Bristol Ornithological Club
Nov 07 2017

Tuesday 07 November – Frampton on Severn Leader: Alastair Fraser

Fourteen eager birders, including two guests, met at the car park near the sailing club in spite of a poor weather forecast. We set off for a walk around the lake stopping at the club launch area for a good look across the water. A Little Egret danced past us and several Moorhens pottered about. Great Crested Grebes were quite close. The sole intrepid ‘scope bearer, Rob Hargreaves, enabled examination of the raft of Coots and the large number of Tufted Duck for anything special, and a Yellow-legged Gull was spotted among the other gulls (yes, for once it had truly yellow legs!). Showery rain didn’t stop us walking on, hearing and seeing the usual small birds in the trees and bushes. Looking across the open fields a large flock of winter thrushes was spotted in the distance. A newly turned field produced a large number of Pied Wagtails, with quite a few Chaffinch hopping around the base of the pylon. The tree-lined path at the bottom of the lake gave us groups of Long-tailed Tits, a Bullfinch calling, Coal Tits and a Treecreeper. We were all quite damp by now and happy to shelter under trees for our coffee stop, where we were pleased to see two Jays (probably caching food) and a Song Thrush perched on the fence, among other birds. At this point our leader decided to forego the pleasures of the extremely muddy path through the woods in favour of returning between lakes. Trees and bushes here gave us Great Spotted Woodpeckers, Bullfinch, a flock of Goldfinches, good sightings of Redwing, a fly-past Mistle Thrush and our only raptor of the day, a Kestrel. The small private fishing lake gave us a very clean, bright Mute Swan – a shame it turned out to be a dummy! Court Lake was more productive with Gadwall, Pochard and Mallard to add to our duck list, Little Grebe and a flighty Green Sandpiper. Further along Rob’s ‘scope helped us obtain a good view of the single Whooper Swan, an exciting find. At noon, exactly as forecast, heavy rain came in; our walk was curtailed and we beat a hasty retreat to our cars, or in our brave leader’s case, motorbike, but it had been a good walk with around 40 species seen. Thanks to Alistair for leading the walk. Anne Crowe

Nov 05 2017

Sunday 05 November – Chew Valley Lake Leader: Robert Hargreaves

Arrived at Herriotts Bridge to find a new member, Pete, had found two Goosanders. Before I could get to see them a rumbling noise could be heard approaching from the Mendips – quite intimidating. As it got louder we saw this dark line bearing down on us. A flock of 150 Canada Geese came in close over our heads, half turning to the lake, and the rest landing on the pool – a very memorable sight. As we all gathered we noted a Kingfisher in the channel, 13 Pintails on the pool, two Dunlins by the lake, and Cetti’s Warbler and Chiffchaff were heard. Herons Green first, as there were large numbers of Great White Egrets reported but to my surprise there were only seven present: a Green Sandpiper in the corner was hard to see and only two Black-tailed Godwits. Later we started finding Common Gulls, then eleven Goosanders, a Kestrel, and lastly an immature Yellow-legged Gull. Paying for a permit was not popular so we headed round to Hollowbrook: another Chiffchaff in the woods, two Buzzards flew over and, at the half-finished new Bernard King hide, we found eight Goldeneye and 226 Cormorant in a line, off Denny Island. At lunch at the Dam another three Goldeneye were diving, but no Egyptian Geese. Finally to the Bristol Water hide at Stratford which was pretty full – a good sign. Parades of Wigeon and a Dunlin, two drake Red-crested Pochards in a group of three out in the middle, with more Pintails and gulls. Next was a search for a Jack Snipe in the reeds below – difficult but a Snipe was found. And then, as we got our eyes in, a Snipe deep in the reeds was bobbing up and down. The stripes on its head and short bill confirmed a Jack Snipe. To finish off the day a Water Rail paraded along the front of the reeds and a Bearded Tit called. Thirteen participants enjoyed the day. (Very many thanks, again, to Robert for leading this field meeting)
Robert Hargreaves

