Bristol Ornithological Club
Jul 05 2016

Tuesday 05 July – Avon Gorge nature reserves and Peregrines

This was an unusual “walk”. 20 people met at Sea Walls on the Downs, instead of at the Peregrine Watch as a children’s event had been scheduled there at the same time. We shared cars and drove (!) to Bramble Lane, Stoke Bishop, in order to access the three Nature Reserves – Bishops Knoll (Woodland Trust), Bennett’s Patch (AWT) and Old Sneyd Park. Chiffchaff was soon heard, followed by Great Tit, Nuthatch, Carrion Crow and many Blackcaps, and there was a young Robin was on the path as we walked down through the woodland and over the railway bridge to Bennett’s Patch. Here we spent half an hour looking at the Bristol Whales, flowers, butterflies, and having coffee. Two Buzzards were heard and seen over Leigh Woods, then a very fine male Greenfinch was seen calling ‘zee zee’, with glimpses of two others in the bush. Some people visited the dipping pool with its many water snails, a couple of water boatman, three beautiful broad-bodied chaser dragonflies and some blue damselflies. Back in the woods we made our way to Old Sneyd Park reserve with its lovely meadow, to the accompaniment of two Song Thrushes and more Blackcaps singing, and a Jay was seen. We visited the small lake with its family of Mallard (11 including one duckling) and a Moorhen on the viewing platform. Back to the cars and the Peregrine Watch where a Kestrel was seen hovering and two Peregrines spotted, one on a distant rock, another on a tree. A little later we had stunning views of the two young Peregrines chasing one another flying close to the Watch point. Nick pointed out the white tail feathers of the juveniles and the larger size of the female bird. 27 bird species was Nick’s total. (Thanks to Judy for leading.) Judy Copeland

Jun 30 2016

Thursday 30 June – Wareham Forest

forecast was poor but we were very lucky as it stayed dry all day and we even saw some sunshine. We did three walks during the day – the first from Sherford Bridge gave us good views of Jays, Tree Pipits, Linnets, Dartford Warblers, including a youngster, several families of Stonechats and three Hobbies. We heard Green Woodpeckers, Siskins, Yellowhammers, Goldcrests, Skylarks and a Song Thrush. Lunch was taken at Lawson’s Clump picnic site and here we saw Common Buzzards and Siskins. We walked to the top of the hill where you get wonderful views across the forest to Poole Harbour. Finally we drove to Culpepper’s Dish car park, south of Briantspuddle, where we did a walk which added Great Spotted Woodpecker and fine views of two Yellowhammers and Long-tailed Tits. In all we saw or heard 34 species for the day. Eight of us walked and enjoyed marvellous scenery, blue butterflies, yellow wax cap and earth ball fungi and a four-spotted footman moth. Bell and cross-leaved heather were in flower as well as bog asphodel and cotton grass. Many thanks to Jane Cumming for leading us on an enjoyable outing. Sue Prince

Jun 28 2016

Tuesday 28 June – Clevedon/Walton Common

16 of us met in Clevedon in warm sunshine, and walked up the track beside the golf course. A Wren was heard singing and two Coal Tits, a family of three Magpies, a male Bullfinch and a Squirrel were seen, with House Martins flying overhead. Also, a Silver-washed Fritillary butterfly, recently emerged, was found on the undergrowth. There was a Herring Gull on the roof of a house, with a Chaffinch calling on another house and Swallows on an aerial and flying above us. We walked along the long, hedged path beside the Channel – three Blackbirds on the path here, Blackcap and Chiffchaff singing – then across the field at Walton, where Jean was delighted with the large patches of pink Bog Pimpernel. We continued on to the cliff path, with the high tide lapping beside us and around twelve Mallard bobbing along towards Portishead. A Whitethroat was heard and three Wood Pigeons and a Jackdaw were on the rocks. Next we walked towards Walton Common where we heard a Blackbird and a Song Thrush singing. Rain had been forecast for 1300 hrs, so with the sky darkening we ate our lunch on the Common just before the rain arrived ten minutes later than forecast. We managed to see a Marbled White butterfly before we trudged through the rain back to the golf course. 30 species was the total bird count, Ringlet and Meadow Brown butterflies were also seen. (thanks to Judy for leading)                         Judy Copeland

