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The Horrors of Brean

I’ve felt remiss in ignoring the Somerset coast south of Weston-super-Mare, but no longer. Certainly the stretch down to Burnham is not worth the guilt. It would have been fine had the lack of parking not thwarted my original plan of walking Brean Down. At least: I wasn’t willing to pay £2 to the Tropical Bird Garden for the hour or so I would spend there.

So I improvised and birded Berrow Flats, which lie offshore on the way down to Burnham. Somehow I already had a fairly impressive site list from 1999. And this year would have been fine too but the area is infested with holiday parks, chalets, caravan sites and the tourist paraphernalia that goes with them. Have they just sprung up? One can drive on to the beach but that very possibility guarantees that birds will be scarce. And so they were.

So were toilets and I had to pee in a dog-crap nook. Still, I did find a (new?) Asda at Highbridge and stocked up on cheap Stella and pop; the trip wasn’t wasted and now I know I can happily bang down the M5 to Bridgwater and the coast round Hinkley Point with a clear conscience.

Today’s birding wasn’t a complete loss either: two sweeps of Cheddar Reservoir finally disclosed the whooper swans. I then got an unexpected yomp in pursuit of a reported water pipit but only found meadows at the end of it. I’ve seen but two water pipits, the last one early in 2004 at Farmoor. The first was 1997 at Titchwell and I remember it like it was yesterday. That’s age for you.

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