Bristol Ornithological Club
Dec 25 2018

Tuesday 25 December – Snuff Mills Leader: Nick Hawkridge

Perhaps the intel of some super birds at Eastville Park made the decision easy for the seven walkers who turned
up expecting to do Snuff Mills, to choose the park instead. Following the Frome downstream means crossing it via
the road bridge, where we were delighted to see a Grey Wagtail poking about on the spillway. We were barely out
of sight of the bridge before we’d added Long-tailed, Blue and Great Tits, so many Woodpigeons as to deter
accurate counting, and our first Great Spotted Woodpecker. We were joined by our eighth walker and the gatherer
of the intel, who promptly showed us the Peregrine on the spire of the church at Stapleton and before we recrossed the river for the third time we’d added Goldcrest to the list. At the weir we added Kingfisher, Goldfinch
and Coal Tit, these last were rivals, scolding each other across the valley. More intel, a quick recce, and up the
Fishponds Brook we went to see a very unfazed Dipper, cleaning and dozing on its favourite rock. At the lake
there were 13 Goosanders – five males and eight redheads, nine Cormorants, another Kingfisher, two Grey
Herons, and many Feral Pigeons – who tried for our elevenses cast offs. As the forthcoming Christmas dinners
were anticipated, we started back early, but it wasn’t long before we found another Grey Wagtail, heard and saw
three more Great Spotted Woodpeckers and out first Nuthatch. We didn’t add many to the total (33), on the return
to Snuff Mills car park, other than a small flight of 30 Starlings and much sharpened appetites. (Thanks to Nick for
leading, Ed). Nick Hawkridge

Dec 18 2018

Tuesday 18 December – Bridgeyate Leader: Dave Body

(Cancelled on the day due to weather conditions, thanks to Dave for sending this note of his 14 December
reconnoitre, Ed)
I walked the route on a dry, fairly bright day. The ground was firm underfoot after a couple of recent frosts and
there were only a couple of muddy spots – what could go wrong? Early on I had Redwing and six Magpies,
followed by numerous Blackbirds and some Carrion Crows. Jackdaws and Jay were seen as were the frequent
Blue Tits, House Sparrows, Chaffinches, Pied Wagtails, to make a list total of 17. As my walk continued there
were Moorhen, Grey Heron, Raven and a solitary Bulfinch. Unusually for this walk, no Buzzard was seen and
Green Woodpecker too was missing. Sadly when the Tuesday came for the scheduled walk the weather
intervened big time – blowing a gale and raining cats and dogs and so it was that the walk was cancelled. Better
luck next year. Happy New Year to everyone. Dave Body

Dec 16 2018

Sunday 16 December – Torbay Leader: Jane Cumming

It’s a hundred miles to Paignton, albeit well under two hours’ drive from the west side of Bristol, but six members
made the trip (postponed 24 hours owing to Saturday’s drenching rain). The forecast still wasn’t very encouraging,
but in the event we only got properly rained on once and the birding was well worth a bit of wet! We met at
Paignton Pier and for starters we spent ten minutes or so checking the sea, which produced one fly-by Shelduck –
the only one of the day – a Black-throated Diver and the first of many Great Northern Divers and Great Crested
Grebes. On to Broadsands for the main course of Red-necked Grebe, Cirl Bunting and Yellow-browed Warbler, all
of which we eventually found although not everyone got a decent view of the warbler before it flitted off through
the ivy and vanished. The Red-necked Grebe was joined in Elberry Cove by a Black-necked Grebe, and at least
a dozen Great Northern Divers could be seen from Elberry Headland (south of Broadsands car park), scattered
across Torbay; several were very close and gave great views. Scanning around the bay and out to sea also
produced plenty of Gannets including 20 or so resting on the water in the light wind, and the odd Razorbill as well
as Cormorants, Shags and Great Black-backed Gulls. Back at the car park we could only find a Reed Bunting at
the first attempt but a handsome male Cirl Bunting dropped in during our second search, with such common
species as Woodpigeon, Carrion Crow, Robin, Dunnock, Chaffinch and Goldfinch also taking advantage of the
feeding area which is kept supplied with seed by generous local birders. The low swampy thicket harboured the
Yellow-browed Warbler as well as four Bullfinches, Greenfinches and a flock of tits but we couldn’t see or hear any
of the Chiffchaffs which usually winter there.
For dessert we drove to Goodrington Sands where we sat out a rainstorm – conveniently at lunch-time – and
when it dried up a bit we moved up to the Three Beaches Headland a little to the south. There we finally had
good views of the immature Surf Scoter, accompanied by three female/juvenile Common Scoters, as well as ten
Great Crested Grebes, another Great Northern Diver, a couple of fly-by Oystercatchers, pairs of Fulmars already
guarding nest-ledges over on Livermead Cliffs, and the day’s only Guillemot, Kestrel and Grey Wagtail. With
more rain threatening we counted our successes and set off for home in time to get back to Bristol before dark.
Altogether we had a very rewarding trip with about forty species in spite of the uncertain weather. (Thanks to Jane
for leading, Ed). Jane Cumming

Dec 11 2018

Tuesday 11 December 2018 – Between Chew and Blagdon Lakes Leaders: Sue and John Prince

Twenty-one birders met at Herons Green on a cool but fine winter’s morning. Water levels are now higher. Two
Goosanders were present along with all the usual ducks, swans and geese. On a patch of mud by the reed bed
two Black-tailed Godwits, two Grey Herons and several Cormorants were observed through the telescopes. We
followed the lanes up to Breach Hill Common. There were several flocks of Redwings some of which flew over our
heads. A Great Spotted Woodpecker was seen along with the usual small birds, Robin, Dunnock, Wren,
Blackbird, and Blue, Great and Long-tailed Tits. At the coffee stop Nuthatch was heard and Jackie saw a pair of
Bullfinches and later everyone got a view of these lovely birds further along the walk. Three Common Buzzards
were close over the field. A Goldcrest was heard. Pied Wagtail and Meadow Pipit helped to bring the total to fiftyfour species. It was a lovely walk with fine countryside views that was enjoyed by all. (Thanks to Sue and John
Prince for leading.) Sue Prince

Dec 08 2018

Saturday 08 December – Cheddar

Cancelled courtesy of storm ‘Deirdre’.