Jun 21 2016

Tuesday 21 June – Compton Dando

A group of 17 set off from The Compton Inn at Compton Dando on an overcast but pleasant summer’s morning. There were a good number of common birds around the village including House Sparrows, House Martins, Swallows, Greenfinch and Song Thrush. After a very short walk to the bridge over the River Chew we saw a Dipper, and although not easy to see, the entire group did get a view of this rather special bird. We then walked through some pasture land bordered with woodland where we added Woodpigeon, Wren and a Buzzard was seen. The next part of the walk took us up a quite steep path through the woods where a Blackcap and a Goldcrest were heard. We crossed a beautiful meadow where we saw Meadow Brown butterflies and one or two Marbled Whites. About twelve Swifts gave us a nice display and we also saw 19 Goldfinches, including a family group of seven. As we came towards the end of the meadow a Kestrel gave us an excellent view and a Skylark was heard. We reached Woollard for another view of the River Chew from the road bridge where we saw Mallard with a number of chicks. A Grey Wagtail on the telegraph wire gave us a good view and we added Collared Dove, Long- tailed Tit and Pied Wagtail (including 1 juvenile being fed on a power line). We had planned to walk towards the church at Publow but there was quite a large flock of sheep that were being separated out by the farmer, so we turned round to head back to Compton Dando, this time on the south side of the river. Green Woodpecker, Moorhen, Grey Heron, three Jays and a family party of six Raven were seen. As we continued alongside the river some at the rear of the group had a fleeting view of a Kingfisher. It was a very pleasant morning’s walk and a total of 38 species were seen. Thanks to Nick for keeping his usual accurate bird list. (thnks to Mike and Elaine for leading)    Mike Landen

Jun 14 2016

Tuesday 14 June – Sand Point

Wind at force 4/5 from the West at the end of Sand Point; keep a sharp eye on the sea. What did we get? Nothing! Until, that was, we were hunting for the Stonechat that was scolding us. “Manx Shearwaters” was the cry and, lifting our bins barely an inch, there they were, the first of 80 or so we saw during the morning. Our cast of eleven had met at 1000 hrs (welcome, new walker David) and gathered Blackbird, Wren, Collared Dove, Robin (including young) Blackcap, Chiffchaff (also including young), Skylark and Song Thrush before the above excitement kicked off. The estuary side of the point was almost sheltered as we made our way along to the coffee stop. The Whitethroat and Linnet were most obliging, posing on occasions for all to see, but the Sparrowhawk was on a mission and whizzed through in the blink of an eye. Our first Swallows and House Martins showed soon after we restarted the walk. At lunch we were serenaded (if you can call it that!) by Greenfinch with Linnet and Whitethroat completing the chorus. Our walk back, in the now increasing sun and slackening wind, was reward with more Greenfinch and a Kestrel who was effortlessly riding the wind. Only one Great Tit and one Blue Tit seen all day but they made the total of 33 seem reasonable for this time of year. The Shearwaters were a real treat. (thanks to Nick for leading) Nick Hawkridge

