The eighteen Club members on the trip included three first time away with the club. The weather in Cornwall was forecast strong SW winds with (heavy) showers, not too bad on Saturday, windier on Sunday. Although not ideal in some respects, the strong winds drove sea birds towards the coast where we had a better chance of sightings.
Sea watching by a clifftop lighthouse, in a near gale, was a challenge but rewarded by the majesty of the crashing waves and the stream of birds passing through; Gannet, Pomarine Skua and Shearwater. On a more perfect day these birds may well have stayed far out to sea and out of sight. Base camp was Bosweddon Guest House, St. Just in SW Cornwall. Cape Cornwall is a half mile downhill from the guest house and ideal for those keen on a pre-breakfast walk (although the minibus had to fetch them back). A Kestrel and gulls hanging on the up-draught until a stronger gust blasted them back inland. Ravens were notable by their absence although two were seen here on Sunday morning. The visit covered coast from St Just to Newlyn, Marazion and Mount’s Bay up to the Hayle Estuary.
Great Northern Diver (Four), Black-throated Diver, Pomarine Skua, Manx Shearwater, Kittiwake, Fulmar, Glaucous Gull, American Herring Gull (after much study the jury is still out on this but photos were taken and confirmation may follow), Common Scoter, Gannets, Razorbill, Guillemot, Shag.
Estuary/Coast: Red-necked grebe, Spoonbill, Greenshank, Redshank, Lapwing, Golden, Ringed and Grey Plovers, Dunlin, Curlew, Sanderling, Turnstone, Rock Pipit, Shelduck, Little Egret, Oystercatcher, Cormorant.
Marsh/reedbed: One Snipe, Mute Swan, Canada Geese, nine Herons and a flying Bittern.
Reservoir: Flotilla of 100 Canada Geese with one lone Greylag and one leucistic or hybrid oddity
Raptors: Kestrel, Sparrowhawk and Buzzard.
Other gulls; Great and Lesser Black- backed, Mediterranean, Black- headed, Herring, no Commons though.
Failed to see: Pacific Diver, Hudsonian Whimbrel, Water Pipit, Ring-billed Gull. No Choughs at all. Most of us missed Black Redstart but one was seen by two members travelling separately.
Dozmary Pool: On the way back we were promised a Lesser Scaup. The strong wind and drizzle/mist made observation all but impossible but we added Goldeneye, Tufted Duck and the Lesser Scaup (the bird was just visible and, in truth, identifiable as lesser only because others, including members of the party on the way down, had previously reported it). Total bird count: 86 species plus American Herring Gull and Lesser Scaup if you can count them. Oh, and a Red Kite on the M5 near the Clevedon turn-off on the way down. Many thanks to Jane for leading and doing the homework beforehand and Keith for sharing the driving. Alastair Fraser
Nine hardy people turned up on this very wet and windy day. The terrain was boggy in places but the aspects were nice and in more clement weather would be excellent. We had a sheltered coffee stop in a convenient open-sided barn. Just after this, along and to the left of the path, was a large meadow/field, whose top edge held a flock of 40 Fieldfare and twelve Starling, feeding using the jump over method – as your neighbour walks forward feeding you fly over him to start your feeding, repeat. Most of the birds we saw were either flushed by our passing (Redwing, Blackbird, Dunnock) or were on feeders (Coal, Great and Blue Tit). The Buzzard and the Jackdaw we saw, seemed to be rather enjoying the wind – shooting upward, pausing in the updraft, and then ‘close wing’ descents, it looked exhilarating. Twenty one species noted, the nine of us feeling “refreshed” from our airy walk. Very many thanks to Bill and Maureen for leading (and managing a smile when we turned up)! Nick Hawkridge
Eighteen people met on a mild dry day to walk past Castle Farm on a circuit of small back roads. We managed to see many of the classic Cotswolds uplands winter birds one might hope for: scattered Yellowhammers, up to fifty Corn Buntings, sixteen Golden Plover, two Lapwing, a handful of Red-legged Partridges, and a few Skylarks singing. In the rather poor light, Jane helped us recognize Golden Plover in flight by their close formation wheeling together, their sharply pointed wings and their pale undersides. Of note we also saw Redwing, Fieldfare, Mistle and Song Thrush, four Stonechats, large flocks of Jackdaws constantly passing overhead, five Buzzards and one Kestrel. As usual we looked for Little Owls and didn’t find them – we each seem to know one tumbledown building in this area where someone USED to see them! A total of 34 species. Thanks to Jane Cumming for leading.
It was a beautiful winter’s morning as 16 members set out from Bridgeyate. Although cold it was pleasant in the sunshine so we were all looking forward to a good morning’s birding. In the car park and on the first part of the walk through a modern housing estate we started our list with a number of common species which included Starling, Jackdaw, Herring Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull and Pied Wagtail. As we left the houses a Jay gave us a fleeting, but nice view and approaching a brook some of the group saw a Grey Wagtail. We also saw a small party of Long-tailed Tits with a total of 17 for this species by the end of the walk. We crossed the A420 and walked along the Warmley Forest Trail. Not far along the trail we had ten to fifteen minutes of excellent birding. Firstly, we found a group of Siskin feeding at the top of a couple of Alders and then a little further on a second group, making a total of about 20. We met up with a member who was birding on his own who mentioned that there were Lesser Redpolls around and sure enough within a couple of minutes we had good views of a pair. We also saw three Bullfinches with the two males looking particularly striking in the sunlight. At one point there appeared to be Bullfinches everywhere and we had a total of twelve. To finish off this brilliant period we saw two Goldcrests one of which gave a very good close up view. Later on we saw a single Redwing, two Great Spotted Woodpeckers, a Buzzard and a very nice view of a Sparrowhawk which flew fairly low, directly over our heads. To complete the morning’s birding we added Black-headed Gull, Pheasant, Mistle Thrush, Raven and some of us heard a Green Woodpecker. This was a very enjoyable walk which had some real highlights and it was certainly worth negotiating some quite heavy mud, as well as a couple of tricky stiles. We had a final total of 34 species. Thanks to Nick for keeping the list and to David Body for leading such a successful walk. Mike Landen
On a fine but very cold and blustery morning 29 walkers met at Heron’s Green on the west side of CVL. The lake held Mute Swan, Coot, Tufted Duck, Pochard, Great Crested Grebe and a male Goldeneye. Crossing the road we found a small party of Long-tailed Tits in the rough vegetation by Heron’s Green pool. We walked up the lanes past the farms to Breach Hill where we had marvellous views of Blagdon Lake. The highlights were at least four sightings of Bullfinches. There were also Wren, Robin, Blackbird, Blue and Great Tit. Five swans flying towards Blagdon Lake were identified as Bewick’s Swans. We stopped at the entrance to Blagdon Lake where Teal called in the flooded areas. There were peanuts hung up at the Ubley Hatchery where we enjoyed a Nuthatch and two Coal Tits feeding alongside the Blue and Great Tits. On the way back to CVL along two miles of lane we saw Redwing, Fieldfare and nine Little Egrets in a field. A Goldcrest gave us really close views in the hedge. Our final species total was 42. This included a Buzzard, a possible Peregrine and a Cetti’s Warbler was heard.
The weather was kind and it did not start to rain until we were nearly back at the cars. (Thanks to John and Sue Prince for leading.) Sue Prince