For many people one of the best things about the Avalon Marshes is the variety of birdlife. Many birds are here all year including ducks, herons, egrets and swans. Many others migrate here to spend the summer or winter months in the marshes and others stop off to rest and eat before they continue their journey north or south.
Numerous insect-eating birds such as swallows and warblers arrive in spring, travelling from Africa to feast and breed in the marshes, flying back in autumn with their young. Starlings, redwings and fieldfares come here for winter to escape the bitter cold of Siberia and Scandinavia. For them our winters are mild and warm, a perfect bit of winter sun!
Wigeon and teal ducks fly down from their north European breeding areas to spend the winter in the sheltered lakes at the Avalon Marshes. Listen out for their distinctive whistling calls.
The Avalon Marshes is famous for its spectacular swirling groups or murmurations of starlings. They swoop in huge flocks each evening at dusk during the winter to roost in the reedbeds, often attracting the attention of birds of prey. Find out more about the Starling Spectacular.
Bitterns are a fantastic success story for the Avalon Marshes where they breed in the reedbeds; they are one of our “Big Three”. In April and May listen for the males booming to attract their mates.
Reed warblers fly in from Africa for the summer. They’re brilliant at gripping onto reed stems to search for insects to eat. You’ll hear their ‘chattery’ song mostly at dusk and dawn.
Water voles eat grasses and waterside plants and often leave piles of nibbled grasses beside the entrance to their burrows on the banks of ditches and rhynes.
The feathery flowers of the common reed ‘swoosh’ gently in the breeze. Many birds nest and feed in the reedbeds, including reed and sedge warblers, bitterns and bearded tits.
The emperor dragonfly is Britain’s largest and bulkiest dragonfly. They’re brilliant skillful fast flyers. You’ll see their brightly coloured blue and green bodies darting over the water, hunting for insects.
Ospreys breed in northern Britain and Europe, and often stop off in the marshes as they travel south on their way to Africa for winter.
Swallows start gathering in the reedbeds in autumn, getting ready to fly south to Africa.
Otters live in the Avalon Marshes. Playful, intelligent and agile, they slide into the water leaving a trail of bubbles behind them as they swim quickly through the water.