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Spring migration along the Clevedon coast I

n the last issue, I covered some of the winter birds along the coast, but by now migration will be in full swing and many of our summer visitors will have already arrived.

For a spring walk (and earlyish mornings are best) start at Salthouse Fields car park and take the path around Poet’s Walk and Wains Hill. The woodland on the hill acts as a magnet for resting migrants in some weather conditions, and Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs will be singing whilst colourful Linnets should be starting to nest in the scrub on the cliffs. Peregrine falcons bred on the hill until a few years ago, so keep an eye out and as there is a National Peregrine Survey this year, please let the editor know if you spot one.

Follow the path around the Pill where you may see the odd Redshank or Curlew feeding on the mud. These are mainly winter species, but a few stay into spring and if you are lucky there may be a few Whimbrel stopping over from their winter base in Africa, to their breeding grounds in Shetland or Iceland. Whimbrel are a smaller version of the Curlew, best told by their piping five note call, quite different from the Curlew’s musical bubbling call.


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Continue over the sluice and along the sea wall. You should spot Shelducks, or as they were known in Somerset ‘Burrow Ducks’ - they nest in rabbit holes or even holes in trees. For this reason the female is as brightly coloured as the male - camouflage is not a requirement. There are likely to be noisy Oystercatchers, black and white birds with striking orange bills that have fairly recently started to nest on this section of the coast. Any small bird with a white rump, flitting on boulders or fences will be a Wheatear en route to it’s summer territory further north. The first Wheatears appear in mid March, but dependent on weather conditions (all the way from Africa) migration is often protracted - the mature experienced birds come first with the youngsters following on. Indeed some swallows will still be arriving and feeding up on the insects along the sea wall.

Where the path divides take the left (inland) turn and look over the fence at the Dowlais wetland. Lapwings will be nesting, Redshanks

too and on a sunny day Skylarks will still be singing. The pools (known as scrapes) harbour lots of different species that stop briefly, Waders, Terns and Yellow Wagtails and sometimes a rarity, and they are a magnet for bird watchers.

Turn left at the footpath sign along the track and listen for the rattling single note call of the lesser whitethroat in the tall hedge. This bird weighs less than a 50p piece and will have arrived from Ethiopia! Common Whitethroats and other warblers (little brown jobs with loud voices) should be audible.

At the road, either retrace your steps or follow the road towards Clevedon, enjoying the bird song, and immediately after crossing the Blind Yeo turn left, follow the river back to the Pill and then return to the start.

Article courtesy of Trevor Riddle

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