20 people walked through Tickenham levels, along the Land Yeo and up woods and meadows on a warm humid day, where birds often seemed thin on the ground except for the ubiquitous Robins singing and ticking – but still we ended up with 33 species. In the woods one group of trees had Coal, Blue, Great and Long-tailed Tits together, a feeder attracted Nuthatches, and Chiffchaffs called. On Cadbury Camp (guarded by a bull and cows) were Wheatear and a Meadow Pipit in a tree, a Raven doing aerobatics, a lurking Jay, and a large group of Mute Swans visible on distant lowland. On the levels Buzzards perched on hay bales and Grey Herons were silhouetted, with Swans, Little Egret, Green Woodpeckers, Kestrel and Rooks busy on and above the meadows. Starlings perched on a power line with two Mistle Thrush, and a Hobby flew through. We also saw Common Darter and Emperor Dragonflies, Small Tortoiseshell and Peacock Butterflies, and Bellflowers edging the Cadbury Camp embankments. (Many thanks to Jan Pridie and Lois Pryce for leading.) Lois Pryce
Five members attended this meeting on an initially dry and pleasant day, however heavy rain was forecast for later in the morning. In the car park we had flyovers of both Greylag and Canada Geese, many Swallows and a group of Sand Martins. We set off for the summer walkway but saw little other than a single Wheatear, a few Cormorants and fair numbers of Swallows and House Martins. We retreated to the Holden tower as the rain approached and had good views of a variety of birds including Barnacle Geese, Avocets, Ruff, and Black-tailed Godwits. We proceeded to the Zeiss hide to obtain closer views of the waders. At the Kingfisher hide despite the downpour we had excellent view of a number of Whitethroats and Blackcap. We were lucky enough to see a Kingfisher which streaked in front of the hide and then obligingly perched on a log. We then went on to the South Lake hide where we saw four Cranes, Great Crested Grebes and Little Grebe amongst others. We finished at the Rushy Hide with lovely views of a Snipe. Throughout the morning we heard Cetti’s Warblers, although none were seen. Overall the weather although wet it did not significantly spoil the meeting with over 50 species listed. (thanks to Sue for leading)
A group of 19 set out from the Druids Arms on a beautiful summer’s morning. As we left the car park we started our list with Wood Pigeon, Magpie, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow and Collared Dove. We also spotted groups of House Martins and Swallows. As expected for this time of the year the count for these two species was high with 50 plus House Martins and 45 Swallows (mostly on wires) for the whole walk. We passed the Stanton Drew stone circle. Those of us at the back of the group were treated to the sight of a Sparrowhawk circling overhead among a number of House Martins. It was thought that this was a male as a few minutes later a second Sparrowhawk was seen by everyone. This appeared to be a larger bird so it is likely that they were a pair, with this one being a female. It was also circling and being harried by a Carrion Crow. The light was excellent and we had a good view of the bird’s beautiful plumage. This was the highlight of the walk. Two Buzzards were then seen. We added twelve Goldfinches as well as four Rooks, 40 Starlings, 30 plus House Sparrows and two Chiffchaffs. A Greater Spotted Woodpecker was seen briefly and a Linnet was also spotted. A party of Long-tailed Tits was first heard and then about six seen. One member of the group saw a Wheatear and when we arrived at a small clump of conifers we looked for Coal Tits and Goldcrests but saw neither. However, those who are able to detect the higher frequencies heard three Goldcrests. We had a total of 25 species with many thanks to Mark Watson for keeping an excellent record of species seen. It was an extremely enjoyable morning and we were very grateful to Maureen and Bill Dobie for leading the walk.
