Bristol Ornithological Club
May 08 2013

Trip report: Shapwick Heath (7 May 2013)

26 members met at Natural England’s Shapwick Heath car park on the first hot day of the year. In the morning we walked towards Noah’s Lake but the way was barred as the bridge to Meare Hide had been removed for maintenance and the main path closed just before the lake. After a picnic lunch in the car park we headed towards the RSPB Ham Wall reserve. Altogether 50 species were recorded during the day with the highlights being a Garden Warbler and a Cetti’s Warbler singing in view, a pair of Great White Egrets getting ‘cosy’, a pair of Marsh Harriers soaring over the reed bed, up to 15 Hobbies feeding on the wing in one group, a flock of eleven Bar-tailed Godwits in summer plumage and a Cuckoo calling and posing on a branch close to the path. A brilliant hot day birding.

May 05 2013

Trip report: Blaise Woods (4 May 2013)

To help with birdsong recognition, Judy was persuaded by Alison to lead this meeting ,but in fact the best birder in the group was Luca, a young Italian who had picked up the meeting from our website -as had Lucile, a young French girl. With Brenda and Stephen, who also travelled by bus, we six made up the entire party. It was blustery with showers, but sheltered within the woods, where there was abundant birdsong and we constantly had to stop to identify the variety of songs and sounds heard. Two Stock Doves were seen perched on a bare tree trunk and also heard –which delighted Luca as he had not heard the call before as they only winter in Italy. Blue Tits, Great Tits and Coal Tits flitted about, together with one Long-tailed Tit, but not the Marsh Tit which had been seen by the mill on the recce two days previously. Several loud Blackcaps sang, but only one was seen; a Green Woodpecker laughed in the distance and Luca heard a Great Spotted Woodpecker drumming. A Grey Wagtail flitted down the stream and there was a Mallard pair on the pond. As we scaled the steps to the Folly, we had a glimpse of a Raven, and a Nuthatch lurked in the bushes in full song. At the end of the walk, we saw two Mistle Thrushes; one of which obligingly landed and serenaded us with its song.  Other songsters included Chiffchaff, Song Thrush, Goldcrest, Robin and Blackbird, and a screeching Jay, which together with the other usual culprits seen around Blaise, brought our total up to 25 species.  This was a pleasant morning in a wonderful habitat right on our doorstep and an extremely useful session in identifying bird song in the field.

Mar 27 2013

Trip report: Hambrook (26 March 2013)

It was cold but dry and 29 birders, having placed lunch orders, left the ‘White Horse’ to meander around the many footways of the area. Not surprisingly, Mallard seen on Bradley Brook was first on our list of 22 species, which included Siskin, Skylark, Grey Wagtail and Fieldfare. Green Woodpecker put in a few calls as we walked across Bury Fort and Buzzard and Magpie also put in a brief appearance there. Ransom’s garlic scented the air beside the River Frome where a coffee stop was made and two members provided some delicious nibbles. There were 24 birders in the pub for lunch and a presentation by the ‘Princes’ was made to our outgoing super-organiser, Peter Holbrook.

Mar 20 2013

Trip report: Badminton (19 March 2013)

With a trusty co-leader like Duncan and 30 enthusiastic walkers we were all set for a brisk trot around this four and a half mile bird walk. From the playgroup school – where three male Blackbirds chased and squabbled, we crossed the village green to find Mistle Thrushes fighting in the trees, Jackdaws all cosy in pairs and Greenfinches singing lustily from atop the, as yet, budless trees. Along Roach’s Lane where the feeders at Corner House were rich in tits and finches, and the trees above us were filled with the sound of chattering Starlings and the soft ‘chuck chuck’ of Fieldfares. They duly lifted off and flew to a single leafless Oak, displaying themselves to us allowing an inspection of size and posture differences. Along the beginning of the Seven Mile Plantation our first raptor of the day, a Buzzard, was perched on a wall, and we enjoyed our coffee break, soaking up the warm sun. Along the first half of the airstrip, we descended to cross the stream where a bright male Yellowhammer showed his canary-colouring to the whole party. As we walked towards Little Badminton several more were seen, along with Fieldfares, Jackdaws and Starlings. Our second and final raptor, a male Kestrel, alighted on the power lines and then flew off towards the American Barn. In the Deer Park, by its northern entrance, we passed the lake where a 14 pair of Canada Geese took to the water and about 150 Common Gulls were at roost on the grass beyond. The final stretch was through the stables and past the kennels, where a lively couple of male Greenfinches called and sang in their best circular swivel-hipped courtship dance, trying desperately to win the favours of the four or five females in the audience. Our tally of 28 species was, alas, missing some we might have expected to see at this time of year and, with the benefit of previous visits, had hoped to: no Chiffchaffs, no Woodpeckers, no Owls, no Ducks, but still, a lovely morning to be out birding.

