Bristol Ornithological Club
Sep 30 2014

Tuesday 30 September – Tickenham.

Pied Wagtail

Pied Wagtail

Mistle Thrush

Mistle Thrush

Twenty three people attended this walk on a warm sunny day, covering Tickenham Moor, fields, Land Yeo River, wooded slopes of Tickenham Ridge, and the open pastureland of Cadbury Camp. At the start, many birds were seen feeding around the Tickenham Church yew trees, including two or three Mistle Thrush and a group of three Greenfinch, doing the ‘batty’ flight more usually reserved for spring. An adjacent walnut tree saw a steady stream of corvids – most or nearly all Rooks – plucking the green encased nuts and flying off ; somewhere they must have been dropping them from a height or letting vehicles break them open to get to the meat inside. The subsequent field and woodland walk was generally quieter but a fair number of birds were seen and heard, including Nuthatch, Jay, Goldcrest, and Long-tailed Tit, and a juvenile Hobby (lighter beneath) and many Buzzard soared above (once again the variation in underwing colouration was most marked). On Cadbury Camp were Meadow Pipit, Skylark, and a Green Woodpecker – heard but not seen. Back down on the moor a couple of Mute Swans flew low over the rhynes with a few flying Mallards close behind. A Kestrel, which circled briefly before landing on a telegraph pole, was mobbed by a crowd of Meadow Pipit – keeping their distance, but making their presence felt. A few lucky people saw Clouded Yellow butterflies, and more noticeable were the scores – probably hundreds – of mostly coupled, reddish dragonflies (Common Darters?) sporting and possibly laying their eggs into the water among the vegetation growing on the margins of the Land Yeo. Total bird species seen/heard was 32. Lois Pryce  (Thanks to Lois and Jan for leading).

Sep 28 2014

Sunday 28 September – Weymouth and Portland.

 14 members assembled at a chillyish Ferrybridge. It was high tide which meant no waders, but the highlight was a close view of a Peregrine being mobbed by Crows. Also of note here were three Mediterranean Gulls, four flyover Sandwich Terns, Wheatears and plenty of Swallows. We moved on to a much warmer Portland Bill and started with a sea watch. After a patient wait, during which time we saw Gannets, Shags, Rock Pipits and again, lots of Swallows passing by, we were rewarded with eight Balearic Shearwaters. We walked to the Observatory Quarry and surrounding area, hoping to catch sight of the Barred Warbler and Wryneck that had been reported there over the last day or so, but, had no luck with those. There was though, a difficult to see Little Owl in the Quarry, and a Whitethroat. A Sparrowhawk and two Kestrels were also seen nearby. Lunch was taken at Southwell where we shared a grassy knoll with a Lime Hawkmoth caterpillar. We took a stroll around some nearby fields again hoping for Wryneck, but, as well as more common species, we had to be content with Stonechat, Stock Dove, Raven, and more Wheatears. In the lane leading to the fields the air was filled with the buzzing from a huge number of Honey Bees collecting pollen from the Ivy. We also came across the web of a Small Eggar Moth. Our next stop was Portland Castle where after a short while we saw the Black Guillemot which had been present for a week or more. It was already in winter plumage, but was still a delightful bird to see. There was also a Kingfisher and Little Egret here. Lastly, we headed for Radipole and found a number of Snipe, ten Black-tailed Godwits, Water Rail, two Chiffchaffs, another Kingfisher, and Cetti’s Warblers (heard only). The last member to leave later reported seeing some Bearded Tits. Also, some of us saw the long staying Hooded Merganser. To tick, or, not to tick? Including the Merganser a total of 60 bird species were counted. The weather brought out a good selection of butterflies, the best of which were some Clouded Yellows, two Wall Browns, Painted Lady, Green Veined White, and male and female Common Blues interacting together. Thanks to Louise for leading an enjoyable day. Trevor Ford.

Sep 23 2014

Tuesday 23 September – Blagdon Lake.

Little Egret (at long range)

Little Egret (at long range)

 A fine day saw 25 members meet at the Causeway to get good views of a Common Sandpiper in amongst the Gulls. A walk to the lodge saw a division of watchers, with 17 opting for the far side and eight the Lodge side, the £3.50 charge for the walk may have been a factor for those without permits. The far side was fairly quiet with Mistle Thrush and Nuthatch being viewed with the Greylag/Bar-headed hybrid Goose in with the Canada Geese and the other lake regulars. There were no Buzzards until the last five minutes of the walk when six turned up. The Lodge side had more luck with a Marsh Harrier, probably juvenile, Little Egret, Raven and Kestrel and Blackcap. Most of the small birds showed but Greenfinch and Chaffinch were conspicuous by their absence. Margaret Swatton  (Thank you Margaret for leading.)

