Bristol Ornithological Club
Aug 28 2018

Tuesday 28 August – Old Down Leader: Sue Black

At this bird quiet time of the year 31 optimistic members gathered to walk around the Tockington hills and woods and were surprisingly well rewarded. The walk edged past the old quarry and down into the village, catching the usual woodland birds especially Robins who kept us company almost the whole morning, with their songs now more autumnal. As we walked past Tockington School and its pond a resident Moorhen was spotted, and the first of several Buzzards. A flock of 30-40 Swallows and House Martins flew over the roadside cottages. Crossing several stubble fields, one revealed at least 100 Herring Gulls with about ten Lesser Black-backed Gulls contrasting with their paler cousins. In the next field was a contingent of 80 or so Black-headed Gulls with at least three Common Gulls lurking amongst them. At the same time a flock of about 150 mixed corvids was seen, including Carrion Crows, Jackdaws and Magpies, as well as a Raven and Buzzard. Things were definitely hotting up! Entering Sheepcombe Wood there were more passerines in the form of Nuthatch, Goldcrest, Long-tailed Tits amongst others. Emerging from the wood we crossed grassy fields where a Green Woodpecker was seen briefly flying between trees. Soon a cottage garden with a bird feeder enabled more birds to be spotted (Coal Tit, House Sparrow and Chaffinch) and a Great Spotted Woodpecker was heard. By the time we returned to the cars we were up to a tally of 30 birds, a good number for late August, thanks to the many keen-eyed birders. (Many thanks Sue – a lovely walk) Sue Black

Aug 21 2018

Tuesday 21 August – Failand Leader: Gareth Roberts

The five-barred gate (and many new stiles, courtesy of the Woodspring Ramblers) to Failand Lodge Farm, admitted 30 walkers, clad, as each person had divined the weather, in shorts and tee-shirts, right through to full wet weather gear and gloves. Collared Dove was spotted as we watched the flock of House Martins scouring the tree tops. A flock of mixed Jackdaws and Rooks were seen through a gap in the trees, where many juvenile tits were playing chase with House Sparrow and a few Starling. Up through the farmyard and down the vale towards the cricket ground, Wren and Chaffinch were calling, a nice flock of Goldfinches was seen and a laughing Green Woodpecker was heard. Just shy of the turn to pass Failand Hill House, a pair of Bullfinches were spotted and on the cricket pitch, with the boundary flags looking like small gulls, were some Carrion Crow. Sharp-eared ladies heard the call of Goldcrest from the majestic firs along Horse Race Lane, a Blackcap ticked at us and a Buzzard ‘mewed’ as we re-joined the footpath that skirts Lime Kiln Plantation. The star bird of the day was then found, a Wheatear – sitting on a hay bale as we headed down for a welcome re-fuel overlooking Warren Cottage. A climb and descent across Portbury Lane, and up again to the new house conversions at Higher Farm Granary. In the field, as we headed towards Charlton Lodge, were 16 Herring Gulls roosting and beside the track, a bright Common Blue butterfly. The first of the Nuthatches was heard in the woods as we entered the Tyntesfield estate, with a Raven passing over. A further Nuthatch calling, a Great Spotted Woodpecker ‘chipping’ and a singing Coal Tit rounded off our count at 33. Thanks to Gareth for leading this lovely walk. Nick Hawkridge

Aug 14 2018

Tuesday 14 August – Burrington Ham Leader: Clive Burton

Twenty-three walkers turned out to try this new walk. We were rewarded by some stunning Mendip views from the limestone top and along part of the Limestone Link path. The birds were taking their August rest with fewer species seen than usual, nevertheless, we had some close views when they did turn up. Goldcrests were heard as we left the car park. Climbing through woods we noted Blue and Great Tit, Woodpigeon, Blackbird, Chaffinch, and Chiffchaff. A fleeting Bullfinch call was heard by some and on the top a Kestrel was hovering. Along the path below Black Down three Swallows flew over. Two Bullfinches were heard calling in the hedgerow next to us, and then seen flying into a Rowan on the hillside. Another Chiffchaff called and a Raven flew over. There were nice views of two Stonechats on the bracken. As we descended back to the start two Emperor dragonflies investigated us as the sun broke through the cloud cover. Two further Chiffchaffs completed our list. It had been a very enjoyable walk with good company in splendid countryside. Many thanks to Clive for leading. Gareth Roberts

