Bristol Ornithological Club
Oct 02 2016

Sunday 02 October – Portland

WRYNECK! Sorry, had to get that out! It was an early and chilly start from Bristol producing beautiful misty vistas in the Gordano Valley and across the Somerset levels. The trip was a week earlier than originally intended so the tide was still up when the six of us met at Ferrybridge. We saw Wheatear, Meadow Pipit, Skylark, Pied Wagtail and five types of gull, including 3 Meds. We decided to cut our losses and head for the Bill and the Wryneck reported to be in the Observatory quarry. The approach looked promising; a long line of birders ringing the edge of the quarry and peering into the scrub. “Any sign of the Wryneck?” “It was seen early this morning but not since.” Ever heard that before? A couple of passing Germans were mildly amused at all these eccentric Brits staring at grass and found it worthy of a photo. A passing Peregrine provided some distraction. Hope it wasn’t feasting on Wryneck. Suddenly someone was on it, provoking a polite stampede to his position. The Wryneck made a couple of fleeting appearances, obscured by bramble and then, there it was, on the grassy bank, in full sun, picking off insects. The resident Little Owl also made an appearance before scuttling back into its cave.There was not a vast amount around the Observatory or the huts. Buzzards, a Raven, and a Sparrowhawk soaring above. Kestrel flying over the fields. A large flock of Linnets, a Stonechat and many Swallows.We went down to the coast for a bit of sea watching. We had Meadow Pipit, Rock Pipit, Pied Wagtail, Wheatear and a Turnstone along the rocky shore and a Grey Seal in one of the coves. Out to sea, a passing Cormorant, 2 Shags and a couple of distant Gannet and basically nothing else. A lovely, sunny day with a light off-shore breeze is less than ideal for sea watching. We needed a South Westerly gale! We stopped at Southwell quarry on the way back to Ferrybridge, again not much about. We saw a distant flock of Starling flying over Weston where there is reported to be one juv. Rosy Starling. It was low tide at Ferrybridge. We now had waders but miles away! However, with a bit of patience we saw Bar-tailed Godwit, Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover, Little Egret, Gulls, and Dunlin, including some delightful synchronised flying displays with the odd Godwit joining in. Radipole was the final stop. More Gulls, including Meds, a siege (that’s their collective name apparently) of 14 Herons, Teal, Shoveler, Gadwall, squealing Water Rail. We saw Bar-tailed and Black-tailed Godwit together which always helps with ID. Calling Cettis always just out of view. Bearded Tits were reported so we had a careful look for them, weather just about ideal but no signs. On one of the board walks, suddenly two small birds diving into reeds. And then, out they came for a brief, but unmistakable sighting of Bearded Tits by Judy and Ann. Finally, back at the RSPB centre, half a dozen Snipe were out on the mud in the later afternoon. Total species count 50. Also seen: Clouded Yellow, Painted Lady, Speckled Wood and Red Admiral. Thanks to Cecile, Colin, Robert and Ann for coming and Judy for the lift. (Many thanks for stepping in to lead, Alastair) Alastair Fraser

Sep 27 2016

Tuesday 27 September – Frampton Cotterell

A cloudy but warm morning saw 14 members meet for a walk north of Frampton Cotterell. On our way to the River Frome Jackdaws and Carrion Crows were on the church tower and adjacent buildings and Wood Pigeons, Blue Tits and a few Goldfinch were in the hedgerows aloud with some Long-tailed Tits. A solitary Grey Wagtail flew along the river for those of us at the back of the party. Herring and Black-headed Gulls flew over and a Buzzard briefly came in to view as we had coffee. As we continued Chiffchaff were heard, a Mistle Thrush seen, several Goldcrest flitted about in a yew tree in Iron Acton churchyard and a single Greenfinch perched at the top of an Ash tree. We crossed the Frome again and went along a rather squelchy path where a Raven was heard but invisible in the distance but loud Robins called in the adjacent woodland. A distant Great Spotted Woodpecker sat at the top of a dead tree and as we returned to the start a Green Woodpecker, Stonechat, Collared Dove and Jay were added to the list to give a total of 32 species. Thanks to David Body for leading in place of Peter Holbrook who met us at the start to organise lunch and to Nick Hawkridge for the definitive list. Mark Watson

