This autumn has seen water levels at Cheddar Reservoir fall to their lowest for a number of years and that has provided abundant habitat for many birds. Even though levels had already started to rise, this Sunday walk provided an opportunity to see many of the autumn’s visitors at relatively close quarters but, unfortunately, that opportunity was taken only by me. Perhaps others were off hunting White-tailed Eagles or knew that October’s Lesser Yellowlegs had already departed, but they missed hundreds of wildfowl, including Teal, Wigeon and Gadwall, a thousand or more Coots and four of the spectacular Great White Egrets which have adorned the reservoirs of late. Three small waders dodging between the loafing Cormorants offered an identification challenge and turned out to be day-tripping Dunlin. (Thanks for agreeing to lead the trip, Kim – see what you missed, folks? – ed.) Kim Howard
A dry day with a sharp wind greeted us as we gathered on the sea front at Clevedon for a walk along Poet’s Walk and the Blind Yeo. On our arrival at the sea wall Turnstone were on the beach along with a solitary Curlew and Oystercatchers. As we started through the woodland Goldcrest, Chaffinch, Dunnock, Robin and Blackbirds were seen and heard. Blue and Great Tits were also present as we moved on to open ground on the headland overlooking the mudflats and creeks where the Yeo enters the Bristol Channel. Here we saw a good collection of waders and duck including Shelduck, Little Egret, a Canada Goose, Wigeon, 15 Redshanks and a couple of Grey Herons. Whist we had coffee on the breakwater at the foot of Wains Hill, a Stonechat and Wheatear give us excellent close views. We moved along the sea bank to the Blind Yeo and a few saw both Reed Bunting and Meadow Pipit, and a couple of Moorhens were skulking along the river bank. Along the Blind Yeo we saw Goldfinch, Greenfinch, a Green Woodpecker, and Jay. Further on a Sparrowhawk flew low overhead and on the way back a Kestrel sat in a bush giving excellent views, and Herring and Lesser Black-backed Gulls passed over. Thanks to Jane for leading a great walk with 43 species in all. Mark Watson
A misty morning greeted 24 members at Snuff Mills car park for a walk in Stoke Park and along the Frome. A Grey Heron was at the edge of Duchess Lake along with Moorhen, and a female Stonechat showed briefly. A lone Black-headed Gull sat on a fence post. Several Magpies and Jackdaws were around as well as a flock of 40 or so Wood Pigeon. As we walked around the edge of the Lake over 40 Redwing passed overhead as well as moving around in the trees on the hillside. Three Skylarks rose upwards and a Great Spotted Woodpecker was glimpsed. A couple of flocks of 20 and 30 Goldfinches flew over and when we returned along the edge of the Lake the Stonechat obligingly sat for some time on the top of some briars. We moved out of Stoke Park and along to Stapleton Church, where we had excellent views of a female Peregrine Falcon perched towards the top of the spire. As we descended to the River Frome, Blue, Great and Long-tailed Tits were heard and seen as well as a couple of Goldcrests. On the river there were two Grey Wagtails and some saw two Jays and two Stock Doves before we returned to the car park. Bristol is lucky to have such wonderful open spaces near the centre of the city and thanks go to Rich Scantlebury, who knows the area like the back of his hand, for leading an interesting walk. Mark Watson
No food at the Inn – what a disappointment for the lunchers – the normally reliable Princes Motto was in the throes of changing landlords. However 11 set off for a misty perambulate around the lanes and fields of Barrow. Up the path and birds started falling to my pencil – Redwing, Blackbird, Collared Dove and Carrion Crow. After counting flocks of Black-headed Gulls, a stream of Wood Pigeons, and listening to the chucking of Magpie, we came upon our first Yellowhammer and what a brilliant coloured bird he was among 7 others. We negotiated the A38, where a line of Starlings obligingly sat and was duly counted, and then went on towards Tank 1 which had some floating Tufted Ducks, Great Crested Grebe, and a Cormorant sitting on each buoy. Here we departed from our usual route, attracted by a bright new gate, and had unrestricted access to the fields above Tank 2 which contained more Tufted Ducks, many Coots and some Mallards. The new gates – replacing some of the area’s worst stiles – continued all the way to the usual coffee stop (the barns), where Raven was heard and Grey Wagtail seen. Up