Bristol Ornithological Club
Sep 24 2013

Tuesday 24 September-Tickenham

14 members met on a mild but foggy day for a walk circling Tickenham Moor and the Blind Yeo River, the fields and wooded slopes up to Tickenham Ridge, and prehistoric Cadbury Camp at the top. The moors showed Mute Swans, Mallards, Heron, and Buzzard; one member said there were moves to turn this area into a Lapwing reserve, which would be valuable. We found a good variety of common birds in the Ridge area, most strikingly a Nuthatch posing for great views on top of a tree. Plenty of late Swallows and House Martins chased the abundance of insect life, particularly crane flies, but by far the commonest sounds were the Robins who seemed to have marked out almost every meter of the terrain. Cadbury Camp is literally the high point of the walk and usually gives great views down the Bristol Channel, but today the fog blotted out everything. However the mist highlighted beautiful displays of autumn cobwebs and the group settled happily for coffee into the furthest perimeter ditch between two banks. There were many plants and fungi of interest, including species of the dainty, ephemeral, cowpat-loving Dung Fungi and brightly flowering Field Scabious, Red Bartsia and Common Gromwell; and some members even collected Field Mushrooms for their tea. By the end of our walk – with a Kestrel near the church – we had counted 30 bird species.

Sep 21 2013

Saturday 21 September – Ham Wall and Meare Heath

Thirteen members met at the Meare Heath car park on a pleasant early autumn morning. A number of passerines were noted in the car park including Dunnock, Robin, Chiffchaff and Blackbird. The willows and alders on the first part of the Meare Heath reserve track held Great, Blue, Coal and Long-tailed Tits. As soon as we had a view of the South Drain we heard a penetrating series of short high- pitched whistles and some saw the bright turquoise-blue flash of a Kingfisher speeding by. Good views were had of a male Marsh Harrier floating over the reeds and the flooded peat cuttings were occupied by Gadwall, Mallard and Teal. Natural England had recently drained down the Meare Heath lagoon to expose areas of mud. The first bird to be identified was a Glossy Ibis which had been in the area for a while. This was a “lifer” for some. As well as Ruff, Redshank and Snipe the lagoon also hosted a Spotted Redshank and the now resident breeder Great White Egret. It was good to compare its size with its smaller cousin Little Egret. We heard Bearded Tit, Water Rail and Cetti’s Warbler. We then walked through part of the Ham Wall Reserve where further sightings were had of Marsh Harrier and Great White Egret, and Wigeon was added to the wildfowl list. About 43 species were encountered during the morning.

Sep 17 2013

Tuesday 17 September-Coalpit Heath

Thirteen optimistic birders set out from Kendleshire Golf Club on a dry morning, heading towards the ponds. Lesser Black-backed gulls and Black-headed gulls were flying overhead. Moorhen were spotted on the first pond and Mute Swans on the second. Four Coots were swimming across the lake where there was a new bridge. As we continued we saw Chiffchaff in the trees and Wrens were hopping around the branches at the base of a fig tree. A Robin was perched on the top of a tall spruce and a little lower down two Goldfinches were chasing around. There was a lovely flock of Long-tailed Tits in a willow. The highlight of the walk has to be a large plump Mistle Thrush sitting at the top of a sweet chestnut tree – another flew off the tree lower down. We stopped for elevenses at the Ram Hill colliery and admired a huge boletus toadstool, which is associated with Birch trees. The rain looked as though it was coming in, as forecast, so we took a short cut back through the 13 lanes. By ‘Bleak House’ there was a lovely flock of House Martins flitting backwards and forwards around some conifers. Reaching the golf practice range, we saw many Pied Wagtails hopping amongst the golf balls.
Thank you Duncan and Peter for leading this lovely walk and getting us back before the heavens really opened. 24 species were recorded but no Blackbirds.

Sep 15 2013

Sunday 15 September- Brean Down

It was a pity that only three of us turned up to join leader Andrew Slade from Burnham who was kind enough to lead this Club trip, but perhaps the rising south-westerly winds were discouraging. There were plenty of signs of migration that morning, if nothing particularly unexpected. Swallows, with a handful of martins, passed south constantly in small groups, well over 100 in total, and several species of warbler had joined the tit flocks in more sheltered areas. We started well with a Peregrine overflying the car park and we saw it again later, jousting with a couple of Ravens. With the tide low and turning, we counted 122 Shelducks on Weston beach, and Andy picked out a couple of Wigeon amongst several dozen Teal. He also found a lone Black-tailed Godwit with a handful of Curlews; that was it for the waders. The pickings were very sparse as we wandered down the sheltered side of the promontory, but towards the end we found some mixed flocks with several Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps and a couple of Willow Warblers. One group also seemed to include a young Spotted Flycatcher which was a pleasant surprise. In total we had around 30 species during an enjoyable walk, and the rain held off until we were back in the car park.

Sep 10 2013

Tuesday 10 September-Blagdon Lake

A warm, still, sunny morning saw 23 members turn out for a walk along to the lodge from the causeway where we notched up 23 species before returning to the far side of the lake for another 11. There were no surprises and all the expected birds were there. The main sources of interest were a Snipe on the very low level lake and a Heron which seemed to be lying down “having a nap” as one member put it. The sluice was completely devoid of water with only one Grey Wagtail where we usually see several.
However, a cheerful walk with a good mixture of birds.