Oct 31 2017

Tuesday 31 October – Saltford Leader: Robert Hargreaves

Starting below the Bird in Hand pub we went up to the cycle track, where the first arrivals caught sight of a Kingfisher. Walking west along the cycle track Chiffchaff and Goldcrest were found. After 400 yards we turned into the fields along a path with six rickety stiles. Large numbers of Blackbirds and a Redwing flitted along the hedgerows. At the grass airfield there were a few Pied Wagtails with Meadow Pipits mixed in among the sheep. The more we looked the more we saw, 36 Pied Wagtails and 15 Meadow Pipits. Then, in the trees behind, large flocks of Goldfinches, and a Bullfinch and Redwings across the skyline – all so busy. What a buzz. No Red-legged Partridges in the next fields but a Pheasant ran off. Coffee break at Avon Farm and a flock of 19 Longtailed Tits passed through. Down the avenue of trees we heard Green Woodpecker and then photographed a Great Spotted Woodpecker on a treetop. Down by Swineford Lock were four Moorhens, two Swans, and another Kingfisher, and finally two Mallards. Walking downriver a Grey Heron flew over and then another Great Spotted Woodpecker, which turned into three at once. Finally a raptor passed over, a Buzzard. The last fields on the walk back above the cycle track revealed a flock of several hundred Goldfinches and 300 Woodpigeons – winter magic. In the last copse Jean Oliver found a male Bullfinch. The best walk I’ve had there for some time. 18 walkers and 38 species. (Thank you Robert for leading this walk) Robert Hargreaves

Oct 29 2017

Sunday 29 October – Clevedon – Leader: Jason Williams

Fourteen club members joined me on a dry but quite cool day with a brisk NW wind.   We started by walking to the ‘viz mig’ spot of Wains Hill, but this produced only a few Chaffinch and Winter thrushes.   The loop around the headland was generally very quiet with little of note.  We spied a few Redshank, Curlew, Wigeon and a lone Little Egret on Blackstone Rocks below us. Proceeding down to Clevedon Pill we watched a Rock Pipit before walking to the Blind-Yeo sluice; alas, there were no birds on the Yeo. A Peregrine drifted by putting up most of the Gulls and a few Lapwing.   At Blackstone Rocks two male Stonechats buzzed around us for a while. The walk down to the Kenn produced small numbers of Skylark, Meadow Pipits and Linnet. A Buzzard did a good impression of a chicken, sticking out it’s white rump as it sat in a bush.   At the Kenn there were a few Dunlin and Curlew along with Redshank.   The best find of the day was here, a female Scaup. The walk back to the cars was uneventful.  A total of 40 species for the morning.  Thanks to those who joined me. (thanks also to Jason for leading)                                                                                      Jason Williams

Oct 26 2017

Tuesday 26 September – Priddy

Twenty-three members turned out for this popular walk on a misty morning. We spent some time near the church at a very productive tree watching a Tree Creeper. Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Robin, Pied Wagtail were also seen plus Blackbird, Blue and Great Tit and a Song Thrush. Some more distant “thrushes” just might have been winter ones. Robins were singing throughout our walk, a large party of Goldfinches was seen and all the corvids at one time or another. A few Swallows were spotted – will this be the final Tuesday walk of 2017 to see them? The old drove road which led us up to the Priddy Barrows tends to be wet and muddy in dry weather and it outdid itself this year, slowing progress and meaning that eyes were mostly looking downwards but Great Spotted Woodpecker and Meadow Pipit were seen before we stopped for a late coffee break. While conditions meant the view could have been better, two Kestrels were on nearby wires and a singing Skylark lifted any hearts that needed lifting. Smart Red Admirals and a few Speckled Wood butterflies were seen and numerous types of fungi which were duly identified by our regular expert. We shall almost certainly ask what they are again next week, Jean – though might remember the waxcaps! Onward and in spite of much scanning no Wheatears were seen on the walls. Then another muddy path took us down to the Mineries, which were quiet on the bird front but there were lots of darter dragonflies mating. The flat remainder of the walk netted plenty of corvids, some displaying, a couple of Buzzards, House Sparrows and a Nuthatch, and in all 36 species were seen. Thanks to Bill for leading.
Nancy Barrett

Leader: Bill Dobie

Oct 24 2017

Tuesday 24 October – Folly Farm, hedge planting

Thirty-four members gathered at Folly Farm on a warm October day to be briefed on how to plant the 1,100 new trees funded by the club as our main 50th anniversary conservation project. Some very experienced gardeners seemed a little surprised to be told that they had been using a spade incorrectly for too many years to mention, but the resulting twin lines of two foot high saplings and the lack of any recourse to the first aider was a very satisfactory outcome. After lunch in the outdoor classroom, a small group completed the protective stock-fencing while the remaining dozen were given a guided tour by Joe McSorley from AWT. We were treated to a potted history of the site, a wide selection of fungi, and several mixed flocks of finches including Siskin. From the top of the hill we looked down on two Buzzards reeling around. A Raven flew over during the planting session. Green Woodpeckers were heard but not seen. The fields contained many ant hills just waiting to be attacked. I recorded only 17 species but the main purpose of the day was the hedge planting, so thanks for the great turnout. Mark Watson and Mike Landen coordinated our efforts and Ken Caruthers set up the project.                  Keith Williams