Hints of autumn may have been noticed during the last few days but the forecast for this walk was definitely a summer one and some of us were glad of the unexpected breeze as we set out with the promise of a flat walk with no stiles from our leader. Initially it did seem to be rush hour on a narrow Cotswold lane with cars, vans and a very large lorry all pushing us to the verges but there were Swallows and House Martins in the air and soon a large group of gulls at rest in a nearby field was the centre of attention – about 375 Common Gulls. A Raven was heard and then seen and, at the other end of the size scale, a Wren. The treat of the day came next with first a dozen and then more and more Ravens perched on bales and lifting out of trees and eventually all 29 were in the air – a wonderful sight with the sun on the golden fields and maize rustling at our backs. More large, and more distant, flocks of gulls were seen behind a tractor – other notables were Yellowhammers, Stock Dove, Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler, four Buzzards and a Kestrel. Near the end of the walk our party of 24 split and some saw a few Speckled Wood butterflies and a Brimstone on the way back. Total bird species tally was 30 – many thanks to Peter Holbrook for leading.
With the weather maps showing bands of rain sweeping across the New Forest on Thursday, I postponed this “Margaret Walk” until the next day which, unfortunately, meant that only three people could attend. The open heath held families of Mistle Thrush and Stonechat as we walked out to the raptor watch-point, and Redstarts seemed to be popping up everywhere. The squally skies and fresh wind didn’t bode well for soaring raptors and the watch only produced Buzzard and Hobby. However, the deep summer woods were full of families of young birds. It was hard work finding them with nothing singing and all that foliage but a slow, quiet wander produced a flock of yellow Willow Warbler juveniles; two newly-fledged and genuinely spotted Spotted Flycatchers side by side on a branch, waiting for mum to bring home lunch; a pine tree full of Coal Tits; young brown Robins; and best of all, a family of Firecrests with at least one pale grey youngster begging from its parents. We watched several Marsh Tits foraging, and had glimpses of Song Thrush, Nuthatch and Blackcap. Deer slipped quietly away into cover without giving us the chance to check which species they were. Only a couple of Wrens managed a snatch or two of song. Finally, a Siskin flew over the car park. It was a very pleasant walk that produced 27 species – not so bad for late July. (thnks to Jane for leading) Jane Cumming
On a warm sunny morning 16 walkers met in Hinton Blewett to walk along country lanes to the two reservoirs at Litton and back across the fields with cattle, harvested crops and pasture. We saw, or heard 40 species of birds, which included seven Common Buzzards, a Little Egret, a Grey Heron, eight Cormorants, Little Grebes and an adult Great Crested Grebe with two chicks. There were 36 Swallows, 21 House Martins and several families of Grey and Pied Wagtails. There was plenty to listen out for as Blue, Great, Long-tailed and Coal Tits were active. A Whitethroat hid from us but it did a short rattle several times. At least eight Robins sang or scolded and a Pheasant and Green Woodpecker were heard. Some of the party were fortunate to see a Kingfisher and a Treecreeper. Goldfinches were feeding on thistle seeds as four Lapwings flew over and a Raven croaked in the distance. A few butterflies were seen: Gatekeepers, Whites and Speckled Woods along with a Hawker Dragonfly. (Thanks to John and Sue Prince for leading a very pleasant and varied walk)
Five members met for this morning only walk around the various sites. At Herriotts Pool we observed two Yellow-legged Gulls along with two Black-tailed Godwits, numerous Gadwall, Shoveler and Teal and a single Little Egret. Sharp-eyed Rod located two Goldeneye which ended the time there. We moved to Stratford Hide and numerous Great Crested Grebe, a couple of Little Grebe along with a Grey Heron were observed. The ducks included Pochard, Tufted Duck and Teal. We then walked from Stratford to Moreton Hide. Along the way we saw Chiffchaff, Goldcrest and heard a Green Woodpecker. In a flooded field by a cattle drinking trough we observed six Green Sandpiper. In the Moreton Hide we had a quick view of a Reed Warbler and just before leaving observed a Hobby fly over the trees but we failed to re-locate it after leaving the hide. The small group then moved onto Herons Green where the morning only meeting ended. A total of 24 species were recorded. (Our thanks to Charles for leading this enjoyable walk
A group of 23 set out from the Queen Victoria on a very pleasant summer’s morning. There were a number of birds seen around the village including House Sparrow, Goldfinch, Greenfinch and Chaffinch. Approximately 50 Swallows were seen moving through and four active House Martins’ nests were noted. The walk along the old track involved carefully negotiating rather a lot of water and mud but we did hear Nuthatch, Chiffchaff and Bullfinch as well as seeing a few more common species including Blue Tit, Great Tit and Dunnock. Some of the group spotted a Kestrel in the distance and three more were seen later on. A total of three Buzzards were spotted and a mixed group of corvids in the fields contained an estimated 30 Jackdaws and 20 Rooks. After we had descended from the highest point of the walk, a couple of young coots were seen with an adult on the pond. As usual there were a lot of Meadow Brown butterflies and we also saw Gatekeeper, Marbled Whites, a Small Copper and a Large Skipper. We saw three Wheatears that appeared to be a family party, and a Reed Warbler was heard. It was a very enjoyable morning’s walk and we managed a total of 27 species. Thanks to Nick for keeping a record of species seen and thank you to Maureen and Bill Dobie for leading.
