A dry autumn day but traffic chaos caused by a lorry crash on the M5 delayed the arrival of the seventeen walkers who made it through. Along the lane to Portbury Warth Woodpigeon, Carrion Crow, House Sparrow, Chaffinch and Pied Wagtail were seen in the hedgerows and fields along with a couple of Stock Dove. As we walked down the lane to the nature reserve Blue Tit, Great Tit, Greenfinch and Chiffchaff were seen and heard and the obligatory Buzzard flew overhead. The hides overlooking the pools produced several ducks including Mallard, Teal, Wigeon as well as ten Mute Swans, Coot, five Cormorant and a flock of 50 plus Starling. A few saw a Whinchat as we moved onto the edge of the saltmarsh and several Curlew were just visible feeding on the mud beyond at the water’s edge. The highlight of the walk back across grass fields was a flock of 30 plus Linnet flying overhead. Other birds included Long-tailed Tits, Dunnock, Goldfinch and a pair of Collared Doves giving 33 species in all. Thanks to Roger for leading a good walk and a pleasant day. Thanks to Roger and Lana for leading Mark Watson
The forecast of torrential rain and gale force winds may have deterred some, but it turned out to be a worthwhile visit for the seven who set out and the weather was not really a problem. At the wetlands, the ponds had the expected Little Grebe, Wigeon, Gadwall and a Swan family with three largish cygnets. Cetti’s warblers and Stonechats were in the bushes and a Great Spotted Woodpecker was seen high on a pylon. With the tide well out we had Curlew, Little Egret and Herring Gulls. A small group of Swallows was swooping over the ponds. We reached 29 species before moving round to Goldcliff. A quiet start initially with Greenshank, Shelduck and Pied Wagtail but the birds started to arrive as the tide was turning. Now Redshank, Spotted Redshank, Dunlin, seven Little Stint, Lapwing and Ringed Plover were added. A Peregrine was perched on a gate and a Marsh Harrier demonstrated low level flying and landing before a Kestrel did a fly past. Ruff and Black-tailed Godwit were present and a solitary Sanderling appeared amongst the Dunlin flock. A Snipe, two Wheatear, a flock of Linnets and a Chiffchaff all helped to make a very respectable 55 species (Thanks to Margaret and Ray for leading and the report. Editor). Margaret and Ray Bulmer
The tide was already high enough to have driven the waders away by the time seven of us met at Ferrybridge, but we tarried a while to watch Swallows streaming southwards down the causeway, find a couple of Wheatears hunting insects on the grass, and pick out a Mediterranean Gull amongst the loafing Black-headed Gulls. We moved on to the Bill for a short seawatch which produced plenty of Gannets but little else on this calm and sunny day – one distant Kittiwake and a passing auk or two, although we enjoyed waving off a group of 30 Swallows as they headed out to sea and off to Africa for the winter. We walked past the Observatory quarry which was jumping with species such as Stonechat and Blackcap raiding the blackberries, and up to the Observatory garden to join the morning’s twitch of a Greenish Warbler which had been caught and ringed earlier. It was flitting about through the sycamore branches with a couple of Chiffchaffs and we all got decent views of it eventually. After our picnic lunch we strolled along the top fields from Southwell, but there has been a lot of shrub removal and new building up there, mainly stables, and there was very little bird life to be found. The next stop was Portland Castle following a report of a couple of Pied Flycatchers and sure enough, there they were flycatching high in the sycamores. Back to Ferrybridge where the water had receded and the tideline now held a few Oystercatchers, 11 Ringed Plovers and a Bar-tailed Godwit. At this point some left for home, but three diehards headed out to Rodden Hive, a quiet backwater on the Fleet beyond Langton Herring, to try for the Grey Phalaropes that had been hanging around there for a few days. Sadly they weren’t to be found, but we did see 20 Brent Geese (early returners) with Wigeon, Teal and Shovelers, Great Crested Grebes and a few herons. It was a beautiful and peaceful walk to end the day with, and took the bird count up past 40 species. (Thank you again Jane!) Jane Cumming
We set out from the village hall in hot sunshine and that’s the way it stayed, contributing to a very leisurely walk for 25 people taking much longer than it should have done! As we progressed up to the field there was a Robin on the wall, a Lesser Black-backed Gull on the farmhouse, a Starling on a TV aerial, a Collared Dove on a telegraph wire and a Blackbird in flight. Then House Sparrows in the hedge, also a lovely Red Admiral butterfly, a Coal Tit on the top of a conifer, and Greenfinch, Jackdaws, Wood Pigeon, Blue Tit and a Green Woodpecker were spotted. No dragonflies at Glebe Pond, but a Buzzard was heard. After eventually getting across the main road we saw through a gateway a Small Copper butterfly perching on a dandelion; later on the walk we saw two Commas and many Speckled Woods. Once we were in the fields going up towards Failand we saw three Buzzards, one being mobbed by a Crow, three Rooks flying over, a Herring Gull and a Swallow. A Great Spotted Woodpecker was spied at the top of a Beech, a flock of about 30 Linnets was wheeling low two fields away and a Kestrel and Goldfinches were seen. At coffee time a Raven was rolling very high above us. We made our way safely past some beautiful Red Devon cattle and three people left the group as we reached the road near Failand church, where four Starlings were on the wires. The rest of us ploughed on and up through the shady woodland below Failand House Farm, the path proving steeper than some of us remembered! No birds here but up at the top a Cormorant flew over. Our return trip took us down Sandy Lane to a house with a well-attended bird feeder being used by Chaffinch, Dunnock, Robin, Great and Blue tits. Dru then spotted the bird of the day giving an excellent flypast; from Keith’s photos this turned out to be a Peregrine, though it was initially thought that it might be a young Hobby. Final species count (thanks Nick) was 37. (Thank you for leading Judy) Judy Copeland
Fourteen BOC members had a guided walk at Blagdon and enjoyed a leisurely stroll from the Lodge to Top End and back. Bird highlights included a late Common Swift with the hirundines over the Lodge before we set out, the Black-necked Grebe, Great White Egret, three juvenile Ringed Plovers, a flyover Black-tailed Godwit and about 20 Northern Lapwings at Top End, six Little Egrets feeding alongside the cattle on Lag Farm, a Common Sandpiper in Long Bay, and two or three groups of Eurasian Siskins along the south side of the lake. We noted over 40 species on what was a very enjoyable visit. (Very many thanks to Nigel for leading this walk).
Leader: Nigel Milbourne