Avon Gorge Pelagic

Bristol Ferry Boat Brigantia
Bristol Ferry Boat Brigantia

Just my little joke. It was actually a ferry trip from the Floating Harbour, up the gorge and further on, to Avonmouth. And back.

We started in drizzle but that didn’t stop Ed Drewitt, our narrator for the journey, from pointing out flyover redwings in the heart of Bristol. Indeed the wintering thrushes were ever present and must have numbered in the hundreds, so I was adding them to almost every local list I keep. Likewise redshanks and grey herons.

Another surprise was a great black-backed gull perched at Cumberland Basin. I didn’t realise they came that far into town. We also picked common sandpipers up along the length of the river. They’re not so obvious without being out on the water.

The weather improved and the sun came out. Near Pill a jay flew over, which leads me to a brief mention of a new species for Bedminster: one bounded across the tree tops at Parson Street station on Wednesday morning. In flight it was obvious but perched, as it started, on a TV aerial the bird looked mainly collared dove. But not quite all collared dove, which is why I scrutinised it and caught it take off.

Of course jays are busy this time of year stashing acorns for the winter to come, so they’re easy to see. The individual at Pill could have been on this sort of mission from the wooded North Somerset side of the Avon.

A sharp-eyed passenger found the first of three peregrine falcons on a warehouse at Avonmouth. The second was loafing near the Suspension Bridge and I (yes, me) was about the only person on to one gliding behind the Create Centre, which puts it on the New Cut list.

A final species worthy of mention was a juvenile common gull (not so common!), which Ed again identified. Good thing he was there!

So, anyone who poo-poos a jaunt along the upper reaches of the River Avon as an unglamorous sortie, shouldn’t. No megas, but plenty of interest.

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