Bristol Ornithological Club
Sep 17 2011

Trip report: Portland (17th September 2011)

Nine members met with Jane, our leader for the day, at Ferrybridge car park at 9.30 on a very blustery day with lots of white horses out to sea. High tide coincided with our arrival and the only birds to be seen were a juvenile Herring Gull, a Black-headed Gull and a diminutive wader which appeared to walk under the BHG; it was of course a Little Stint. Jane briefly outlined the plan for the day and we were off to Portland Bill. Sheltering behind the Obelisk we sea-watched for the best part of an hour. A steady straggle of Gannets was flying down channel into the wind. Two Balearic Shearwaters were picked up but it was doubtful if we all saw both in the rough seas. Otherwise a single auk, various gulls, and some Shags and Cormorants was a poor total for an hour’s watching. We walked along the East Cliff seeing Rock Pipits, a lone Turnstone and several Wheatear. The short grass held small groups of finches – Green and Goldfinches, Linnets, Wagtails (Pied and/or White) Starlings and gulls. We walked up through the cabins area to look at the Obs Quarry. A very obliging Whitethroat sat up in the open but other birds were not so keen. The walk back behind the Pulpit Pub produced a Skylark and some Meadow Pipits, but it was too windy for most species to be in the open.

We drove up to Southwell to check the top fields and were initially serenaded by a noisy group of House Sparrows. Further on we saw two or three Kestrels desperately trying to hover in the little shelter provided by the 8 stunted trees. The wild bird food planted area had only a few finches but the wind was exhilarating with even the resident horses seeking shelter. The pager having alerted us to two Grey Phalaropes at Chesil Cove, we managed to park and were eventually well rewarded by sightings of both birds – not at all easy in the heaving swell and broken waves. The sun was shining strongly as we sat on the seawall seats to eat our lunch and watch the Phalaropes. A lone Razorbill put in a brief appearance to join the small group of BHGs. A memorable lunch stop. Back to Ferrybridge with the tide now well out and lots of mud. Apart from 2 heavy rain showers ( the only ones of the day ) Jane was counting Ringed Plover, was it 86 or 87? Elsewhere was a Little Egret with its plumes blown all over the place, Dunlin, Turnstone, Starlings and a few gulls. In the distance the telescopes picked up Mediterranean Gull and Oystercatcher, Sandwich Terns flew over, identified by call, but otherwise it was very quiet.

We moved on to Radipole RSPB Centre for news of birds in and around Weymouth. Lodmoor appeared to be devoid of birds according to the Centre’s log, so we checked the view from the Centre with 2 Little Stints, a single Snipe and Sand Martin plus the usual fresh water species including the Hooded Merganser of doubtful origin. We stopped at the Tennis Courts car park for a very obliging Arctic Tern. At the end of the day we had seen a reported 53 species between us which considering the weather was quite satisfying. Strangely we failed to see any of the reported Skuas but they will have to wait for another day. Many thank, Jane, for showing us the best of Portland.

David Turner

Sep 13 2011

Trip report: Yatton (13th September 2011)

Not a very bright day, with heavy rain early on, so it was not surprising that only ten people turned up. Collared Dove, House Sparrow and Blackbird were seen around the Church, and as we walked down the Gang Wall path the first Chiffchaff was heard and later seen. A Sparrowhawk was seen by a few as it hedge hopped, and a mixed flock of Long-tailed Tit, Blue Tit and Chiffchaff flitted past at the end of the path which had been protecting us from the rain. This now became heavy, so we put on our wet gear and battled our way across the fields with heads held low. We took a welcome stop at a convenient barn for coffee, as the rain eased and six or seven Greenfinch perched for a while on overhead wires. We saw swooping Swallows, House Martins and one lone Sand Martin over the railway line, with Goldfinch and Kestrel further along at the start of Wemberham Lane and then two Lapwings and a Grey Heron up against a far hedge. A very smart Red Admiral Butterfly was seen posing for a photo shoot and just after that we saw an amazing total of 30 to 40 House Sparrows pecking away in a chicken run. As we made our way back, we added Buzzard, Moorhen, about 30 Mallards, Starling, Dunnock and Great Tit to our list. A total of 32 species was noted. It was also a good walk for butterflies with Comma, Speckled Wood, Small White and lots of Red Admirals.

Geoff Harris

(Many thanks for leading, Geoff.)

Sep 06 2011

Trip report: Blagdon (6th September 2011)

We had an unpromising start with rain which seldom let up throughout the walk. However 13 of us persevered during which time Gadwall, Sand Martin, and Common Tern put in an appearance on the sheltered side of the lake, taken to give us some protection from the elements. Great Spotted Woodpecker was heard and Swallows and House Martins seemed to be gathering for their long journey, but after an hour and a half, we admitted defeat in the face of torrential rain and made our way home. 18 species seen. (Thanks to Margaret for leading.)

Margaret Swatton

Sep 03 2011

Trip report: Chew Valley Lake (3rd September 2011)

Ten members met at Herriotts Bridge on a grey overcast morning for this walk around the various areas of the lake. At Herriott’s Bridge and Pool we observed Water Rail, a Black-tailed Godwit, Green Sandpiper, and seven Ruff as well as Gadwall, Teal, Wigeon, Pochard, Shoveler and Tufted Duck. A Reed Warbler flew across the reed bed and a Wheatear was spotted by the bridge. Moving to Stratford Hide we saw a Greenshank feeding on the mud by the hide and a very large number of Great Crested Grebe. We walked around to Moreton Hide and noted four Common Tern, and a small flock of Ringed Plover. (No sign of any Pec Sand!) We then moved on to Heron’s Green Bay and Pool, which was the last stop and there saw Green Sandpiper, Little Egret, a Common Sandpiper, Common Snipe, two Little Stint and also a small number of Swallow and Sand Martin, 14 Little Grebe and a Grey Wagtail to finish off a good morning’s birding. Total number of species recorded for the morning was 36. Many thanks to Charles for leading and Richard Mielcareck for his help with an identification problem.

Charles Stapleton

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