I had a fun visit with eleven BOC members, during which we saw some nice birds with a total of over 50 species. Sheila Ablitt spotted an adult drake Red-crested Pochard close to the boat quay by the Lodge, and we saw the adult female, found the day before, off the east end of Green Lawn as well. As we headed along the south side of the lake we spotted a Black-necked Grebe off Rugmoor Point, a group of Common Goldeneye between Rainbow and Rugmoor Points and a juvenile Greater Scaup in Wood Bay, where there was also an adult drake Ferruginous x Common Pochard hybrid. At Top End we found two Dunlin, four plus Little Egrets, two Great White Egrets and ten Bewick’s Swans. I noted that one of the adults had a darvic ring ‘white BCL’, and looking through my database, found out it was a cob named ‘Winkey’. He has been coming to the lake since 2003, first with partner ‘Tinkie’ and latterly with new mate ‘Winker’. Those were the highlights, but there were something like 5000 water birds on the lake which made for a great day’s birding. During the walk we spotted a late Migrant Hawker still on the wing; my latest record at the lake in the past is 12 November 2011. (Many thanks for leading, Nigel.) Nigel Milbourne
A very dull day greeted the 21 participants for the annual hike around Portbury reserve. The future of the reserve was in people’s minds as it ceases to be managed by AWT and passes to North Somerset council. However, back to the birds. Sadly, the Little Owls are no longer in the ruined barn at the top of Wharf Lane. From the track that leads to the first hide a fox was sighted and from the hide Gadwall and Coot were on the scrapes. The second hide always provides the best viewing. Wigeon were plentiful along with Teal, Little Grebe and Shoveler, and on the island Lapwing, Cormorant and a lone Snipe (very hard to see as it was having a nap, head under its wing). In the track side bushes were flocks of Long-tailed Tits, Redwing and Goldfinch and from the Tower hide Dunlin, Redshank and Curlew were along the shore line. It was from the Tower hide that one of our keen eyed observers got a brief glimpse of a Yellow-browed Warbler. Definitely the star tick of the day. Skylark were seen from the sea bank and a Treecreeper in some willow trees, and in the field hedgerows Bullfinch and Goldcrest brought a good morning’s birding to an end with an excellent total of 50 species. (Thanks for leading, Roger.) Roger Hawley
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