About 25 members gathered at the car park. After early mist it became a beautiful autumn day with scenery to match, the colours of autumn giving a backdrop to our circuit of the grounds. We saw just over 50 different species during the four hours. Some of the highlights among the trees and hedgerows were Bullfinches (seven in total with one flight of four) and good views of a Green Woodpecker. Redwings and Fieldfares flew over and Skylarks were seen over the dried up lagoon (two of them were having a quarrel and gave us a good display). There were also Stonechats. In the surrounding fields were a number of Carrion Crows and Ravens were seen and heard. Although the tide was high and there was not much mud bank showing, we saw a number of waders at a distance. These included flocks of Dunlin, Curlew and Redshank giving us displays with the two Severn bridges as a back ground along with a large flock of Lapwing. On the river there were also Teal, Wigeon and Mallard and on a distant buoy a party of Turnstones were waiting for the tide to recede. As we walked through the woods, we had a close up of a soaring Buzzard over the tree tops. Other birds of prey were a Peregrine and a juvenile Kestrel. Towards the end of the walk we added Little Egret, Little Grebe, Mute Swan, Tufted Duck, Coot and Moorhen at the open pond. Just beyond we finally caught up with a Reed Bunting. It was good to visit a place with such a variety of habitat – and therefore a variety of species. Thank you, Andy Middleton, for leading the group and everyone for joining in bird spotting and identification. The visit was much appreciated.
Fourteen members set off from Churchill with a wary eye on the overcast weather for a walk around Dolebury Warren. As we walked up the lane and down through a wood to cross the A38 we saw and heard House Sparrow, Wood Pigeon and Great Tit. On the way uphill to Dolebury Warren there were more tits including Blue Tit and Long-tailed Tit along with Chaffinch on feeders and flitting in the woodland. Several Wrens were also heard and numerous Robin singing loudly. Towards the end of the woodland two Jay were seen and heard and a Treecreeper was on the Ash trees. Out on the Iron Age hill fort Carrion Crow and Magpies flew by and as we climbed towards the highest part of the fort two Raven appeared. Goldfinch was in the trees and scrub and numerous Jackdaw were on the Limestone grassland. As we turned to return to Churchill a flock of Meadow Pipit flew nearby and shortly after Redwing and Fieldfare were seen. A Kestrel briefly passed by and a lone Stonechat was spotted on a Blackthorn bush. A few Herring Gull flew overhead just before we walked downhill back to the A38. The rain largely held off bar a couple of showers and a total of 24 species were seen. Mark Watson
An impressive 33 walkers turned up at the Salthouse Inn to start our walk over Wains Hill, down the coast, around the golf course past Dowlais Farm, and back along the Pill. We began by admiring the historic look-out point half way up the hill, then checked a sheltered copse beside the church, one of the better areas for passerine migrants – no luck. On to the beach to count four Ringed Plovers, 14 Oystercatchers and 17 Curlews, along with Shelducks, Mallard and a single Redshank. Some very distant ducks on the sea were probably just Wigeon after all! But the most impressive find was a Common Seal, by no means so common in the estuary. Strolling on, we watched a Stonechat, a Grey Heron and a couple of Little Egrets. The single Wheatear on the sea wall was a very tardy migrant. On the inland leg, a Kingfisher was seen by the fastest walkers, a Buzzard and a Peregrine by the slowest, lagging some 15 minutes behind them. But we all made it back eventually with a total of 46 species on this fine sunny morning. (Thanks to Jane for leading.) Jane Cumming
There were good conditions for the migration watch as it was overcast but dry with light winds. The chart and descriptions below show the impressive numbers and variety of birds recorded this year. The chart is interesting in that it shows the typical distribution of birds through the morning, quickly rising to a peak before falling away between 10 – 11am. Many thanks to all the leaders and members who supported the watches.
Severn Bridge service station – 07.30 to 09.00
The conditions were cool, with a light NE breeze, and low cloud. The Baltic area was already cold, but the viewing conditions meant that the small groups appeared out of the murk briefly when almost above us, and vanished almost as fast. Identification was largely based on shape and size, as very few identifiable flight calls were heard, though this in part was influenced by the age of the leader. Between 7.45 and 9.00 we observed 47 parties with an average of 12 birds, of which almost all were finches, almost certainly Chaffinches, and almost all were flying north into the wind. The overall rate was 450/hour, with a maximum of 744/hr between 8.30 and 9.00. This is much the largest passage that we have observed in the last five years. The only other birds observed were a small group of Starlings and another that were thought to be Redwings. There were also two Peregrines on the bridge buttress- one of which brought in and ate a kill. Richard Bland
Eleven club members met at Ferrybridge in a cool breeze to study the birds on the end of The Fleet. The highlights for me were the 25 Mediterranean Gulls having only seen them in ones and twos before. Also in attendance were 500 Black-bellied Brent Geese, four Red-breasted Merganser (the first report of the autumn on this site) and some waders – Sanderling, Dunlin, Oystercatcher, Turnstone and Ringed Plover. There followed a drive to the Lighthouse on Portland for a sea watch (quiet – just Gannet, Shag and Rock Pipit) before a walk round to the Bird Observatory via the quarry. Two Wheatears were seen near the chalets and one lucky member had a good view of the resident Little Owl which unfortunately popped back between the stones before the rest of the group arrived. The Observatory gardens provided Stonechat, Goldcrest and other common warblers before we went to the usual lunch spot at the Southwell Industrial Estate. Here the same (not so) lucky member managed to lock the car keys in the boot so had to wait for the AA while the rest of the party went to search a bush for a Yellow-browed Warbler with limited success. A further two sites were visited with failed searches for Wryneck and Ring Ouzel before the day ended with two juvenile Swallows. Overall 41 species were seen. Thanks to Jane for leading. Keith Williams