the lane and the first flock of Goldfinches was found, alas none magically turned into Siskin: the expected Bullfinch put in an appearance and as we climbed the track towards the A38 a flight of Stock Doves passed swiftly west. Our first Buzzard of the day called from a tree top but as we approached it took flight. Now close to the A38 by the kennels, an overstocked bird feeder gave us all the usual tit species, and also a vole feasting on the discarded seeds. Another dash across the busy main road and just a flock of five Yellowhammers, 34 migrating Skylarks and three Kestrels added to our total of 38 species. Thanks to Geoff for leading us on this splendid and varied walk. Nick Hawkridge
On a sunny but cool morning 27 members met by the canal at Saltford. As we started, Common, Lesser Black-backed and Black-headed Gulls were seen along with a Mistle Thrush and several noisy Robins. Goldfinch, Blue and Great Tits flitted in the hedges and a Goldcrest was heard. Later in the walk half a dozen Long-tailed Tits were added to the list. Numerous Blackbirds were around and a few Dunnock in the hedge bottoms. A Green Woodpecker was heard but not seen and likewise a Chiffchaff. A Buzzard appeared briefly. As we continued on our way a solitary Redwing was seen and as we paused at Swineford Lock, a Kingfisher flashed past which some were lucky enough to see. A Grey Heron sat in rushes at the edge of the water, a Mute Swan appeared and a Moorhen was spotted. As we returned to the cars, a Kestrel was seen by some of the group, a flock of 16 Linnet, and a single Herring Gull, and lastly a male Bullfinch, first heard then seen. Thanks to Robert Hargreaves for leading a good walk with a total of 36 species.
Very poor weather conditions for the migration watch this year, resulting in few numbers being recorded. Almost 100% cloud cover with very heavy rain and strong SE or SW winds. Fewer species and even fewer birds recorded compared with previous years.
|Coastal Migration Watch 16th October 2016|
|New Passage||Portishead||Clevedon||Sand Point|
Many thanks to watch leaders Brian Lancastle, Robin Prytherch, James Payne, Paul Gregory
Fog and traffic contributed to a rather late start for 21 walkers, but at least by then it was into bright sunshine and a light wind. The Jackdaws eponymous call was around us for most of the walk but along Roach’s Lane there was no sign of any winter thrushes. The calls of Nuthatch, Long-tailed Tit, and the flight call of Greenfinch were heard, also many Skylark travelled overhead for most of the walk. Although a beautiful sunny day, it was chilly when shaded, so we had coffee on the East side of Seven Mile Plantations and stuck to the path outside the wood to keep warm. Many Skylark could be seen either going over eastward or playing chase along the hedgerows, when someone called ‘Swallow – just flew across my bins’. One of the species much in evidence was Blackbird. Every bush, hedge and tree seemed to contain 2 or 3 feeding on nature’s supplies. We debated the route by the grass airstrip, ending up along its edge and were rewarded with the sight of a bright yellow male Yellowhammer. Not much further on, a Red Kite was spotted over the trees. It came closer and closer eventually passing right over our heads and a fine photo was taken. A Buzzard flew close to the Kite and both were harassed by corvids. We moved on past flocks of Meadow Pipit and Linnet but, alas, the Little Owl, who so often frequents the estate gatehouse area, was missing. Our first Redwing of the day was seen and at the pond, a lone Shelduck, some Canada Geese and Cormorant completed the count of 32. (Thanks for leading, Nick)
Twenty seven people met at the Upton Inn on a mild but overcast morning. Four new members joined us for the walk across fields through Bitton along part of the cycle track, along the banks of the River Avon before going up the hill to the Upton Inn for lunch. Soon after setting off we all had good views of some early winter thrushes, mostly Redwing, and then a pair of Raven were spotted on a nearby tree. Jays were busy collecting acorns, the usual Long-tailed, Blue and Great Tits, also Chaffinch were seen and then Goldcrest in Bitton Church yard. A large flock of Goldfinches was seen in the field approaching the cycle track where coffee and biscuits were consumed. When we came off the track where it meets the river everyone had good views of a Kestrel hovering and some were lucky enough to see Kingfishers along the river. In all 38 species were found. (Thanks to David for leading).
