Field trip reports

Trip Reports

  • Tuesday 31 May – River Avon and Longshore Marsh, Pill Leader: Judy Copeland

    I didn’t expect a lot from the walk when only one of the Reed Warblers which had serenaded us on the recce produced any song, but there were plenty of Whitethroats – if one could hear them through the din of the M5. 13 people walked past Pill harbour, which produced only a few Mallard, and along the marina to Jenny’s Meadow where we admired the flowers with Skipper and Common Blue butterflies. A Kestrel hovered over the marsh. Two Swifts were spotted high up, but only one Swallow and three House Martins, one Heron and one Cormorant. Blackcap, Whitethroats and Wrens were heard in the hedges. Coffee was taken underneath the motorway, using the bases of the uprights as seats! As we tackled the path along the shoreline we spotted three Oystercatchers on the Avonmouth side of the river and a few Herring Gulls. Then into the path between the hedges, peering through to the several areas of reed, but only Long-tailed Tits appeared. At last a Reed Warbler was heard and I saw a reed quivering, not quite revealing the bird below. Also, a Greenfinch made itself known. Nick’s list contained further common species, resulting in a final count of 34. There was excitement towards the end of the path when Alan Craddock found a single, beautiful Bee Orchid. (Thanks to Judy for leading). Judy Copeland

  • Sunday 29 May – Quantocks Leader: Nick Hawkridge

    The car park was busy; ominously full of bike-racked cars and vans, but we came through unscathed and even avoided the horses. In dappled sunlight and a fresh breeze we started our tally with Bullfinch, quickly followed by Stock Dove singing its dulcet ‘ooo-ue’ in the woods. Our first target was achieved with singing Wood Warbler closely followed by Pied Flycatcher – good numbers of these throughout the day. Jeff Holmes met us at the start of Slaughterhouse Combe. He led us to the tops via Lowsey Thorn, with a Redstart family and Spotted Flycatcher just before we emerged onto the moor. Lunching close to the path we had lovely views of both Stonechat and Linnet families. A Cuckoo called then showed and finally flew right over us but leaving the best bit of this species to a female whose bubble call was heard close by. As we ambled along towards Bicknoller Post a shout went up of Dartford Warbler and indeed two showed quite well for a time. We said our goodbyes to Jeff just before we started the descent into Sheppard’s Combe. With Lady’s Edge above us we picked up Yellowhammer and a rare view of Willow Warbler and nearing the end of Hodders Combe a Dipper was skulking in the cover of the overhang above the stream. A total of 16 walkers, and 45 species were seen or heard. (Thanks to Nick for leading). Nick Hawkridge

  • Tuesday 24 May – Ridge Woods, Yate Leader: Alan Daniells

    Fourteen members met on a mostly dry day. We were treated to views of a Lesser Whitethroat in the thick hedge bordering the road and two Peregrines which flew over. Blackcaps, Chiffchaffs, a Greenfinch, a Bullfinch were also heard. Entering the woods we heard Treecreepers and Goldcrests. We passed the rookery which has about 40 nests this year. Although the woods are mostly native species such as Oak, Ash, Beech, Holly and Yew, this section contains specimens including Deodar Cedar, Wellingtonia, Lime and Corsican Pine, dating from when it was part of the garden of Ridge House, which has since been demolished. There were several more Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs in this section. At Barnhill Quarry we saw Little Grebes (one on a nest) and Moorhens on the lake, and a Buzzard and Sparrowhawk flew over. On the return route we stopped to look at a young Nuthatch. A Sparrowhawk flew over again. Other species seen or heard during the walk included Collared Dove, Great Spotted and Green Woodpecker, two Swifts, Jay and Song Thrushes. 33 species seen or heard in total. (Thanks to Alan for leading). Alan Daniells

  • Sunday 22 May – Purbeck Coast Leader: Alastair Fraser

    We were fortunate to have a fine and sunny day for our field trip. Coaches are not permitted to enter Worth Matravers so we walked down the road to the village and then towards the coast at Winspit. The route was a Whitethroat alley with several singing males along the way and two Red Kites circling over the hill to the West. Skylarks and Rock Pipits accompanied us on the way to Dancing Ledge where we stopped for a break and a chance to scour for Puffins among the Guillemots and Razorbills. The Puffins proved elusive and only a few of the party managed a sighting. There were plenty of Stonechats and Linnets on the way to Durlston but no Yellowhammer on this occasion. The Durlston cliffs afforded much closer views of Guillemots and Razorbills with Fulmars and a Peregrine. Shags also nest along the cliffs. Fine weather does not make for successful sea watching but we did see a couple of Gannets. We saw about 40 species in total and had a wonderful day out. (Thanks to Alastair for leading). Alastair Fraser

  • Tuesday 17 May – Burrington Ham Leader: Clive Burton

    Eighteen of us met at the lower car park in Burrington Coombe on a warm, sunny morning. We walked up through the woods onto Burrington Ham. We walked along the flank of Black Down past oak woods and carpets of bluebells. Finally, we walked down the other side of the Coombe to our starting point. Among the bird species we saw and heard most were Willow Warblers, Whitethroats, Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs, especially whilst walking by the trees and bushes on Black Down. A Garden Warbler was also spotted, and near the end of the walk a few people managed to see a Spotted Flycatcher. We saw 33 bird species in total. (Thanks to Clive for leading) Clive Burton

  • Sunday 15 May – Ham Wall Leader: Bob Buck

    Eight of us set out along the railway track at Ham Wall on a mild and pleasant morning. Herons showed well, starting with two Glossy Ibis flying low over the path, then regular sightings of Great White Egrets all morning (there are 40 nests in Somerset this spring) as well as Little Egret, Grey Heron and, of course, Bitterns which boomed and flew around in the far distance before one finally toured the reed bed giving us all great views. Great Crested Grebes were displaying and carrying young on their backs. Several Marsh Harriers and a Lapwing quartered the far shore while at least 28 Black-tailed Godwits could be glimpsed at their roost in the reeds. We heard two Cuckoos but failed to see either. Lots of Swifts were careering through the sky and even screaming low over the reeds, joined by just one or two Swallows and House Martins. Sadly, we found no Hobby in attendance but some saw a Sparrowhawk. Cetti’s, Reed and Willow Warblers were singing lustily. We had a good opportunity to compare Blackcap and Garden Warbler songs, with plenty of thrushes joining in as well as Chiffchaffs and a Whitethroat. Our leader thinks he heard a Sedge Warbler but we couldn’t locate it. Reed Buntings were much admired as they balanced on the reed stems. Our final total was 46 species. Note that the second bridge by Viewing Platform Two has been closed indefinitely for safety reasons.
    Many thanks to Bob for leading us around this site that he knows so well. Jane Cumming

