Monday, 27 December 2010

Portbury Wharf NR 27/12/10

A couple of photos of the redhead Goosander off Portishead dock entrance this morning. The bird has been loafing around here since 21 December, obviously a cold weather refugee.

The pools around the nature reserve could become very productive over the next few weeks as the thaw develops and birds return to the fresh water.

Friday, 24 December 2010

Portbury Wharf NR 24/12/10

A male Merlin was seen hunting over the saltmarsh this morning but the Hen Harrier is believed to have relocated to Severnside.

The resident Little Owl was seen again around the barns at wharf lane.

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Ringtail Hen Harrier Sighted

A stunning flight shot of the ringtail Hen Harrier which as been present around the reserve and salt-marsh for about one week now. Many thanks to Mike George for this photo.
This will be my last post this year. I'd like to thank everyone who has volunteered with us or helped out in any way over the past 6 months. 2011 is shaping up to be an exciting year already. The bird hides will be open as of Jan 4th (entrance paths to be improved). We have recruited a number of key warden volunteers who have kindly offered to assist with opening and closing of the hides beyond working hours. They will be starting in the New Year.
We are also looking forward to installing intrepretation throughout the Reserve next year.

Wishing you all a very Merry Christmas!!

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

The reserve was looking like a winter wonderland this morning. The pools and scrapes are mostly frozen so a lot of the birds have sought shelter elsewhere.
If you made an early morning visit you may have spotted some of the tracks left behind by other wildlife on the reserve.

There was an uncommon sighting of a Goosander earlier at Portishead Dock entrance (sea side). They are rare along the coast- usually wintering at the inland lakes of Chew Valley, Barrow Guerney or Blagdon. (see picture)

Please be careful if you are visiting the reserve as both Wharf lane and Sheepway are quite icy. Coming by foot is the best way to enjoy the winter scenery at the moment.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Portbury Wharf NR 19/12/10 update

2 new birds for the reserve today:-

a flyover Waxwing 10am in the morning (archive photo shown) and a 'ringtail' Hen Harrier early afternoon.

This makes it 143 species of bird to be recorded on the reserve since 1/1/05.

Another or same Waxwing was seen near the marina (Waitrose) early afternoon.

Waxwings are very mobile birds in their search for berries. Supermarket car-parks and leafy suburbia are as good as any places to look for them.

There is currently a huge influx of these birds into the UK at the moment, please let us know if you see any. Thanks.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

First Visitors to the New Nesting Island!

The work on the nesting island was completed yesterday and it is much more wader friendly now. I can excitedly report that much to our delight there were 40+ lapwing roosting on the island this morning (see pic.)!!! It is not usual for large numbers of Lapwing to be sighted on the reserve as they tend to be on the foreshore. We realise that the soil has been turned creating a nice feeding ground, but the Lapwing would never have perched on the mountainous island that we use to have (see early post for picture of 8ft island). Fingers crossed it's a good sign of things to come!

To add to the excitement of the lapwings the Tower Hide is now finnished (see pic.). I gave it a test run earlier and there are stunning views of the estuary, Welsh Hills, Severn Crossing and also in towards the pools on the reserve.

The hides will be open for all to enjoy very soon. Next Mon/Tues a contractor will be laying a path to enable disabled access to the hide in between the pools off Wharf Lane.

Monday, 13 December 2010

Portbury Wharf NR sightigs 13/12/10

This morning's count:

35 Wigeon, 110 Teal, 3 Shoveler, 2 Jack Snipe, 52 Snipe and 60+ Skylark. These birds on the estuary side of the seawall as the pools are frozen again.

Lots of Redwings around the bushes.

The enhancement work on the nesting island is almost complete so I thought i would post some before pictures. I will post some after pictures over the next couple of days so that you can see the dramatic change in the shape of the island.
One picture shows how thick the ice over the pool was last week- at least 4 inches!

