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
We set out from the village hall in hot sunshine and that’s the way it stayed, contributing to a very leisurely walk for 25 people taking much longer than it should have done! As we progressed up to the field there was a Robin on the wall, a Lesser Black-backed Gull on the farmhouse, a Starling on a TV aerial, a Collared Dove on a telegraph wire and a Blackbird in flight. Then House Sparrows in the hedge, also a lovely Red Admiral butterfly, a Coal Tit on the top of a conifer, and Greenfinch, Jackdaws, Wood Pigeon, Blue Tit and a Green Woodpecker were spotted. No dragonflies at Glebe Pond, but a Buzzard was heard. After eventually getting across the main road we saw through a gateway a Small Copper butterfly perching on a dandelion; later on the walk we saw two Commas and many Speckled Woods. Once we were in the fields going up towards Failand we saw three Buzzards, one being mobbed by a Crow, three Rooks flying over, a Herring Gull and a Swallow. A Great Spotted Woodpecker was spied at the top of a Beech, a flock of about 30 Linnets was wheeling low two fields away and a Kestrel and Goldfinches were seen. At coffee time a Raven was rolling very high above us. We made our way safely past some beautiful Red Devon cattle and three people left the group as we reached the road near Failand church, where four Starlings were on the wires. The rest of us ploughed on and up through the shady woodland below Failand House Farm, the path proving steeper than some of us remembered! No birds here but up at the top a Cormorant flew over. Our return trip took us down Sandy Lane to a house with a well-attended bird feeder being used by Chaffinch, Dunnock, Robin, Great and Blue tits. Dru then spotted the bird of the day giving an excellent flypast; from Keith’s photos this turned out to be a Peregrine, though it was initially thought that it might be a young Hobby. Final species count (thanks Nick) was 37. (Thank you for leading Judy) Judy Copeland
Fourteen BOC members had a guided walk at Blagdon and enjoyed a leisurely stroll from the Lodge to Top End and back. Bird highlights included a late Common Swift with the hirundines over the Lodge before we set out, the Black-necked Grebe, Great White Egret, three juvenile Ringed Plovers, a flyover Black-tailed Godwit and about 20 Northern Lapwings at Top End, six Little Egrets feeding alongside the cattle on Lag Farm, a Common Sandpiper in Long Bay, and two or three groups of Eurasian Siskins along the south side of the lake. We noted over 40 species on what was a very enjoyable visit. (Very many thanks to Nigel for leading this walk).
Leader: Nigel Milbourne
Twelve members assembled at the Upton Inn on a wonderful September morning, bit of nip in the air but lots of warm sunshine and three very bright Red Admirals feeding on ivy flowers in the carpark. This is a walk which can set off briskly, as it’s a downhill start with wonderful views and we were soon seeing Long-tailed Tits, Robin, Wood Pigeon, Goldcrest, Blue Tits and Dunnock. A Kestrel flew into a tree and perched for a while, giving everyone good views, and a Buzzard was spotted in the background. Chaffinches were also seen here as were Carrion Crows and a Pheasant was heard. Throughout our walk Swallows were hunting low over the fields and perching on wires and there were plenty of House Martins about. As we reached the bottom of the hill we passed a thick hedge where House Sparrows were in evidence as were Jackdaws and a Magpie was added to the corvid list. We crossed the A431 to the church and scanned the tower, having seen a peregrine here on a previous walk – but not this day! Moving on Coal Tit, Great Tit and another Goldcrest were added to the count and the first of some Green-veined White butterflies seen. We had our coffee break just below the Bristol/Bath cycle track watching House Martins, a couple of Buzzards, some Meadow Browns and dragonflies. On the cycle path rather more bikes and people were spotted than birds but patience revealed a Willow Warbler to one member and Starlings were noisily enjoying some sort of fruit, damsons or elderberries, in a thick hedge. A Jay was seen by some. Down at the river the views are somewhat obscured these days by untamed growth on both banks but Greenfinches, Chaffinches and Blue Tits were seen, and a Herring Gull overhead. The final bit of this walk is, inevitably, uphill where Bullfinch, Goldfinch and Collared Dove were added to the list. Thanks to Dave Body for leading us. Nancy Barrett
