This Wiltshire Wildlife Trust reserve is slowly coming into its own. For a start it’s a convenient hour or so out of Bristol on my regular way east. This makes it a perfect post-coffee stop from Frome or Warminster. In the reverse direction a while back it was also well placed for a little evening birding without great expectations.
Swallows, house martins and sand martins soon dispelled any boredom, as did calling Cetti’s warblers. But it was the scrapes at the far end of the site that I was aiming for and they seemed quiet at first. Until a bright yellow bird hove into view. Only one candidate for that on a stony foreshore – yellow wagtail. I haven’t seen one in summer plumage for three years.
I tried to turn some of the many pied wagtails into white wagtails but didn’t convince myself. No matter, a buzzard entertained me overhead, then another, paler one. Which wasn’t a buzzard at all. It was my first red kite of the year.
Blimey! I could have stayed all night but had to get cracking back to Bristol. This then put me in the right place to log a couple of red-legged partridges crossing the A36. Then that so-called trunk road was closed at Claverton, as part of the ongoing downgrading of our transport infrastructure, so I switched to my south Bath orbital through Midford and past the Hope and Anchor.
I’ve meant to stop at this pub for centuries with the obvious draw being the railway architecture (no, really). The old Somerset and Dorset viaduct above it is still in fine fettle at the point where it crosses the even more ancient colliery line to Camerton. That closed in 1951 so there’s less trace of it, except in the immortal realm of celluloid. Yes, the Titfield Thunderbolt used the track as a film set a couple of years after closure.
The pub of course displays some prints of local railway scenes and, despite being a bit foody, is OK for a swift pint. That made the remaining half hour back to Bristol and my next pint more palatable than the intervening urbanscape normally allows.