Yesterday was my first Wednesday off after requesting to work part time for a while (last week felt more like a holiday). However I must be getting old as kept thinking it was Saturday and back at work today I'm thinking it's Monday. If I begin to crave boiled sweets and comfy tartan slippers, shoot me.
So what did I do on my day off? Given a gale was blowing off the Bristol Channel, and armed with some local information (thanks Paul if you're reading this), I popped down to Sand Bay for the high tide at 10am. Gloriously sunny weather, but no idea what the wind speed was, though force 8 gusting force 9 at Weston Super Mare just down the coast was reported, so twice a gust nearly blew me over, which is remarkable for a slim chap like myself.
Any Atlantic storm is funnelled past Devon and Exmoor to the south and Pembrokeshire, South Wales and the Black Mountains to the north and into the Bristol Channel, picking up speed dramatically. First stop is then Sand Bay, which is nice. Add that the Severn Estuary has second highest tidal range in the World (7.1 meters yesterday), a storm with a spring tide can bring remarkable results. Mainly all the detritus of the Atlantic on the beach.
As predicted waders etc were absent as the tide came in, though did have a Curlew, 50 Dunlin and 8 Grey Plover after high tide. Weirdly no Snipe taking off, even though there's good numbers in the marsh. Also 50ish Shelduck. However the Skylarks were fantastic as with the wind they couldn't fly too high, so very close quarters view of their antics with about 7 or 8 on the wing at any one time were a real treat. The small reedbed was swamped, flushing out 5 Reed Bunting. And remarkable my first ever view of a Water Rail flying. Usually these creep about in thick vegetation and rarely break cover. This one was returning to the marsh after presumably being flushed out, not one of the bird world's most elegant fliers, I'd give it null points.
Finally a handful of Rock Pipits about 40 feet away produced a pale bellied pink tinged Pipit with a very conspicuous supercillium, so an almost certain Water Pipit, but in the gale even trying to keep bins steady was a trial.
Speaking of lists, I've done a re-check and missed off from last week a Short Eared Owl at Aust, so with the Knot and Eider, the Water Pipit is definitely numero 118 species this year.