Great White Egret, Bristol

Well, this wasn’t on my list of targets. So, when a white heron flew along the shore at Chittening Warth, I fully expected a little egret to fill my binoculars. My first check is always the colour of the feet but, dammit, they were black and dangled well beyond its body. And the bird was large.

A good measure of how large was conveniently available when a buzzard flapped across and, although it looked bigger, the buzzard was closer to me. My best estimate for the egret was at least as big as the raptor.

The only possible snag in this identification is that mud-covered yellow feet look black, and there’s plenty of mud on the Severn Estuary. Still, I make that 90% certain for great white egret and I’m sticking to it.

The bird was species number 95 for my Bristol list since reed bunting had made it 94 soon after getting out of the car and looking over the Warth. However, the egret was the first ever sighting for the city and only the third across Severnside. Since those records came in May and last year, we can say that the species is on its way in and many more can be expected. Still, it’s nice to be a trendsetter once in a while.

New Cut, Bristol

I’ve been plying this artificial branch of the River Avon for a year and a half, so it’s interesting to see what’s been ever present. No surprises for herring and lesser black-backed gulls, mallard, feral pigeon, wood pigeon, magpie, crow and wren. With one absence come collared dove (October), blackbird (August), goldfinch (September) and house sparrow. Other mainly common species comprise starling, robin, jackdaw, cormorant and dunnock.

Rarities, at one record apiece, are Continue reading

Mediterranean Gull, Upton Warren

My usual spring visit for avocet and little ringed plover produced scads of the former and four of the latter at the Flashes. On the way in, common terns also skimmed the surface of the sailing pool. Hoping for sedge warbler on my return walk, I then checked the Bittern and Hen Brook Hides; just one reed warbler showed but showed very well, which is unusual.

There was plenty of time to continue to the Moors, so I strolled through the Education Reserve and flushed a Continue reading

Merlin, Bristol

It’s happened again, for the third time actually since I didn’t report on the second at Bedminster station. On Friday morning I swished back my Southville curtains and checked out the usual herring gulls nesting on the roof opposite.

They were fine as a medium-size dark bird flew towards me. The standard for this description in Bristol is one morph of feral pigeon. I’m used to dismissing them and am not in the habit of thinking Continue reading