Mar 18 2013

Trip report: Whiteford Burrows (17 March 2013)

Ten members met in the car park in the pretty village of Cwm Ivy where a Jay, Green Woodpecker and Coal Tits were spotted to give the day a flying start. The weather was perfect being sunny with no wind and, although a little cold, it warmed up pleasantly as the day went on. The descent to the woods turned up a Treecreeper, Wrens, Siskins and Goldcrests. Emerging from the woods on to the sand dunes we were delighted with Skylarks, Meadow Pipits and Stonechats. We then proceeded to the beach where there were Sanderling, Ringed Plover, Dunlin, a large flock of Oystercatchers, Curlew, and Common Gulls; spectacular numbers of Brent Geese gaggled away to each other. Lunch was taken overlooking the estuary towards Burry Port and Llanelli with a backdrop of the snow-covered Black Mountain. How lucky we were to be eating our lunch watching Eider and Red-breasted Mergansers with a few Turnstones thrown in for good measure. It was back through the wood where a Raven, Song Thrush and Long-tailed Tits were spotted. The path over the marsh was quite wet but walking under the trees to our ascent up the hill revealed more Goldcrests and Robins. Forty-two species were recorded for the day. Thank you to Roger for leading a perfect birding day.

Mar 13 2013

Trip report: Bristol City Centre (12 March 2013)

No rain this year on our urban walk – just snow! However, nothing daunted, nine, then ten and eventually a round dozen members turned up. We made our usual start crossing Pero’s Bridge from where we saw Herring and Lesser Black-backed Gulls. With low temperatures and a strong wind, we weren’t surprised at having to work hard at spotting any birds but the chocolate-coloured heads of Black-headed Gulls reminded us that the season is changing. In spite of exposed mud along the New Cut we didn’t find a Common Sandpiper this year or a Redshank, though we saw the latter later. A group of Starlings flew over us and a Kestrel (our only raptor of the day) put in an appearance. By now, even this hardy bunch of members decided that coffee inside the Create Centre was a good idea and we lingered long enough to take a look at the display of “found” plastics in the gallery. With the sun now out, such small birds as Chaffinch, Goldfinch and Dunnock lengthened our list and we started back towards the Centre adding Grey Heron and Jackdaw. More than half the party took up the offer of yet another coffee in our leader’s flat and enjoyed great views of the SS Great Britain and Harbourside. For the final three of the party, Brandon Hill produced only an extra couple of species: Great and Blue Tits, thus making the total tally 21. Thanks Margaret for: leading, your local knowledge, and that second coffee!

Mar 06 2013

Trip report: Forest of Dean (5 March 2013)

Twenty-four members, joined by another before we left New Fancy View, gathered for the annual Tuesday morning Forest of Dean expedition. As the sun had already been shining for some hours we optimistically kept our eyes peeled for possible sunning adders on the climb up to the viewing point where the visibility wasn’t gin- clear, but quite good enough for us to enjoy repeated flypasts with some aerobatic manoeuvres by the local Ravens. While in the car park, we had already heard a Song Thrush singing. An early distant view of a raptor was judged to be a Peregrine. Buzzards and Sparrowhawks were also seen but not a Goshawk and few smaller birds. However, everyone seemed to be smiling – an hour of warm sun on our backs and wall-to-wall blue sky made sure of that. We moved on to Speech House where, predictably, the Mistle Thrushes were in the field and then, as we walked through the woods down to Beechenhurst, we spotted all the usual suspects including Greenfinch, Coal Tit, Goldcrest, Wren and many singing Robins. On to the picnic site at Cannop Ponds and mid-summer (English!) temperatures. Here we did have to jump up from our lunches to view, at last, a circling Goshawk. There were also Long-tailed Tits flitting through the Alder catkins and a Grey Wagtail nearby, plus, of course, the handsome Mandarin Ducks among the Coots, Moorhens, Little Grebes, Tufted Ducks, etc. on the lake. En route to Nagshead Reserve we saw the Greylags and some of the party saw Marsh Tit and Siskin. A visit to the Bruce Campbell hide gave good views of Nuthatch and, although a final walk through the oakwoods didn’t add to our total of 35 species, or reveal any Hawfinches or Crossbills, Colin was able to show us evidence of the latter on some discarded cones. Many thanks are due to him for both leading a very enjoyable walk and the work put in beforehand on his recces.

Mar 03 2013

Trip report: Forest of Dean (2 March 2013)

