Bristol Ornithological Club
Jul 24 2016

Sunday 24 July – Newport Wetlands and Goldcliff

As the skies darkened on our arrival it began to rain but not incessantly so the birding wasn’t spoilt completely. No feed had been put out at the RSPB shop so few species seen there, although a nice Little Grebe bobbed up occasionally on the pond. Finches were on the refilled feeders by the play equipment, with ample evidence of breeding success in the area. Not a squeak from the reed beds as we headed towards the estuary edge of the River Severn. A few ducks on the lagoons included a distant Gadwall dozing on the water. Whimbrel and Curlew were spotted moving up and then down the river. We scrutinised the Black-headed Gulls for strangers, without luck, although it was nice to see the striking markings on the juveniles. It won’t be long before their calls will become ‘strident calls’. A Peregrine came through at low level as we made our way towards the Uskmouth end, kept company by a group of Swallows and (we think) Linnets. The top of the tide had pushed an Oystercatcher onto the inlet before the turn to the bird hide but nothing onto the pool in front. Not a Tufted Duck in sight, just Old Nog, a couple of Teal and many Mallard – all these in heavy moult. That was about it for the Wetlands except for a singing Cetti’s Warbler on the track back.
At Goldcliff the weather was a little kinder, and the pools so much richer in waders. Two Greenshank flew in at the first hide to accompany the Lapwing, Redshank, Oystercatcher, Grey Heron, and the first Dunlin. A small flight of Canada Geese came in to join the party on the shore-side meadow. Further round at the next hide there were much better views of the Dunlin and a couple of Shoveler were found. Further round again – in fact all the way round, more Dunlin and the first juvenile Little Ringed Plover were seen. Through a gap in the reeds a tantalising view of ‘something else’ with the Black-tailed Godwit, still sporting summer plumage and more black-bellied Dunlin. The flocks went up a couple of times and we worked hard at finding the scattered birds but, alas, no Little Stint. On the walk back the ‘cronk’ of a Raven was heard but we couldn’t find it – until it appeared in the distance having been below the bank of the now nearly empty river. To get a better view of the ‘something else’ we stopped at one of the ‘blinds’ and found Yellow Wagtail (juvenile), Ringed Plover, Little Ringed Plover, a Ruff, and two red-chested Curlew Sandpipers – a splendid finish (16:30) to a good days birding for the eleven members present. Special thanks to Jane for her consummate identification skills. Nick Hawkridge

Jul 19 2016

Tuesday 19 July – Velvet Bottom

It was a fine hot day with a nice breeze and welcome shade. 19 birders had a lovely walk with plenty to see; fast-flying butterflies, large dragonflies and some brilliant birds. Although the first 20 minutes was nearly devoid of the latter – with a Raven, 50 Jackdaw (in one party) and a family of Bullfinches – Skippers, Ringlets, and Marbled Whites were everywhere. Further on, the call of a Spotted Flycatcher was heard and the bird found at the back of some hawthorn. The Redstart we have come to expect in this location finally made an appearance. A fine male in bright colours was seen in full view, obviously keeping an eye on us as we passed through his territory. His mate and family were much harder to spot, only a quick flash of red tail. A family party of six Mistle Thrush flew across the path and the hawthorns were bisected by a swirl of Swallows and a few House Martin. After a shady coffee stop we passed into Long Wood where the calls of Nuthatch, Marsh Tit, Coal Tit and Great Spotted Woodpecker were heard, with some even being seen. A family party of Spotted Flycatcher was heard and then seen flitting among the branches. Along this path we also encountered some Silver Washed Fritillaries, skilfully identified by our visitor from the Bath RSPB, Lucy Delve. She also spotted a juvenile Hobby scooting over the hedges at the top of the fields, and kept us entertained with identifications of just about everything, including many Dragonflies – Emperor and Broad-bodied Chaser included. Thanks go to Geoff for leading us round and Lucy for her support. Nick Hawkridge

Jul 16 2016

Saturday 16 July – Forest of Dean

On a warm, calm summer evening 16 members and one German guest met at New Fancy view in the Forest of Dean. We climbed to the viewpoint where the view is beginning to disappear behind the rapidly growing surrounding trees. All was very quiet on the bird front. There were no raptors and only the occasional small bird flying past. We then moved on to Cannop ponds for a more productive walk along the bank. A family of Grey Wagtails was seen near the waterfall. On the lake were Mallards, Tufted and Mandarin ducks. There were a large number of young Mandarins. Swallows were feeding over the water and occasionally dipping in. A party of Swifts were seen overhead. Good views were had of a Kingfisher and a lucky few saw it catch a fish and spend some time trying to swallow it. A Marsh Tit was heard but not seen. Leaving the ponds we moved on to near Speech House and walked from there in the fading light up Crabtree Hill. A very distant Siskin was seen. On reaching the clearing there was a lot of commotion from a gathering of Blackbirds but no evidence of what was alarming them was seen. We didn’t have to wait very long before churring of the Nightjars was heard and two flew very close overhead. We then had a wonderful display of three, four or even five birds hunting. They were also spotted on perches as the light was quite good. We returned to the cars in the dark after a very rewarding evening. The number of species seen was 33. Thank you to Mike for leading again. Margaret Gorely

Jul 12 2016

Tuesday 12 July – Dolebury Warren

Sixteen members set off from the Crown Inn, Churchill on a warm, sunny day for a walk around the National Trust land at Dolebury Warren. As we left the car park Carrion Crows and Barn Swallows were overhead and as we descended though woodland to the A38 we heard Blue Tits and a Blackcap, as Dunnock and Robins flitted amongst the understorey. Climbing up to Dolebury Warren a Nuthatch and a Great Spotted Woodpecker were heard and Coal Tits were feeding in a garden. As we walked along the edge of the hill fort a Buzzard passed by, and as we moved through some scrub a Whitethroat on top of a hawthorn gave us excellent views and Chiffchaff called along with a Green Woodpecker. Marbled White, Ringlet and Meadow Brown butterflies passed by. In a small belt of coniferous woodland several Goldcrests were heard, and an exceptionally loud Song Thrush was heard and then seen about ten yards away in adjacent broadleaved woodland. As we returned to the cars four Herring Gulls drifted by, a Bullfinch was heard, House Martins performed acrobatics high overhead and House Sparrows were busy in Rowberrow Bottom. Finally a Kestrel and a Sparrowhawk appeared overhead as we re-crossed the A38. The total tally was 31 species (Thanks for leading Mark) . Mark Watson

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

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