A cold, dry morning saw 30 members gather at the Salthouse car park. A Jay was flitting around the play area with two Pied Wagtails and, from the vantage points on Poet’s Walk, Oystercatchers and Redshanks were quickly picked out. Teal, Dunlin, Common Sandpiper, Shelduck and beautifully camouflaged Turnstones put in an appearance on the mud and rocks. Two Little Egrets graced the inlet at the end of Poet’s Walk with Wigeon and Curlew plentiful. A Kingfisher was seen by some lucky members and a possible Redwing turned out to be a Mistle Thrush. We saw no Redwings and only a couple of Fieldfares. Goldcrests were heard in profusion at one point and to our delight one appeared in the shrub by the side of us, giving good views to newer members. Lapwings were abundant in the field at the far end of the walk and only then did we spot a lone Grey Heron and a Sparrowhawk.
After a cold and misty start, 17 birdwatchers met for what turned out to be a very enjoyable morning in brilliant sunshine. Although good numbers of estuary birds, such as Teal, Wigeon and Dunlin were seen, most interest was generated by the variety and number of passerines around the site. These included two Stonechats, a late Chiffchaff and singles of Siskin and Redpoll. A large mixed finch flock on Lagoon 3 held our interest for quite a while, including around 150 Chaffinches, Linnets, Goldfinches, Reed Buntings and at least one Brambling. Other birds of note included Peregrine, Raven, Mistle Thrush and Treecreeper. Highlight of the morning for me though was the Grey Seal which we watched diving close to the shore to the north of the power station.
It was a brilliantly sunny morning and there was still a lot of very colourful leaves on some trees, but the blustery northwest wind made the 18 members glad they had (mostly!) come clad in cold weather gear. The decision to make this a “reservoir only” walk was surely the right one – standing water and mud could be clearly seen on the moors. The usual crowd of Coots were in place, Cormorants were posing on the buoys and a raft of Pochard was looking particularly good in the sunlight. Crows, Jackdaws, Rooks, Magpies, Mallards and Tufted Ducks were soon added to the list, as were Starlings in nearby fields. After a bit of concentrated looking, a few Redwings and a possible Fieldfare were also spotted, plus a Buzzard perched on a post and some Long-tailed Tits in the hedgerow. Very good close views were had of a Long-tailed Duck and a Great-crested Grebe that might just have been something else was examined. A lone Redshank was mooching about at the water’s edge and a Green Woodpecker spent some time in a field below us. During the latter part of the walk we saw a pair of Teal, a Grey Wagtail, two Little Grebes and a Sparrowhawk and Carrion Crow tussling above us, and not forgetting a calling Dunnock. Altogether 31 species were seen and one heard.
It was a lovely sunny November day when 13 of us met at the somewhat unlikely venue of the Cineworld car park at Hengrove! The more cynical of us were soon amazed as Margaret led us behind the cinema into the fascinating oasis of the Mounds. This is a former landfill site which has been transformed into a wonderful wild area of nature hidden from all the surrounding main roads. We saw a number of the usual hedgerow and field birds including Redwing, Goldfinch and a mystery bird which was difficult to place, probably a pipit. There were a pair of “flyover” Ravens and numerous gulls. As we headed back to the car park a Green Woodpecker was seen on the roof of the cinema! As our walk here was almost ending, our “mystery” bird popped up again. Further investigation on our return home, sparked by a member who was convinced it was a Water Pipit and a consultation with Ed Drewitt who knows the Mounds, suggested strongly that it was indeed a Water Pipit – the time of year, habitat and a detailed description added to the cause. Has anyone else seen this bird in the vicinity? We then drove to the entrance of Manor Woods Reserve. This was another “hidden gem”, with parkland, woods, meadow and a stream. A Grey Wagtail was quickly spotted, as were various other woodland birds, including Song Thrush and Long-tailed Tits. A pair of Moorhens scuttled into the reeds on the riverbank. On our way back, a pair of Buzzards was seen high over Bishopsworth. A total of 25 species was seen over the two sites.
After some recent foul weather, the morning gave way to clear skies and warm sunshine. Seven members met with Mike Smart, local birder and bird surveyor for this part of Gloucestershire. Mike introduced us to the reserve and its past life as a working canal in the late 1800s, delivering coal to Cheltenham. Here at Coombe Hill Meadows the coal was offloaded and taken by horse and cart into the town. Recent rains had flooded the meadows, something that happens three or four times a year. As we walked along the hedgerows of the canal the berry bushes were alive with winter thrushes. Skylarks, Meadow Pipits, and a few Yellowhammers flew overhead. The flooded fields were full of over 2500 Wigeon, 500 Canada Geese, 100 Greylag Geese, 24 Mute Swans, and smaller numbers of Teal and Lapwings. Scanning through them we also spotted a few Shoveler and Pintail. As we walked back a Water Rail squealed from a concealed ditch. The Wigeon became nervous and at one point the whole flock were in the sky, wheeling around, some getting quite high. Along with common field edge birds such as Robin, Wren and Blackbirds, we counted over 30 species in total, and headed back to Bristol in glorious sunshine.