Fourteen eager birders, including two guests, met at the car park near the sailing club in spite of a poor weather forecast. We set off for a walk around the lake stopping at the club launch area for a good look across the water. A Little Egret danced past us and several Moorhens pottered about. Great Crested Grebes were quite close. The sole intrepid ‘scope bearer, Rob Hargreaves, enabled examination of the raft of Coots and the large number of Tufted Duck for anything special, and a Yellow-legged Gull was spotted among the other gulls (yes, for once it had truly yellow legs!). Showery rain didn’t stop us walking on, hearing and seeing the usual small birds in the trees and bushes. Looking across the open fields a large flock of winter thrushes was spotted in the distance. A newly turned field produced a large number of Pied Wagtails, with quite a few Chaffinch hopping around the base of the pylon. The tree-lined path at the bottom of the lake gave us groups of Long-tailed Tits, a Bullfinch calling, Coal Tits and a Treecreeper. We were all quite damp by now and happy to shelter under trees for our coffee stop, where we were pleased to see two Jays (probably caching food) and a Song Thrush perched on the fence, among other birds. At this point our leader decided to forego the pleasures of the extremely muddy path through the woods in favour of returning between lakes. Trees and bushes here gave us Great Spotted Woodpeckers, Bullfinch, a flock of Goldfinches, good sightings of Redwing, a fly-past Mistle Thrush and our only raptor of the day, a Kestrel. The small private fishing lake gave us a very clean, bright Mute Swan – a shame it turned out to be a dummy! Court Lake was more productive with Gadwall, Pochard and Mallard to add to our duck list, Little Grebe and a flighty Green Sandpiper. Further along Rob’s ‘scope helped us obtain a good view of the single Whooper Swan, an exciting find. At noon, exactly as forecast, heavy rain came in; our walk was curtailed and we beat a hasty retreat to our cars, or in our brave leader’s case, motorbike, but it had been a good walk with around 40 species seen. Thanks to Alistair for leading the walk. Anne Crowe
Arrived at Herriotts Bridge to find a new member, Pete, had found two Goosanders. Before I could get to see them a rumbling noise could be heard approaching from the Mendips – quite intimidating. As it got louder we saw this dark line bearing down on us. A flock of 150 Canada Geese came in close over our heads, half turning to the lake, and the rest landing on the pool – a very memorable sight. As we all gathered we noted a Kingfisher in the channel, 13 Pintails on the pool, two Dunlins by the lake, and Cetti’s Warbler and Chiffchaff were heard. Herons Green first, as there were large numbers of Great White Egrets reported but to my surprise there were only seven present: a Green Sandpiper in the corner was hard to see and only two Black-tailed Godwits. Later we started finding Common Gulls, then eleven Goosanders, a Kestrel, and lastly an immature Yellow-legged Gull. Paying for a permit was not popular so we headed round to Hollowbrook: another Chiffchaff in the woods, two Buzzards flew over and, at the half-finished new Bernard King hide, we found eight Goldeneye and 226 Cormorant in a line, off Denny Island. At lunch at the Dam another three Goldeneye were diving, but no Egyptian Geese. Finally to the Bristol Water hide at Stratford which was pretty full – a good sign. Parades of Wigeon and a Dunlin, two drake Red-crested Pochards in a group of three out in the middle, with more Pintails and gulls. Next was a search for a Jack Snipe in the reeds below – difficult but a Snipe was found. And then, as we got our eyes in, a Snipe deep in the reeds was bobbing up and down. The stripes on its head and short bill confirmed a Jack Snipe. To finish off the day a Water Rail paraded along the front of the reeds and a Bearded Tit called. Thirteen participants enjoyed the day. (Very many thanks, again, to Robert for leading this field meeting)
Starting below the Bird in Hand pub we went up to the cycle track, where the first arrivals caught sight of a Kingfisher. Walking west along the cycle track Chiffchaff and Goldcrest were found. After 400 yards we turned into the fields along a path with six rickety stiles. Large numbers of Blackbirds and a Redwing flitted along the hedgerows. At the grass airfield there were a few Pied Wagtails with Meadow Pipits mixed in among the sheep. The more we looked the more we saw, 36 Pied Wagtails and 15 Meadow Pipits. Then, in the trees behind, large flocks of Goldfinches, and a Bullfinch and Redwings across the skyline – all so busy. What a buzz. No Red-legged Partridges in the next fields but a Pheasant ran off. Coffee break at Avon Farm and a flock of 19 Longtailed Tits passed through. Down the avenue of trees we heard Green Woodpecker and then photographed a Great Spotted Woodpecker on a treetop. Down by Swineford Lock were four Moorhens, two Swans, and another Kingfisher, and finally two Mallards. Walking downriver a Grey Heron flew over and then another Great Spotted Woodpecker, which turned into three at once. Finally a raptor passed over, a Buzzard. The last fields on the walk back above the cycle track revealed a flock of several hundred Goldfinches and 300 Woodpigeons – winter magic. In the last copse Jean Oliver found a male Bullfinch. The best walk I’ve had there for some time. 18 walkers and 38 species. (Thank you Robert for leading this walk) Robert Hargreaves
Fourteen club members joined me on a dry but quite cool day with a brisk NW wind. We started by walking to the ‘viz mig’ spot of Wains Hill, but this produced only a few Chaffinch and Winter thrushes. The loop around the headland was generally very quiet with little of note. We spied a few Redshank, Curlew, Wigeon and a lone Little Egret on Blackstone Rocks below us. Proceeding down to Clevedon Pill we watched a Rock Pipit before walking to the Blind-Yeo sluice; alas, there were no birds on the Yeo. A Peregrine drifted by putting up most of the Gulls and a few Lapwing. At Blackstone Rocks two male Stonechats buzzed around us for a while. The walk down to the Kenn produced small numbers of Skylark, Meadow Pipits and Linnet. A Buzzard did a good impression of a chicken, sticking out it’s white rump as it sat in a bush. At the Kenn there were a few Dunlin and Curlew along with Redshank. The best find of the day was here, a female Scaup. The walk back to the cars was uneventful. A total of 40 species for the morning. Thanks to those who joined me. (thanks also to Jason for leading) Jason Williams
Twenty-three members turned out for this popular walk on a misty morning. We spent some time near the church at a very productive tree watching a Tree Creeper. Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Robin, Pied Wagtail were also seen plus Blackbird, Blue and Great Tit and a Song Thrush. Some more distant “thrushes” just might have been winter ones. Robins were singing throughout our walk, a large party of Goldfinches was seen and all the corvids at one time or another. A few Swallows were spotted – will this be the final Tuesday walk of 2017 to see them? The old drove road which led us up to the Priddy Barrows tends to be wet and muddy in dry weather and it outdid itself this year, slowing progress and meaning that eyes were mostly looking downwards but Great Spotted Woodpecker and Meadow Pipit were seen before we stopped for a late coffee break. While conditions meant the view could have been better, two Kestrels were on nearby wires and a singing Skylark lifted any hearts that needed lifting. Smart Red Admirals and a few Speckled Wood butterflies were seen and numerous types of fungi which were duly identified by our regular expert. We shall almost certainly ask what they are again next week, Jean – though might remember the waxcaps! Onward and in spite of much scanning no Wheatears were seen on the walls. Then another muddy path took us down to the Mineries, which were quiet on the bird front but there were lots of darter dragonflies mating. The flat remainder of the walk netted plenty of corvids, some displaying, a couple of Buzzards, House Sparrows and a Nuthatch, and in all 36 species were seen. Thanks to Bill for leading.
Leader: Bill Dobie