Clevedon, August 2019
Rather surprisingly, given all the changes made to the programme and the unusual time of the meeting, nine people attended this gathering, which took place at Clevedon in the afternoon of 27 August.
We went to the small harbour in the southwest of the town and walked in a southerly direction along the sea wall. The time of the meeting was determined by tide conditions.
What we discovered when first arriving at the harbour was that the sun was directly ahead of us and that all the birds (of which there were several hundred) just appeared as silhouettes and therefore defied accurate identification. Which was frustrating for all of us! But things improved as we walked around the harbour and we were able to identify the birds in front of us. There were hundreds of Dunlin, and both Ringed and Little Ringed Plover, plus Black-headed Gull. Sorting out which were the Ringed Plover and which the Little Ringed was a bit of a problem, because light conditions were still far from ideal; bill and leg colour were difficult the distinguish and the yellow eye ring of the Little Ringed Plover was almost invisible! There were also significant numbers of Oystercatcher, Great Black-backed , Lesser Black-backed and Herring Gulls and a few Redshank to pick out from the crowds.
When we approached the Blind Yeo river we were approached by a woman who asked about the I/D of a bird she had seen several times by the river. What she described was undoubtedly a Grey Wagtail, but alas, when we got there all the river yielded was a pair of Mute Swans and some Moorhens.
The path took us past a golf course (usually good for birds) but we saw only a few Crows and rather more Black-headed Gulls there. Better things awaited us as we got close to the sea, however. An off-shore island allowed us to add Curlew, Cormorant, Turnstone and a couple of medium-sized waders which nobody could identify to our list. We were also treated to several fly-pasts of sizeable flocks of both Dunlin and Ringed Plover. Two points of interest emerged. First, all the flocks were of one species only - there were no mixed flocks. And secondly, there seemed to be no purpose to these flights - they were neither for feeding nor for relocation, for as often as not the birds just flew around for a minute or so and then returned to their original places!
The next meeting of the group will be at 08.30 in the morning of Tuesday 24 September, when we shall be visiting one or two of the reserves on the Somerset Levels, in order to observe autumn migration in full swing. More about this nearer the time.