A group of 20 set out from Bath Racecourse on a pleasant summer’s morning. There was a cool breeze that made for ideal walking weather. As we left the car park and walked along open countryside we soon saw some common species that included Carrion Crow, Swallow and Goldfinch. Wren and Skylark were heard and, as we walked through a very nice wood, we added Blue Tit, Blackcap and Long-tailed Tit. As we left the wood some of the group saw two Kestrels – an adult and a juvenile. On the next part of the walk we saw or heard Chiffchaff, Great Tit, Coal Tit, Nuthatch, Bullfinch, Buzzard, Blackbird and Dunnock. We had our coffee break at a spot that gave excellent views towards Wales, with both Severn bridges visible. Two Ravens flew over giving us all excellent views. We walked on to a second viewpoint where we had good views of a female Sparrowhawk as it flew over the woodland beneath us and four more Ravens flew past. We also saw a party of ten House Martins making their way south on migration and a field in the distance contained a good number of corvids, including Jackdaw and Rook. As we approached the end of the walk we saw four Linnets drinking in the puddles and finished with a flock of 27 Starlings, giving a total of 28 species. Many thanks to Nick for keeping an excellent record of species seen. It was a very enjoyable morning with part of the walk following the Cotswold Way and there were information boards giving some interesting details of the Battle of Lansdown that took place in 1643. We are very grateful to Robert for devising and leading the walk. Mike Landen
Gale force winds and torrential rain did not deter the two brave birders who joined us for this walk. The decision was made to head to Goldcliff and take cover in the hides but that was after a hot drink in the cafe and a scan of the pond, which yielded Gadwall, Moorhen, Mallard and a House Sparrow. The lagoons at Goldcliff were more wet mud than water and some were totally dry but the birds were there. Braving the winds were Grey Heron and Little Egret with Lapwing, Ringed Plover and summer-plumaged Dunlin all huddled close in to the grass. We watched a Kestrel trying to hunt and hover but it resorted to fence post hopping. A Snipe did a brief flight and a Curlew was seen on the bank. A number of Common Sandpipers ran along the muddy edges and a few Teal were noted. The moving herd of cows brought Starling and Yellow Wagtail in their wake. Just as we were thinking of heading home, a pair of Greenshanks caught our attention and with them a Wood Sandpiper. Having expected to find very little due to the weather we managed to see 26 species in all. (Many thanks to Margaret and Ray for some very brave leading.) Margaret Bulmer
Fortunately, it was still cloudy when 19 of us set out from Clevedon – the hot sun came through later. Walking up through the golf course we saw Herring Gulls, House Sparrows, swooping Swallows and a family of five crows on the roof of the barn. A couple of Greenfinches were on the wall. We stopped to look at the Severn but nothing showed, so we proceeded along the path beside the golf course with its high hedges and picked up some butterflies, mostly Speckled Woods and Gatekeepers and a Common Blue, and heard a Pheasant, a Robin and a Green Woodpecker. Coffee was taken in the big field overlooking the sea, the only birds being a Blue Tit in the adjoining garden and a Magpie, then Goldfinches in the bushes. The coast path was quiet too, but we found the odd Black-headed gull among the rocks and seaweed, including one juvenile. Two Grey Wagtails flew over the rocks and we saw a Crow with white markings on the wings. After we left the coast path, a Greenfinch was spotted flying across the field and it obligingly perched in full view on top of a bush. Once into the wood approaching Walton Common, we heard Buzzard, Goldcrest and Bullfinch. Lunch was taken under the trees and afterwards we saw several Dark Green Fritillary butterflies, eventually getting a perfect view of one on a flower head as we descended from the Common. Also, a Coal Tit was actually singing. In the wood leading back to the golf course we heard Chaffinch and another Green Woodpecker. Back in the open we saw a Buzzard hovering (no, it was not a Kestrel!). It was a nice walk in spite of the small number of species (22) in the heat – and I hope everyone enjoyed it – I enjoyed the recce too! (Thanks to Judy for leading – Ed) Judy Copeland
Nineteen started out under leaden sky and spitting rain that welcomed us and new members Sarah and Chris. A Buzzard and the first of the interminable Woodpigeon started our count, with a gap in the trees showing a vast host of Corvid on what looked like a newly harvested field. The lake had only a lone Grey Heron on the edge, and a singing Blackcap in the surrounding scrub. The upland, towards Horton, gave some Swallows, and the first of the tinkling Goldfinch we saw during the walk. The sun turned the day a deal warmer, although the bands of high cloud did keep us cool. We counted Swift, House Martin and House Sparrow as we negotiated the streets of Horton, with a Greenfinch on a suite of feeders and the school building sporting a couple of Pied Wagtails. The view from the coffee stop was magnificent, away across Bristol, over the Severn and on towards Wales. The raptor count was upped to two with the appearance of a Sparrowhawk and not much further along, a newly harvested field was being skimmed by 50 Swallows with juveniles on the wire waiting to be fed. One sharp pair of eyes discerned that actually one of the perched Swallows was a Yellowhammer and then the call and song of Goldcrest was heard which lead to a fruitful search for a sight of the gold crowned one. The path across the rape field was a convenient place for a couple of the party to return to their cars. We continued across the field, adding Skylark, and Linnet. On towards The Fort where we saw a big mixed flock of tits, with a couple of Chiffchaff amongst them, feeding in succession from scrubby bush to scrubby bush. After our lunch stop at Old Sodbury Church and the reduction in our numbers by those bent on a pub lunch, we found a Linnet singing from a power wire, a brilliantly coloured male with a vibrantly crimson chest. A flash of white and a harsh screech revealed a Jay and, as the path took us towards the cars, a Chaffinch made the total for the day – 36. (Thanks to Nick for leading – Ed).
