Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Avon Valley, Saltford Trip Report 14th April 2014

Thirteen members of the Society met for this leisurely walk from The Shallows in Saltford around the medieval ponds to Avon Farm and return via Swineford Lock and the River Avon towpath. As luck would have it, it was a glorious spring morning with clear blue skies and warm sunshine, with only a moderate north-westerly wind to take the edge off the temperature in exposed places.
Before we had even left the car park, several species of butterfly had already been recorded that included Holly Blue, Peacock and Brimstone. Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps were singing strongly and a Mistle Thrush showed well on the grassy bank above the car park.
As predicted, the pine trees in St.Mary’s churchyard yielded a singing Coal Tit and just beyond, a snatch of Lesser Whitethroat song was heard in the distance. I had hoped that we may see one but our walk was about a week earlier than their normal arrival date, although several had been recorded in the Severn Valley the previous day, raising my hopes. The bird sang intermittently and one or two members managed a brief view of it but unfortunately, it never sat up long enough for everyone to see.
As we approached the medieval ponds a Bullfinch was spotted but again it was only seen by a lucky few. By now the lovely spring sunshine had brought many butterflies onto the wing and Orange Tip, Green-veined White and a Comma were recorded and photographed. Several Swallows and a single House Martin were a very welcome sight below Avon Farm and two soaring Buzzards and a hovering Kestrel enhanced the scene. 
The path to Swineford Lock was littered with flood debris and a ‘high-tide mark at least two feet up the trunks of the surrounding trees illustrated only too well the extent of the winter floods, although the area seemed to have recovered well from its’ drenching. A Grey Wagtail, perhaps one of Britain’s most under-rated species, gave excellent views around the Lock and just beyond, a Kingfisher flashed by and was seen by some as it headed off down-river.
Much to my relief, everyone survived the encounter with the herd of young bullocks encroaching on the footpath passed the treatment works and we all arrived back at The Shallows having had a thoroughly enjoyable morning.  

Chris Vines 

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