  • Friday 13 May – Highnam Woods Leader: Gareth Roberts

    Lewis Thomson from Gloucester RSPB met twelve of us on a fine and still evening, much to the delight of the local insects. The reserve is managed to encourage Nightingale. This is their most north-westerly breeding site in the UK, the nearest other site may now be Salisbury Plain, most are in the south-east. New strategies are being tried against Muntjac (we heard barking), to allow a dense understorey, and to coppice larger areas without brash barriers. Song Thrush (some mimicking Nightingale), and Blackbird sang throughout the evening joined by Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Robin, Wren, Dunnock and Chaffinch. Our first, brief Nightingale song was heard at 20:00. Just after 21:00 we heard good periods of song close to the path, joined by another in duet, magical! As we returned to cars a fourth male was starting up. They think they have five singing males this year, but for how long? 16 species in total. Many thanks to Lewis for guiding, and to the generous members who donated on the night towards the conservation work. (Thanks to Gareth for organising). Gareth Roberts

  • Tuesday 10 May – Angidy trail, Tintern Leader: Graham Blacker

    Fifteen lucky people arrived at the Lower Wireworks car park on a fine day at the start of the Angidy Trail, a walk up a tributary valley of the River Wye at Tintern. The walk started steeply through garlic heady woods with the constant sounds of Song Thrush, Wren and Blackcap, joined by Nuthatch and solitary Mistle Thrush and Stock Dove. Descending through drifts of bluebells to the river we encountered our first family of the day which was three fledgling Dippers sitting by the side of a small waterfall with a parent nearby under a bridge. A wildlife photographer was camped there watching them patiently as he had been doing for some time waiting for them to fledge. Past the old Furnace we came to a pond where we stopped for coffee with a Grey Wagtail and a Mallard for company whilst a Great Spotted Woodpecker and a Goshawk put in a brief appearance. We pressed on and found our second family of the day which comprised three fledgling Grey Wagtails with the parents whizzing back and forth with food for their hungry beaks. Graham had arranged that we could use a lovely private riverside garden for our picnic lunch for which we must highly thank the owner, Sue. It was marvellous! Heading back down the hill on the road, we added more Dipper and Grey Wagtail sightings along with another look at the Goshawk and also a couple of Ravens. 35 species spotted in total. (Many thanks to Graham for leading and again to Sue for the use of the garden.) Alan Craddock

  • Saturday 07 May – Blagdon Lake Leader: Nigel Milbourne

    Nine members met up with warden, and club member, Nigel Milbourne at the Fishing Lodge. With access to all areas, we were able to go through the conservation barrier at Butcombe Bay, and complete a walk right around the lake – not usually possible under normal access arrangements. We headed out in an anti-clockwise direction, listening to the songs of Blackcaps and Garden Warblers at Lodge Copse, and practising our identification skills. We also had a quick look at Merlin Bird ID on Nigel’s smartphone to see the sonograms and confirmation of our guesses. We heard the resident singing Cetti’s Warbler at a couple of points around Home Bay, and Gareth agreed to keep a tally of the songsters as we heard or saw them (focussing mainly on the migrants). May is an especially wonderful time to visit Blagdon Lake to see the SSSI meadows that are full of wild flowers (and rare non-flowering plants too). When we walked over the bridge at Long Bay we saw our first orchids, probably Southern Marsh, although there are hybrid swarms all around the lake to confuse positive ID, and on reaching Green Lawn we took a look at the locally abundant Adder’s-tongue Fern growing in the sward there. There was also the opportunity to compare the flower spikes of Early Purple and Green-winged Orchids on the lawn.We saw a few water birds, although May is the month when fewest birds are counted on the monthly Webs. Most are able to hide away in the marginal vegetation thanks to the naturalised shore line of what is after all an old reservoir, but Nigel explained that despite this, the productivity and number of regularly breeding species has been steadily declining over the last couple of decades. Exiting Top End gate we made our way along the lane to Rugmoor Gate where we joined the north shore. There was some excitement here as we saw four Hobbies, high up, hawking insects. As we made our way along the north side we listened to Reed Buntings, a Whitethroat, and the many resident songsters. When we reached Owl Box field, we had a look at a white spike of Green-winged Orchid and several other colour morphs growing nearby. A few other flowers, including Heath Spotted and Common Spotted Orchids, were identified and pointed out, thanks to Jean’s expert knowledge, as we continued on around Butcombe Bay and back to the dam. Here, we saw a Common Sandpiper feeding along the wall, before we strolled back along the lane to the Lodge. Gareth logged 43 bird species, including 45 Blackcaps, 27 Chiffchaffs, eight Garden Warblers, eight Reed Warblers and five Reed Buntings, and, best of all, we had enjoyed some lovely sunshine and a very pleasant morning getting to know the site a bit better. (Thanks to Nigel for leading). Nigel Milbourne

  • Tuesday 03 May – Puxton Moor Leader: Gareth Roberts

    Eighteen of us set out through the churchyard on a cloudy day, hearing good numbers of garden birds. Along the road to Moor Lane we heard the first of nine Reed Warblers in the narrow ditch-side reeds. Some later gave us glimpses. Approaching the AWT reserve we heard Song Thrush and the first of two Lesser Whitethroats was picked out. On the moor Skylarks were seen and heard and there were good views of Reed Bunting, the first of eight. The highlight was a coffee stop Sedge Warbler giving brilliant views singing from the top of a willow. Two Cetti’s Warblers were heard as we did a circuit of the reserve. Eleven Chiffchaff and eight Blackcaps completed our haul of warblers. A very pleasant walk around this little visited reserve although sadly no dragonflies today. 38 species were identified. (Thanks to Alan for the bird list and to Gareth for leading.) Gareth Roberts

  • Tuesday 26 April – Leap Valley, Downend Leaders: Joyce Donker and Kate Cashmore

