Clevedon Wildfowling Association
Clevedon Wildfowling Association recently celebrated 50 years of existence. Founded in 1962 by five enthusiastic and committed wildfowlers and originally called ‘The Clevedon and District Gun and Wildfowling Club’ its original aim was to safeguard and promote shooting on the North Somerset foreshore of the Severn estuary.
Over the following decade, as membership numbers increased, the club started to take on and were early pioneers in conservation work, managing the habitat they shot over for wildlife. 14 ponds were cleaned out and two further one acre ponds created and then maintained.
Since the early eighties the club has leased 31/2 miles of foreshore from the Crown Commissioners and taken on responsibility for wardening and conservation of the area. Annual beach clean-ups are undertaken which results in roughly a skip load of rubbish being collected and removed each year. By its good work the club got known and respected by local landowners and, as a direct consequence, now leases the shooting over approximately 2000 acres of farmland.
In 1996 the club took the decision to buy land of its own. 10 acres of barren fields which had been stripped for turf were purchased on Nailsea Moor, an area of level land reclaimed from the sea and intersected by a series of drainage ditches known in Somerset as rhynes. Club members created a wetland habitat including a large flight pond (named Hubert’s Pool after one of the early members) and a large, shallow, marshy splash area. These were designed and planted up in a way that would encourage wildlife to flourish. This was such a success that groups including English Nature (now Natural England) and Avon Wildlife have heaped praise upon the club for its work there. Due to the rare fauna and flora that flourishes they have described it as ‘An oasis for wildlife’. In 2003 the club was awarded a special conservation award from the Purdey Award scheme and in 2004 it won The Stanley Duncan award from BASC. The club regularly allows conservation groups access so that fauna and flora can be recorded.
In 2004 members voted to rename the club Clevedon Wildfowling Association (CWA).
In order to further safeguard its future, in 2008 the club, with the assistance of The Wildfowl Habitat Trust, purchased a 14 acre area of saltings and fields on a tributary of The Severn and known locally as The Scag, and shortly afterwards the sporting rights of a neighbouring 3 acre lake which had been created by The Environment Agency as a ‘Borrow Pit’ to use the soil to build up the sea defences locally. As part of this scheme cuts were made in the old seawall that crosses The Scag to allow the fields to be reclaimed by the sea as ‘managed retreat’. In 2012 the club purchased a further 40 acres of sporting rights from a local land owner safeguarding even further its future.
The club membership has now risen to 55 full members which meet on the first Tuesday of each month at a local hotel where guest speakers regularly give talks on natural history and field sports. Additionally, committee meetings take place on the 3rd Tuesday of each month. The club holds various events such as clay pigeon shoots and conservation work. In September a BASC Young Shots day will be held at the clubs clay ground.