On a beautiful warm, sunny day we met at Black Hole Marsh near Seaton, a new but rapidly developing site with river habitat and extensive shallow scrapes that are excellent for both freshwater and saltwater species. There was a variety of herons, ducks and waders including a dozen or more Little Egrets from the nearby breeding colony, 68 Black-tailed Godwits, two Greenshanks, Common and Green Sandpipers, Ringed Plover, Dunlin and Snipe. The hide’s ceiling hosted an active Swallow nest full of restlessly begging juveniles, and we watched a Kingfisher hunting along the river Axe. We spent a leisurely and enjoyable morning finding, counting and comparing the various wader species. Bowling Green Marsh was something of a disappointment to those of us who weren’t aware of the recent and extensive redesign, which has completely changed its landscape. The long muddy raised banks held over 300 Canada Geese and little else on this not-very-high tide, although we were assured that on a bigger tide the roosting waders still turn up there. We counted Wigeon and Teal, Gadwall and Shoveler, but the only waders on view were a single Dunlin and a single Bar-tailed Godwit with 66 Black-tailed Godwits and a few Redshank. All the same, where better to be on a lovely day like this one than at a couple of East Devon reserves giving us great views of all those birds? The final count was in the region of 40 species.
(Very many thanks to Jane for leading this trip) Jane Cumming
Though overcast and nothing like the sunshine of the previous day, quite a crowd of us (29) gathered in Newton St Loe for what is always a good walk in an attractive setting. As we left the village, there were Rooks, Swallows, House Martins and a Kestrel. We walked down the hill towards SendaCow, and realised the trees were alive with a large party of small birds, mainly families of Blue and Long-tailed Tits, but also at least one Nuthatch. At the lakes we got good views of one Kingfisher and some people saw a second one. During our coffee stop two Ravens flew over and shortly after that we saw the visiting Little Egret in a tree. There was a family of Mute Swans with five teenage cygnets, and a solitary Black-headed Gull. When we walked on, we had brief views of another large party of small birds, which stimulated a good discussion as to which species; in addition to Blue and Great Tits, there were definitely Coal Tits and a family of Willow Warblers. By this time, our leader realised we had not left ourselves enough time to complete the circuit through Stanton Prior, so we came back through the college, speculating this time on the history of some of the buildings. We ended with a tour of the village where we saw a large flock of Goldfinches (c60), some falconers with what looked like a Harris Hawk, at last Collared Doves, and finally a large flock of House Sparrows (c30). Other birds seen by some of us included Hobby, Chiffchaff and Grey Wagtail. Our total was 41 species. Many thanks to Robert Hargreaves for leading such an excellent walk. Dru Brooke-Taylor
Unmistakeable signs of Autumn – Swallows all heading South, Robin’s song now quite wistful. However, there was nothing autumnal about the weather and 22 of us left the Rose and Crown in warm hazy sunshine on a walk which is as scenic as the name suggests. First stop, the River Boyd. Despite recent rain, it was low with little bird life, just two Wrens darting over the water into bushes. Dipper and Grey Wagtail are sometimes seen here, but not this time. In the woodland, a young Buzzard, Green Woodpecker and Great Spotted Woodpecker were heard in quick succession. At the second bridge a Jay was moving quickly through trees and a Collared Dove and Blue Tit were seen. At the quarry viewpoint overlooking the larger lake, four House Martin, Coot, Raven and Herring Gull were noted. A Kestrel flew past followed a little later by a juvenile. We scanned the rock ledges in vain for Peregrine and then at last there it was, perched unmoving on a rock on the far side of the quarry. Top marks for those who saw it first! At the second lake were Mute Swan, Mallard and Canada Geese. Much activity was noted as we started to return along the lane to Wick, with one tree alone producing Goldfinch, Chaffinch, male and female Bullfinch, Blue Tit and Great Tit. A highlight was a Spotted Flycatcher atop another tree. As we neared the end we heard Nuthatch calling, then saw it fly past. A flock of Long-tailed Tits, a Treecreeper and a Goldcrest completed the tally. Thanks to our leader Dave Body and to Nick Hawkridge, who logged 38 species. John Beaven
The bus was on time and we arrived at Abbots Leigh to meet the group who had come out from Bristol, so we were now 23 people to enjoy a morning of hot sunshine and some cloud. Some Swallows and House Martins were flying over the field and a Wren was heard, but otherwise it was very quiet until we reached the woodland around Brackenwood Garden Centre and Leigh Court. Around five Long-tailed Tits were high in a tree, a Collared Dove and a Jay were heard, then we found two or three Goldcrests flitting around in a conifer and a couple of Coal Tits on the trunk. A Nuthatch called loudly and three Buzzards were seen above us, then Suk found a family of Bullfinches in a dark area of low vegetation, not easy to see! There was a Blackbird, a Robin on a twig (they have started their autumn song now), a Blackcap was spotted and a Blue Tit was heard. Down by the river, where we had our coffee break, were an eventual total of 70 plus Black-headed Gulls, and two Common Sandpipers were seen skimming along the water by those quick enough to get on to them. A couple of Mallard were down on the mud – the count went up to 16. Two hawker dragonflies flew around us. At Sea Mills were six juvenile gulls (Herring or Lesser Black-backed) and later seven Herring Gulls flew over calling and one Lesser Black-backed. There were six Redshanks on the bank. A Chiffchaff called from the hedge beside the cycle path and in the big field was a large corvid flock of Crows, Jackdaws and one or two Rooks. A Cormorant flew over, a very pale Buzzard passed at a low level on the Shirehampton side and two Herons were in the trees. Ham Green lake produced only two Moorhen and one Coot, Goldfinches were in the bushes, two Magpies were in a tree apparently sunbathing, two Raven were heard and seen and our last sighting was a lovely sunlit Sparrowhawk flying over. 37 species in total. (Thanks to Judy for leading.) Judy Copeland
About 25 members met at Herriotts Pool at 09.30hrs. After a brief look for the Garganey on the pool we hurried along to Chew Valley Ringing Station (CVRS), as early birds catch their worms. Mike Bailey organised us into two smaller groups to show us how the ringing system works, while a Sparrowhawk flew past the window. There were examples from Cetti’s Warbler, Chiffchaff, Willow, Sedge and Reed Warbler. It is amazing how small and fragile birds look in the hand and how light they are; some members got to hold birds and see how they were aged. Puffing up the chest feathers you could see how much fat they had stored and how soon they would migrate. It was an inspiring revelation to many members. Our thanks to Bob Medland and their team for hosting us. Afterwards, we made a journey round many of the haunts of the lake, where we saw Barnacle Goose, Gadwall, Teal, Shoveler, Little Egret, Great White Egret, Great Crested Grebe, Little Grebe, Water Rail, Lapwing, Dunlin, Black-tailed Godwit, Common and Green Sandpiper, Greenshank, Kingfisher, Swift, Grey Wagtail and found the Garganey. (Many thanks to Robert for leading.) Robert Hargreaves