    A sunny morning and a delightful walk through varied habitats including field, woodland, narrow country lane and riverside. We left Blackhorse Road to enter an open area of common land with trees and shrubs. There we spotted Starling, Crow, Blackbird, Blue Tit, Song Thrush, Chiffchaff, Pied Wagtail. The route led us through woodland carpeted in Bluebells and other wild spring flowers. Here were recorded Great Tit, Dunnock, Blackcap, Coal Tit, Robin and more Chiffchaff, and the fluting song of Blackbirds, resonant of summer days. The path led across a sports field where we saw a Jackdaw, either predating a nest, or possibly building one. We went up some steps over the A4174 to a pleasant country lane with more Chiffchaff, Pied Wagtail and Chaffinch. Perched on a barn roof was a small group of elegant white Doves. Then down to the River Frome where we had sighting of the Kingfisher darting along, the Dipper dipping, and a Goldcrest flitting from branch to branch nearby. Retracing our steps we turned along a narrow lane surrounded by fields, where we were treated to the sight of two Swallows circling and darting before settling on the telegraph wires. An excellent walk and 36 species recorded. Thanks to Joyce and Kate for leading. Di Bunniss

  • Sunday 24 April – New Forest Leader: Jane Cumming

    Thirteen people met at Ashley Walk in the New Forest for a walk through open heathland, woodland (some ancient) with closely-grazed glades and intermittent small streams. The weather started cold with a strong north-east wind but remained sunny all day. On the heath, brilliant with thickly flowering gorse, we found two Dartford Warblers, Common Redstarts, Stonechats, Linnets and two surprising Bullfinches with Swallows flying down to sip at a shallow pond with Buzzards and Ravens above. The woods were alive with bird song, and we could hear and/or see Coal Tits, Willow Warbler. Chiffchaffs, Blackcap, Lesser Whitethroat, Goldcrests, Nuthatch, Treecreeper, Song and Mistle Thrush, Chaffinch, Greenfinch and Siskin with Stock Dove in the distance and the thrill of a Cuckoo calling! Species we also looked for included Woodlark, Hawfinch and Tree Pipit but as Jane said you rarely get 100% lucky! Langford Lakes: Returning home, we made an unplanned visit to Langford Lakes Nature Reserve (between Warminster and Salisbury), created from five gravel pits with adjacent fields and chalk stream. Water birds included abundant Canada Geese as well as Shoveler, Gadwall, Tufted Duck, Great Crested Grebe, Lapwing, Snipe, Cormorant, Grey Heron, and Water Rail heard. Floating nesting platforms showed that terns were expected too while Swallows, Sand and House Martins, Red Kites and Buzzards flew above. In the surrounding vegetation we heard and/or saw Sedge, Reed and Cetti’s Warblers, Blackcap and Whitethroat, with a probable Garden Warbler and finally heard Great Spotted Woodpecker drumming – our first and only woodpecker of the day.Our total species was 59. Thanks to Jane for leading. Lois Pryce

  • Saturday 09 April – Sand Point and Middle Hope Leader Matt Hull

    Fifteen members met at the car park and were introduced to our substitute leader Matt, a student on his gap year who birded the area most days. We first heard Blackcap and Chiffchaff and soon had good views of both species. Walking up the hill we startled a Jay. From the ridge, looking down on the mud of Sand Bay, we could see a number of Shelduck pottering about and a few gulls passed by. Matt called out ‘Siskin’ as two small birds flew rapidly overhead and vanished. In the shrubs were a variety of finches (Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch and Linnet) and several warblers. There was one Willow Warbler amongst many Chiffchaffs. A Blackbird briefly got pulses racing as we had been talking about the possibility of Ring Ouzel. The star bird on the point was a Rock Pipit seen well. A male Stonechat also gave good views. Walking up to Middle Hope the scenery changed to open grassy spaces. Skylarks were prevalent and closer to the ground than usual. A Wheatear was spotted in the distance, a beautiful male that gave good views through the ‘scope. As it started to warm up, three or four Buzzards were seen rising over Sand Bay. We walked on past Woodspring Priory where there were Jackdaws as well as a collection of white doves. At Woodspring Bay around 40 Redshank were feeding in the mud, there was a Heron at the back of the stream and a dozen Mute Swans were in the fields behind. A Collared Dove was seen on top of a telegraph pole. We also spotted a few butterflies (Small Tortoiseshell and Speckled Wood) enjoying the sunshine. 23 bird species were seen but no hirundines. Nonetheless a very pleasant Spring walk in good company and with thanks to Matt for leading. Peter Bryant

  • Tuesday 19 April – Northend, Bath Leader: Robert Hargreaves

    Sixteen people met in Northend village on a fine day. Greenfinches and Collared Doves sang close by. As we set off up the hill our leader pointed out the remains of last year’s House Martins’ nests; the village usually has a good population. We commenced the long uphill slog to Little Solisbury Hill. Reaching the top we were greeted by singing Skylarks and treated to wonderful views across Bath and beyond. Before heading down the other side our coffee stop produced a showy Whitethroat singing away, the first of the year for many of us. Skirting the hill through a tract of woodland gave extra Blackcaps, Chiffchaffs and a Song Thrush singing very loudly. Here a splinter group of three veered off to go along Chilcombe Bottom while the rest of the party took another route, which proved more challenging. We met again at a small wetland reserve. The pool was home to Moorhens and a surprise pair of Canada Geese with one sitting on the nest in a clump of reeds. We had time to finish via the slightly longer route near a stream and were soon rewarded by the song of a Garden Warbler. This most enjoyable walk, notable for its wonderful views, had given us 36 species and plenty of exercise. Thanks to our leader Robert. Anne Crowe

  • Tuesday 12 April – Barrow Gurney Leader: Geoff Harris

    Surprisingly, only 16 turned up for this lovely walk although the weather forecast had not been optimistic. Immediately we left the car park we saw Green Woodpecker, Goldfinch, Chiffchaff and Great Tit along with many other usual suspects, so many in fact we thought we may as well stay put for the three hours! We all continued heading towards Barrow tanks, taking our lives in our hands by crossing the A38. Cormorant, Little Egret, Tufted Duck, Great Crested Grebe and Mallard were soon noted, plus our first Swallow of the year. We headed down lanes and through fields encountering Greenfinch, House Martin, Skylark, Blackcap, Chaffinch, Song and Mistle Thrush and the most beautiful pair of posing Bullfinch showing really well. We took a very welcome stop for coffee at a convenient barn, which looked like it was about to collapse at any moment. Returning through country lanes, Willow Warbler was heard and eventually spotted. All told we saw 37 species in what turned out to be a splendid walk which surprisingly ended in rather warm conditions. Thanks to Geoff for leading. Graham Blacker

