Thursday, 14 August 2014

13 August 2014: Aust Warth to Severn Beach and back.

Got up early to catch the predicted high tide on the Severn Estuary. The plan was to walk from Aust Warth (just below the original Severn Bridge) to Severn Beach, passing through New Passage at about High tide mark-  something near 10 miles in all.
Was greeted at the start of the walk by several flocks of Starlings - I guess it doesn't take many Starling families to make a flock.

 Out onto the meadow to meet the first of many Pied Wagtails - didn't see a single Yellow Wagtail, as opposed to the numbers I saw last year in the same place.
As if they knew it was going to be a very hide tide, flushing out birds ad voles, there was already a Kestrel cruising
 and a juvenile Peregrine on the lookout too.

 Lots of Linnet picking through the debris of yesterday's even higher tide
 as well as Neadow Pipits galore.
 There were a host of Swallow and noth Martins at the Pilning wetlands but I planned to catch those on the way back and pressed on to New Passage. By now the tide was in and one wall was rapidly becoming an island and a haven for some of the birdlife. at one pointed I counted 8 Pied Wagtails out on the wall.
 Several Collared Dove kept flying out to it to even though the grassland in front of it was rapidly disappearing.
 No land visible at the right hand end of the wall and the Wagtail is passed by a Ringed Plover.

 Next to fly by looking for somewhwere to land were this mixed group of Ringed Plover and Dunlin

 By now the land in front of the wall had disappeared too and the Common Sandpiper joined the Wagtails on the wall
 and the Collared Dove flew off to drier climes.
With the tide starting to turn, I pressed on towards Severn Beach I came across this Male Wheatear, waiting patiently for his favourite rocks to raeppear.

 Unable to get to the rocky forseshore this juvenile Ringed plover was reduced to running up and down the sea wall
 with a parent watching on nearby.
 On the landward fencing flocks of Starling were waiting to get back to the saltmarsh.
 The Cormorants weren't the least bothered by the amount of water and
 nor were the gulls.
 I reached Severn Beach and the tide was already dropping rapidly. I turned round and started the return journey. Already a more normal water's edge of rock and mud was appearing and the groups of Dunlin and Ringed Plover concentrated on feeding rather than taking notice of passers by.

 By now I was back at the wall and a party of Collared Dove were feeding on the grass beneath the wall and the tide had already dropped dramatically.
 In case you were wondering how high the tide had been, here is a wide angled photo of the wall taken on my phone as I walked back to it. Overall I think the tide had been predicted at 14.2 metres, though may well have been a little higher as ther was quite a stiff breeze pushing up river too.
 Back to the Pilning Wetlands are to have a look at the fliers.Sand Martin abounded

 House Martin too were in good numbers
 Goldfinch families were feeding well onthe thistles.
 More House Martin

 Sand Martin


 One of the few Swallow flying about
 In the distance a Little Egret flew past the Severn Bridge.
 Back on the meadows the Oystercatcher started feeding
 as did the Curlew, but they wre still as wary as ever, letting you get nowhere near them.

 Next I was attracted by the call and had to look hard to find this Reed Warbler, though it did eventually pop out into the open.

 Next was a real treat - a Clouded Yellow butterfly which chose a group of about 5 thistle plants to feed on. There wer lots of lovely poses with the wings closed as ever

 and even the shot that shows how tight they are held to prevent you seeing the upper side.
  But there was the odd tantalising glimpse
 and eventualy after several (dozen or more) shots there were a couple of chances of the full monty, as it were.

 Shortly afterwards I was back at the car and ready for the off, but quite excited especially by the Clouded Yellow as i had only had several poor shots previously. It was only 4pm so I called in at Slimbridge on the way home. Very quiet, the highlights being this Kestrel which caught a vole and ate it in view of the Holden Tower hide
 and a pair of Redstats. They were a little to distant for good shots but I include these record shots to show just how strikingly obvious the red can be.

 That's it for now.


  1. Excellent account of a busy and no doubt exhausting day's birding.

  2. Busy and exhausting - yes. Rewarding - equally so. Thanks Dave.

  3. Another great report Bob, your shots of the Martins being especially nice, considering the difficulty involved in capturing these birds.. The Clouded Yellow is the highlight though.