As 19 walkers prepared to enter Plumbers Trench, on a cooler day than of late, Nuthatch, Blackcap, and Wren were heard around the car park. The reserve soon lived up to its reputation as a butterfly hotspot as three Silver-washed Fritillaries were seen in the sunshine, followed by a glimpse of a White Admiral. The birds were quiet until we approached the edge of the wood when Coal Tit and Blue Tit were calling, together with another Nuthatch and Wren. Crossing a field of stubble towards Wickwar we saw the first of five Buzzards. Some Woodpigeons and Goldfinch were seen and heard. Hirundines were seen over the village, and then flying closer; six House Martins, four Swallows, and 20 Swifts. Entering a small wood with a stream we heard the ‘yaffle’ of Green Woodpecker and calls of two Great-spotted Woodpeckers. A Bullfinch was heard from a hedge and four Linnets flew across a field as we approached the coffee stop in the shade of three young oaks. Along the edge of a recently mown meadow there were three more Goldfinches and a Blackcap. Near a brook two Grey Wagtail were added as we re-entered Lower Woods which was again quiet until we joined Horton Great Trench. As well as being “awash with Silver-washed” the woodland margin revealed a female Blackcap making a good fist of imitating Marsh Tit, and a Coal Tit was calling in the expected manner. In a clearing before the descent to the river we had our best birding moments. A Bullfinch was calling and one of two Spotted Flycatchers gave very good views as a large hawker dragonfly patrolled below. Returning to the car park a Chiffchaff song was heard and finally a few phrases of Blackcap song. This very enjoyable walk had yielded 24 species. Many thanks to Jean for leading and to Nick for keeping the list.
On a sunny morning that promised to be very hot nine of us met in the layby on the A420 next to Marshfield, making sure to find a shady spot for each car. At 09:00 we set off along the track leading to West Littleton Road in the hope of seeing a Little Owl somewhere around the outbuilding. Although its old haunt had been disrupted by repair work the bird was back and did not disappoint; perching briefly and going in and out of a small hole with food for its young. What a delightful start to our walk! Continuing along West Littleton Road, two birds on the wire were confirmed (thanks to those who carried ‘scopes in spite of the heat) as Corn Buntings; we were pleased to find five in total. In a field on the left three Red-legged Partridges were spotted; a pleasing sight as they have been hard to find recently. Yellowhammer song dominated and soon we saw several, including a bright yellow bird adorning a power pole’s electrical apparatus. As we turned into Rushmead Lane a beautiful dark Buzzard, which had been perched, flew up the valley and a Wren sang out. Dusty farm buildings and machinery hosted a family of six Pied Wagtails. Our walk along the lane gave several Skylarks, flocks of Jackdaws, Carrion Crows and Rooks but small birds other than Yellowhammer (Dunnock, Chaffinch, and Linnet) were in ones or twos only. Before reaching Tormarton Road we turned back along the lane, pleased to hear a distant Whitethroat before we took a footpath across the field to the rough farm track, Northfield Lane. Two Swifts were spotted overhead to add to the Swallows and House Martins seen swooping over the land. The track proved to be hot and rough going but we were rewarded by the drama of a Sparrowhawk darting out of a tree mobbed by four Swallows. Back at the outbuilding the Little Owl was apparently having a rest from the unbroken sunshine. We concluded our walk soon after midday, happy with the birds we had seen and to finish on the note of a Bullfinch call. We had 26 species altogether and a most enjoyable walk. Thanks to our leader Mike Jackson.
