Bristol Ornithological Club
Feb 16 2016

Tuesday 16 February –Bristol Harbourside

On a cold, but gloriously sunny morning 25 members gathered in Millennium Square. With so much disturbance on our pathdue to the construction of the Metrobus route and work on two of the bridges I thought that the birds might be absent. Happily I was proved wrong. The Cormorants were still using their favourite perch by Prince Street bridge and though a lot of vegetationhas been cleared beside the railway tracks there was still enough left to please numerous Goldfinches and some House Sparrows. About 20 Mute Swans were close to the Marina. There is no longer a resident breeding pair of swans in the Harbour so they don’t get driven away. A lone Canada Goose had joined them for the day. A Sparrowhawk was spotted over Brandon Hill. We then moved across to the New Cut and followed the chocolate path. Several Grey Wagtails and a Redshank were on the mud which was almost covered by the tide. A Pheasant appeared on the opposite bank -very unusual for this location. Someone spotted footprints in the mud. Photographs were sent to “Otter Gill” who confirmed that they were otter prints. We were very lucky. (I went to look again two days later and there was no sign.) There was also a dead gull with two rings. The number was rather indistinct and unfortunately the BTO was unable to give any information on it. A Common Sandpiper flew up by the Ashton Swingbridge and a Buzzard was seencircling over Ashton Court. One or two people spotted a Peregrine flying over. Black-headed, Herring and Lesser Black-backed gulls were added to the list. The group divided and Nick led the energetic ones up and over Brandon Hill where they added a few passerines and some Redwings. The rest of us took the waterside route and found Moorhens by the ferry walkway, making a total of 30 species. (Thank you for leading Margaret) Margaret Gorely

Feb 14 2016

Sunday 14 February –River Exe coach trip

Thirty club members travelled down to Devon for ourannual walk down the River Exe. On arriving at our drop-off spot at Exminster, we found that many of the fields on the RSPB reserve were flooded due to the recent heavy rainfall in Devon, but we made our way down the lane (through the flooded road) to theTurf Hotel at Powderham. Many wildfowl were seen on our way down: Wigeon, Teal, Shoveler, Pintail, Tufted Duck, Gadwall, Mute Swan, Little Grebe, Canada Geese, Barnacle Geese. A couple of members had a Water Rail walk across a gateway as they were looking into the fields, then we picked out a Peregrine sitting on the nearby pylon watching the prey below. Waders included many Curlew, Redshank, Dunlin, Black-tailed Godwits, Golden Plover and Oystercatchers. Some Redwing and Fieldfare were still in the fields with Cetti’s Warbler singing in the hedgerow. Brent Geese were in large numbers although a good search failed to locate the reported Black Brant. A coastguard helicopter flew over and the geese took to the air flying over us calling -what a splendid sight and sound. At the Turf Hotel, even though we were an hour after high tide the river was still very high, presumably flood water making its way down-river, which meant no Avocets could be located. They were probably sitting on Bowling Green Marsh on theother side of the river. We did however pick up Red-breasted Merganser and Turnstone, and our walk down to Powderham church to meet the coach did produce Stonechat, Little Egret and Buzzard. Having had lunch we moved on to Dawlish Warren where we found Common Scoter, Guillemot and many Great Crested Grebe on the sea. Moving on to Warren Point and the shelter of the hide we picked out Grey Plover, many more Red-breasted Merganser, Slavonian Grebe, Shag, Stonechat and Linnets. On our coach trip back homea few lucky members on the right side of the coach had views of a Barn Owl quartering fields on the Powderham estate. My thanks to all who travelled. The weather was kind – dry, sunny although cool – and it was an enjoyable day’s birding with a count of around 70 species. (Thanks to Gordon for leading.) Gordon Youdale


