Bristol Ornithological Club
Feb 28 2016

Sunday 28 February –Chew Valley Lake

Despite the bitter weather 12 of us met up at Herriott’s end. Still, two Cetti’s Warblers were singing and a Greylag and Barnacle Goose appeared to be courting. Over the back were Shelduck, Shoveler, Teal, Pochard and Tufted Duck. The lake was very full, bad for dabbling duck, so no Gadwall. We walked up to the ringing station where we were kindly invited in to see three birds being ringed: a Wren, a Chiffchaff and a Great Tit. A fallen feather from the Chiffchaff was sent to the BTO for DNA testing to see which race it belonged to –Siberian Chiffchaffs and other oddities can turn up in winter. We then toured the lake from Wick Green to Heron’s Green in 3 cars. At Wick Green a few Goldeneye, male and female, were seen, and Cormorant, Goldfinch and Redwing. Back round to Stratford hide for more Goldeneye and a Common Gull. A Peregrine flew fast over the hide, quickly to be followed by a Sparrowhawk challenging the wind to cross the lake. On leaving, a Grey Wagtail flew over the cars. The gate at Moreton had Long-tailed Tits but our visit to the hide was very short owing to the high water there. The reported Green Sandpiper was hiding from the cold. At Heron’s Green a few more Common Gull. By this time the north wind was chilling our bones and we called it a day. We had 43 species despite the weather. Our thanks to Chris Stone for leading the meeting at short notice, and to Jane Cumming for arranging access to the ringing station. Robert Hargreaves


Feb 23 2016

Tuesday 23 February –Backwell Lake

A party of 30 birders met in The Perrings, Nailsea for this four mile walk around Backwell Lake and out along Youngwood Lane to Chelvey, returning via Morgan’s Hill. The sunny morning, with little wind, meant that the smaller birds were singing and active. The thrush family was especially pleasing with two Song Thrush, Redwing, a Fieldfare, Mistle Thrush and plenty of Blackbirds. The lake held the usual suspects, Mute Swan, Canada Goose, Moorhen, Coot, Mallards with two pairs of Pochard, Tufted Duck, and two Teal. The willows on the island held a Little Egret and a Grey Heron. Jane found an immature Common Gull with the Black-headed Gulls. Three of them had black heads ready for breeding. A Sparrowhawk was harassed by a corvid. Two Cormorants flew over, one of which was the European race. We walked up the little lane by Netcott meadows where a lucky few saw a Siskin. A male sat in a tree giving good views. Other highlights of our walk included a family of Grey Wagtails in the field with the horses and another two later on. There were several Jays, an active rookery and Ravens, along with a Green Woodpecker and Kingfisher. The species total was 42 for the group. (Thank you to Sue and John Prince for leading.) Sue Prince.


Feb 16 2016

Tuesday 16 February –Bristol Harbourside

On a cold, but gloriously sunny morning 25 members gathered in Millennium Square. With so much disturbance on our pathdue to the construction of the Metrobus route and work on two of the bridges I thought that the birds might be absent. Happily I was proved wrong. The Cormorants were still using their favourite perch by Prince Street bridge and though a lot of vegetationhas been cleared beside the railway tracks there was still enough left to please numerous Goldfinches and some House Sparrows. About 20 Mute Swans were close to the Marina. There is no longer a resident breeding pair of swans in the Harbour so they don’t get driven away. A lone Canada Goose had joined them for the day. A Sparrowhawk was spotted over Brandon Hill. We then moved across to the New Cut and followed the chocolate path. Several Grey Wagtails and a Redshank were on the mud which was almost covered by the tide. A Pheasant appeared on the opposite bank -very unusual for this location. Someone spotted footprints in the mud. Photographs were sent to “Otter Gill” who confirmed that they were otter prints. We were very lucky. (I went to look again two days later and there was no sign.) There was also a dead gull with two rings. The number was rather indistinct and unfortunately the BTO was unable to give any information on it. A Common Sandpiper flew up by the Ashton Swingbridge and a Buzzard was seencircling over Ashton Court. One or two people spotted a Peregrine flying over. Black-headed, Herring and Lesser Black-backed gulls were added to the list. The group divided and Nick led the energetic ones up and over Brandon Hill where they added a few passerines and some Redwings. The rest of us took the waterside route and found Moorhens by the ferry walkway, making a total of 30 species. (Thank you for leading Margaret) Margaret Gorely