Ten of us set out up the steps and into some shade. A Chiffchaff was located skulking in the cover and a couple of Blue Tit juveniles put on an acrobatic display – letting us get very close. Two Swallows were reported from the back of the group, while the front counted Black-headed Gulls, Shelduck and heard the first Skylark. Across the scorched grass and hot slippery stones, where above us the first of the Swifts appeared, with the crack and rattle of a Magpie and the liquid tinkle of Linnet – with quite a few bouncing about, we’d added three more to our total. As we dropped towards the Point, first Whitethroat and then Stonechat were seen and heard. Turning back along the seaward edge of the point a Greenfinch ‘wheezed’ and we flushed the usual breeding Rock Pipit from the rock face at the coffee stop in the pebbly cove. Above and behind us, three more walkers were seen, making their way carefully down and bought reports of three Rock Pipit and another Greenfinch from the very end of the Point. Skylark and Swift accompanied us as we walked the browning turf, with only Carrion Crow and Meadow Pipit being added before we reached the River Banwell and lunch. There were a few Oystercatchers and a couple of Mallard seen as we sat in the not very cool shade to munch our food, but we did benefit from the light breeze whispering in from the estuary. The tramp over the ‘Field System’, that once covered the whole of the downs, was hot. Skylark and Meadow Pipit were frequently seen and, lifting briefly from the hedge, our first raptor, a Kestrel. Our 29th and final bird species was House Sparrow, flying around the very welcome ice-cream van awaiting our return at the car park. (Thanks to Nick for leading – Ed).
Six members met in the small car park for this morning walk. The recent heat wave may have put many people off attending, but in fact the morning was pleasantly cool due to light cloud cover and a helpful breeze. From the car park Reed Bunting, Chaffinch, Wren, Goldfinch and a Buzzard were seen. We followed the usual route to the pool with good numbers of Swallows and House Martins as well as Whitethroat, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Crows and Jackdaws. We crossed the field to the road and headed uphill towards the radio mast with constant Skylark song in the background. As we went down the hedge-enclosed track we stopped to view a dragonfly and some of the many butterflies. A number of Meadow Pipits were in the adjoining fields. Long Wood was noted for the aggressive horseflies attacking all and sundry, although we did have fleeting glimpses of Treecreeper, Song Thrush, Robin, and heard Great Tit, Coal Tit and Nuthatch as we rushed through. It was a relief to get to Velvet Bottom, although birds were sparse and, disappointingly, no Redstarts were in evidence. Three of us took a slightly longer route back to the car park and were rewarded with fine views of Linnets in vibrant summer plumage and a solitary Stonechat. Overall 32 species listed. (Thanks to Sue and Nigel for leading – Ed).
It was an extremely hot day with temperatures up to 29C and sun in a clear blue sky. Consequently, there were fewer walkers than usual and we walked the circuit in reverse so that the open fields were tackled first downhill. We heard three Yellowhammer and saw one in an Ash tree. The village held the usual House Sparrow and Jackdaw and several houses were adorned with House Martin nests. At the Litton reservoirs we enjoyed welcome shade and we saw a pair of Mute Swans, Moorhen, Little Grebe, Cormorant, two Grey Herons, and a Little Egret. Both Grey and Pied Wagtails flitted around. The only ducks were Mallard and Tufted. Two Common Buzzards flew over calling. Chiffchaff and Blackcap were still singing. We saw Blue, Great, Coal and Long-tailed Tits. There were many Dragonflies and Damselflies. Other birds of note were a Starling nesting in a hole in the wall of a house, Song Thrush and two Mistle Thrush, with at least eight Wren singing. 37 species were recorded in total. (Thanks to Sue and John for leading, Ed) Sue Prince
With little or no sun, it was hot and humid all day, as one guy we met said ‘the horse flies are biting and drawing blood’. The climb out of the car park allowed all 17 to see and hear many Jackdaw, all busy hoovering up some, but not all, of the wretched flies. The first Whitethroat was heard and for the impatient – not seen, while those at the rear had good views. A gang of four Magpies where ‘chacking’ and ‘cracking’ over something, unseen by us, in the grass. The hasty song of Dunnock, the tumbling refrains of a Garden Warbler, the first distant song of a Skylark, the near drowning out sound of two Song Thrushes and the tinkling of a couple of Linnets took us to the start of Velvet Bottom itself. The sharp eyed caught the quick drop, from hovering, of a Kestrel, and the keen eared, the sound of Coal Tit and the first Willow Warbler singing his mournful song. As we wandered along, the hedge line was temporary home to more Whitethroat, a Blackcap, some Robins, the first family of Great Tits and four Swallows who went skimming past. As we neared the coffee stop a pair of Bullfinches flew across, the one and only Swift slalomed away and the obligatory Buzzard circled. Above our usual seating area, where the bushes began, we found two Redstarts – both juvenile, who were happily foraging, so very close to us, and reducing the biting fly population in the process. As we entered Long Wood the call of a Great Spotted Woodpecker chipped out, the ‘ooh-ut ooh-ut’ of a Stock Dove was heard and the first Chiffchaff called. We braved the nasty-bitey flies all across the downs to the aerials; we added to the count of Linnets then finally back to the cars, with Goldfinch bringing the tally to 34 and a shocking number of bites. Many thanks to Geoff for leading us on this wonderful walk. Nick Hawkridge