At Northwick Warth, single Bar-tailed Godwit, Whimbrel, Common Sandpiper and Yellow Wagtail were seen. There was a heavy passage of Swifts, Swallows and House Martins, with birds heading north east all day.


May 11th

A fine warm day followed a misty start. A drake Garganey and a Great Crested Grebe were present at New Passage this morning. The only other birds of note here were single Whimbrel, Bar-tailed Godwit and Wheatear. The Severn Beach wader roost was smaller today, with 70 Dunlin and 20 Ringed Plovers. Another Whimbrel and a Cuckoo were seen at Chittening Warth.


May 10th

The Great Skua was on the river off Northwick Warth this morning where 8 Whimbrel and 2 Wheatears were also still present. The wader roost at Severn Beach held 200 Dunlin, 30 Ringed Plovers, 5 Sanderling and 2 Grey Plovers. There was a Cuckoo and a noticeable passage of Swallows at New Passage this afternoon.



                                                                                         Sanderling, Severn Beach 10.5.4


May 9th

A Great Skua gave excellent views and was present all day at Northwick Warth, feeding on a lamb carcass. Other birds here included 18 Whimbrel, single Bar-tailed Godwit, Common Sandpiper, Yellow Wagtail and 3 Wheatears. Another 2 Whimbrel were present at Severn Beach this afternoon and several flocks, totalling 200 birds, of Dunlin and Ringed Plover were moving up river without stopping.


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                                                                                  Great Skua, Northwick Warth 9.5.4


May 8th

A cold West - North West wind produced very little. There were 14 Whimbrel, a Bar-tailed Godwit and 3 Wheatears on Northwick Warth. A distant flock of 20 “Commic Terns” were seen from Severn Beach.


May 7th

A Great Skua lingered off Severn Beach for an hour over the morning high tide. There were 9 Whimbrel and 3 Wheatears on Northwick Warth. A Cuckoo was seen and heard at Sea Bank Pools, Chittening Warth.


May 6th

A morning high tide visit to Chittening Warth produced a flock of 13 Arctic Skuas moving up the estuary, they eventually gained great height and then flew back down river. More of a surprise was an exhausted Manx Shearwater that floated upriver close in shore. A Hobby was seen at New Passage and at least 9 Whimbrel and 4 Wheatears were present on Northwick Warth. A Common Sandpiper was on the Orchard Pools, Severn Beach.


May 5th

Another morning with a moderate wind produced a Great Skua, 4 Arctic Skuas and 2 Kittiwakes at Severn Beach. There were 7 Whimbrel, 90 Dunlin, 5 Ringed Plovers and a Wheatear  at New Passage. The evening tide at Severn Beach produced 3 more Great Skuas, 2 unidentified Skuas and a flock of 11 Eider (5 drakes).



                                                                                             Wheatear, New Passage 5.5.4


May 4th

A day of blustery showers and strong west wind was bound to produce some interesting birds. A staggering total of 36 Pomarine Skuas were seen today, 8 together that passed high over the Second Crossing this morning and a flock of 28 for almost 3 hours this evening. Another astonishing record was an adult Sabine’s Gull this evening with 300 Kittiwakes that lingered for two hours. The evening sea watch also produced at least 7 Arctic Skuas, 40 Arctic Terns and 2 Fulmars. A Little Tern, 4 Common Terns and a Grey Plover were also seen here today. The first Hobby of the year was seen flying over Chittening Warth.



                                                                                        Six Pomarine Skuas, Severn Beach 4.5.4


May 3rd

A quieter day today. There were 5 Sanderling on the high tide roost at Severn Beach. A flock of 17 Whimbrel were feeding on Northwick Warth where a late female Merlin was also seen. A Short-eared Owl was hunting over Chittening Warth this morning and a Wood Warbler was seen here at the Sea Bank Pools. A sea watch over the early evening tide produced  a Pomarine Skua, 2 Arctic Skuas and at least 60 Kittiwakes.


May 2nd

Early morning fog made finding birds first thing very difficult. There was a Sanderling amongst 350 Dunlin and  Ringed Plovers on Severn Beach. Despite the fog, 20 Bar-tailed Godwits and at least 20 Arctic Terns were seen flying past here. Further up the estuary at New Passage there were another 2 Sanderling, a Common Sandpiper and 12 Whimbrel. As the fog cleared, 4 Whinchats, a Garden Warbler and several Wheatears were found. The morning became incredible at 9.20, as the first patch and Avon County record of Subalpine Warbler was found in a Hawthorn Bush at Severn Beach. It was a female watched at close range before being chased out of the bush by one of the many Whitethroats present and lost to view in dense scrub. Any other birding was an anti-climax despite the presence of a singing Wood Warbler, a Tree Pipit, Whinchat, at least another 4 Garden Warblers, 3 Lesser Whitethroats and a Spotted Flycatcher in the same area. Another Spotted Flycatcher, 5 Whinchats and a Grasshopper Warbler (11th Warbler species for the day!) were seen at Chittening Warth. There were 2 more Spotted Flycatchers at the Orchard Pools mid afternoon and an evening sea watch from Severn Beach  produced 3 dark-bellied Brent Geese, 75 Kittiwakes and an Arctic Skua.


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                                                     Whinchat, Northwick Warth 2.5.4                      Spotted Flycatcher, Severn Beach 2.5.4


May 1st

At Severn Beach, morning and evening visits produced a Little Stint with a mixed flock of 275 Dunlin and 35 Ringed Plover, 80+ Bar-tailed Godwits, 4 Knot and 10 Whimbrel. Sea watches produced 350 + terns, most of which seemed to be Arctic Terns with at least 1 Common Tern  on the morning tide, another 400+ “Commic Terns” and a Black Tern were seen over the evening tide. A dark morph Arctic Skua also flew north east past here early morning. A Greenshank and 2 Whinchats were seen at Chittening Warth. At least 30 Yellow Wagtails were seen this morning including a flock of 14 with a male Blue-headed Wagtail (only the 4th Severnside record) and a White Wagtail on Northwick Warth. Other migrants here and at New Passage included a Common Sandpiper, 4 fly over Tree Pipits, 25 Redpolls, 10 Wheatears, 3 Lesser Whitethroats, 3 Whinchats, 17 Whimbrel and a steady movement all day of Swifts, Swallows and House Martins.