  • Tuesday 05 April – Hanham Leaders: Karen Birmingham, Jean Oliver, Jenny Weeks

    There were 26 of us who set off on a blustery dry day, up through broadleaved woodlands carpeted with wood anemones, celandines and other spring flowers, through open grassland and back along the River Avon past the heronry. Between us we saw or heard 34 species including a pair of Bullfinches and Greenfinch, Mistle Thrush, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Nuthatch, Peregrine, Sparrowhawk and many adult Herons on their 15 or so nests in the heronry. At one time we had Peregrine, Sparrowhawk and Buzzards all in view at the same time above us! We also saw paw prints up a muddy bank which could be otters as they have been reported here. (Thanks to Karen for leading.) Karen Birmingham

  • Tuesday 29 March – Castle Combe Leader: Geoff Hardman

    There was a healthy turnout of 20 birders, keen to enjoy a nice Spring day. The group had a pleasant walk
    across fields, spotting Redwing as we went, and down through the almost impossibly picturesque village. We
    paused at the bridge over the brook where we heard a distant Nuthatch calling. There was plenty of birdsong in
    the trees around us, plus the yaffling of Green Woodpecker echoing around, Buzzards mewing overhead and
    Great Spotted Woodpeckers drumming in the distance. Smaller birds of note were numerous Chiffchaff calling, a
    Goldcrest flitting around bare branches, several Greenfinch and a Treecreeper giving good views to a lucky few.
    Looking down, we saw Violets, lots of Lesser Celandine, plenty of Wild Garlic coming into leaf and the occasional
    early Bluebell just starting to flower. The small pool at Kent’s Bottom yielded some water birds, including a gaggle
    of Canada Geese, and also a flock of Linnet feeding in a field of Sunflowers beyond. The closing section was
    along quiet lanes through farmland. Here we saw a couple of Red Kite, a large mixed flock of Fieldfare, Redwing
    and Starling, plus Stock Doves feeding amongst a group of Common Gull, with a flyover Meadow Pipit
    conveniently calling. The last significant bird of the day was a beautiful Yellowhammer, very obligingly singing
    from the top of a nearby hedge. Our total was 45 species. Thanks to Geoff for leading, to Alan Daniells for
    keeping the records, and to all present for their great company. Tim Fell

  • Tuesday 22 March – River Avon Leader: Judy Copeland

    What a glorious day for a walk. We disappeared into the confines of Leigh Woods where Sue Prince’s sharp ears
    picked out many of the usual woodland species as we walked towards the river, but I think we all managed
    Chiffchaff and Nuthatch, and she later got a Blackcap. A woodland clearing with useful stumps provided an idyllic
    setting for coffee. From the River Avon towpath a Common Sandpiper was quickly spotted on the opposite bank,
    then a few Redshanks – some flying low over the water – eventually 37 were counted, massing as the tide raced
    out. There were around 30 Mallards on the river, four Lesser Black-backed Gulls, one Oystercatcher and one
    Shelduck, both occasionally seen here. A couple of Buzzards went over, but no Heron showed up. A flock of
    corvids, Crows and Jackdaws, were on the field beside us. Three Coots and two Moorhens were on Ham Green
    Lake with a number of Mallards, but no Grey Wagtail. The two Ravens who nest at Ham Green were seen in
    flight. Three Brimstone butterflies were a delight. Then we wended our way under the railway viaduct and up
    through the Pill alleyways back up to the cars. 34 species. (Thanks to Judy for leading). Judy Copeland

  • Saturday 19 March – Portbury Wharf Leader: Judy Copeland

    Eleven people set off along Sheepway Lane on a beautiful but chilly morning. A Goldcrest was heard in a tree
    bordering the road, and for the first part of the walk along the path between hedges we were reliant on those with
    sharp ears but most of us heard the first of four Chiffchaffs. We had a new birder with us and hope she can now
    recognise Chiffchaff! A Song Thrush was singing, another in a field, also a Rook and frequent Jackdaw flying over
    as well as four Starlings and two Cormorants. A Great Spotted Woodpecker showed and a Wren sang close to
    the path. Next, a Stock Dove sitting atop an owl box. We arrived at the sea wall to find a couple of Shelducks on
    the shoreline and some Canada Geese on the salt marsh. Along the bank, we struggled to hear a distant Curlew
    and a few Skylarks ‘chirruping’, a Cetti’s Warbler called and only two Black-headed Gulls flew over the marsh.
    From the North Pool hide we could see on the island four Shelduck and one Oystercatcher, but mainly gulls, with
    35 Lesser Black-backs counted – they breed there I’m told. Then a Marsh Harrier appeared, dipping over the
    reeds, giving good views. Most of the Gadwalls, seven, were on the South pools, making a total of eleven
    between the pools, also Mallard, two Teal, Coot and two Mute Swans, plus Little Grebe at each of the pools,
    producing some nice trilling. A total of 40 species. (Thanks to Judy for leading). Judy Copeland

  • Tuesday 15 March – Coalpit Heath Leader: Mike Jackson

    The House Sparrow and Greenfinch calls faded as we left the village. The first Ash yielded our first star bird, a roosting Little Owl. Onwards past the still short crops, Skylark song persisted, Buzzards predictably soared and a couple of Meadow Pipits poked about in the adjacent grassland. At Ram Hill, two Mistle Thrushes were prominent in a horse paddock while a Green Woodpecker hollered loudly. A wooded area presented Jay, Song Thrush and Great Spotted Woodpecker. Goldfinch, Chaffinch and Long-tailed Tit all showed well. Upon exiting the farmyard a raptor dashed into the top of an oak; calls of Kestrel and Sparrowhawk were made, only for it to take flight to cross the field to a distant perch. The slate back excluded Kestrel and the true identity now favoured Merlin. Its place in the tree was taken by a male Yellowhammer, gleaming in the sunshine. Back along the lane the Little Owl had shifted position in its tree, tolerant to our many eyed gaze. A gathering of Starlings at the village edge ended our count at 35 species. Thanks to all for such an enjoyable walk (Thanks to Mike for leading). Mike Jackson

