Bristol Ornithological Club
May 31 2015

Sunday 31 May – Otmoor

 It all started in Beckley just a short stone’s throw from the Otmoor RSPB reserve with a pair of squabbling Jackdaws on an overcast morning. Four members met in the car park to the accompaniment of Lesser Whitethroat and Garden Warbler song while overhead a Red Kite gave a virtuoso flying display thus setting a benchmark for the day. On leaving the car park after reading the sightings board, two of the group expressed a desire to see and hear Turtle Dove. Within a few minutes a gentle purring was heard and a Turtle Dove was sighted on overhead cables so obviously a purrrrrrrrrfect day! Heading towards the hide and scrapes even more Lesser Whitethroats and Garden Warblers were encountered although they were outnumbered by the sights and sounds of Reed Warblers. Added to this cacophony of sound were Chaffinch, Whitethroat, Reed Bunting and the screaming of Swifts overhead. Looking out over the pastures and scrapes, families of Mallard, Greylag and Canada Geese were seen in the company of Little Egrets, Herons, Lapwings, Redshanks and Ringed Plovers. Lunch was taken in the reserve’s posh hide where we witnessed the aerial displays of House Martins with a supporting cast of finches (Greenfinch, Chaffinch and Linnet), and Redshank. Three Common Terns were discovered at the viewing screen and lagoon at the furthest point from the car park, and on the return journey to the car Sedge Warbler and Kestrel were added to the day’s list bringing the total for the day to over 50. Many thanks to Keith Williams for leading our field trip. Richard Scantlebury


May 29 2015

Friday 29 May – Frampton on Severn

After a day of heavy rain showers the skies cleared on Friday evening in time for a visit to Frampton on Severn. Seven members attended and had a pleasant walk with lots of birds. The highlights of the evening were the low aerial displays over the lake of hundreds of Swifts and Martins, and the evening chorus of Song Thrushes and Blackcaps. There were a couple of Common Terns on the lake, and a Cuckoo calling. Altogether 32 of the commoner species were seen.    Sheila Ablitt


May 26 2015

Tuesday 26 May – Clevedon / Walton Common & Coast Path

 17 people gathered in Clevedon as the cool windy conditions turned into a warm sunny morning. Two Herring Gulls were sitting on different roofs close by. We had to wait for golfers on the path up over the golf course and meanwhile notched up Robin, Goldfinch, Swallow, House Martin, Wren, Blackcap and Pheasant. At the edge of the wood we found two families of Long-tailed Tits, one containing 11/12 youngsters, and a Song Thrush was singing. Inside the wood we had three Treecreepers (one carrying food), Great Spotted and Green Woodpecker calling, a Chiffchaff, and a Goldcrest which not everyone could hear! There was also an unidentified “seep” call. On Walton Common we had coffee by the butterfly slope and were well rewarded with a view of two “Goshawks” high above. There was much discussion on whether we could claim them but the final verdict was that the size and behaviour pointed that way. (Jane has submitted the description to the experts.) One was chased by a Mistle Thrush and two Swifts were spotted very high up. Lunch was taken in a field overlooking the calm sea. From the coast path, where we enjoyed the lapping and gurgling of the waves, we saw a Pied Wagtail silhouetted on a rock, a pair of Mallards and two Shelduck flying. Whitethroat, Linnet and Greenfinch were heard and three Mistle Thrushes were on the field leading back towards Walton-in-Gordano. On the path back to the golf club we added Bullfinch and a juvenile Robin. By the end of this picnic walk, half our number had either gone back or walked speedily onwards to Clevedon to fulfil their commitments. My species list was 38. (Once again, many thanks to Judy for leading this walk.) Judy Copeland


May 20 2015

Wednesday 20 May – New Forest

 A total of seven people congregated in the Ashley Walk car park ready to explore a small corner of the New Forest and, hopefully, catch up with some of the speciality birds to be found there. Our walk took us through a variety of habitats – woodland, heathland, river valley and forest ‘lawns’ – giving us every chance of finding some of them. Indeed, we hadn’t been going long before we encountered the first of many Stonechats and Linnets – they are clearly doing very well here! A little further and Jane alerted us to a Redstart singing nearby. This smart individual gave us all wonderful views – eventually! By now we were up on an area of open heathland and our only Lark of the day gave us distant views. However, the rather long tail ruled out the Woodlark we had hoped to find – so we made do with Skylark. Continuing along the path we entered a wooded area where many of the common woodland species were showing including Treecreeper, Stock Dove, Goldcrest, various finches and, high up on one of the trees, a Spotted Flycatcher – a rare treat. Heading on towards our lunch spot a Tree Pipit gave good views. Lunch was taken in an area that ‘looked good’ for Dartford Warbler, but with the exception of more Stonechats, Linnets and a fly by Cuckoo there appeared to be no sign of them. However, as we were finishing lunch one of these gorgeous birds popped up onto some gorse at a bit of a distance. At this stage not everyone had seen it, so we headed towards the area where it had last been seen and were lucky enough to find a couple of them reasonably close giving sensational views. Having looked at them, we moved swiftly on to ensure we didn’t disturb them as it looked like they were a breeding pair. Although we may not have seen everything we might have hoped for, everyone was well pleased with a great days birding. Many thanks to Jane Cumming for her excellent leadership and ID skills!  Dave Horlick

May 19 2015

Tuesday 19 May – RSPB Newport Wetlands

The prospect of hail and blustery wet conditions did not deter the group of 23 hardy members. The birds were in full voice in the bushes and hedgerows all around the reserve including Robin, Whitethroat, Blackcap, Wren, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Blue Tit, Song Thrush and Blackbird, with a Cetti’s Warbler and Lesser Whitethroat seen by a few. At the centre, Greenfinch, Sparrow and Goldfinch were added. The pond had Coot with young, and a Little Grebe showed on the return. At the start of the walk towards the lighthouse the Bearded Tits were flying to and fro across the reeds. A few members saw a Reed Bunting but Reed Warblers were keeping low although noisy enough. A Sedge Warbler sitting in a small tree gave everyone a good view. We were listening to a Cuckoo in the distance when one and then two flew around the reeds giving wonderful views. A perching individual allowed some telescope views. Later a third cuckoo joined the pair before it went off in a different direction. The tide was going out at the estuary but Shelduck, Curlew, and a Brent Goose were seen. Swallow, Sand Martin, House Martin and Swifts were swooping over the reed beds. The RSPB have built an artificial Sand Martin nest by the centre but it has not attracted any to nest as yet. After lunch the weather began to change but we headed to Goldcliff and shelter in the hides when a sudden hailstorm had us closing the windows to avoid a battering. The Avocets did not appear to have young but a few birds were sitting in the grass. We added Lapwing, Black-tailed Godwit, Redshank, Little Ringed Plover, Little Egret, Gadwall, Shoveller and Tufted Duck to the list. The Canada Geese had a few goslings but the Redshank chicks located the previous week were not seen. A Skylark was heard and a Buzzard was the only raptor of the day. A small group was keen to go onto Magor Marsh Nature Reserve to see the Water Voles. The Gwent Wildlife Trust have released over 200 Water Voles and have set up floating platforms loaded with an apple. The voles climb onto the platform and are unperturbed at being watched. This turned out to be a very successful day and gave us 47 species with some firsts for the group. (Thank you to Ray and Margaret for leading). Margaret Bulmer