WRYNECK! Sorry, had to get that out! It was an early and chilly start from Bristol producing beautiful misty vistas in the Gordano Valley and across the Somerset levels. The trip was a week earlier than originally intended so the tide was still up when the six of us met at Ferrybridge. We saw Wheatear, Meadow Pipit, Skylark, Pied Wagtail and five types of gull, including 3 Meds. We decided to cut our losses and head for the Bill and the Wryneck reported to be in the Observatory quarry. The approach looked promising; a long line of birders ringing the edge of the quarry and peering into the scrub. “Any sign of the Wryneck?” “It was seen early this morning but not since.” Ever heard that before? A couple of passing Germans were mildly amused at all these eccentric Brits staring at grass and found it worthy of a photo. A passing Peregrine provided some distraction. Hope it wasn’t feasting on Wryneck. Suddenly someone was on it, provoking a polite stampede to his position. The Wryneck made a couple of fleeting appearances, obscured by bramble and then, there it was, on the grassy bank, in full sun, picking off insects. The resident Little Owl also made an appearance before scuttling back into its cave.There was not a vast amount around the Observatory or the huts. Buzzards, a Raven, and a Sparrowhawk soaring above. Kestrel flying over the fields. A large flock of Linnets, a Stonechat and many Swallows.We went down to the coast for a bit of sea watching. We had Meadow Pipit, Rock Pipit, Pied Wagtail, Wheatear and a Turnstone along the rocky shore and a Grey Seal in one of the coves. Out to sea, a passing Cormorant, 2 Shags and a couple of distant Gannet and basically nothing else. A lovely, sunny day with a light off-shore breeze is less than ideal for sea watching. We needed a South Westerly gale! We stopped at Southwell quarry on the way back to Ferrybridge, again not much about. We saw a distant flock of Starling flying over Weston where there is reported to be one juv. Rosy Starling. It was low tide at Ferrybridge. We now had waders but miles away! However, with a bit of patience we saw Bar-tailed Godwit, Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover, Little Egret, Gulls, and Dunlin, including some delightful synchronised flying displays with the odd Godwit joining in. Radipole was the final stop. More Gulls, including Meds, a siege (that’s their collective name apparently) of 14 Herons, Teal, Shoveler, Gadwall, squealing Water Rail. We saw Bar-tailed and Black-tailed Godwit together which always helps with ID. Calling Cettis always just out of view. Bearded Tits were reported so we had a careful look for them, weather just about ideal but no signs. On one of the board walks, suddenly two small birds diving into reeds. And then, out they came for a brief, but unmistakable sighting of Bearded Tits by Judy and Ann. Finally, back at the RSPB centre, half a dozen Snipe were out on the mud in the later afternoon. Total species count 50. Also seen: Clouded Yellow, Painted Lady, Speckled Wood and Red Admiral. Thanks to Cecile, Colin, Robert and Ann for coming and Judy for the lift. (Many thanks for stepping in to lead, Alastair) Alastair Fraser
A cloudy but warm morning saw 14 members meet for a walk north of Frampton Cotterell. On our way to the River Frome Jackdaws and Carrion Crows were on the church tower and adjacent buildings and Wood Pigeons, Blue Tits and a few Goldfinch were in the hedgerows aloud with some Long-tailed Tits. A solitary Grey Wagtail flew along the river for those of us at the back of the party. Herring and Black-headed Gulls flew over and a Buzzard briefly came in to view as we had coffee. As we continued Chiffchaff were heard, a Mistle Thrush seen, several Goldcrest flitted about in a yew tree in Iron Acton churchyard and a single Greenfinch perched at the top of an Ash tree. We crossed the Frome again and went along a rather squelchy path where a Raven was heard but invisible in the distance but loud Robins called in the adjacent woodland. A distant Great Spotted Woodpecker sat at the top of a dead tree and as we returned to the start a Green Woodpecker, Stonechat, Collared Dove and Jay were added to the list to give a total of 32 species. Thanks to David Body for leading in place of Peter Holbrook who met us at the start to organise lunch and to Nick Hawkridge for the definitive list. Mark Watson