  • Tuesday 08 March – Frampton on Severn Leader Alastair Fraser

    A rather bitter wind greeted the twenty two members at Frampton. The route includes several lakes, hedgerow, woodland and open arable fields. Smaller birds were keeping their heads down in the keen wind and proved hard to find but we saw or heard a surprising number of Chiffchaffs in the woodland. Small groups of Redwing were still around and we found Nuthatch and Treecreeper. Tufted Duck, Coot and Black-headed Gull were on the lakes in good numbers. Four Mandarin (males in full plumage) were a surprise as was a pair of Coots with three young chicks. Great Crested and Little Grebe, Canada and Greylag Geese and two Oystercatchers were also listed. A tree known to house a Tawny Owl, unfortunately, had blown down in the gales.
    (Thanks to Alastair for leading). Alastair Fraser

  • Sunday 06 March – Forest of Dean Leader: Jane Cumming

    On a chilly, overcast morning with a moderate north-east wind, a dozen members gathered at the raptor lookout at New Fancy View. The first to arrive were treated to a wonderful view of a pair of Crossbill in the top of a pine just yards away. Siskin chased each other over the valley but never came close. The only Goshawk – distant and high as usual – was picked out by just a few but we all saw soaring Buzzards and a Raven. On to Nagshead where Robins were shouting at each other all over the forest but little else seemed to be moving, just Blue and Great Tits and Wrens for most of the walk. Eventually a Nuthatch showed well but Treecreeper proved elusive, and Jay and Great Spotted Woodpecker remained “heard only”. An unexpected Peregrine circling over the treetops gave good views. Back at Parkend four Mistle Thrush gleamed silver in sunshine on the cricket pitch but Hawfinch failed to appear. At the Stone Firm on the lower Cannop Pond birds were far more numerous. The water held Canada and Greylag Geese, at least a dozen Mandarin, four Tufted Duck and nine Goosander as well as Mallard, Coot and Moorhen. Four tit species including Marsh were scoffing a supply of sunflower seeds on a log, joined by a Nuthatch. A Grey Wagtail fed in the stream and a Goldcrest showed in a fir tree. A final stop at the upper pond added three Little Grebe and a Mute Swan to the list, and several members found Brambling nearby. Between us we saw more than 40 species. (Thanks to Jane for leading). Jane Cumming

  • Tuesday 01 March – Forest of Dean Leader: Nick Hawkridge

    Despite being an overcast morning with a chill wind and mediocre weather forecast 26 people mustered at New Fancy View, hopeful of seeing Goshawk, Crossbill and whatever else. Goshawks are notoriously elusive, hunt within the tree cover and it wasn’t the weather for the spring display flight, so we weren’t optimistic. At the viewpoint, facing straight into the wind and getting steadily colder, some people got quite expressive, or even drifted off muttering about having their coffee back in their cars. One or two Crossbill flew over, some Goldfinch and some Siskin. We saw Ravens where we thought a Goshawk ought to be, then a Buzzard, then two more Buzzards. Eventually though, we did see a male Crossbill which posed in front of us like a field guide illustration. Then finally, for those who had waited, a Goshawk, a little way off, but very definitely what we had been looking for. Chilled, we drove close to Speech House, where a log had been made into a feeder for plenty of small and medium sized passerines, and signs everywhere of boar activity. We didn’t see a Hawfinch but two people had seen and photographed one in Parkend churchyard on their way over. That marked the end of the morning but those of us who had brought lunches went on to Cannop Ponds, and after eating, saw, among others 30 plus Mandarin, six Goosander, a pair of Raven being pestered by crows and more evidence of porcine activity. Very many thanks to Nick for leading. Dru Brooke-Taylor

  • Sunday 27 February – Clevedon Pill and Wains Hill Leader: Jane Cumming

    This walk began inauspiciously with a low tide and the news that Dowlais Lane was closed until 1st April, so rather than follow the usual route down to the River Kenn roost, we started with a walk over Wains Hill to look for woodland species until the tide rose a bit. There was plenty of song from Wrens, Dunnocks, Robins and Greenfinch, and we came across a confiding Song Thrush and a mixed tit flock. From the headland in wonderful light we admired a group of nine Goosanders feeding below us along the tideline, and picked out a scattering of Oystercatcher, Curlew and Redshank. Back at the Pill we walked round to the sluice counting three Stonechats on the marsh, Mallard and a Little Egret in the Pill, nine Wigeon on the sea and lots of gulls, mainly Black-headed, on the mud. Golden legs gleamed on the Lesser Black-back Gulls in the sunshine, so we stopped to study with interest an adult Lesser Black-backed Gull paddling for worms on the golf course with pinkish or possibly pale yellow legs – definitely not golden, so an interesting anomaly.
    Two spots high in the sky resolved themselves into Peregrines, and as we watched they landed on the high radio masts, then set off again to soar around the clouds together. A Buzzard seemed quite pedestrian by comparison. We logged a couple of Moorhens on the River Yeo, a Rock Pipit on the shore, and finally a Skylark in glorious song over the golf course. Only six walkers saw 33 species. (Thanks to Jane for leading) Jane Cumming

  • Tuesday 22 February – Uphill Leader: Colin Hawkins

    Nine of us met on a cold, windy morning, thinking that maybe a lie in followed by a leisurely breakfast would have been a better idea. We watched a group of Oystercatchers sheltering from the wind, whilst we thought about the best course of action. The sight of a woman in just a bathing costume (and gloves!) splashing around in the churning brown surf of the Severn Estuary made us think that we’d probably be okay to do a bit of birding, and so we bravely ventured onwards. We headed towards the Bleadon Levels, across exposed fields, being grateful for any shelter provided by the mature hedgerows. Most birds were keeping their heads down, but a good variety of common species were seen. When we reached the Bleadon Levels Nature Reserve, the highlight from the hide was a solitary Mute Swan, so we headed back towards Uphill along the path overlooking the saltmarsh. This yielded Redshank, Dunlin, Curlew, Teal and we had fantastic views of numerous Skylarks in full song. As we returned to Uphill, the sun came out and I’m happy to report that there were still nine (happy) birders. A very respectable total of 34 species were seen. Thanks to Colin for kindly stepping in as walk leader. Tim Fell