Leader: Dave Body
The weather was much worse than forecast, so gold stars to the 15 people who stayed the course through wind and wet on a high tide and were rewarded with 46 species. The salt marsh was full of Linnets, Meadow Pipits and Pied Wagtail, a Yellow Wagtail and Wheatear. Overhead were Swallows, House and Sand Martins, and flocks of Starlings. A nestled Stock Dove was a surprise. Large flocks of Dunlin flew back and forth along the shore, with resting flocks of Canada Geese and Oystercatchers behind. The pools had numbers of Lapwing, Redshank, Black-tailed Godwit and Ringed Plover, two Greenshanks and a Bar-tailed Godwit, Snipe and Ruff (thanks to John Martin for helping us find the latter three). Ducks included Shoveler, Gadwall and a Pintail. On the return we found a Whinchat by the pools’ reeds, and there was a Kingfisher on the inland pill. Our raptors were Buzzard and Kestrel. (Many thanks to Lois for leading). Lois Pryce
Leader: Lois Pryce
On the meadow lowlands many Swallows and House Martins flew, including pairs apparently kissing in mid air – parents food-passing to young? Buzzards sat on hay bales, and over twenty Pied Wagtails fed in the Golf Club grass. Climbing the ridge and along the wooded top, birds seemed disappointingly few. When we entered Cadbury Camp with its great views down the Bristol Channel, there was a Wheatear on the banks, six Ravens rolling and displaying, and an aerial fight between a Hobby and Kestrel, the Hobby then doing a long shallow stoop to catch what was probably one of abundant dragonflies. Further along the ridge were high calls from Long-tailed Tits, Goldcrest, Jay, and Green Woodpecker down the slope. Blackcap and Linnets were seen round the old quarry at the base. Back on the moors were Mute Swans, Grey Herons, Kestrel and Wheatear using hay bales as perching spots. Around 40 Rooks were feeding, and a Sparrowhawk and pair of Stock Doves flying; and to the leaders’ pleasure, a Kingfisher, which they hadn’t seen for a long time on the Land Yeo. On the day there were 20 walkers and 33 species recorded. (Many thanks to Lois and Jan for leading). Lois Pryce
Leaders: Lois Pryce and Jan Pridie
On a beautiful warm, sunny day we met at Black Hole Marsh near Seaton, a new but rapidly developing site with river habitat and extensive shallow scrapes that are excellent for both freshwater and saltwater species. There was a variety of herons, ducks and waders including a dozen or more Little Egrets from the nearby breeding colony, 68 Black-tailed Godwits, two Greenshanks, Common and Green Sandpipers, Ringed Plover, Dunlin and Snipe. The hide’s ceiling hosted an active Swallow nest full of restlessly begging juveniles, and we watched a Kingfisher hunting along the river Axe. We spent a leisurely and enjoyable morning finding, counting and comparing the various wader species. Bowling Green Marsh was something of a disappointment to those of us who weren’t aware of the recent and extensive redesign, which has completely changed its landscape. The long muddy raised banks held over 300 Canada Geese and little else on this not-very-high tide, although we were assured that on a bigger tide the roosting waders still turn up there. We counted Wigeon and Teal, Gadwall and Shoveler, but the only waders on view were a single Dunlin and a single Bar-tailed Godwit with 66 Black-tailed Godwits and a few Redshank. All the same, where better to be on a lovely day like this one than at a couple of East Devon reserves giving us great views of all those birds? The final count was in the region of 40 species.