Feb 14 2016

Sunday 14 February –River Exe coach trip

Thirty club members travelled down to Devon for ourannual walk down the River Exe. On arriving at our drop-off spot at Exminster, we found that many of the fields on the RSPB reserve were flooded due to the recent heavy rainfall in Devon, but we made our way down the lane (through the flooded road) to theTurf Hotel at Powderham. Many wildfowl were seen on our way down: Wigeon, Teal, Shoveler, Pintail, Tufted Duck, Gadwall, Mute Swan, Little Grebe, Canada Geese, Barnacle Geese. A couple of members had a Water Rail walk across a gateway as they were looking into the fields, then we picked out a Peregrine sitting on the nearby pylon watching the prey below. Waders included many Curlew, Redshank, Dunlin, Black-tailed Godwits, Golden Plover and Oystercatchers. Some Redwing and Fieldfare were still in the fields with Cetti’s Warbler singing in the hedgerow. Brent Geese were in large numbers although a good search failed to locate the reported Black Brant. A coastguard helicopter flew over and the geese took to the air flying over us calling -what a splendid sight and sound. At the Turf Hotel, even though we were an hour after high tide the river was still very high, presumably flood water making its way down-river, which meant no Avocets could be located. They were probably sitting on Bowling Green Marsh on theother side of the river. We did however pick up Red-breasted Merganser and Turnstone, and our walk down to Powderham church to meet the coach did produce Stonechat, Little Egret and Buzzard. Having had lunch we moved on to Dawlish Warren where we found Common Scoter, Guillemot and many Great Crested Grebe on the sea. Moving on to Warren Point and the shelter of the hide we picked out Grey Plover, many more Red-breasted Merganser, Slavonian Grebe, Shag, Stonechat and Linnets. On our coach trip back homea few lucky members on the right side of the coach had views of a Barn Owl quartering fields on the Powderham estate. My thanks to all who travelled. The weather was kind – dry, sunny although cool – and it was an enjoyable day’s birding with a count of around 70 species. (Thanks to Gordon for leading.) Gordon Youdale


Feb 09 2016

Tuesday 09 February –Greylake

Thirteen members met at Greylake on a cold but fine and dry morning. In the car park we had a good start, immediately seeing Dunnock, Reed Bunting, and many Great Tit and Blue Tit along with Goldfinch and Chaffinch. As we set off around the reed beds numerous Starlings were on the ground feeding along with some Fieldfares. Wood Pigeons flew overhead and Stock Doves were also seen. A flock of over 100 Snipe flew over providing a wonderful sight and about 150 Golden Plovers followed and a smaller flock of Lapwings. A Kestrel was perched in a nearby tree and kept us company for a short time. In the distance a Marsh Harrier flew over the wetland and we later saw a pair from the hide. Large numbers of duck including Shoveler, Teal, Wigeon, Gadwall and Mallard were on the water, as well as Coot. Water Rails were heard but not seen, and Black-tailed Godwit were spotted in the distance. Access to the hide included a short, shallow water feature to cross and some returned to the car park at this stage. Other species seen included Little Egret, Jay, Bullfinch, Peregrine, Buzzard and Redwing. In the afternoon a few went on the find the Common Cranes and were rewarded with 12 in view along a rhyne bank viewed from the very wet bank of the River Parrett at Staithe. In total 44 species were seen. (Many thanks to Mark for leading.) Mark Watson