The ancient woodland of the Forest of Dean made a welcome start to March as 22 BOC members joined a walk with chairman, Ed Drewitt, starting off around the RSPB’s Nagshead reserve. Blackbirds were all over the woodland, scattering as we approached them along the footpaths – many were probably migrants getting ready for their journeys northeast back to Scandinavia. The songs of Coal, Blue, and Great Tits rang throughout the woods, while the drumming call of a Great Spotted Woodpecker entertained us all. Nuthatches, with their Morse-code style calls were relatively easily to find, while the mouse-like Treecreeper took a little more time, but was spotted nonetheless. Siskins were often evident, especially close to the car park where some were in the trees, and others were chasing each other and singing simultaneously. After an hour and a half walk, we drove to the New Fancy Viewpoint – but the low cloud and cool temperatures made little opportunity for Goshawks to display. However, most of the group did see a very distant Goshawk, though for many it was difficult to identify as it drifted in and out of sight. Moving on to Speech House, we checked the nearby playing field for thrushes – it was busy with various Redwings, Blackbirds, Song Thrushes, and at least three Mistle Thrushes. What was even more surprising was that another field nearby contained more Song Thrushes than Redwings! We came to the conclusion these must have been migrants, fattening themselves up on earthworms. Two Stock Doves were perched in an oak tree, and some of the group watched a Magpie feeding on the wound of a sheep (the sheep was completely oblivious!). Back at the car park, some extra bird food laid out by some members attracted dozens of Chaffinches; Blue, Great, and Coal Tits; a Pied Wagtail; at least two Nuthatches and Blackbirds. Before we moved on, a Treecreeper flew into a tree nearby. Our final stop was Cannop Ponds – by now the cloud was breaking, and in glorious sunshine we enjoyed seeing over 20 Mandarin Ducks at close view. Meanwhile, the weedy lake was full of Moorhens, at least four Little Grebes, Tufted Ducks (including a hybrid), Coots, Mallards, and domestic ducks. Behind us in the Alder trees some Long-tailed Tits passed by, and some members spotted a Goldcrest and a Grey Wagtail. To complete the day, a Raven flew right in front of us before coming down to the lake bank and then perching in a tree. Two others were soaring in the distance. Finishing just before 1300 hrs, some of the group relaxed with their lunch at Cannop Ponds before visiting some other smaller sites, some 13 spotted at least three displaying Goshawks at New Fancy View (one chasing off a pair), while others caught sight of one or two Twite at Aust on their way home.

Mar 02 2013

Forest of Dean, Saturday 2nd March

The ancient woodland of the Forest of Dean made a welcome start to March as 22 BOC members joined a walk with chair Ed Drewitt, starting off around the RSPB’s Nagshead reserve. Blackbirds were all over the woodland, scattering as we approached them along the footpaths – many were probably migrants getting ready for their journeys northeast back to Scandinavia. The songs of Coal Tits, Blue Tits, and Great Tits rang throughout the woods, while the drumming call of a Great Spotted Woodpecker entertained us all. Nuthatches, with their Morse-code style calls were relatively easily to find, while the mouse-like Treecreeper took a little more time, but was spotted nonetheless. Siskins were often evident, especially close to the car park where some were in the trees, and others were chasing each other and singing simultaneously. After an hour and a half walk, we drove to the New Fancy Viewpoint – but the low cloud and cool temperatures made little opportunity for Goshawks to display. However, most of the group did see a very distant Goshawk, though for many it was difficult to identify as it drifted in and out of sight. Moving on to Speech House, we checked the nearby playing field for thrushes – it was busy with various Redwings, Blackbirds, Song Thrushes, and at least three Mistle Thrushes. What was even more surprising was another field nearby contained more Song Thrushes than Redwings! We came to the conclusion these must have been migrants, fattening themselves up on earthworms. Two Stock Doves were perched in an oak tree, and some of the group watched a Magpie feeding on the wound of a sheep (the sheep was completely oblivious!). Back at the car park, some extra bird food laid out by some members attracted dozens of Chaffinches, Blue Tits, Great Tits, Coal, Tits, a Pied Wagtail, at least two Nuthatches, and Blackbirds. Before we moved on a Treecreeper flew into a tree nearby. Our final stop was Cannop Ponds – by now the cloud was breaking, and in glorious sunshine we enjoyed seeing over 20 Mandarin Ducks at close view. Meanwhile, the weedy lake was full of Moorhens, at least four Little Grebes, Tufted Ducks (including a hybrid), Coots, Mallards, and domestic ducks. Behind us in the Alder trees some Long-tailed Tits passed by, and some spotted a Goldcrest and a Grey Wagtail. To complete the day, a Raven flew right in front of us before coming down to the lake bank and then perching in a tree. Two others were soaring in the distance. Finishing just before 1pm, some of the group relaxed with their lunch at Cannop Ponds before visiting some other smaller sites, some spotted at least three displaying Goshawks at New Fancy View (one chasing off a pair), while others caught sight of one or two Twite at Aust on their way home. Ed Drewitt

Feb 27 2013

Trip report: Old Down, Tockington (26 February 2013)

This was a three degrees, cold and dry, easterly breeze morning walk and 18 cheery and enthusiastic members got off on a rapid ramble along the top edge of Sheepcombe Brake, picking up Chaffinch, Dunnock, Blackbird and Blue Tit on the way. Passing The Fox Inn, in the centre of Old Down, we saw a further six species, including Green Woodpecker and Robin, we then took to a steep path down though the wood, where Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Siskin and Bullfinch were noted on the way.  At Lower Hazel we saw Mallard, Buzzard and Herring Gull as we climbed up onto Stroud Common, with Alveston just across the valley. After a refreshment stop on the common we took again to Sheepcombe Brake on a different but equally steep path and then to a small road leading to Tockington. There we adding to the list a Song Thrush, Moorhen, Sparrow Hawk, Raven and Redwing, after which came the long climb back to the cars. With a reasonably good list of 32 birds plus a grey squirrel and no mud on our boots we were all as, or more, cheerful than when we started. Thanks to David Tombs for leading.

Home    Birding    BOC    Gallery    Publications    Resources    Contact