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
Twelve members assembled at the Upton Inn on a wonderful September morning, bit of nip in the air but lots of warm sunshine and three very bright Red Admirals feeding on ivy flowers in the carpark. This is a walk which can set off briskly, as it’s a downhill start with wonderful views and we were soon seeing Long-tailed Tits, Robin, Wood Pigeon, Goldcrest, Blue Tits and Dunnock. A Kestrel flew into a tree and perched for a while, giving everyone good views, and a Buzzard was spotted in the background. Chaffinches were also seen here as were Carrion Crows and a Pheasant was heard. Throughout our walk Swallows were hunting low over the fields and perching on wires and there were plenty of House Martins about. As we reached the bottom of the hill we passed a thick hedge where House Sparrows were in evidence as were Jackdaws and a Magpie was added to the corvid list. We crossed the A431 to the church and scanned the tower, having seen a peregrine here on a previous walk – but not this day! Moving on Coal Tit, Great Tit and another Goldcrest were added to the count and the first of some Green-veined White butterflies seen. We had our coffee break just below the Bristol/Bath cycle track watching House Martins, a couple of Buzzards, some Meadow Browns and dragonflies. On the cycle path rather more bikes and people were spotted than birds but patience revealed a Willow Warbler to one member and Starlings were noisily enjoying some sort of fruit, damsons or elderberries, in a thick hedge. A Jay was seen by some. Down at the river the views are somewhat obscured these days by untamed growth on both banks but Greenfinches, Chaffinches and Blue Tits were seen, and a Herring Gull overhead. The final bit of this walk is, inevitably, uphill where Bullfinch, Goldfinch and Collared Dove were added to the list. Thanks to Dave Body for leading us. Nancy Barrett
Leader: Dave Body
The weather was much worse than forecast, so gold stars to the 15 people who stayed the course through wind and wet on a high tide and were rewarded with 46 species. The salt marsh was full of Linnets, Meadow Pipits and Pied Wagtail, a Yellow Wagtail and Wheatear. Overhead were Swallows, House and Sand Martins, and flocks of Starlings. A nestled Stock Dove was a surprise. Large flocks of Dunlin flew back and forth along the shore, with resting flocks of Canada Geese and Oystercatchers behind. The pools had numbers of Lapwing, Redshank, Black-tailed Godwit and Ringed Plover, two Greenshanks and a Bar-tailed Godwit, Snipe and Ruff (thanks to John Martin for helping us find the latter three). Ducks included Shoveler, Gadwall and a Pintail. On the return we found a Whinchat by the pools’ reeds, and there was a Kingfisher on the inland pill. Our raptors were Buzzard and Kestrel. (Many thanks to Lois for leading). Lois Pryce
Leader: Lois Pryce