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An Ill Wind

Thursday night’s gales continued into Friday morning and coincided for the first time with a trip up to Kiddy. A chance to drop in to Severn Beach then and boost the Avon list with seabirds.

But before that I gave Portishead another crack and sat in the car (not a journey I’d usually drive but the motor was going out anyway) overlooking Woodhill Bay. A high tide was up and waves rolled over the marsh, further than I’ve seen. Rain blasting in from the Severn Estuary reduced visibility but quarter of an hour did produce one gannet. That goes on the Bristol list because of county boundaries that I have alluded to.

Then it was off over a speed-restricted Avon Bridge to the Beach and much better viewing but still not much activity. Some maybe Manx shearwaters flew up near the Second Severn Crossing then the birding improved with obvious fulmars passing closer to me – many of them.

One small dark individual flying fast over the waves put me in mind of a petrel but I couldn’t be sure. A flock of black shapes resting on the choppy waters had me reaching for the scope and thinking of scoters. They weren’t. They were skuas, most likely arctic skuas with the square-ended tail I managed to discern on one. Pity I couldn’t turn them into the poms that were reported about the same time.

The count was rising but still tentative when a clear storm petrel, with white rump like a house martin, chased upstream and more shearwaters wheeled in the distance. That made for a nice variety if not massive numbers.

The rain came and went and came again with only the addition of a distant gannet so I called it a day (about half an hour actually) but a more productive day than I’ve had at Severn Beach.

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