We didn’t fill the yard with our cars, but 24 walkers still required a fair meterage. After we had counted the Swallows using the barn, our host Melanie took us first to their ochre quarry at the back of Redhouse Farm. It is a large site extensively worked in the past with its refined product being shipped all over the world. The tranquillity was palpable, the sun came out and butterflies exposed themselves to our scrutiny. A Common Blue and a Gatekeeper; fresh out the packet, were much photographed. Bullfinch, Nuthatch, Chiffchaff and Robin were heard and after a long period of song, a quick flash of a Coal Tit. All these were below the lip of quarry, while above, a Raven scooted by and a lone Lesser Black-backed Gull rowed his way from the direction of Chew/Blagdon. Afternegotiating the many chickens, we saw a vast corvid cloud erupt over the trees, and not long after, at the coffee stop, we had good sightings of Goldcrest, Blue and Great Tit and a fair few Chaffinch. Leaving the fields, we turned right onto Hen Lane and followed it to Kingdown, spying a Tawny Owl box in a very exposed position. The houses in the hamlet were well populated with House Sparrow but nothing stirred beneath the closed canopy of Kingdown Lane. Once out onto Felton Common things brightened up, a Willow Warbler sang and a most obliging female Yellowhammer came and sat for an admirably long time. Various aeroplanes trundled over as we wandered towards the airstrip where the eaves of The Round House could be seen to be teeming with House Martin. Turning now to cross the common we came upon some Linnet, a couple of Stonechat and a Whitethroat; debate on the validity of Redstart was inconclusive, so it failed to get on the list. As we left the common, more Chiffchaff called above us in the bushes and a thin Buzzard -like call was heard but not identified conclusively. Our penultimate bird, and only seen by a few, was a Spotted Flycatcher, one of a family that were breeding here earlier. Our final and 34th species was a pair of Collared Dove, seen in the farmyard, where we offered our hearty thanks to Melanie for a delightful birding walk. Nick Hawkridge
29 walkers gathered at the Failand Inn as the clear air after rain gave some fine long views. Walking up the lane to Failand Lodge Farm we had Mistle Thrush and Chaffinch. Two Swallows flew over, the first of a dozen tracking our progress. However, gathering Linnet, Goldfinch, and Starling highlighted a change in the ornithological season. The first of these was a flock of 40-50 Linnets, flitting between a hedge along a field of brassicas and telegraph wires above. Goldfinches, in smaller numbers, flew in noisy groups. Three Buzzards were seen, and then splendid close views of a Kestrel showing brilliant colour in the sun. In the distance both Severn bridges gave a marvellous backdrop. Along a woodland edge we added Nuthatch and Green Woodpecker to the list and three House Martin flew over. Entering woodland after coffee we encountered Goldcrest, Coal Tit, and Wren. Three Ravens ‘cronked’ over some newly restored barns, with one tumbling. Two Swifts, possibly our last of the year, were fuelling up for their journey. We had further fine estuary views as Chiffchaff called. As we entered the Tyntesfield estate there were many Wood Pigeons over the harvested fields, and a Roe Deer bounded into a wood. We ended our walk as warm sun returned, with sight of Blue Tit, call of Wren and finally a Lesser Black-backed Gull on the field. Thanks to Nick for keeping the list, a total of 27 species. Thank you to Maureen and Bill Dobie for leading this excellent walk. Gareth Roberts
On a bright sunny morning 27 members set off from Bridge Yate for a walk along the Dramway and across farmland and woodland south of Siston. On the way to the Dramway, an old track bed for hauling coal, we picked up Collared Doves, Chaffinch and Great Tit and four Swifts flew overhead. Moving along the Dramway numerous Robins were heard and at least three Treecreepers were seen but Bullfinches often seen here were in short supply apart from a fleeting sight of a tail flying into the bushes. As we walked in Warmley Forest Park towards Siston Court, Great Spotted and Green Woodpeckers were heard, a couple of Buzzards soared over us and Swallows and martins were about. A solitary juvenile Coot dodged in and out of reeds on a pond, Chiffchaffs were heard and an eagle-eyed walker saw a Grey Heron in the distance. The tail end for the group saw a Sparrowhawk and Kestrel passing overhead and later four Linnet nearby. Going back to the car park two Whitethroat and a Jay were heard and Pied Wagtail, Blue Tit and Long-tailed Tit added to the list. Thanks to David for leading a good walk which yielded 37 species. Mark Watson
