Bristol Ornithological Club
Jan 30 2018

Tuesday 30 January – Pensford Leader Geoff Harris

As soon as the first walker leaned over the parapet, a Dipper feeding below the bridge at Pensford shot away and we feared that would be our only sighting of the morning. Fortunately, this unusually intrepid Dipper dropped down about 40 yards upstream and spent the next ten minutes ducking and diving in the water allowing all 26 of us to get excellent views of it. What a great start to the morning! On a fine, sunny if chilly day, we climbed up over the hillside towards Publow recording a selection of the usual species including Mistle Thrush, Skylark, Blackcap, Goldcrest and Grey Wagtail. A few Cormorants flew over showing the white thigh patch of their breeding plumage, but we saw only one Grey Heron and one Buzzard. A Raven sat in a treetop calling repeatedly with an atypical bell-like note which we thought was connected with display or courtship. In a grove of tall deciduous trees we watched a group of three Treecreepers interacting for a while, then we found two more further along the stream. We spent some time at Publow church where the stream-side alders held half a dozen Siskins alongside a flock of Goldfinches. Nick recorded a total of 44 species from a most enjoyable walk; thanks to Geoff for his leadership. Jane Cumming

Jan 28 2018

Sunday 28 January – Exe Leader Gordon Youdale

Leaving Bristol on a damp morning the skies brightened as we approached Devon. On leaving the coach at Exminster we made our way down towards the canal and to greet us were Devon’s iconic bird, a pair of Cirl Buntings sitting at the top of a hedge near the Swans Nest pub giving some of us brief views before they flew off. As we made our way along the lane the fields held good numbers of Wigeon on the floods with Shoveler, Teal, Lapwing and Curlew and along the canal tow path skeins of Brent Geese were flying over us heading for the fields as the tide was coming in. We stopped at the Turf’s Lock to view the river across towards Topsham. Here we had good views of Dunlin, Grey Plover, and large numbers of Golden Plover with smaller groups of Redshank, Sanderling, Knot, Black and Bar-tailed Godwits. Avocets were in good numbers here, with about 200 birds, and the river channels produced Red-breasted Mergansers. We walked down the river to Powderham to meet up with the coach. We found a few Stonechats on the way and moved on to Dawlish Warren. Birding from the sea wall on the Warren we could see about 60 Great Crested Grebe on the water, our first view of Great Northern Diver, Red-throated Diver, Shag, Gannet, and a single Common Scoter, Turnstone and Rock Pipit. As we walked along the sand dunes towards Warren Point we stopped to look out at sea, once again finding more Great Northern Diver, Long-tailed Duck and a single Eider. At the hide on Warren Point the waders were coming into roost on the high tide, Dunlin, Grey Plover, Knot, Sanderling and Oystercatchers. The sight of these waders flying around calling as they attempted to settle on the gravel islands was a spectacle. Here we also found more Red-breasted Mergansers, Great Northern Divers, and distantly a single Slavonian Grebe. Smaller birds were very few with Linnet and Goldfinch noted. Also some of the group managed to find Siskin and Goldcrests around the woodland near the visitors centre, but, unfortunately, not the reported Firecrest. After an enjoyable day, weather dry and warm, we left Dawlish heading home with a day’s species list of 72. Many thanks to all who joined me on the coach supporting the BOC. (Thanks to Gordon for leading) Gordon Youdale

Jan 23 2018

Tuesday 23 January – Coalpit Heath Leaders: Duncan & Pat Gill

Thirty two walkers who met at the Kendleshire Golf Club were not deterred by a cloudy, drizzly morning for a four and a half mile walk – golfers were, however, absent because of a very wet course. We started the walk with Blackbirds and Robin calling and a flock of Redwings flying by. The ponds on the course, as well as being traps for golfers, usually have a variety for water birds and we saw Mute Swan, Grey Heron, Moorhen, Mallard, Canada Geese and an Egyptian Goose – no Coot though. As we moved on from the Golf Course we had excellent views of two very smart Mistle Thrushes and not long after four Song Thrushes nearby. A Green Woodpecker was heard on the way to our short coffee stop and Chaffinch, Great Tit and Dunnock moved around the hedgerows as we walked on to Westerleigh. On the way back to the car park a few Fieldfare flew by and about 17 Yellowhammer were moving between a grass field and mature hedgerow whilst in the distance beyond a colourful Jay flew to the same hedge. As we neared the end of the walk three Goldcrest and a Nuthatch were in a small woodland along with Long-tailed Tits and a Treecreeper. Despite the weather we had an enjoyable walk and saw 38 species but most unusually for a Tuesday walk no Buzzards. Many thanks to Duncan and Pat for leading. Mark Watson

Jan 21 2018

Sunday 21 January – Greylake and Catcott Leader Mike Johnson

This was a joint meeting of BOC and the Ornithological section of Bristol Naturalists’. Five of us met in the car park at RSPB Greylake on a morning of heavy rain. Visibility was fairly restricted due to mist and the rain, however, eight Snipe gave really close views from the hide. It was good to see a Water Rail fully out in the open strutting amongst the many loafing Teal and Wigeon. As with other wetland areas, however, the number of migratory wildfowl seemed to be fewer this winter, perhaps due to less severe conditions in Europe. A sign of the times was that there were more sightings of Great White Egret than Little Egret; perhaps an indication of the breeding success of the larger bird on the Somerset Levels last year. More than once the flocks of wildfowl and Lapwing took to the air, successively, indicating the probable presence of a raptor but, frustratingly, nothing was seen in the gloom. On the bird tables in the car park three Reed Buntings appeared with the more common species of tit and finch. We then drove through flood water pouring off the fields to the Somerset Wildlife Trust reserve at Catcott. The sight of a number of elegant Pintail were the highlight of the afternoon. Conditions were far from ideal for the Starling roost and therefore the meeting was cut short on a day when birding, to say the least, was rather challenging. (Thanks to Mike for leading) Mike Johnson

Jan 16 2018

Tuesday 16 January – Backwell Lake Leader Sue & John Prince

21 Birders met on a sunny morning with a cold wind blowing. We began with a circuit of the lake which was, unfortunately, rather quiet. One Cormorant was in the Willow on the island, Mute Swans were seen with the usual Muscovy Duck, Moorhens, two Coots, four Canada Geese, one Gadwall, two Shovelers and Mallard. The flock of gulls, mostly, Black-headed, included several Common Gulls and a Lesser Black-backed Gull. A party of eight Tufted Ducks were at the far end of the lake and a Water Rail was heard. There were good views of a Great Spotted Woodpecker and two more were seen later on the walk. In the lanes and fields towards Chelvey we saw plenty of Redwings. The Alders held Goldfinches and a Treecreeper but alas no Siskin or Redpoll. A Raven croaked as it flew over and a pair of Stonechat gave good views along with a Song Thrush and two Mistle Thrushes. It was muddy walking over Morgan’s Hill but Chaffinch and Greenfinch were seen. A total of 41 species were recorded. The first Snowdrops were out and several fungi including Velvet Shank were seen. Thanks to Sue and John Prince for leading. Richard Belson