Places to see birds

Walmore Common

Walmore Common
Gavin Black

Walmore Common is on the west side of the A48 Highnam to Chepstow road. Set between the bank of the road and the bank of the railway, this damp grassland area is prone to flooding in winter and this is the best time to visit. In this state it attracts wildfowl and some waders along with the farmland species in the hedgerows, orchards and fields surrounding.

Bewick's Swans are the main attraction in winter, often commuting between here and Slimbridge. Numbers have been low in recent years, however, reflecting a general decline at Slimbridge. Whooper Swans and White-fronted Geese are also occasionally seen.

Ducks-a-plenty come here at times of flooding, and when the flooding is extensive, even some diving ducks will arrive, such as Tufted Duck, Pochard and rarely Goldeneye. Given the right conditions Wigeon and Teal may feed on the damp grassland in their hundreds. Pintails and Mallard may number around a hundred or more and Gadwall and Shoveler are fairly reliable in smaller numbers.
The wader species most likely to be encountered are Lapwings and Snipe. Lapwings manage to breed in most years and Snipe, Curlew and Redshank have done so in the past. Wintering species mainly consist of Snipe and Lapwing and the elusive Jack Snipe is regular in small numbers. Golden Plover, Dunlin or Ruff may also appear at this time. Whimbrels are probably more regular in spring than the records suggest and other species are always possible with over twenty waders recorded here in total.

Extensive floodwater usually attracts large numbers of gulls and it is always worth looking through them for Mediterranean Gulls, particularly in early spring.

Yellow Wagtails, Redstarts, Whinchats and Wheatears may feed here on passage as they do along the fields adjacent to the estuary, though more regularly in autumn than spring. Stonechats from the higher ground in the Forest of Dean may come down to winter here. In summer the surrounding tall hedges hold Lesser Whitethroats and other breeding birds include Sedge and Reed Warblers, Skylarks and Reed Buntings.

Buzzards and Kestrels are never far away and the small ducks and waders regularly attract hunting Peregrines and occasionally a wintering Merlin. Hobbies are also sometimes seen in the summer, particularly if warm weather brings out the dragonflies.

Compared to some other sites in the county, it is not a rarity hot-spot, but over the years some notable species have been recorded including Bean Goose, Green-winged Teal, Long-tailed Duck, Black-necked Grebe, Purple Heron, Wood Sandpiper and Red-necked Phalarope!

Park sensibly off the main A48 road at Chaxhill, between Minsterworth and Westbury. There is a lay-by in front of the school. Parts of the area can be viewed from the grass verge on the roadside. There is a gate near to the school which leads to the fields. Take great care not to disturb the birds or you will have had a wasted journey!
The northern end can be accessed by turning off the A48 towards Ley and then turn left again. Park where the road runs out and follow the footpath ahead.