Feb 09 2016

Tuesday 09 February –Greylake

Thirteen members met at Greylake on a cold but fine and dry morning. In the car park we had a good start, immediately seeing Dunnock, Reed Bunting, and many Great Tit and Blue Tit along with Goldfinch and Chaffinch. As we set off around the reed beds numerous Starlings were on the ground feeding along with some Fieldfares. Wood Pigeons flew overhead and Stock Doves were also seen. A flock of over 100 Snipe flew over providing a wonderful sight and about 150 Golden Plovers followed and a smaller flock of Lapwings. A Kestrel was perched in a nearby tree and kept us company for a short time. In the distance a Marsh Harrier flew over the wetland and we later saw a pair from the hide. Large numbers of duck including Shoveler, Teal, Wigeon, Gadwall and Mallard were on the water, as well as Coot. Water Rails were heard but not seen, and Black-tailed Godwit were spotted in the distance. Access to the hide included a short, shallow water feature to cross and some returned to the car park at this stage. Other species seen included Little Egret, Jay, Bullfinch, Peregrine, Buzzard and Redwing. In the afternoon a few went on the find the Common Cranes and were rewarded with 12 in view along a rhyne bank viewed from the very wet bank of the River Parrett at Staithe. In total 44 species were seen. (Many thanks to Mark for leading.) Mark Watson



Feb 07 2016

Sunday 07 February –West Sedgemoor

Dewlands Farm was our gathering point for this visit to RSPB West Sedgemoor and as the cars arrived our numbers gradually swelled to 14. Local volunteer, Nigel Smith, led us out in cold, damp conditions and gave us a brief summary of the background to the reserve. By the time we approached the viewing barn the weather was beginning to improve and we had seen and heard a good variety of passerines in the hedgerows. The flooded fields in front of the barn were packed with wildfowl and telescopes were soon picking out Wigeon, Pintail, Shoveler,Gadwall and Teal. Nigel’s more experienced eyes located two distant Cranes which everyone was able to see in his scope, and later an equally distant Peregrine. Large flocks of birds were also criss-crossing in the sky at regular intervals and we were ableto pick out Golden Plover as well as Lapwing and Starlings, stirred up by a passing Marsh Harrier. One small group of Pintails gave particularly frequent fly-bys, giving good views of their distinctive angular silhouette. Sharp eyes in the group also picked out a Stonechat, which proved difficult to spot as it flicked from one perch to another, but a Kingfisher was much more obliging, remaining for an extended time on the railings by a sluice. By this time the light was excellent and its colours showed well in the sunshine. Both Whooper and Bewick’s Swans had been reported that week near Burrow Mump, so we moved on to the car-park there to see if we could find them. Plenty of Mute Swans were visible and very distantly near Pathe were some swans with definite yellow rather than orange bills. They were too far away to be sure of identification, so we moved to Aller Drove in the hope of closer views, but unfortunately they were hidden by hedges from this angle. A lone Kestrel took our total species list for theday over the 40 mark and the group then split, with some moving on to Greylake and the rest returning to Bristol. All in all this was a splendid morning’s birding, with an impressive panorama of wildfowl on display. Many thanks to Nigel for hosting us at West Sedgemoor. Giles Morris


Feb 02 2016

Tuesday 02 February – Coalpit Heath

Wrens and Robins trilling, Daffodils and Primroses flowering, green shoots in hedgerows… Spring must be on the way, we thought optimistically. Certainly the sun shone all morning -albeit the wind was chilly -and birdlife was abundant. Before our 21-strong group left the Kendleshire Golf Course, led by Duncan and Pat Gill, we noted a Redwing in a hedge, three Bullfinches atop an Ash tree, five Black-headed Gulls, Robin, Blackbird, Coot, Mallard, Greenfinch (heard), a flock of Long-tailed Tits, Treecreeper and Goldcrest. Then came a Herring Gull “paddling” (Nick’s description) on the mown grass, apparently seeking worms. A Buzzard flew from a green (no golfers present to admire it), then leaving the golf course we saw a Mistle Thrush and Sparrowhawk while we walked down the lane. A flock of 30 Redwings with a few Fieldfares were gorging themselves on windfall apples, and a Jay flew past. After our coffee stop, things were quiet as we walked along the Dramway, but we did see two Buzzards. Then came the highlight as we stopped for a while to watch activity in a hedge which was alive with up to a dozen Yellowhammers, large flocks of Chaffinches and two Goldfinches. It was a delight to see the colour of the Yellowhammers glowing in the sunshine like a beacon. There was constant movement in the hedge as the birds made frequent forays to feed in the stubble field where there were also 200-plus Rooks.In all, 36 species (thanks for the count, Nick). John Beaven


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