Bristol Ornithological Club
Apr 30 2012

Trip report: Newport Wetlands (29th April 2012)

On a day dominated by extreme weather with trees toppled, roads flooded, and constant driving rain and wind, we arrived at Newport Wetlands Centre to find that all of three people (including the leader!) were ready to brave the elements. However the birds were undaunted despite the weather, and we totted up a very respectable tally of 36 species in the hour and a half that we spent before tumbling into the café to warm up, and to add a few more species through the window!! Almost as soon as we stepped out of the car Goldfinches were popping out of the bushes, Cetti’s, Sedge and Reed warblers were warbling away in the reeds, and the sound of a pig squealing revealed the presence of a Water Rail. A possible “ping” suggested that there was a Bearded Tit lurking somewhere but they were sensibly not showing themselves in the teeth of the gale. Nearer the shore the tide was out and the mudflats were enjoyed by a Curlew as well as about half a dozen Whimbrel, plus the usual Dunlin, Shelduck and Oystercatchers. On the rocks below us was a flock of rosy Linnets and a brightly plumaged Wheatear. On the ponds were lots of Tufted Ducks and Pochards, and from the newish but nicely recycled hide we saw a very handsome Great Crested Grebe. Swallows and Sand Martins flew over in good numbers, and as we opened the door to the hide, a flock of Swallows twittered their way out through an open window. All the time we were in there they were doing a flypast in front of the hide, and even diving past our faces back into the hide, no doubt checking it out as a possible nest site. Eventually when we got to the point that our binoculars were being blown out of our hands we called it a day. It was a memorable morning, for the birds, the weather and that hot cup of coffee! Thank you very much Charles for leading.

Sue Black

Apr 25 2012

Trip report: Prior’s Wood (24th April 2012)

A glorious day (hardly any rain) and mud glorious mud. Only the leader had her wellies on and a recce just
beforehand would have been a good idea (it was done a month earlier when all was dry and the bluebells were just starting)! The bluebells today gave us a good show, but there will be more to come. We heard plenty of birds singing as we walked up the track, perhaps more Blackcaps than anything else, but a few Chiffchaffs to help those wanting to learn song. Most of us had a good view of a Mistle Thrush high in a tree, a Song Thrush was singing, one Willow Warbler sang close to the track, we heard a Nuthatch and Alison spotted a Treecreeper. The party got well spread out as usual, but we joined up for coffee and a Sparrowhawk was spotted while we were looking at a Buzzard. Skylark was heard when we reached the field above Moat House Farm, a Swallow was seen and I was told that a Tawny Owl called on our return to the wood! Jean pointed out the plant Toothwort and she named a black bobble on a tree trunk as King Alfred’s Cake. We saw Orange Tip, Speckled Wood and Holly Blue butterflies. 32 people, 29 species.

Judy Copeland

Apr 18 2012

Trip report: Gordano Valley (17th April 2012)

On a bright spring morning 19 members walked to the end of Moor Lane and along Clevedon Lane listening to the calls of Blackcap, Whitethroat, Chaffinch, Robin, Goldfinch and Chiffchaff. In the adjacent fields Pheasant and Mallards were feeding as well as Swallows and House Martins on the wing. Crossing the moor we disturbed two Roe Deer. Buzzards and Kestrels were being mobbed over our heads but regretfully we can only confirm as stated on the local and national news the day before that no Redshanks or Lapwings are breeding on the moor as the marshy areas are drying out. The first Willow Warbler was heard and a Reed Bunting flitted along the ditch. As we left the moor an adjacent field held nine Wheatears. After the coffee break (with CWB) we climbed up Common Hill Wood, through the wood to the drumming sound of a Great Spotted Woodpecker, across Walton Common and back down to the cars. A good walk with 29 species recorded.

Peter Holbrook

Apr 15 2012

Trip report: Warmley Forest Park (14th April 2012)

Our morning started cold and damp, but with hope of improvement we set off along the brook into the park. Our first bird was a Blackcap moving through the bushes. As we approached the lake a Willow Warbler gave good views singing on the end of a branch. Through the park and on to the common we had more Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs. On the common everyone had a good view of a resting Tawny Owl. Leaving the common we went on to the lower end of Overscourt Wood with more woodland birds. After crossing to Webbs Heath we had five Swallows skimming the fields. In all 25 species were seen.

Chris Perry

Apr 11 2012

Trip report: Castle Combe (10th April 2012)

The threat of April showers did not deter the 19 members who set out from the car park in Castle Combe. Ravens were circling overhead and birds were in full song in the bushes and ancient hedgerows. Blackcaps, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler were joined by Robin, Dunnock, Chaffinch, Greenfinch and Goldfinch. The most prolific bird of the day was the Nuthatch and it meant that we all were able to get good views and recognise the call. The tea break stop was the signal for the only heavy shower of the day and a mad dash to reach the shelter of the woods. In the woods the bluebells along with wild garlic were coming out and again the Nuthatches were calling. On a sunny bank a slow worm was basking undisturbed until spotted by Pat but it slid back into its hole when we were all peering at it. In the By Brook a Little Egret was finding fish in a pool and two Buzzards were seen overhead. Nearing the end of the walk Coal Tit, Bullfinch and Song Thrush were added and brought the total to 26 species. Thank you to David for leading this walk around a very beautiful area.