Ten people gathered on a drizzly morning for a walk around the University’s grounds. Swallow were flying around and as we walked down the wooded path towards the University Robins, Wood Pigeons, various corvids and tits were seen and heard. Near the lower end of the lakes a Grey Wagtail ran across the path behind us and on the lower lake we saw our first Mallards, both female. Passing though the small woodland on the way to the second lake Goldcrests were seen and heard along with a couple more Grey Wagtails. A Mute Swan and seven goslings were beside the lake with a large number of young Mallards. The other adult Mute Swan was having a quiet moment at the far end. A Grey Heron sat in the trees on the far side and two Moorhens cruised along the shore. The weather was drying a little as we moved through woodland where Robins and Wrens were noisily announcing their presence, and on to the playing fields where a dozen or so Pied Wagtails were on the mown grass, 50 plus Swallows swooped around with occasional rests on the goal cross bars and a flock of Goldfinches moved along the scrub. Returning to Newton St Loe through the university we saw Swifts, our usual Tuesday Buzzard and a flock of five Mistle Thrushes flying from tree to tree near the old mansion. On a drier walk than might have been expected we saw 35 species. Thanks to Robert Hargreaves for leading and finding a good tally of birds.
The weather was warm and cloudy as 24 members met at the WWT car park at Steart Marshes. From the car park we saw a female Marsh Harrier and had a fleeting glimpse of our first Little Egret of the day. On the way there and back we heard a Reed Warbler and saw Reed Buntings, a Yellow Wagtail flying past and Goldfinch in the scrub. A couple of Barn Swallows and House Martins caught our eye with their acrobatics, and a Kestrel was also spotted. The tide was not yet up to the pool so after a short stay we moved on to the Steart village car park and walked to the breach in the Parrett bank. On the way we saw Linnet, Goldfinch, Chaffinch and Reed Bunting. When the breach and pools came into view we were rewarded with 22 Avocet (including two largish chicks) most of which obliging flew to give excellent views of this iconic bird. About 35 Black-tailed Godwit, ten Redshank, 50 plus Dunlin and a lone Curlew Sandpiper were clearly in view. A couple of Grey Heron were in the distance, and nearer were four Knot, ten Redshank and a few Shelduck. A lone Great White Egret flew by. We ate our picnic in the grassy Natural England car park and then went out to the Tower and poolside hides towards Steart Point. The sun was more in evidence now and Gatekeepers, Commas and Common Blues fluttered past us. At the Tower Hide we saw hundreds of Shelduck on the mudflats of the Parrett and equally large numbers of Black-headed Gulls on the Bristol Channel mudflats and more of the waders seen earlier. On our return to the cars a Whitethroat was heard and a couple of Great Black-backed Gulls passed overhead. Rain threatened as we returned but happily did not fall before we arrived back at the cars after a fruitful visit with a total of 43 species.