Aug 11 2018

Saturday 11 August – Chew Valley Lake Leader: Robert Hargreaves

Eleven people met at a very cold and windy Herriotts Bridge. We were pleased to find Ian Stapp, a CVL regular well-known for his photographs on the Avon Bird Blog, who told us about some of the waders we might find on the mud bank in Herriotts Pool exposed by the low water level. With the help of ‘scopes, careful searching revealed two Dunlins, still sporting their summer black bellies amongst the twenty Lapwing and a dozen Black-tailed Godwits. Six Green Sandpipers cheered us up, with two Kingfishers racing along the back. They perched for long enough for everyone to get a good view, then dashed off in a flash of blue. A couple of Common Sandpipers kept flying around the pool keeping us amused and then to our surprise, a Curlew called and flew over, a rare bird to see at Chew. The duck in their eclipse plumage were mainly Mallard, Teal and Gadwall, but there were also four Shovelers. We were delighted to see three Great White Egrets but it was too cold for the warblers or Reed Buntings to make their presence known. It was unseasonably chilly for us, too; one of us decided to leave early while the rest had no appetite to search for the leucistic Coot known to be about. We moved on to Herons Green to find two more Green Sandpipers under the trees and a Greenshank flew across to Moreton calling. We were excited by evidence of breeding success: in the small pool were families of Coot, Moorhen, Tufted Duck and Little Grebes (particularly charming). Looking out across the wider water and including our family of five we found 24 Little Grebes! Moving round to Woodford we enjoyed watching the hirundines. A couple of Sand Martins were found and ten Swifts – for some of us the first Swifts of the month and soon to be gone from our skies till next year. A little walk through the trees revealed very few birds but a Bullfinch was heard. This was enough for most of the party, the drizzle started and we were left with four to visit the dam. Two Common Sandpipers were on the west side and three Egyptian Geese were greedily eating up the food offered at the Salt and Malt. In spite of the cold we were very happy with our finds of waders, families, Kingfishers and Swifts. Thanks to our leader, Robert Hargreaves. Anne Crowe

Aug 07 2018

Tuesday 07 August – Redhouse Farm. Winford Manor Leader: Nick Hawkridge

A group of 24 met at Redhouse Farm where we were greeted by Melanie Patch who had very kindly agreed to show us round the farm and some of the surrounding area. The weather was very pleasant and as we set off we started our list with Collared Dove, House Sparrow and Woodpigeon. We saw the first of several Swallows and Melanie told us that there were six active nests in the farm buildings. We heard and then saw two Ravens as they flew from a nearby tall conifer tree. As we walked along the lanes and fields towards Felton Common we added Carrion Crow, Blackbird, Rook and Jackdaw. Two Stock Doves flew over and we saw Magpie, Chiffchaff, a number of Lesser Black-backed Gulls and our first Buzzard of the morning. A Yellowhammer was heard with some of the group able to spot it and a flock of twelve Linnets flew over. As we walked over Felton Common we added Chaffinch, Willow Warbler and Dunnock, and a Whitethroat was seen by two of the group. A Stonechat was also seen with two juveniles being spotted a little later. A few House Martins flew above us and then we had a reasonably good view of a Wheatear, presumably heading south. Bullfinches were heard and some did get a view and similarly Goldcrests were heard, with some spotting at least one bird. As the walk came to an end we added Great Tit and Herring Gull to the list and finished with a flock of 15 Starling. Many thanks to Nick for leading and for keeping an excellent record of species seen. It is usually a quiet time of the year for birding so we were pleased to have seen or heard a total of 31 species. It was a very enjoyable morning and we were very grateful to Melanie for taking us though Felton Common as well as the farm and for sharing her knowledge of the wildlife that the farm attracts. It was lovely to hear about the birds that have been seen this year such as Spotted Flycatchers, Little Owl and Ruff as well as a number of butterfly species that frequent the farm, particularly in the old quarry area. The butterfly species that were seen on the walk included Small Copper, Holly Blue and Silver-washed Fritillary. Mike Landen