A cloudless sky and hot sun brought out 17 people. We walked up to the Golf Club buildings where we found a roof covered with 16 Swallows, and also House Sparrow, Blue Tit, Woodpigeon, Coal Tit, Blackbird, Pied Wagtail and Goldfinch. On the gate leading to the track was a juvenile Robin and through the hedge we could see a large number of Herring Gulls and two Lesser Black-backed Gulls, presumably pursuing grounded flying ants on the grass. On the track above the sea we added Linnet and Carrion Crow and one Black-headed Gull on the estuary, but butterflies here were more numerous than birds – Speckled Wood, Meadow Brown, Red Admiral, Gatekeeper, Comma and Brimstone. During coffee in the field, we found two Green-veined Whites with a Small White gathered together on one spot of dried mud. The coast path did not yield much except a high tide and lapping water, but there was one Mallard on a rock pool, one Rock Pipit, occasional Black-headed Gulls, and Wren was heard. Up on Walton Common we saw a Buzzard, Long-tailed Tits, Magpie, Jay and three Swifts, and enjoyed our picnics in the shade. After moving off beside the woodland along the Common towards Walton we found several Silver-washed Fritillaries and a large blue dragonfly – maybe an Emperor. We walked back to Clevedon Golf Course up a wooded footpath and arrived back at the cars at 1400 hrs. The temperature was 28ºC ! Judy Copeland
About a dozen people met on a rather overcast and windy evening, not ideal for finding Quail and in fact we didn’t hear any of them although several were reported singing around Marshfield on that date. However, there was compensation in the form of two Little Owls sitting out on a rooftop, and good views of Red-legged Partridge, Yellowhammer and quite a lot of Corn Buntings which were sitting on the wires or hovering over the barley before dropping out of sight into it. Other observations included two Buzzards and a Kestrel, a scattering of the large gulls drifting about over the fields, a few Swifts and plenty of Swallows, a Skylark or two (not singing any longer), lots of young Starlings flocking in their teenage gangs and some Linnets. Keep trying, those Quail are out there somewhere though more likely to call on a calm and sunny evening. Jane Cumming
23 members met on a fine and sunny morning. July is often a quiet month for birding but our morning walk from Hinton Blewitt to the Litton reservoirs via Coley was full of interest. We had excellent views of a male Kestrel hovering and two Buzzards. There were plenty of Swallows, House Martins and a few Swifts. One house had several House Martin nests and we saw the adults coming in with insects for the young. We had lovely views of both Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers. Many young birds were seen including Little Grebe, Pied and Grey Wagtail, Coot and Tufted Duck. A young Heron stood in a tree and a rather muddy Little Egret stood at the water’s edge. Three Bullfinches and families of Goldfinches and Greenfinches along with Linnets and a female Chaffinch and House Sparrows were around the villages of Hinton and Coley. We heard Skylark singing over the fields of barley. It was a most enjoyable walk. (Thanks to John and Sue Prince for leading). Sue Prince
This was a joint meeting of Bristol Ornithological Club and Bristol Naturalists’ Society with an attendance of 28. We met at New Fancy View car park and climbed up to the viewing platform. The birds were generally quiet although Siskin were heard. On the way down some were fortunate to have a splendid view of a male Crossbill at the top of a conifer. We then had a walk around one of the Cannop Ponds. A number of Mandarin Duck were seen including eclipse males, females and juveniles. Grey Wagtails, both adult and juveniles, were active around the outfall. Swallows and Swifts hunted insects over the water.
