RSP Home River Severn Tales Chris Witts

River Severn Wildlife

Nesting predators to be seen up in the upper region of the Severn are the buzzard, kestrel, sparrowhawk and tawny owl. The kestrel is the most common bird of prey to be found in England and Wales. Predators are recognisable by the long talons, hooked bills and large forward facing eyes. They are swift and powerful killers, pouncing on the victims and devouring them with their strong, curved bills.

One of the most colourful birds to be seen is the kingfisher. Streaking down the river or a bellyflop to catch a minnow

from the water, their brilliant blue-green feathers dazzle in the sunshine. They feed mainly on water life, minnows, sticklebacks and gudgeon, including water beetles and dragonfly. The kingfisher is the one bird safe from

predators, due to its flesh being foul tasting!

Another bird that is pretty to watch, although a lot larger, is the mute swan. Protected by the Crown, every swan is ringed for identification. Their name suggests that this bird may be silent, far from it. When annoyed they snort and hiss, with some making a weak trumpeting sound.

Two birds that are common to the whole length of the Severn are the mallard duck and the moorhen. Best known of the duck family is the green headed drake mallard [male] and the dark brown duck [female].

The most common of the waterfowl is the moorhen. They breed by fresh water, in amongst thick cover, defending the area jealously. Males will fight very fiercely, very often ending up with broken limbs.

Finally the scavenger. The black-headed gull, to the city dwellers their cry is a reminder of glorious days at the seaside. But they are a nuisance.  Breeding on sewage farms and council tips, they come into city centres, leaving

their droppings on cars, the acidity then ruining the paintwork.

An exciting place where many Severn birds may be seen is the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust at Slimbridge, which was founded in 1946 by the late Sir Peter Scott.


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