Oct 17 2017

Tuesday 17 October – Barrow Gurney

Eighteen members gathered at the village hall carpark on a warm October day. Our first Yellowhammers were seen along the cycle track heading towards the A38. Once we regained the fields a single Coal Tit showed briefly. We then had distant views of Barrow Tanks finding Herons, Cormorants and three Little Egrets (identity confirmed by a later visit to the tanks) amongst the more common ducks and geese. The birding was quiet while we walked through lanes, with high hedges on both sides, apart from hearing a brief Bullfinch call. Once we re-crossed the A38 (carefully) the open fields supplied good numbers of Meadow Pipits and Skylarks with more Yellowhammers and a Kestrel. Many Woodpigeons were seen with one flock of at least 300 before the final fields gave us three Buzzards and a ‘cronking’ Raven. A good time was had by all with 35 species seen. Thanks to Mark Watson for leading and for some judicious use of the secateurs to clear the way over one of the stiles.            Keith Williams

Oct 15 2017

Sunday 15 October- Migration watch – 07:00 to 11:00

Bird Aust NP/NW Portishead Wains Hill Sand Point
Canada Goose 49 N        
Hobby       1  
Golden Plover 4 1 flock      
Woodpigeon   15   49  
Great Spot Woodpecker       4 2
Skylark   47     17
Swallow         4
House Martin       1  
Starling 181 140   67 730
Song Thrush       3  
Redwing 1 240   2  
Pied Wagtail 49 12 10 19 21
Meadow Pipit 69 50   34 37
Water Pipit 1        
Chaffinch 409 280 12 E, 96 SW 936 1560
Brambling 2     1  
Greenfinch 5 30   27 41
Goldfinch 72 10 25 16 6
Siskin 3 16   2 9
Linnet 52        
Redpoll 2 3   11 1
Crossbill       1  
Bullfinch       4 9
Hawfinch 1 ??     2
Reed Bunting 3   1 1 2
Lapland Bunting       1  
Oct 10 2017

Tuesday 10 October – Pilning Wetlands – Leader: Jane Cumming

Despite the light drizzle and general murkiness, 25 members turned out for the walk at Severn Beach.  The tide was exceptionally high with the Pill well overflowing its usual banks.  We saw little in the murk apart from a Chiffchaff fly-catching from a bush, until we reached the corner where the concrete walkway ends and we stopped to look out across the levels.  Here was plenty to see:  ducks, gulls, Oystercatchers and Curlews in a distant roost, eleven Ringed Plover on the saltmarsh.  We checked through the flocks of small gulls but could find only Black-headed.  Onwards towards the freshwater pools to count ducks: 41 Teal, 24 Gadwall, eight Shoveler and twelve Tufted Ducks though no-one counted the Mallards.  We turned our attention to the waders: half a dozen Dunlins were feeding amongst the Redshanks and Black-tailed Godwits, one to two Common Sandpipers were about, someone noticed a Ruff and someone else pointed out three Snipe.  A flock of 28 Lapwings floated around the grasslands. Skylarks and Meadow Pipits were passing overhead in some numbers, probably migrating, but I missed the only Swallow of the morning.  Other passerines of interest included a Rock Pipit, Stonechats, Wrens and a sizeable flock of Starlings.  Surprisingly, a Shelduck in flight as we walked back was the only one of the morning.  It was a shame we couldn’t find the Grey Phalarope which was reported later that day, but Nick’s final count was an excellent total of 55 species. (thanks to Jane for leading)                                                                            Jane Cumming

Oct 08 2017

Sunday 08 October – Steart Marshes

28 members met at the WWT carpark on a warm day with sun and light wind. We were greeted by a Peregrine on a distant pylon that maintained its watch all day. Cetti’s Warbler (heard) and several Stonechats were among the reeds en route to the Mendip hide. The water level was high and there were many Little Egret with Redshank, Shoveler, and Shelduck. Two Grey Plovers flew in, and two Marsh Harriers were flying in the distance, beyond the Parrett. Walking towards the river we saw Dunlin and Pintail in the marshes, and distant views of Avocet on the river. A second pylon Peregrine gave good views, and there were two Kestrels on a further pylon. The next stop was the hide at Otterhampton marshes where we had the greatest variety of species. A lucky few glimpsed a Brown Hare. There were good views of Golden Plover in the sun, and a Ruff showed itself briefly. More Grey Plovers were seen. Wader highlights were individual Greenshank, Spotted Redshank, and Curlew Sandpiper. After lunch ten members proceeded to the village car park for a walk along the coast towards the tower hide at the point. The tide was well out so wader views were distant, but we had Stonechat in good numbers. On the lane back to the village we saw Greenfinch among a large charm of more than 100 Goldfinch. A Sparrowhawk flew over to provide a fine final bird of the day. The meeting yielded a total of 54 species, including five raptors and 15 wader species. Many thanks to Richard for leading this enjoyable day.                                                                                                                                                                         Gareth Roberts

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