Mike Smart was joined by seven members for this field meeting to visit and view the early stages of the development of new salt marsh on the riverside at the south-west end of Aylburton Warth.
The Environment Agency have purchased several fields from farmers and breached the old flood defence wall in places to allow the inflow of water from the estuary at high tides to facilitate this change, it is both a conservation measure for the birds but also a managed means of reducing erosion of the riverbank. Similar exercises have taken place at Steart Point in Somerset with advice from WWT and in parts of Essex on the east coast.
The weather for the visit was not especially good, whilst dry it was chilly and rather foggy and continued to be so throughout the day, high tide occurred just about the same time as the meeting started at approximately 11.00am. Ground conditions were rather wet and muddy in most places but an impressive list of birds was accumulated, some of these recorded as a WeBS count by Mike Smart prior to the start of the meeting:
Several hundred Curlew on roosts at Guscar and Aylburton Warth together with Redshank, Dunlin and Ringed Plover. 5 Greenshank, 1 Green Sandpiper, 4 Little Egret, 32 Golden Plover, a Common Snipe and 60 Lapwing on or in the vicinity of the flashes on Aylburton Warth, a Kestrel hunting over the Warth, a cock Pheasant by the railway line, a Sparrowhawk hunting the hedgerows and stubble, a Peregrine hunting over several areas, 3 Kingfisher and 2 Reed Bunting in the Phragmites filled ditches, 5 Stonechat, 20 Mallard, 12 Wigeon and 2 Cormorant over the river, 15 Teal in flight, 3 Common Snipe in flight over the river and a handful of Lesser Black Backed, Herring and Black Headed Gulls.
Other birds in various locations – 4 Wren, 15 House Sparrow, 40 Skylark, 8 Pied Wagtail, 25 Crows, 4 Heron, 4 Robin, 50 Linnet, 20 Meadow Pipit, 15 Goldfinch, 5 Dunnock, 2 Chaffinch, 3 Blackbird, 1 Jackdaw, 4 Jay, 12 Long Tailed Tit, 2 Great Tit, 1 Mistle Thrush, 1 Buzzard, 1 Great Spotted Woodpecker, 1 Raven, 2 Grey Wagtail, 1 Greenfinch and finally Martin Wright spotted 2 Swallow flying north eastwards high over the river.
Members present – David Priddis, Martin Wright, Cathy Booth, Guy Meredith, Juliet Bailey, Pam Jones and Andrew Bluett. Thanks to David Priddis for the use of his photographs.
Group photos by Andrew Bluett (left) & David Priddis (right)
Juliet Bailey up close and personal with Lichen (David Priddis)
Guy Meredith & Juliet Bailey exploring a Rhyne
The Aylburton Warth flashes (Andrew Bluett)
Golden Plover (digiscoped with mobile phone, Andrew Bluett)
Curlew in flight over the roost at Aylburton Warth (David Priddis)
Lapwing, Little Egret and Golden Plover on the flashes (David Priddis)
The remains of an old quay or landing stage in the Cone Pill (dubbed by David Priddis the “Hobbit House”!) constructed of a platform on wooden piles now “roofed” with a deposit of mud covered with riparian plant growth (David Priddis)