Sep 16 2014

Tuesday 16 September – River Avon, Ham Green to Pill

Grey Heron

Grey Heron

One of Two foxes in the vicinity

One of Two foxes in the vicinity

And this deer close by

And this deer close by

 13 people set out on the bus from Pill, another seven joined us at Abbots Leigh, having come by bus from Bristol, then Jan turned up on her bike, making 21. The weather was perfect. Robins sang as we went along, Rooks and Jackdaws were feeding on the lawn of the bungalow opposite Brackenwood Garden Centre. Raven was heard and two Buzzards heard and seen. In the wood Coal Tit and Goldcrest were calling, and at one point everyone stared across to a dead birch tree engulfed in a fungus – which Our Expert has now indentified as Birch Polypore. On arrival at the river we scanned without success for the Greenshank, but later one lucky person saw it flying out from the near bank and going up river. We counted a total of about 50 Redshank, three Cormorants, many Black-headed Gulls but only one Lesser Black-back. One Common Sandpiper was found, one Lapwing and, to start with, one Heron though the final total was eight. The best spot of the day was a Roe Deer on the opposite bank walking towards a fox, which ducked down into the grass to allow it to pass. Behind the deer was another fox and both foxes sat looking across at us, watching us watching them and knowing that the river was an effective safety barrier! Greenfinch and Goldfinch were noted and we caught up with House Sparrow at the farm and Grey Wagtail and Moorhen on Ham Green Lake, before reaching Pill and following alleyways back to the Memorial Club. Nick noted a total of 43 species.Judy Copeland (Thank you to Judy for leading.)

Sep 13 2014

Saturday 13 September – Severn Beach.

On a somewhat chilly and rather overcast morning some fifteen club members met at Severn Beach for one of the leader’s near annual BOC / Severnside coastal walks. However, with the Severn Beach high tide wader roost having become less attractive to the smaller shorebirds in recent years it was decided that a walk north along the sea wall to New Passage and Northwick Warth would be appropriate as good numbers of wildfowl and waders had been frequenting this area in recent weeks. Before the group set off from the meeting point a few small shorebirds were seen on the incoming tide. These included some twenty five Ringed Plovers and two juvenile Curlew Sandpipers; the latter was a target species for the morning’s walk! On the journey a large party of over one hundred House Martins were seen swirling around over Severn Beach and Pied Wagtail were particularly numerous on the grassy bank behind the sea wall. Also, a couple of Wheatear gave fleeting views but not all of the party saw them. On arrival at New Passage the tide was reaching its full height and good numbers of birds were gathering on the salt marsh. The first species of note was a juvenile Ruff that was consorting with a small group of Redshank. The leader attempted to ensure that everyone had good views of this individual. Of interest, four juvenile Ruffs had been present in the area during the preceding week. For a few minutes hundreds of migrating hirundines descended and flew low over the tide line, presumably picking off insects disturbed from the grass by the advancing waters. A couple of Kestrels that were interacting with each other flew overhead and disappeared toward the recently established wetlands. Most of the participants then walked north along the sea wall in order to obtain better views of the small waders and other species present but the cold northerly winds caused a number of members to abandon the trek and headed back towards Severn Beach. However, most saw a Hobby that performed very well over the salt marsh before it too disappeared. As well as the numerous wildfowl and waders, good numbers of Meadow Pipits and a few Skylarks were present on the salt marsh, the former caused some debate due to their rather bright plumage. For those attendees that continued to brave the chilly wind, four juvenile Curlew Sandpipers and a juvenile Little Stint were eventually located amongst the Dunlin and Ringed Plover flock. One of the juvenile Curlew Sandpiper had a small yellow flag with black letters EEP on its right tibia and a red and a metal ring on its left leg; this bird was of Norwegian origin. (Details of the Curlew Sandpiper are set out at the end of this report). All in all the meeting proved to be quite productive if somewhat cold. (Many thanks to Brian for leading the walk.)

Brian reported the details of the ring on the juvenile Curlew Sandpiper and received the information that it had been ringed in Revtangen,Norway on 3rd September 2014 at 16.00hrs. Revtangen is 950kms from Severn Beach.

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