We then drove to the car park beyond Speech House and walked up to the Crabtree Hill clearing. Linnets and a Stonechat were seen and heard as we positioned ourselves for the main target species of the evening. After about 20 minutes the first “churring” was heard indicating that a Nightjar was indeed present. There then followed a magical half hour, right through dusk, of frequent sightings of Nightjar, some close enough to observe the white spots on the wings of the males. There were at least four birds and the highlight was seeing a bird perching lengthwise on a branch giving a marvellous view in silhouette. About 40 species were encountered during the evening. (Thanks to Mike for coping with quite a large multi-club trip.) Mike Johnson
We set off from the Crown Inn, Churchill on a grey morning with rain forecast to visit the National Trust land at Dolebury Warren which is managed by Avon Wildlife Trust. As 14 of us left the car park Robin, Wood Pigeon, Carrion Crows and House Sparrow were seen or heard. On a short path though woodland we descended to cross the A38 seeing Blue Tit, Long-tailed Tit and a Song Thrush. We took the easier way up onto Dolebury Warren Hillfort and on the way more Blue Tit and a Coal Tit appeared. Once on top of the fort we walked around the boundary dyke seeing Herring and Lesser Black-backed Gulls overhead and a few Swallows doing aerial acrobatics – always great to see. Going through scrub to the far end of our walk a Linnet provided excellent views on top of a hawthorn bush and numerous Goldfinch chattered and flew about, occasionally landing on the scrub. Whilst taking coffee four Green Woodpeckers flew back and forth along the edge of some woodland and occasionally sat on a tussock of grass allowing a reasonable view, though as is the way of things they more often than not sat behind tussocks. A heavy downpour happily coincided with a canopy of trees so we donned waterproofs for the return journey which had the satisfactory result that after five minutes the rain stopped and it stayed dry to the end of the walk. The return added Buzzard, Meadow Pipit, Kestrel, Bullfinch, Mistle Thrush and Blackcap to our list giving a total 27 species. (Thanks to Mark for leading.) Mark Watson
Robin, Alastair and I met in Shirehampton from which it was barely a two-hour drive to Dinas, rather than the three hours threatened in Club News. What a pity that no-one else joined us for a pleasant and peaceful walk through this lovely old oak forest with a rushing torrent running through it and high hills on all sides. There were still plenty of Wood Warblers dancing through the oak leaves, now uttering a somewhat half-hearted trilling song, and Redstarts with juveniles around the woodland edges. We saw two or three Spotted Flycatchers but were unable to locate a Pied Flycatcher – they breed here, but perhaps have already disappeared into the high canopy with their fledglings. The boulder-clogged river produced a Dipper and both Pied and Grey Wagtails. Overhead, Swallows and House Martins hunted, and across the river on a steep grassy slope we picked out a Stonechat family and a Wheatear. Ravens ‘cronked’ overhead now and then and we saw one each of Buzzard and Red Kite. Wrens were still in good voice and the woodlands held Song and Mistle Thrush, all five of the expected tit species and a few more common warblers.
After a picnic lunch watching a Great Tit coming in for mealworms, we went up to the local reservoir where Robin thought he heard a Tree Pipit, and then checked out another quiet valley or two full of Swallows and Redstarts, but not the Common Sandpipers we were looking for. However, we had a lovely day in this wild and empty part of Wales. Thanks to Robin for leading and Alastair for driving. Jane Cumming
This is a really lovely walk across open hills and through wooded combes on top of the Mendips, and 23 members turned up to enjoy it. Song had definitely quietened down, with Song Thrushes and Wrens still making plenty of noise but hardly a peep from Robins and Blackbirds. The warblers were still singing – the group heard Blackcaps, Whitethroat, Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers. Plenty of Swallows and House Martins were swooping about overhead. On the highest footpath we encountered Meadow Pipits and a family of Stonechats. In the woodlands we found a family of Nuthatches, a Treecreeper and a Goldcrest. The target bird, Redstart, held out until nearly the end of the walk, but we found at least one adult and a juvenile by the reedy pool close to the car park where we’d started. Other species included a Buzzard, Stock Doves and a Reed Bunting. Two people took a shortcut back to the car park and were rewarded with views of a family of Spotted Flycatchers which the rest of us missed. A selection of crows, tits and finches took my total to 33 species but I suspect I missed a few. Thanks to Geoff for leading one of the most scenic walks in our calendar and for only overrunning by 45 minutes!