  • Tuesday 15 February – Old Down/Tockington Leader: Sue Black

    The wind roared, the rain poured, but despite the appalling weather six birders had gathered at Tockington playing field to await the leader! Never say bird watchers are not up for a challenge! We set off in good heart, noting several gulls (Common and Black-headed) on the playing field, plus a Magpie and Robin, a good start. The horses galloped around outside the cricket pitch as we crossed the pitch and cautiously descended the hill down into Tockington. The school pond had its resident Moorhen and the school playing fields provided food for Carrion Crow, Jackdaw and Herring Gulls. Several Woodpigeons appeared as we crossed the fields, with a flock of Jackdaws, and then suddenly a host of beautiful Chaffinches, at least 30, feeding on the ground and then giving us a flypast; good to see so many after a long relative absence. Following this our spirits lifted further as a Song Thrush and then a Skylark were heard and seen. Nick inspected the normally tiny pond at the base of the fields, and although finding it fuller than it had ever been, lacked birds, so we entered the woods for a wet coffee stop. The very slippery paths through the wood successfully negotiated, a Buzzard was heard, as well as various passerines. We opted at last for a shortcut to bring to an end, what must be the wettest walk in BOC history. Despite that, a total of 16 species were counted. (Thanks to Sue for leading) Sue Black

  • Tuesday 08 February – Winscombe Leader: Sue Watson

    21 set off across fields, quickly finding good numbers of House Sparrows, Woodpigeons, Coal Tits, Great Tits, Starlings, Greenfinches, Redwings, and Gulls above – Black-headed, Common and Lesser Black-backed . The first of several Bullfinches was heard and a Song Thrush found the highest view point. We passed two donkeys before climbing Sandford Hill. Four Ravens “churred” overhead. Long-tailed Tits accompanied us upwards in the woods where a Jay was heard. A deer took fright, leapt a six foot fence from standing, and bounded away. Some of the group diverted for the view over the quarry’s cliff edge towards the Bristol Channel, hoping for a Peregrine. Meantime the remainder enjoyed a coffee stop seeing a Buzzard and Mendip views plus Crook Peak, Bridgwater Bay and beyond. Together again, a flock of Linnets did a ‘fly-by’ as we dropped to the valley. We saw Green Woodpecker, and a group which included three Siskins, two Goldcrests, several Goldfinches, Chaffinches, Nuthatch, Treecreeper and a passing Sparrowhawk. After watching rooting black pigs in Winterhead, we returned via Sidcot and completed the circuit with a tally of 36 species. (Thanks to Sue for leading) Sue Watson

  • Sunday 06 February – Exe Coach Trip Leader: Jane Cumming

    23 members joined the coach. Fields through Somerset and Devon held scores to hundreds of gulls, Jackdaw, Rook, Crow, Canada and Brent Geese, and a Pochard in a pond. First stop Dawlish Warren front for a high tide sea watch, seeing Gannets, Great Crested Grebe, Turnstone, Cormorants and Shags, and a flock of eleven Common Scoter nicely visible flying and swimming. Next the lane through Exminster Marshes, seeing Shoveler, Wigeon, Teal, Pintail, Lapwing, Golden Plover, Black-tailed Godwit, Kingfisher, with many of the beautifully-plumaged Teal, Curlew and Black-tailed Godwits allowing surprisingly close views. A Marsh Harrier was regularly putting up the birds, and for some most excitingly, two Spoonbills – an adult with juvenile showing its pinkish bill. The lane ends at the canal, with views through to the estuary where we could glimpse hundreds of Avocets. Then to Powderham (teased by two Little Egrets in a field of cattle, as we searched hard for reported Cattle Egrets) where the estuary tide was low; finding two Red-breasted Merganser just visible in the narrowed river, and Great Black-backed Gulls on the mud. Hundreds of Brent Geese flew chatting softly to each other as they joined Canada Geese, a Bar-headed Goose and other water birds in adjacent fields with a scattering of small birds included Grey Wagtails, Linnets, Goldfinches, Greenfinches, Chaffinch, Meadow Pipit and Reed Bunting, and a Buzzard and Kestrel. Total 69 species. (Thanks to Jane for leading) Lois Pryce

  • Tuesday 01 February – Lansdown Leaders: Anne Crowe and Graham Blacker

    26 people gathered at Lansdown Park and Ride. Keen eyes picked up a distant Mistle Thrush as we crossed the road to the racecourse. The weather was better than expected with some sun and blue sky but we battled with a strong west wind along the track; then up to the golf course to be greeted by a tame Stonechat and a fine flock of Golden Plover in the sky. Entering the woods gave shelter with a fallen tree for our coffee stop seating; great for small birds, too. Treecreeper, Goldcrest and Nuthatch were the stars among the more common birds. From the woods to the Fire Station, watched by a perched Buzzard, gave sight of a Starling flock with a few more winter Thrushes and a few Long-tailed Tits to make the Tit species up to the usual four. This put us on the Cotswold Way, which we followed to Hanging Hill, giving us more Nuthatch, a Song Thrush, a Great Spotted Woodpecker, and fine views. Passing a flock of Jackdaws we returned along the bridleway to the “Golden Plover field”. By 13:00 they were already down roosting. A route across the golf course took us to the Charlcombe Inn. From there most returned directly to the Park and Ride, while a small group of four crossed over to the fields on the Charlcombe side. There we enjoyed watching a lone Common Gull paddling for worms and had excellent views of the surprise bird of the day – a Merlin! Total 34 species and great views of some of them thanks to Alan Daniels sharing his ‘scope, (Thanks to Anne & Graham) Anne Crowe

  • Tuesday 25 January – Bridgeyate Leader: Geoff Hardman

    Instead of one of those misty, moist winter mornings with shafts of sunlight catching the seasonal colours, 25
    members set out on a wall to wall grey morning, some of us in hope of seeing the Red Kite which has been
    spotted in this area on numerous occasions. Unfortunately, it eluded us today. However, before we set out our
    leader told us this was a lovely walk, and it was, through a varied habitat of housing estate, lanes, open fields and
    deep tracks with overhanging trees and partly following the 19th century Dramway. Finches were the first birds we
    saw and we heard many more of them throughout our walk. Tits of every sort were flitting high in the trees and
    necks were craned trying to follow them, also adding many Corvids to our list. At our coffee stop by the pond 18
    Moorhens were spotted along with a Great Spotted Woodpecker and a Buzzard all of which showed really well.
    There was a preening Grey Wagtail under one of the bridges we crossed. In total we saw 30 Species. Thanks to
    Geoff who did a fine job in leading his first walk for BOC. Graham Blacker

