Sunday 06 April – Brean Down

 The weather forecast was dreadful: ‘Heavy rain and strong winds worsening around the coasts’ it said. Just the job for a walk along Brean Down then? But that was the forecast put out the night before; by the morning of the meeting the heavy rain had been put back by 12 hours but it seemed that many people had not picked up on this late change resulting in only Margaret Gorely and me joining Paul Gregory for this spring migration watch.Considering that Brean Down is at the end of Weston beach there is a considerable road journey to the foot of the down, but once there we set off up the steep tarmac track to the top of the east down. With thick scrub and bushes aplenty there was high expectation of migrant warblers, chats and other LBJs. A Blackcap obliged with song as well as Chiffchaff but little else other than a couple of resident Blue Tits. From the top a good view of the Axe Estuary revealed a herd of Mute Swans, many Shelduck, twelve Teal, a Little Egret and a pair of Oystercatcher. A couple of Peregrines gave us top entertainment with their powerful command of the sky, one of them decidedly brownish as if last year’s offspring? Things went quiet for a while but Chaffinch and Meadow Pipit were never far away, and then a Stonechat appeared typically on top of a stunted bush. A distant Swallow was next but it soon disappeared leaving us somewhat short-changed of hirundines at this promising site. A few Rock Pipits, Raven and a Linnet made up the numbers with Roe Deer, feral goats, Violet and Cowslip adding variety. A miniscule contribution of a snippet of song from a Willow Warbler elevated the mood but it was thevPeregrines who, at the end of the walk, once again demonstrated their superiority in the air. Wheatear and Ring Ouzel never showed giving a grand total of 27 bird species. Thanks go to Margaret for the refreshments and to Paul for leading.