Twenty members met at Winscombe on a fine, sunny morning for a four mile walk on Mendip. A Lesser Black-backed Gull watched us depart the car park from a nearby rooftop. As we left the village we saw Jackdaw, Swallow and House Martin and three Blackcaps flitting along a hedgerow, and a Buzzard was seen high over Sandford Hill. A flock of Linnets about 28 strong appeared and as we climbed through the woods up Sandford Hill two Jays were seen, Green & Great Spotted Woodpecker were heard, along with Goldcrest, a Bullfinch, a couple of Nuthatches and a Treecreeper. Blue, Great and Long-tailed Tits showed and on the way back towards Sidcot a Kestrel passed by. A highlight was a Spotted Flycatcher which obligingly made feeding flights from the top of a not too distant tree giving everyone an excellent view. The walk ended as it had started with a Gull – this time a Herring – as we were almost back at the car park. We saw 34 species overall and also had some great views across the Severn Estuary to Wales and the Quantocks in the clear air. Thanks to Sue Watson for leading.
Nine brave members gathered at the car park adjacent to the football field in Tockington where dark clouds lingered ominously. We set off through fields of lush green grass where three juvenile Green Woodpeckers were seen hopping around within the short vegetation. We then wandered onwards through the small winding roads of Tockington where Robins, Goldfinches and a few Swallows were seen. In the fields beyond, a rock resembling a dead Barn Owl elicited much interest until closer inspection revealed its true identity. Before descending into the woods a pair of Meadow Pipits were flushed from the undergrowth and five Buzzards were observed soaring gracefully over the fields. The woods presented a welcome shelter from the light drizzling rain which became heavier as we made our way back through the lanes and recently harvested fields of Tockington. A garden feeder had attracted some frantically feeding Blue Tits and a Chaffinch, and a total of 56 Wood Pigeons were spotted grazing on the left-over grain in a nearby field. We wandered back to the car park through the woods where we paused to sample some juicy blackberries. Many thanks to David Tombs for leading this scenic walk. Hannah Meinertzhagen
26 walkers set off accompanied by one wolf look-a-like puppy(belonging to the Fleece, a friendly community owned pub with great food). The puppy seemed keen to stick with us, so soon had to be taken back home – thanks, Sue! Walking through the village, House Martins, Collared Dove and Starlings were soon noted. It being mid- August there was a lack of birdsong and contact calls heard were sometimes hard to identify in the still thick foliage, though Goldfinch were in evidence. Two Whitethroat were seen by some. Soon after turning off the road there were Swallows hawking over a nearby field, while five young Pheasant were pottering by the hedge – and another dozen of the same by the hedge in the next field! One of the highlights was then spotted by some – a Red Kite. This was followed by very good views of another Red Kite sitting in a dead tree, while the first one flew around. Everybody saw at least one of these. A climb up a track littered with hazelnut shells brought us up to the top of the Cotswolds. Here Nuthatch was added to the list and some time was spent watching a family group of six Spotted Flycatchers doing their fly-catching from a wire fence – another highlight of this very beautiful walk. 27 species were seen in all with another couple heard. Many thanks to Peter for leading. Nancy Barratt
Eight members gathered at the Steart Marshes car park on a chilly (but dry) Sunday morning. This new reserve is a work in progress with the old sea wall having been breached in September 2014 to create new areas of saltmarsh with ever-changing creeks and channels providing food and refuge for wildlife. From the Mendip hide there were good views of the lagoons but the birds were distant – Shovelers, Little Egrets, Canada Geese and a few Avocets. The walk out to the River Parrett allowed us to appreciate the amount and quality of landscaping undertaken by the WWT, and enjoy the Goldfinches, Linnets and Greenfinches. From the river viewpoint there were better views of Avocets but few other waders – only a distant Redshank. Returning to the Polden hide we passed flower and butterfly-rich grassland, with many Small Tortoiseshells and at least two Clouded Yellows, along with a Buzzard and various finches. From the Polden hide we added Pied Wagtail and a very pale Buzzard to the list. During lunch at the car park, Starlings, House Sparrows and a Pheasant were noted. After lunch we drove to Natural England’s car park at Dowell’s Farm and walked out to Steart Flats where views of Curlews, Shelduck and distant gulls were obscured by a heat haze. From the Tower hide we observed two Little Grebes, Redshank, juvenile Peregrine and Common Sandpiper; the views of Whinchats and Stonechats together were instructive. In the fields around the hide were Dunnocks, Linnets, Chaffinches and a Kestrel. The walk along the road to the car park brought the day’s species total to 33. This was a very enjoyable visit to the Steart area and, as the new WWT reserve “matures”, one that is sure to continue to attract visitors. Very many thanks to Richard for leading. Ken Carruthers
21 birders met in the village on an overcast but windless day. We took a new route up past the church and through lanes to come out at the far end of the houses. We soon saw both Green and Great Spotted 11 Woodpeckers and in Coley we watched House Martins visiting nests on one of the older houses. Some of the youngsters had already fledged as the sky nearby was full of birds. Litton reservoirs provided plenty of variety, with at least twelve Grey Wagtails, a Kingfisher, ten or so Little Grebes, six Cormorants, two Grey Herons along with Tufted Duck, Mallard, Coot and Moorhen. We took a new route over Shortwood Common adding two Common Buzzards, Yellowhammer and a Pheasant. Chiffchaffs and Blackcap were heard and seen during the walk with all the usual pigeons, finches and corvids including two Ravens. We had a total of 39 species on a varied and enjoyable four mile walk. (Thanks to John and Sue Prince for leading.) Sue Prince