  • Saturday 22 January – Marshfield Leader: Sue Kempson

    26 intrepid birders met at Tanners Close for this morning only meeting. For Marshfield the conditions were good
    with a temperature of two degrees, clear sky and no wind. Following the usual route down the track and over the
    fields we saw and heard Skylarks, with a few Yellowhammers around the paddock and Stonechat on the fence.
    There were plentiful numbers of Fieldfares with the odd Redwing over the adjacent fields. A Buzzard perched
    nearby and did attempt to hunt a Fieldfare unsuccessfully. A large flock of Skylarks flew over the stubble and
    landed disappearing into the stalks. At Rushmead Lane we had good views of a dozen Corn Buntings resting in
    the top of a tree with a single Yellowhammer. A Kestrel was perched on the barn as we passed. A pair of Red –
    legged Partridges were surprisingly tolerant of our presence and we had distant views of a large mixed flock of
    mainly Yellowhammers, with some Linnets, Corn Buntings and Chaffinches. Probably the most memorable aspect
    of the morning was the sheer abundance of Fieldfares. In all 26 species were seen. Thanks to Alan Daniells for
    the list of species. (Thanks to Sue for leading) Sue Kempson

  • Tuesday 18 January – Dolebury Warren Leader: Mark Watson

    On a chilly, cloudy day 22 members met at the Crown in Churchill for a walk over Dolebury Warren. As we set off
    up the slope from the pub car park Jackdaws were in the trees along with Dunnock, Chaffinch, Blackbird, Wood
    Pigeon, Magpie, Wren and the first of several Robins. A solitary Greenfinch was seen by some and a small flock
    of Goldfinches and a Coal Tit. A couple of raucous Jays and quieter Great Spotted Woodpecker showed. Beyond
    the hillfort we passed through a small wood and saw a couple of Ravens overhead and a Sparrowhawk in the
    distance over Rowberrow Forest. We paused for coffee and one eagle-eyed member, with the aid of a telescope, picked out Meadow Pipits in the tussocky grass and also a Stonechat. Returning back towards the hillfort three
    Buzzards were circling overhead. As we descended though Rowberrow Bottom a few Long-tailed Tits flitted about
    the trees. A Goldcrest was spotted in a conifer along with Blue Tits and Great Tits. Goldfinch, Pied Wagtail, and
    Mistle Thrush were also seen. In all we saw 30 species. (Thanks to Mark for leading). Mark Watson 

  • Tuesday 11 February – Hambrook Leaders: Joyce Donker and Kate Cashmore

    Twenty five walkers met at the White Horse, Hambrook, on a mild overcast but dry day. Beyond the car park, we
    met the Frome, and from the old bridge, watched our first Dipper of the day. We followed the Frome Valley
    Walkway to a road bridge, below which were Mallard and Moorhen. Then we saw Blue and Great Tits, Robin,
    Dunnock and Goldcrest in a garden with feeders. As we walked along the riverside road Green Woodpeckers
    were calling and Song Thrushes singing. A Great Spotted Woodpecker was seen. At the next bridge there were
    two more Dippers, one doing its underwater feeding, and a Grey Wagtail on the rocks. In woodland we had Jay,
    Magpies, Jackdaws, a Nuthatch and nine Long-tailed tits and three Coal Tits. Winter thrushes included 75
    Redwings and one Fieldfare. Overhead we had a Buzzard, a Raven and a Sparrowhawk. In the hedgerow trees
    we saw seven Greenfinches, not a common sight these days, and lots of Goldfinches (28 in total). Altogether 38
    species were spotted. (Thanks to Joyce and Kate for leading). Kate Cashmore

  • Sunday 09 January – Westhay Moor NNR Leader : Nigel Kempson

    A slightly earlier start than normal for 13 members including the leader but it was worth it. Our route took us up
    Dagg’s Lane Drove and over to London Drove. Along the way we visited a number of hides with varying success
    but avoided The Mire as it was flooded. The weather was benign although there was a little sun and in total the
    group recorded 59 species The best total count was 800 Wigeon. Shoveler came in at 100. The Lapwings were
    displaying well in their flocks as were the Golden Plovers with total counts at 500 and 50 respectively. My
    highlights were the Siskin and Redpoll so my thanks to the eagle-eyed spotter. There was also a lovely pair of
    Goosanders earlier in the morning and a large flock of Cattle Egrets (51). Water Rail was heard but not seen. It
    was a great morning and many thanks to Nigel for his leadership. Beth Yate

  • Tuesday 04 January – Hengrove Mounds and Manor Woods Leader : Graham Blacker

    17 members turned out on a cold and windy morning for a dual site trip. The first was Hengrove Mounds, a Site of
    Nature Conservation Interest (SNCI) cared for by Avon Wildlife Trust. The mounds are doughnut shaped and we
    were able to walk around the rim. The birds were not impressed with the weather but by the end of the visit the
    group had recorded 72 birds covering twelve species. The second site, Manor Woods a short drive away was
    more productive though by then the wind had dropped and the sun was emerging. We were able to increase the
    bird species to 23 including a pair of Teal. Thanks to Graham for leading, and introducing many of us to a new
    site. Beth Yates

  • Tuesday 28 December – Snuff Mills Leader: Nick Hawkridge

    The climb through the woods south of the river was noisy – the wind thrashing the trees and the River Frome gushing over the weirs. SO it was only a few tits, Woodpigeons and Crows in the tops, with the cackle of a Magpie and the squawk of a Jay being all we could hear. As 13 of us wandered along we were quickly overhauled by the walking group we’d met in the car park, where we had started the count with a Coal Tit and a party of Long-tailed Tits. Our coffee stop, as usual, was taken in Vassals Park but added, on our way, 50 Starlings, the first of our three Great Spotted Woodpecker, a Song Thrush and a vast train (40+) of airborne Jackdaw to the list. Alas no Kingfisher on the journey downstream, but we did find two pairs of Grey Wagtails, eking out a living around the man-made detritus littering the river. Finally, a few Mallards, mostly hauled out on logs, feet just clear of the torrent, a singing Mistle Thrush and one Grey Heron roosting in low branches. We didn’t see any finches at all during the day but the total of 27 species was not too bad. (Thanks to Nick for leading). Nick Hawkridge

  • Tuesday 21 December – Between Chew and Blagdon Lakes Leaders: Sue and John Prince