(Very many thanks to Jane for leading this trip) Jane Cumming
Though overcast and nothing like the sunshine of the previous day, quite a crowd of us (29) gathered in Newton St Loe for what is always a good walk in an attractive setting. As we left the village, there were Rooks, Swallows, House Martins and a Kestrel. We walked down the hill towards SendaCow, and realised the trees were alive with a large party of small birds, mainly families of Blue and Long-tailed Tits, but also at least one Nuthatch. At the lakes we got good views of one Kingfisher and some people saw a second one. During our coffee stop two Ravens flew over and shortly after that we saw the visiting Little Egret in a tree. There was a family of Mute Swans with five teenage cygnets, and a solitary Black-headed Gull. When we walked on, we had brief views of another large party of small birds, which stimulated a good discussion as to which species; in addition to Blue and Great Tits, there were definitely Coal Tits and a family of Willow Warblers. By this time, our leader realised we had not left ourselves enough time to complete the circuit through Stanton Prior, so we came back through the college, speculating this time on the history of some of the buildings. We ended with a tour of the village where we saw a large flock of Goldfinches (c60), some falconers with what looked like a Harris Hawk, at last Collared Doves, and finally a large flock of House Sparrows (c30). Other birds seen by some of us included Hobby, Chiffchaff and Grey Wagtail. Our total was 41 species. Many thanks to Robert Hargreaves for leading such an excellent walk. Dru Brooke-Taylor
Unmistakeable signs of Autumn – Swallows all heading South, Robin’s song now quite wistful. However, there was nothing autumnal about the weather and 22 of us left the Rose and Crown in warm hazy sunshine on a walk which is as scenic as the name suggests. First stop, the River Boyd. Despite recent rain, it was low with little bird life, just two Wrens darting over the water into bushes. Dipper and Grey Wagtail are sometimes seen here, but not this time. In the woodland, a young Buzzard, Green Woodpecker and Great Spotted Woodpecker were heard in quick succession. At the second bridge a Jay was moving quickly through trees and a Collared Dove and Blue Tit were seen. At the quarry viewpoint overlooking the larger lake, four House Martin, Coot, Raven and Herring Gull were noted. A Kestrel flew past followed a little later by a juvenile. We scanned the rock ledges in vain for Peregrine and then at last there it was, perched unmoving on a rock on the far side of the quarry. Top marks for those who saw it first! At the second lake were Mute Swan, Mallard and Canada Geese. Much activity was noted as we started to return along the lane to Wick, with one tree alone producing Goldfinch, Chaffinch, male and female Bullfinch, Blue Tit and Great Tit. A highlight was a Spotted Flycatcher atop another tree. As we neared the end we heard Nuthatch calling, then saw it fly past. A flock of Long-tailed Tits, a Treecreeper and a Goldcrest completed the tally. Thanks to our leader Dave Body and to Nick Hawkridge, who logged 38 species. John Beaven
The bus was on time and we arrived at Abbots Leigh to meet the group who had come out from Bristol, so we were now 23 people to enjoy a morning of hot sunshine and some cloud. Some Swallows and House Martins were flying over the field and a Wren was heard, but otherwise it was very quiet until we reached the woodland around Brackenwood Garden Centre and Leigh Court. Around five Long-tailed Tits were high in a tree, a Collared Dove and a Jay were heard, then we found two or three Goldcrests flitting around in a conifer and a couple of Coal Tits on the trunk. A Nuthatch called loudly and three Buzzards were seen above us, then Suk found a family of Bullfinches in a dark area of low vegetation, not easy to see! There was a Blackbird, a Robin on a twig (they have started their autumn song now), a Blackcap was spotted and a Blue Tit was heard. Down by the river, where we had our coffee break, were an eventual total of 70 plus Black-headed Gulls, and two Common Sandpipers were seen skimming along the water by those quick enough to get on to them. A couple of Mallard were down on the mud – the count went up to 16. Two hawker dragonflies flew around us. At Sea Mills were six juvenile gulls (Herring or Lesser Black-backed) and later seven Herring Gulls flew over calling and one Lesser Black-backed. There were six Redshanks on the bank. A Chiffchaff called from the hedge beside the cycle path and in the big field was a large corvid flock of Crows, Jackdaws and one or two Rooks. A Cormorant flew over, a very pale Buzzard passed at a low level on the Shirehampton side and two Herons were in the trees. Ham Green lake produced only two Moorhen and one Coot, Goldfinches were in the bushes, two Magpies were in a tree apparently sunbathing, two Raven were heard and seen and our last sighting was a lovely sunlit Sparrowhawk flying over. 37 species in total. (Thanks to Judy for leading.) Judy Copeland