Sep 20 2016

Tuesday 20 September – Little Sodbury

How nice to start a walk with an old favourite – Raven, a pair cavorting in the wind over the church. Sad however to see a line full of House Martins, chitter chattering, shooting away, and then back, almost saying ‘are we going yet’? Eighteen walkers headed just a little east of north into the countryside. The lake we passed was, as usual, home only to Coot, Moorhen and Mallard and the trees contained a few Chiffchaff and one bright Willow Warbler. A Green Woodpecker graced the horse paddocks. We climbed up towards the fine looking house where, at the top, we found the Millennium Tower, funded by The Owl and Swallow Trust, but apparently empty. Here we stopped for coffee and a Nuthatch – calling from and flying between patches of woods. Not until we had traversed the asphalt of New Tynings Lane did we get back to any other birds beside Woodpigeon. Some Chaffinch called from the hedge and the first of three Buzzards turned lazily. After saying goodbye to the non-picnickers a Jay was about all that was new as we headed towards lunch at Old Sodbury Church, after which a Mistle Thrush and a flock of 30 Goldfinch were spotted heading east. The walk back gave us only one extra species (of the 32 we saw) and they were Long-tailed Tits. The greyness of the day denied us the views westward towards the Severn and the hills of Wales but this beautiful walk always provides us with an enjoyable day.. (thanks to Nick for leading)  Nick Hawkridge

Sep 18 2016

Sunday 18 September – New Passage

16 people gathered on a beautiful still morning for a walk along New Passage and the Pilning Wetlands. Many came early to catch the extra-high tide covering pill and salt marsh right up to the embankment. As the walk proper started the river had dropped to expose the edge of the marsh, now full of Linnets, Meadow Pipits and Pied Wagtails as well as Ringed Plover, Wheatear, Skylarks and a Whinchat. Inland pools included Mute Swans, Grey Heron, Little Egret, Little Grebe and Gadwall, and the sea bank of the marsh showed flocks of Curlew, Godwits, Oystercatcher, Wigeon, Teal, Canada Geese, Pintail, and a Grey Plover. Numbers of hirundines hunted with a Buzzard above, though the hedgerows were oddly empty apart from the ubiquitous Robins. The group pushed on to the scrape past the second sentry box, where 100 plus Dunlin edged the water, and keen eyes found a single Golden Plover and a Little Stint amongst them. We turned down the side lane to see the far pools where sadly that morning’s Wood Sandpiper had just flown away, but saw Shoveler, Tufted Duck and Lapwing. Returning to the shore, the falling tide had now left mud for a lovely array of waders stretching into the distance, including Godwits, Redshank, Dunlin, Turnstones, a few Knot and a Curlew Sandpiper. A total of 54 species seen. (Thank you, Lois, for leading) Lois Pryce

Sep 13 2016

Tuesday 13 September – Portbury Wharf

It was a very warm humid morning for the 24 of us, with a very distant rumble of thunder being heard as we left Portbury village for our walk around the Warth area. In the distance a Buzzard soared over the Gordano valley, with Chiffchaff and Greenfinch seen. A number of Mistle Thrush played high in the trees and close at hand a Great Spotted Woodpecker “chipped”. As we headed along Wharf Lane towards the reserve the thunder became louder with very dark clouds over South Wales. At the first hide the scrapes were almost dry, so few birds were seen. At the second hide volunteers were working on the island so there were fewer birds than normal but Little Grebe, Mallard, Shoveler and Gadwall were present. Along the path to the sea bank Cetti’s Warbler shouted from the bushes and 30 plus Linnet bounced over the marsh. Along the shore line were Redshank and Black-headed Gulls, a single Curlew and a small flock of Dunlin. A large black-backed gull flew by, ‘It is ugly’ was one comment so it must be a Great! Three Yellow Wagtails appeared by the track, along with the ever present Reed Bunting and a hovering Kestrel. Approaching the creek quietly at the end of the marsh there were the usual Teal and in the willows many Long-tailed Tits, Blue tits and a Blackcap. On the way back to the cars the thunder became ouder and the rain started, lightly at first but most of us were back in time to avoid a soaking and finished with a total of 48 species. (Many thanks to Roger for leading.) Roger and Lana Hawley

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