A fine tribute to a wonderful club, I arrived early to help set up the table flowers with Phyl Dykes, a long standing member and one of the many unsung heroines of the BOC. The roosting calls of the adjacent Flamingos in the lagoon outside presented a perfect backdrop to the venue. A quick chat with Dr Mark Avery provided a taster of the brilliant and witty talk that followed later. There was news from Chairman Ken that not only had the Avon Gorge Peregrines mated, but former Chairman Ed and Liz were also successfully raising young, future club member Freddie Drewitt. A memorable meal followed with fine wine and good company. A fabulous evening: may the BOC in the words of Mr Spock “Live long and prosper”. Rob Miles
The evening was animal themed, not only birds but carpet, walls, doors and animal models including a large crocodile! We were greeted with a quiz which continued through the evening and proved challenging! Oliver Smart awarded a stunning model of a Pied-billed Grebe (the club’s logo) to Rich Scantlebury for best bird photo, a peregrine falcon in flight. As we sat for the excellent dinner, Judy Copeland received a big bunch of flowers for her unstinting time as membership secretary (46 years not out!). These were presented to her by Dr. Mark Avery, who then gave an excellent speech after the meal. He reminded us that he was a Bristolian born and bred, and a previous member of the BOC. A job with the RSPB (including 13 years as its Conservation Director) laid the ground for a subsequent career as a freelance journalist, author and conservation activist, particularly against driven grouse shooting, which is the subject of his book “Inglorious”. He helped to set up the Hen Harrier action group. We were enthralled by his enthusiastic and humorous talk. The evening was a very successful and enjoyable occasion, and a fitting finale to the celebrations! Sue and Andy Black
The evening was a wonderful collection of memories, personal reminiscences, and facts about the history of the club, with a delicious birthday cake for all. Robin Prytherch set the ball rolling by telling us about the Pied-billed Grebe, which initiated the whole project 50 years ago, and which to a young birder (yes, even Robin was one once!) was incredibly exciting, the first time ever it had been seen in the whole of the Western Palearctic. There were tales of romantic encounters when Richard met Rosemary whilst birding, of new birders (Alison Pilling) who enticed their husbands to join, of long-standing birders (Mike Jackson) who had been encouraged to start BBS surveys by John Tully, the latter a tremendous enthusiast who encouraged many. Peter Holbrook, past organiser of the Tuesday group, told us that there were 52 meetings last year under the guidance of Mark Watson. The group’s warm welcome has been the start of many a local birder’s career. Former Club Chairman Mike Lord returned from Cornwall with tales of a successful Chough watch adapted from our Peregrine watch. Jane Cumming highlighted the Avon Birds blog as a well-respected and well-used facility. Ken Hall detailed some of the many and varied trips to France which he had run, and former Club Secretary, Wendy Dickson, who had come down from Northumberland, spoke about birds on her previous home in the Shetlands. The whole evening emphasised the wonderfully friendly, warm atmosphere of the club, and was very ably chaired by Ken Carruthers.
Andy and Sue Black
What an enjoyable twitch! Some of the visitors had returned to their former haunts close to Severnside from the Scottish Islands and from the Lizard. As it was an early Spring gathering the local residents were even in their breeding plumage. Eight wise specimens regaled the gathered flock with tales of dedicated research, birding holidays and romance and intrigue. One pair had even met on a BOC walk many years previously. If Black Grouse could talk to their prospective mates at a lek I’m not sure that “Not Bad” would have carried the day, but happily it did. The tale of how the BOC Peregrine watch inspired the locals on the Lizard to set up “Chough watch” was enthralling, and the results spectacular. The last time I saw a Cornish Chough was in Newquay Zoo 45 years ago but now the thought of 50 birds wheeling and sneezing above the headland at Lands End makes a return visit to Cornwall inevitable. Rob Miles