Jun 07 2016

Tuesday, 07 June – Pill Longshore

Swifts were seen over the Memorial Club car park before 21 of us, set off to look at a house nearby where they nest every year. Nothing there at the moment, but we examined possible entrances to the eaves and marvelled at the number of House Sparrows that live in Pill. We then walked past the harbour and along the marina beside a very high tide in the Avon, which meant that no waders were about, only a couple of Mallard sitting on a mooring drum in the river. House Martins were beginning to make their nests on the pub and the old Custom House and there were Herring Gulls floating nearby. We made our way on to the marsh, walking beside the thick hedges, which produced Blackcap, Wren and Dunnock singing and a pair of Crows in a tree nearby plucking at nest material. High over the M5 bridge were a Buzzard and loads of House Martins. We walked under the bridge, and two Peregrines (not feral pigeons?) were pointed out, one high up above a pillar and the other on a distant pylon across the river. We continued across the marsh to the path leading through hedges beside the river, and heard Reed Bunting, Whitethroat, Linnet and many Goldfinches, saw a Greenfinch on a fence, then picked up several loud and close Reed Warblers, some people getting occasional glimpses of one as it moved through the reeds. Sue found a Large Skipper butterfly, a Cormorant flew past and three Shelduck were seen sitting on a jetty across the river, waiting for some mud to appear. Others were seen on the distant mud in the estuary from the seat at the end of the path (another good information board). The pink flowers on tall grass stems were identified by Jean as Grass Vetchling. Back on the track under the M5 (Song Thrush song echoing here) we continued under the dock railway on our way to the cycle path back to Pill and heard Chiffchaff, saw Jay and another Buzzard and some lucky people had three Bullfinches, bringing the total species to 37. (thanks to Judy for leading) Judy Copeland

Jun 05 2016

Sunday 05 June – Coach trip to Durlston and the Purbeck Hills, Dorset

44 members and guests set off just after 0800 hrs for Worth Matravers. At Yeovil, Alastair Fraser gave a humorous geological introduction to Purbeck, remembered from his school journals: Jurassic, Cretaceous, Ammonites. Arriving under a baking sky to meadows of Yellow Rattle, we headed for the Jurassic coast. By the time we reached Seacombe Bottom, we had heard or seen Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat, Goldfinch, Linnet, Wren, Skylark, Yellowhammer, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff and Greenfinch, Collared Dove, Windhover (Kestrel), Buzzard, Roe Deer and the first of 20 Stonechat. Below pink Thrift-covered cliffs near Dancing Ledge flew Guillemot. Two dots on the sea became Puffins Cormorant, Shag and Commic Tern wandered past. We lunched among the Bee Orchids, Early Gentian and Milkwort, thriving in the short limestone turf. A family of Black Redstart popped up along the fence, to our delight. Under the now burning sun we trudged on through the bright blue spikes of Vipers Bugloss and the maroon-flowered Hound’s Tongue. Although devoid of birds, a few Adonis and Small Heath butterflies and the dead wings of a Cream-spot Tiger were seen and underfoot the hairy caterpillars of the Brown-tail moth. A heavy sea mist descended and a Peregrine flashed by. In the gloom Lesser Whitethroat was heard again. As we searched for it, a Dartford Warbler perched in full view. As the mist lifting we saw Razorbill swimming amongst some Guillemot (including Bridled) below Durlston’s cliffs. A Fulmar swung out in the sun, with another Sandwich Tern, and a pair of Kestrels were seen feeding chicks below the rocks. A day of great twists and turns. Thank you Alastair for your research and an entertaining first lead. Robert Hargreaves

May 31 2016

Tuesday 31 May – Winscombe

A breezy, sunny morning saw 13 of us head out across fields where Swallows swooped and Magpies upset the hedge occupants and a Song Thrush quickly hid from us. Along the lane a female Bullfinch dived into the hedge beside a field with neat green lines of maize appearing and numerous Herring and Lesser Black-backed Gulls brightly reflected the sun off their white backs. We passed the donkeys and loud Robins on Sandford Hill, and enjoyed butterflies before the trees where we encountered more Chaffinch, Greenfinch and a Goldfinch, Blue, Great and Long-tailed Tits with a special treat of a family of Marsh Tits,( a parent and four fledglings) and a Treecreeper. Above the canopy a young raptor, possibly a Peregrine, begged for food and a Roe Deer kept stock still amongst the nearby saplings. It was camouflaged by the strong dappled sun giving its back a striped appearance. Emerging from the trees we had wide views of the Mendip Hills ahead of us and beyond Crook Peak, down to Bridgwater Bay and the distant Quantocks. We heard a faraway Cuckoo and as we descended the grassy slope, disturbed four Mistle Thrush and spied a Raven and Buzzard before crossing the yellow seas of buttercup meadows. We also came across a Green Woodpecker and three Great Spotted Woodpeckers, and then back near the car park found the Pied Wagtails (resident there), making a tally of 35. (Thank you for leading,Sue.) Sue Watson

