Ravens of Clevedon

I keep banging on about how enjoyable walking is, and how much easier it is to get and stay fit if you like walking. I honestly do try to shut up sometimes, but the trouble is every time I go out for a walk, I see something interesting or thought provoking!  So here’s what happened today.

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I started with a walk along the sea front, from the pier towards the Marine Lake. Renovations are going well, and these shots show how much has been cleared already, as well as the new concrete being laid to form the path and the new inner wall between the main lake and the small lake. The original concrete base of the small lake is now visible, with the mud having been cleared out.

They are working in sections to pour the new concrete, so it’ll be good to see how work unfolds each week. Of course, as the lake is tidal they will also need to fit in pouring fresh concrete between high tides. It’s all carefully worked out! Children (and adults) did walk along the old wall, but it was narrow and crumbly and the new version looks much more inviting and safer for crabbing.

Then I walked around Poet’s walk, and onto the causeway between Clevedon Pill and Marshall’s Field (one of the key locations in the first series of Broadchurch – the field where Ellie stood while Beth was shouting at her…).  It was here I saw the raven, and as wildlife is another of my interests, very glad I was to see it too! In case you don’t know, there are four black-feathered members of the crow family that you can often see in the UK, and they are generally easy to tell apart. Jackdaw’s are the smallest. They have blue eyes and a shiny grey patch across the back of their heads. They always fly in groups, and make a very distinctive chattering sound. Then you get crows (carrion crows) – very common and completely glossy black from beak to tail. They make a distinctive cawing sound. Rooks are a bit bigger and easy to identify. They have shaggy feathers round their legs, and grey skin visible round their grey beaks. They are more of a rural bird, and they move around in flocks picking up food in the fields. They nest communally in rookeries, and can be quite intimidating if you walk too close to their trees whhile they have eggs and chicks in the nest.

Then there are ravens, the biggest and wildest of the crows, and glossy black from beak to tail tip. You see them if you visit the Tower of London, but otherwise they are associated with moors and mountains. Except they are also quite common around here. I saw my first raven at the Clifton suspension bridge in Bristol – sitting on one of the towers croaking (‘cronking’) away. We also saw one patrolling the roof tops near the bridge while we were eating lunch; no doubt keeping his eyes open for food he could steal. Or she, of course. But they are generally harder to make a clear identification for, as from a distance you can’t be sure how big they are and you can’t hear their vocalisations. Being glossy black, they could just be a crow. You need to get a view of their diamond shaped tail to be sure.

So this morning I was pleased to see a raven and a crow flying above me, engaged in a bit of a scuffle. The crow was definitey trying to stop the raven from getting too settled, and encouraging him to move on! The bird landed down near the boats, ‘cronked’ a bit, flew around a bit more, had a run-in with a gull and then decided to move on down the coast. I saw the size difference, heard the call and saw the tail – positive ID – job done!

Now I just have to spot the peregrines which nested here last year and hopefully are back now, and the avocets which were also seen.

Out and about in Bradford on Avon and Clifton

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I’ve had a lovely Easter weekend, thank you for asking, with my son, daughter and daughter’s boyfriend visiting. We picked them up in Bristol on Saturday afternoon, and following a beautiful sunny walk along the Clevedon seafront enjoyed a pint at the Moon and Sixpence followed by a delicious meal at Junior Poon’s on Hill Road. Strolled home under a star-lit sky, chatting all the while.

On Sunday we headed out towards Bradford on Avon, although the weather forecast was less promising than we had hoped. However, the road over the Mendip’s was gloriously misty and atmospheric, and we saw the herds of goats used to crop the plants on the cliffs that otherwise would overwhelm the natural rare species and character of the gorges. I hadn’t been to Bradford on Avon before, even though one of my ancestors was born in the town, and I must say I loved it. I have included just a couple of photos to give an idea of the character of the place, but it is just lovely. The same golden stone that you see in Bath, interesting shops, and great walks, boat rides and cycling along and in the Kennet and Avon canal.  It poured with rain, so we dived into a very quaint coffee house for shelter and refreshments. Then we drove back to Clevedon via Bath and Bristol.

This morning we popped into Clifton across the beutiful suspension bridge, parked up and spent sometime strolling around Clifton village. My son had to head off to Temple Meads for his train, but the rest of us had lunch on the pub terrace at the Avon Gorge Hotel overlooking the gorge, basking in the beautiful warm sunshine. I saw a raven, but was the only one who was really impressed!

If you don’t know North Somerset, Bristol and Bath, I would recommend a visit. The countryside is beautiful with lots of good walks, and there are so many villages with welcoming pubs, so don’t just drive through on your way to Devon and Cornwall. Stop and say hello!