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Old Saturday 16th March 2013, 16:08   #1
Eddie the 'ed
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Hi all,
I'm spending a week in Burnham from next Friday (22/03) and was planning on doing a sea watch whilst I'm there (it'll be my first) and would appreciate any advice on best place/time to go in the general area. I'll be staying at the Haven site so would look at site within a reasonable distance from there.

Grateful for any advice from any Somerset birders

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Old Saturday 16th March 2013, 17:02   #2
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This has been copied from the web site of the Somerset Ornithological Society and I hope that it helps. Regards Roger


The seafront at Burnham is gaining a deserved reputation for productive seawatching in westerly gales, although it is notoriously unpredictable. The best conditions seem to be when south-westerly gales coincide with a rising tide. Seabirds are funneled into the Severn Estuary, and when the wind veers westerly, birds are often seen close inshore, battling their way down channel. A high tide is, therefore, critical.

Apex Park, easily reached from the seafront, has hosted many interesting avian visitors. Although recent fencing and building has diminished it's value, it is still well worth a visit.


Prevailing circumstances dictate the best strategy. Good seawatching conditions rarely last more than two hours or so, and are an obvious priority in gales. Anywhere along the south seafront is suitable and though there are shelters, the more hardy observers generally gather near the Brue Estuary, opposite the sailing club. Apex Park is a short walk along the river bank, or can be reached directly from the Burnham seafront road. There is car parking in a large well-signposted public car park at approx ST310480, or on the south seafront at Burnham-on-Sea.


The star sea-watching bird of recent years was a Wilson's petrel in 1999, though storm and Leach's are both regular in the right conditions. The latter species featured in at least two large 'wrecks'. Manx, and more rarely, Balearic and Cory's shearwaters pass. The gales of 1983 and 1987 produced grey phalarope, several Sabine's gulls and skua spp., including long-tailed. Over the years rarities have included laughing gull, semi-palmated sandpiper and wintering Kentish plover on the beach. Wintering and passage waders include large numbers of redshank and dunlin, which may be accompanied by curlew sandpiper and the odd little stint. The Brue is a good site for wintering spotted redshank. Steart Island is easily scanned from here, and a peregrine is often in residence. It is also possible to get distant views of hunting hen harriers on late winter afternoons.

Apex Park has breeding great crested grebes, and a healthy population of reed warblers. It is a good site for Cetti's warbler, and there is usually a wintering chiffchaff or two, sometimes accompanied by a firecrest. On it's rarity list are little bittern, white-winged black tern, serin and wintering great grey shrike.


Autumn gales produce the best sea-watching. September 3rd 1983, with a severe storm so early in the autumn, was particularly memorable. November can be good for Leach's petrel, and little auks are sometimes driven close inshore in winter storms.

Apex is at its best in spring or early summer, but can repay a visit at any time.


Burnham-on-Sea has the usual seaside attractions. On late summer evenings, particularly in settled warm weather, Apex can be excellent for bats, and several species can be seen hawking insects over the lakes. Urban foxes are common here too.
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Old Saturday 16th March 2013, 17:35   #3
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Further to the bit about Apex Lake, if you follow the path off to the right from car park you will find the Brue Estuary. The pools along there can be good for Waders.
Spotted Redshank there recently.
Brean Down is not far away and has turned up some good birds in the past.
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Old Saturday 16th March 2013, 18:23   #4
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Hi Damian

You are not far from the Somerset levels which has some great birding opportunities and currently has a Pied Billed Grebe just to mention one.


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Old Tuesday 13th June 2017, 12:58   #5
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last tue, i tried a spot of seawatching from the bandstands on the seafront.

tallied 101 herring gulls or there abouts before i gave up.

was it too late for spring movement? was it the wrong type of westerly ?
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