Bristol Ornithological Club
Oct 10 2017

Tuesday 10 October – Pilning Wetlands – Leader: Jane Cumming

Despite the light drizzle and general murkiness, 25 members turned out for the walk at Severn Beach.  The tide was exceptionally high with the Pill well overflowing its usual banks.  We saw little in the murk apart from a Chiffchaff fly-catching from a bush, until we reached the corner where the concrete walkway ends and we stopped to look out across the levels.  Here was plenty to see:  ducks, gulls, Oystercatchers and Curlews in a distant roost, eleven Ringed Plover on the saltmarsh.  We checked through the flocks of small gulls but could find only Black-headed.  Onwards towards the freshwater pools to count ducks: 41 Teal, 24 Gadwall, eight Shoveler and twelve Tufted Ducks though no-one counted the Mallards.  We turned our attention to the waders: half a dozen Dunlins were feeding amongst the Redshanks and Black-tailed Godwits, one to two Common Sandpipers were about, someone noticed a Ruff and someone else pointed out three Snipe.  A flock of 28 Lapwings floated around the grasslands. Skylarks and Meadow Pipits were passing overhead in some numbers, probably migrating, but I missed the only Swallow of the morning.  Other passerines of interest included a Rock Pipit, Stonechats, Wrens and a sizeable flock of Starlings.  Surprisingly, a Shelduck in flight as we walked back was the only one of the morning.  It was a shame we couldn’t find the Grey Phalarope which was reported later that day, but Nick’s final count was an excellent total of 55 species. (thanks to Jane for leading)                                                                            Jane Cumming

Oct 08 2017

Sunday 08 October – Steart Marshes

28 members met at the WWT carpark on a warm day with sun and light wind. We were greeted by a Peregrine on a distant pylon that maintained its watch all day. Cetti’s Warbler (heard) and several Stonechats were among the reeds en route to the Mendip hide. The water level was high and there were many Little Egret with Redshank, Shoveler, and Shelduck. Two Grey Plovers flew in, and two Marsh Harriers were flying in the distance, beyond the Parrett. Walking towards the river we saw Dunlin and Pintail in the marshes, and distant views of Avocet on the river. A second pylon Peregrine gave good views, and there were two Kestrels on a further pylon. The next stop was the hide at Otterhampton marshes where we had the greatest variety of species. A lucky few glimpsed a Brown Hare. There were good views of Golden Plover in the sun, and a Ruff showed itself briefly. More Grey Plovers were seen. Wader highlights were individual Greenshank, Spotted Redshank, and Curlew Sandpiper. After lunch ten members proceeded to the village car park for a walk along the coast towards the tower hide at the point. The tide was well out so wader views were distant, but we had Stonechat in good numbers. On the lane back to the village we saw Greenfinch among a large charm of more than 100 Goldfinch. A Sparrowhawk flew over to provide a fine final bird of the day. The meeting yielded a total of 54 species, including five raptors and 15 wader species. Many thanks to Richard for leading this enjoyable day.                                                                                                                                                                         Gareth Roberts

Oct 03 2017

Tuesday 03 October – Portbury

A dry autumn day but traffic chaos caused by a lorry crash on the M5 delayed the arrival of the seventeen walkers who made it through. Along the lane to Portbury Warth Woodpigeon, Carrion Crow, House Sparrow, Chaffinch and Pied Wagtail were seen in the hedgerows and fields along with a couple of Stock Dove. As we walked down the lane to the nature reserve Blue Tit, Great Tit, Greenfinch and Chiffchaff were seen and heard and the obligatory Buzzard flew overhead. The hides overlooking the pools produced several ducks including Mallard, Teal, Wigeon as well as ten Mute Swans, Coot, five Cormorant and a flock of 50 plus Starling. A few saw a Whinchat as we moved onto the edge of the saltmarsh and several Curlew were just visible feeding on the mud beyond at the water’s edge. The highlight of the walk back across grass fields was a flock of 30 plus Linnet flying overhead. Other birds included Long-tailed Tits, Dunnock, Goldfinch and a pair of Collared Doves giving 33 species in all. Thanks to Roger for leading a good walk and a pleasant day.     Thanks to Roger and Lana for leading                                Mark Watson                                                                             

Oct 01 2017

Sunday 01 October – Newport Wetlands

The forecast of torrential rain and gale force winds may have deterred some, but it turned out to be a worthwhile visit for the seven who set out and the weather was not really a problem. At the wetlands, the ponds had the expected Little Grebe, Wigeon, Gadwall and a Swan family with three largish cygnets.  Cetti’s warblers and Stonechats were in the bushes and a Great Spotted Woodpecker was seen high on a pylon. With the tide well out we had Curlew, Little Egret and Herring Gulls. A small group of Swallows was swooping over the ponds. We reached 29 species before moving round to Goldcliff.  A quiet start initially with Greenshank, Shelduck and Pied Wagtail but the birds started to arrive as the tide was turning. Now Redshank, Spotted Redshank, Dunlin, seven Little Stint, Lapwing and Ringed Plover were added. A Peregrine was perched on a gate and a Marsh Harrier demonstrated low level flying and landing before a Kestrel did a fly past.  Ruff and Black-tailed Godwit were present and a solitary Sanderling appeared amongst the Dunlin flock. A Snipe, two Wheatear, a flock of Linnets and a Chiffchaff all helped to make a very respectable 55 species (Thanks to Margaret and Ray for leading and the report. Editor).                                                                Margaret and Ray Bulmer

Sep 24 2017

Sunday September 24 – Portland Bill Leader: Jane Cumming

The tide was already high enough to have driven the waders away by the time seven of us met at Ferrybridge, but we tarried a while to watch Swallows streaming southwards down the causeway, find a couple of Wheatears hunting insects on the grass, and pick out a Mediterranean Gull amongst the loafing Black-headed Gulls.  We moved on to the Bill for a short seawatch which produced plenty of Gannets but little else on this calm and sunny day – one distant Kittiwake and a passing auk or two, although we enjoyed waving off a group of 30 Swallows as they headed out to sea and off to Africa for the winter.  We walked past the Observatory quarry which was jumping with species such as Stonechat and Blackcap raiding the blackberries, and up to the Observatory garden to join the morning’s twitch of a Greenish Warbler which had been caught and ringed earlier.  It was flitting about through the sycamore branches with a couple of Chiffchaffs and we all got decent views of it eventually. After our picnic lunch we strolled along the top fields from Southwell, but there has been a lot of shrub removal and new building up there, mainly stables, and there was very little bird life to be found.  The next stop was Portland Castle following a report of a couple of Pied Flycatchers and sure enough, there they were flycatching high in the sycamores.  Back to Ferrybridge where the water had receded and the tideline now held a few Oystercatchers, 11 Ringed Plovers and a Bar-tailed Godwit.  At this point some left for home, but three diehards headed out to Rodden Hive, a quiet backwater on the Fleet beyond Langton Herring, to try for the Grey Phalaropes that had been hanging around there for a few days.  Sadly they weren’t to be found, but we did see 20 Brent Geese (early returners) with Wigeon, Teal and Shovelers, Great Crested Grebes and a few herons.  It was a beautiful and peaceful walk to end the day with, and took the bird count up past 40 species.   (Thank you again Jane!)                                                                                                                                                Jane Cumming

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