Margaret Bulmer

Apr 04 2012

Trip report: Easton-in-Gordano (3rd April 2012)

26 members arrived at the car park, two off the bus, and we set off across the road and over some fields on a bit of local footpath actually not known to all! Dunnock and Greenfinch were singing to start with and we soon added other common species, but there was some uncertainly about a Sparrowhawk/Kestrel before it started hovering. Skylarks were singing, Green Woodpeckers were heard, and later two were seen dodging around a small tree in a garden in Failand (also seen there on the recce). I hope everyone eventually caught a glimpse. Three Buzzards were circling together, a couple of Cormorants flew over and some people managed to see distant Martins flying high, presumably Sand Martins. Two Marsh Tits showed well outside Mulberry Farm, just after I had mentioned the likelihood of seeing them. Tanpit Wood was a miracle of Spring with its celandines, violets and trickling stream, and a Blackcap sang from a branch close to the stile at the top. (Nick opened most of the gates beside the stiles, but sorry about the hills!) As we returned down the fields to E-in-G, at least three Meadow Pipits separated from the Linnet flock and appeared in a tree close to us. A final treat was a bright Speckled Wood butterfly on the ground. 36 bird species in all.

Judy Copeland

Apr 01 2012

Trip report: Sand Point (31st March 2012)

Eight members met in the car park and were immediately listening to Chiffchaffs seemingly singing from every direction. As we walked up on to the Point a Blackcap sang from a hidden perch close to the path, its sweet song filling the air. Overhead passage was quiet with only a few Meadow Pipits moving. At the end of the Point a female Merlin was disturbed from the rocks and flew wide around Sand Bay carrying some small prey, presumably looking for somewhere to sit and feed on it. A dull male Wheatear was located sitting on the rocks allowing scope views, which was nice. As we walked along Middle Hope, overhead passage was enlivened by the odd Redpoll and Siskin. Skylarks were singing, reminding us that it was Spring despite the cold. At St Thomas’s Head we could see Redshank, Shelducks and a Little Egret on the River Banwell and along Woodspring Bay. Three Swallows whizzed past so quickly that not everyone saw them. Only a Kestrel and a pair of Buzzards were spotted on the walk back to the car park. It was a lovely morning.

Paul Gregory

Mar 28 2012

Trip report: Hambrook (27th March 2012)

A magnificent weather day brought out 41 walkers – quite a crowd – to the White Horse car park. The walk was firstly beside the motorway where, thankfully, traffic noise was reduced by the easterly breeze. By the time we had reached Quarry Barton and Bradley Brook Bridge 16 birds, including Great Spotted Woodpecker, Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Jay and Mallard, had been seen. Then, at a bridge over the River Frome, we spotted Grey Wagtail, Kingfisher, Sparrowhawk, Goldfinch, Goldcrest and Treecreeper. A refreshment break was held in Huckford Old Quarry Nature Reserve before walking beside the Frome and then up to Bury Hill Iron Age Fort. Dropping back down to river level, Dipper, Bullfinch, Green Woodpecker, Grey Heron and Moorhen brought the total to 37 species on a very varied habitat walk of about four miles in perfect conditions.

David Tombs

Mar 21 2012

Trip report: Bridgeyate (20th March 2012)

26 members gathered on a mild spring morning for this walk through varied habitat. Near the start, some agitated corvids drew attention to a Sparrowhawk which flew into a dense hedge and disappeared. Two Jays were seen and the walk was notable for the number of Jays recorded (eight by this observer.) A Blackcap was heard and then seen sitting prominently on a garden hedge. The walk followed the dramway footpath at the start. Its tall hedges proved excellent cover for birds and as well as the more common species there were stunning male Bullfinches. Re-crossing the A420 we entered the Warmley Forest Park where hawthorns were beginning to show green shoots and there was a bank of flowering primroses. Another Sparrowhawk flew over and several Buzzards were seen during the morning. A Mistle Thrush was heard and finally located. A Great Spotted Woodpecker was watched and a distant Green Woodpecker was heard. Ravens flew over as we watched bees busily entering and leaving a hole in an oak tree. Two Mad March Hares galloped around the fields, where two Roe Deer were lying beneath a hedge. The total number of bird species seen was 27. Thank you to David for leading this enjoyable walk.

Margaret Gorely

Mar 14 2012

Trip report: Backwell Lake (13th March 2012)

It was a cool misty morning, but 34 birders arrived in The Perrings to walk around the lake, along Youngwood Lane and out towards Chelvey church and manor. The lake held the usual Coots, Swans and Canada Geese, but seven Shovelers gave us a fly past and there were a pair of Gadwalls, a few Tufted Ducks and a female Pochard. A Sparrowhawk was spotted whilst we waited to start our walk, and a Buzzard was down in the field. It then sat in a tree studying us studying it! The male Wood Duck and male Muscovy Duck were still present, and the trees around the lake had Goldfinches, Greenfinches, tits and a Song Thrush singing. One lucky person saw a Bullfinch and a few of us heard a newly-arrived Chiffchaff. In the field by Coombe Grange Farm the wild daffodils were in flower and the horse fields held Meadow Pipits, Pied Wagtails and Greenfinches. Further along, a Romanian lorry had got stuck, having been misdirected by sat-nav into an unsuitably narrow lane. We located the farm he needed and he was linked up with the farmer! Later, Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers were added to the list, the latter heard drumming, and Geoff found another Chiffchaff. We also saw Jay, Ravens and a Heron. 48 species were seen altogether in spite of poor visibility – a good morning.

Sue Prince

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