Bird News: September 2023

 The Swallow roost at Wemberham Lane dispersed and on the 1st Pied Wagtails were roosting in increased numbers, at least 40 gathered on Smart’s factory before dropping into the reeds. Three Whinchat were on Congresbury Moor (4th) along with a Barn Owl and sadly the remains of three Kestrels in their box. A group of three was seen so the presumption is that at l least one, possibly two youngsters fledged.

Male Sparrowhawk portrait by Jon Thobroe

A charm of 75 Goldfinches was a welcome sight by the Little River and up on the sea wall migration was in evidence with around 170 Dunlin and 70 Ringed Plover. The Shelduck (170) and Curlew (150+) were already back on their winter territories despite the temperature being close to 30 degrees. Four Wheatears, two Whimbrel, single Knot and Green Sandpiper were on passage.

The Swallow roost reformed (presumably by more passage birds) on the 7th with at least 60 present. 50 Goldfinches also roosted as did 19 Pied Wagtails. The star bird, a Hobby made two fast passes, unfortunately for it after the Swallows had roosted. The next evening there were at least 150 Swallows but they headed off past Smarts perhaps to roost in the Smarts Reed bed by Arnold’s Way. House Martins are close relatives of Swallows and 50 were over fields by the Chestnut Park estate.

A member’s garden in Claverham has hosted, Heron, Little Egret, two Green Woodpeckers and a Grey Wagtail over the course of a few days. Just out of our area a flock of 24 Cattle Egrets were on Nailsea Moor. Chiffchaffs restarting singing mid month and Cetti’s Warblers were also singing but pretty half heartedly – they will get back to full volume soon.

There were still at least 20 House Martins over Chestnut Park on the 15th but most resident Swallows had left. 31 Pied Wagtails roosted in Stowell’s Reed bed and 48 Canada Geese flew over. Work on the new pylons has paused and birds are beginning to use them, with Buzzard, Kestrel, Raven, Carrion Crow, Cormorant, Lesser Black Backed Gull and Starling all reported by members.

Jay burying acorn on the Strawberry Line on 27th September 2023 by Mark Savage

The 20th was a wet day but after the rain 20 House Martins and a Sand Martin were feeding over fields by Wemberham Lane. Three Ravens and a Kestrel were on a nearby pylon with a Wheatear on the posts by the haul road. The next day at least six Cetti’s Warblers were seen or heard on the Strawberry Line, Yatton, a Water Rail called and a Redstart was seen. On the 23rd there were 50 plus Meadow Pipits on Congresbury Moor. At dusk 75 Pied Wagtails roosted in Stowell’s Reed bed, observed from Wemberham Lane.

Redstart Yatton 21st September 2023 by Mark Savage
Kestrel on new electricity cables by Jon Thobroe

It was a quiet end to the month but a report from our friends at NEWT (Nailsea Environment and Wildlife Trust) of a male Hen Harrier in direct flight across Nailsea Moor leaves me wondering if it just might be the bird filmed by Emily (see in our video library here under “shorts”) in October 2021. Birds do often follow the same migration route.

This month’s star picture: Dipper in the Lake District by Jon Thobroe

Your sightings are always very welcome at

Trevor Riddle