MARINElife Wildlife Officer Report 'MV Balmoral' Five Bridges Cruise from Clevedon 31st August 2017

Terry Bridgwood; MARINElife WLO
Weather: Clear & sunny. Wind: SW  2-4

Summary of sightings
Unidentified Gull Spp.
Lesser Black-backed Gull
Little Gull

Terrestrial Birds:
Grey Heron
Peregrine Falcon

I was feeling a bit more confident for my second trip and the Oystercatcher was visible and audible on the shore.

It was a clear and sunny day as we left Clevedon pier. We headed NE along the coast towards the river Avon. Passing along Redcliffe bay, the old National Nautical school, Battery Point lighthouse and the new Lifeboat station at Portishead, I spotted half a dozen gulls which I was unable to positively identify.

As we turned onto the river Avon I saw a mix of gulls and ducks on the mudflats. I briefly saw a single bird with a long, curved needle like beak, characteristic of the Curlew.  Along the banks there were numerous Mallard Duck, Lesser Black-backed Gull and juvenile and adult Little Gull. Numerous Redshank were also spotted.

Little Gull Peter Howlett 03

Little Gull (Peter Howlett)

We cruised up the river Avon taking in the beautiful scenery, passing under the M5 bridge and past Sea Mills, under the iconic Clifton Suspension Bridge to Brunel lock where we picked up more passengers. A Grey Heron and a Buzzard were seen. One of the passengers advised me that they had seen 2 Peregrine Falcon on the Port side whilst I was on the Starboard side.

Peregrine 01_Adrian Shephard

Peregrine (Adrian Shephard)

We cruised back down the river Avon and rejoined the Bristol Channel. Heading upstream we passed under the M4 2nd Severn crossing. Traffic was racing overhead as we cruised along peacefully. We waited in the channel whilst the Pilots assessed the conditions to see if we could enter the mouth of the river Wye.

Conditions were okay so we made our entrance. There was 6' clearance between to top of the mast and the underside of the bridge but it didn't look like that much. Having turned around in the river mouth we continued under the  M48 1st river crossing. Turning around again we headed back under the bridges and back to Clevedon.

It was interesting to see Clevedon pier from "the other end" at low tide.

I thoroughly enjoyed my trips on the Balmoral and look forward to many more.

My thanks to the crew of the Balmoral for all their help and support.

Terry Bridgwood; MARINElife Wildlife Officer (WLO)