Strawberry Line


YACWAG’s role on the Strawberry Line is to maintain and improve biodiversity on the section that is part of the Biddle Street SSSI and its buffer zone at Yatton Station (Yatton to Congresbury section) through a partnership with Natural England and North Somerset Council.

As it is a SSSI YACWAG’s work is mainly around enhancing ditches and managing them on a long rotation, and ensuring there is sufficient cover for wildlife. The birdlife on this part of the  Strawberry Line  is exceptional, particularly in terms of breeding warblers.

Strawberry Line birds – 31st March 2017

The first survey of the twentieth season took place on the 31st March on a breezy mild morning, much warmer than on most first surveys in past years.

Chiffchaffs were everywhere ( well almost); there were 17 singing and several others ( females don’t sing) besides. Five Blackcaps were pouring out their lovely musical warble and two Willow Warblers were singing their descending notes song. Willow Warblers are migrant birds here now: they will move on to breed, probably in the North west of the U.K. Our two regular Cettis Warblers made themselves heard ( as only Cetti’s can).  These birds are resident all year and are the rarest breeding bird species on the YACWAG reserves.

Song Thrush and Reed Bunting were also in song, both Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers were heard and seen respectively, a couple of Herons flew over and a Kestrel was on the Congresbury Moor reserve. All the usual suspects were present in good numbers: let’s hope for a warm Spring and Summer so that there will be lots of baby birds this year.


YACWAG provides a new home for Tawny Owls – 12 Dec 2016

In May last year visitors to the Strawberry Line found two small Tawny Owl chicks grounded under a box near Congresbury old station. They managed to contact the Hawk and Owl Trust and Chris Sperring, Carrie Riches and her husband attended, repaired the box (the bottom had fallen out) , the chicks were put back and successfully fledged.

The old box was erected under a North Somerset Council scheme but YACWAG offered to provide a replacement box. The splendid new box was made by our member Alan Walker and erected by him and Bob Lowman on the 16thDecember (see picture).

We hope that the local Tawny Owls will like their new home and that the box will produce lots more Owlets in the future.


Barn Owl watch – Wed 27 July 2016

A nice bright evening attracted a dozen members including two junior owl watchers. Initially three young owls emerged and sat around, then an adult flew in and at one point there were five owls in the air. There was plenty of action but eventually the darkness defeated us and we closed at 9.30.

Trevor Riddle

Spring has sprung – 7th May 2016

After a slow start to spring for our incoming migrant birds, the sudden warm weather and southerly winds has brought a rush of summer visitors. Swallows were late arriving but now seem to be here in good numbers and by 5 May the Swifts were tearing up the skies overhead. I haven’t spotted many House Martins yet though. Alex Ballard reported a Cuckoo calling at Congresbury and Brian Wilson heard one at Goblin Combe. Please do let us know if you hear or see one.

The Strawberry line bird count produced 17 singing Blackcaps in early April, a record count. By early May just eleven were heard but as they progress with their nesting cycle song is reduced and many of the quiet ones aren’t detected. The early May count did reveal 22 singing Reed Warblers, our second best count ever since the survey started in 1999. In general warbler species seem to be in good number this year. As do Wrens, they are everywhere, in fact most of our passerines ( small birds) seem to be doing well. We have BlueTits, Great Tits, Robins and Wrens nesting in adjacent gardens with a Goldcrest singing nearby.

There are three Tawny Owlet broods on and near to YACWAG Reserves and whilst we were checking one of these in Yatton, a Hobby flew over, rising up to capture a small insect.

Trevor Riddle


Early morning warbler walk – 2nd May

Seven hardy members enjoyed a pleasant stroll along the Strawberry Line in rather overcast and at times showery conditions. Six warbler species were heard singing with Chiffchaff, Blackcap,and Whitethroat seen, Cettis Warbler and Sedge Warbler glimpsed whilst the Reed Warblers sang but remained hidden. A male Bullfinch was a popular bird, there were any number of Wrens singing and lots of Blue Tit activity.

A male Sparrowhawk shot low over the rhyne bordering 10 Acres field but the resident Kestrels seemed to be still in bed. Just a few Swallows flew past – they seem to be late arriving this year.

Trevor Riddle

New Year’s Day bird walk

Eleven hardy members assembled on a mercifully dry morning and set out along the Strawberry Line. It was quiet to start but a male bullfinch provided some welcome colour on a dull morning. A cormorant roosting on the ground looked a little incongruous but it flew off strongly allaying our concerns that it was sick. Nearby 300 Black headed gulls were feeding on a wet field with a few herring gulls and a single lesser black backed gull which should be in Southern Europe by rights at this time of year.

The highlight for me was a song thrush, incredibly the first that I have seen locally for several months and this was soon followed by a burst of song from a concealed Cetti’s warbler. A pause to look over the Congresbury Moor reserve produced a buzzard and a bit further on we encountered a ‘flock’ of four bullfinches. A visit to 10 Acres field revealed 14 snipe and 3 meadow pipits with a pair of stock doves rounding off the morning.


Wetland Wildlife on The Strawberry Line

To see a copy of the information posters on the Strawberry Line notice boards, click here.

Early Morning Bird Walk 4 May 2015

Thanks to Trevor Riddle for leading our early morning bird walk today on the Strawberry Line.  What a beautiful morning to get up early for a 7am start!  We heard lots of birds and were lucky enough to see many of the smaller birds who were making quite a lot of the noise.

Heard this morning – robin, blackbird, blackcap, collared dove, woodpigeon, great tit, blue tit, dunnock, wren, chaffinch, whitethroat, lesser whitethroat, reed warbler, sedge warbler, Cetti’s warbler, reed bunting, chiffchaff, greenfinch, bullfinch, moorhen, pheasant and peacock.

photo by Bob Lowman


sedge warbler by Graham Lovesey


In addition we saw – sparrowhawk, swans, jackdaws, magpies, lesser black-backed gulls, starlings, mallard duck, rook, raven, swallows, heron, linnet, and goldfinch.  Also saw a moorhen’s nest with 2 eggs and a swan sitting on its nest.

A very enjoyable walk with much to see and hear rounded off with breakfast at the Strawberry Line Cafe.  Win Lowman

Seed sowing on the Strawberry Line Wednesday 9th April 2015

YACWAG volunteers were joined at a midweek workparty by Jamie Edmonds from Kier Services.

A wildflower meadow mix was used to create a new area at the start of the Strawberry Line at Yatton station. This area had been cleared and rotavated by North Somerset’s Green Team and the seeding represents mitigation for damage caused to the Local Nature Reserve when a cable was buried.

Other bare patches along the margins for a distance of half a mile south from the station end were also sown with wild flowers and it is hoped that in time this will provide additional nectar sources for bees and butterflies.

Species sown include:  Yarrow, Knapweed, Oxeye daisy, Birdsfoot Trefoil, Ribwort Plantain, Meadow Buttercup, Common Sorrel, Red Clover, Yellow Rattle and Red Campion, along with four species of grass.