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Portbury Wharf NR 12/12/10

Today there were 32 Gadwall and 21 Coot on the pools, the water-birds are slowly returning after the freeze.

Friday, 10 December 2010

Portbury Wharf NR update 10/12/10

Work is progressing very well on flattening the island on the main pool, the work is expected to be completed by Mon/Tues next week.

We hope to have breeding waders on it by next spring.

Some new birds visited the reserve today - AWT staff from the main office in Bristol (see photo).

Monday, 6 December 2010

Portbury Wharf NR 6/12/10 - update for residents

Work started today on redesigning the island on the main pool into a more bird-friendly shape and lay-out.

The work should be completed this week.

When finished the island will have a flat 'just above the water' profile which will make it even better for the birds.

We're hoping to attract breeding waders onto the island next Spring such as Ringed Plover, Oystercatcher and Little Ringed Plover and ....fingers crossed.... Avocets! What a feather in the cap that would be!

The nature reserve is also attracting some keen and welcome interest from the media.

Today we had a BBC camera crew on site to see first-hand on how the reserve is progressing and how it is developing its links with the local community.

TOP: Bernie our AWT warden being interviewed by the BBC.

LOWER: The 'Groundforce' team in action.

We'll post a few 'job done' pics later this week.

Alaska Digger

Specialist digger smashing through the ice to get across to the island to carry out enhancement works for the waders.

Island Conservation Works on Points West

The specialist digger arrived on the reserve to begin flattening the nesting island on the pool beside the foreshore. It looked even more spectacular today because it had to break through around 4 inches of ice to get across to the island. The contractors will be on site for the entire week completing the enhancement works (see earlier post).

Excitingly we were also joined by BBC Points West and the island conservation work will be aired tonight! It's quite a sight!

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Portishead - Battery Pt

We've had a day off from the reserve today but thought local residents might want to know about some nice birds on the rocks at Battery Pt.

The birds are called Purple Sandpipers, they are small waders that like seaweed covered rocky parts of the coast.

They are quite unusual around the Bristol area, the only reliable places to see them are here at Portishead and at Birnbeck Pied at W-s-M.

Purple Sandpipers are winter visitors to Avon, usually November to April.

The Battery Pt birds are quite confiding, but you need to visit around high tide time when they will be pushed up higher onto the rocks and into view.

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Portbury Wharf NR 4/12/10

Still plenty of winter thrushes around the bushes and hedgerows this morning, mainly Redwings. The birds will abandon the area once all the berries have been eaten.

On the salt-marsh and seawall area, 1 Jack Snipe, 32 Snipe, 46 Skylark and 6 Reed Buntings.

5 Goldcrests at Wharf lane barns.

TOP: Roe Deer are not uncommon on the reserve but they are very shy and easily spooked. Most of our Roe Deer are visitors from the Portbury Dock area where they are much more numerous.

LOWER: Ducks and Coots on the last remaining ice-free section of the pools.

Friday, 3 December 2010

Portbury Wharf NR - Bird hides

A 'work in progress' photo of the new tower hide under construction at the end of Wharf lane, near the sea-wall.

When completed, the hide will give visitors excellent views of the main north pool (where the main bird interest is) and also panoramic views of the estuary and the Welsh hills beyond.

Work is expected to be completed before Christmas.

Portbury Wharf NR sightings 3/12/10

A heavy overnight frost and most of the ditches and pools remain frozen. Main sightings this morning were:

16 Mute Swan, 3 Gadwall, 1 Shoveler, 3 Pochard, 11 Tufted, 16 Coot and 4 Moorhen, all jammed into one of the few remaining ice-free sections of the main pool.

Around the bushes and hedgerows: 1 Sparrowhawk, 1 Kestrel, 100 Fieldfare, 90 Redwing, 15 Blackbird, 3 Bullfinch and 3 Reed Bunting.

From Steve the bird-watcher.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Portbury Wharf makes the National press

Please see the link to read the article in The Guardian.