May 24 2016

Tuesday 24 May –Newport Wetlands

A beautiful sunny day attracted 36 walkers and we hoped it would produce plenty of birds. From the car park, Whitethroat and Lesser Whitethroat were in full song. The pond had Little Grebe, Coot and Moorhen. As yet, no Sand Martins are making use of the artificial nest site. The walk across the reed beds gave us Reed Bunting. The Reed Warblers and Sedge Warblers were remarkably quiet but did start up later. The hoped for Bearded Tits were only spotted by a lucky few, as the rest were chasing the Cuckoo and were rewarded by seeing two birds perched together. Summer visitors included Swift, Swallow, House Martin, Blackcaps, Garden Warbler, Chiffchaff and a very obliging Cetti’s Warbler who sat sunning itself in full view. After our picnic lunch we went to Goldcliff where we added both Avocets and Redshanks with chicks. The Marsh Harrier put in an appearance as did a Raven. Both were seen off by the adult birds. Ringed Plover and Greenshank were also in the pools and one keen spotter added a Little Ringed Plover. The few ducks around were Tufted, Gadwall, Mallard and Shoveler. In all we had 58 species between the two sites and a lovely warm Spring day as a bonus. (Thanks to Margaret and Ray for leading the walk) Margaret and Ray Bulmer

May 22 2016

Sunday 22 May – Ham Wall RSPB, Somerset Levels

Cetti's Warbler  Mike Landen

15 members met at the new RSPB car park at Ham Wall on a rather changeable day, when it was difficult to judge what to wear. It was warm in the sun, but cool when the sun went behind the clouds. For those of you who did not attend – you missed a treat! Before we left the car park we had already listed a good ten species including a Cuckoo (heard) and Hobby. Once on the main track there was a chorus of birdsong allowing plenty of practice in identifying calls and songs – Blackcap, Garden Warbler, Willow Warbler, Blackbird, Whitethroat, Wren, Reed Warbler, Goldcrest amongst others. We saw a variety of ducks as we progressed to the first viewing platform, where we immediately had excellent views of two Bitterns, one chasing the other. It was assumed a male chasing a female and we were able to watch them for over ten minutes as they circled above , the ?female giving a croaking call. We then crossed to the hide and had excellent views of a male Reed Bunting singing, Hobby and Lapwing (only one or two). Overhead were many Swifts (very few House Martins & Swallows) and we had multiple sightings of Great White Egrets. We then proceeded to the new Avalon Hide seeing Great Spotted Woodpecker, Glossy Ibis and Bittern on the way. In the hide we watched a Great Spotted Woodpecker entering and emerging from the reed bed, unusual behaviour. A distant Marsh Harrier was seen. Returning to the track we saw a Cuckoo, a single Garganey, another Bittern, Marsh Harrier and a rather shivery looking Whimbrel. We stopped at the second viewing point and then proceeded back along the main track to the car park with further views of Hobby. Five members continued onto Shapwick Heath where we admired the new hide which gave good views over the scrape with nine Black- tailed Godwits and another Garganey.
Total species count was 57. Bird of the day had to be the Bittern with 13 sightings during the day, certainly a record for me! Many thanks to Mike Johnson for leading this very enjoyable walk. Sue Kempson
NB There are now onsite toilets available (open 10 am to 4pm) in the new Ham Wall car park

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