    Herons Green, Chew Valley Lake, on an overcast cold morning, was the venue for 22 of us to meet for a walk over Breach Hill and down past Blagdon Lake and the Ubley hatchery. Before setting out we saw a pair of Goldeneyes, two dabchicks, and a flyover Cattle Egret. As we climbed the lane we passed a field full of Redwings and Fieldfares, the first of several flocks. A Bullfinch flew over, and there were Chaffinches, House Sparrows, Collared Doves, and Pied Wagtail at the farm. Our coffee break was special with mince pies and ginger biscuits made by Elaine Landen, who had even provided cream and brandy butter! Mark Watson was presented with the Club’s Robin Prytherch award, a Pied-billed Grebe paperweight, for his work as our long-time Tuesday walk organiser. Walking on we heard and saw two Great Spotted Woodpeckers, a Nuthatch, and two Treecreepers. Other highlights included Green Woodpecker, Jay, four Ravens, a Goldcrest, a second Bullfinch, and two Linnets. Back at Chew Lake a Common Sandpiper and a Stonechat were spotted by a lucky few. A total of 49 species. Nine of us adjourned to the Blue Bowl for lunch where our new Tuesday organiser, Graham Blacker, looked forward to many more walks in the New Year. (Thanks to Sue, John and Elaine). Sue Prince

  • Sunday 19 December – Chew Valley Lake Leader: John Rossetti

    An intrepid group turned up at Herriott’s Bridge on this cold damp morning. While we hoped to be looking AT Chew Valley Lake, for most of the time we were looking FOR the lake as thick fog rolled in and around. The forecast suggested a brightening later on, but it turned out this must have been a forecast for somewhere else! Nonetheless we had a small but lively group, lots of conversations and even some birds.
    Unfortunately, the always helpful Mike Bailey was unable to show us the ringing station due to Covid considerations. We left Herriott’s with my encouragement that ‘you might normally see a Marsh Harrier from here’, or ‘there are several lovely Pintails at the back in the mist’. We moved on to Stratford Hide. Initially it was very quiet and grey, but eventually we saw the best birds here with views of the superbly camouflaged Jack Snipe in the reeds, nice if brief views of two Bearded Tits, a Water Rail in flight and a Green Sandpiper that landed right in front of us, before flying off with great views of the white rump. We moved on to Herons Green Bay, watching two dabchicks on the small pool opposite while I explained the demise of most of the breeding dabchicks due especially to predation by Pike, along with other predators of duck species like the Great Black-backed Gull which are relatively new to the lake. The final spot was going to the end of Nunnery Point – ‘you would normally get great views of the whole lake from here’ I pleaded, while any thoughts of looking for the diver that had been around were abandoned. Thanks to everyone, and especially Alan who spotted many that I missed. We did manage though to see 54 species in our short morning. Imagine however, going to Chew at this time of year and not seeing a Heron, Egret or any birds of prey! (Thanks to John for leading) John Rossetti

  • Tuesday 07 December – Portishead Leader: Geoff Harris

    We started in rain but finished, thankfully, without rain. The lake was only marginally wetter – it did however contain the usual mix of Mute Swan, Canada Goose, Mallard, Tufted Duck and Black-headed Gull. They were all nicely concentrated around a local lady, who arrived on a red mobility scooter with what looked like the contents of a bakery. Up past the lido and down to Battery Point where another local pointed out the stars of the walk – five Purple Sandpipers – lovely looking birds. Even with the weak light the yellow of the legs was quite striking, except in one individual where they looked ‘dirty’ grey. The fresh wind chilled us, so were glad to climb into East Wood and find a mixed flock of Long-tailed, Blue and Great Tits with a couple of Blackbird alarm calling. Down to the Life Boat Station, where in its lee, a cup of coffee staved off the cold. Walking on around the marina we spied three Dunlins, one Shelduck, 25 Mallards all on the newly exposed mud and two Cormorants fishing the shallow end of the dock. Up past some grand houses and back to the park above the boating lake, where there was an abundance of Goldfinches, Carrion Crows, a hedge full of House Sparrows and a call from a Dunnock. Eight walkers and 28 species – which just about covered our costs!! Our thanks must go to Geoff for turning out and leading. Nick Hawkridge

  • Tuesday 30 November – Cheddar Reservoir/Cheddar Yeo Leader: Mark Watson

    The wind was strong and the drizzle heavy as 18 members set off alongside the Reservoir. We saw six Tufted
    Ducks on the rough water and six Great Crested Grebes, and a Cormorant on a buoy. A few Pied Wagtails were
    in the paddock below us. Coot numbers were high with well over 1200 estimated and a few Black-headed Gulls
    flew over. We retreated from the windblown reservoir edge down to a drove leading to the Yeo. Along the way
    Redwing were in the hedgerow and a Little Egret was seen in the adjacent fields, the first of about nine seen on
    the walk, as well as a Grey Heron on a rhyne bank. A Sparrowhawk flew over and a Raven was on the ground. As
    we moved along beside the Yeo a sharp pair of eyes saw Great White Egret half hidden in the distant rhyne. Later we had an excellent view of a Great White and a Little Egret near each other which made clear the difference in
    size. Approaching Axbridge, Long-tailed Tits, Goldfinches, a Goldcrest, and a single Fieldfare appeared. Our
    return to the reservoir yielded a Red-crested Pochard. Three Grey Wagtails entertained us with their sparring near
    to the path on our return to the car park. The species total was 36. (Thanks to Mark for leading.) Mark Watson

  • Sunday 28 November – Newport Wetlands Leader: Mike Jackson

    We gathered in bright sunshine, belying the freezing air temperature. First stop was the feeding station where the
    usual suspects gave us some easy ticks. In the extensive reed beds we immediately targeted Bearded Tit but
    none showed for us despite checking every little brown job we saw which were invariably Reed Bunting. Little
    Grebe, Mallard and Starling all appeared, a Water Rail squealed and Cetti’s Warbler delivered invitations for us to
    look harder. With the tide still low we made out distant Shelduck, Wigeon, Grey Heron, Dunlin, Grey Plover and
    Curlew from our vantage point, where a showy male Stonechat alighted on the Spartina. We entered the small
    woodland to find a flock of Long-tailed Tits with a couple of Chiffchaffs and a Goldcrest, among other common tits.
    A Redwing feeding on haws next to the path gave a full demonstration of field markings and calls as we watched
    from only metres away. With the tide now higher our return to the coast produced Shoveler and Redshank. We
    finished with a couple of Gadwalls and a Teal giving us a total of 43 species. Thanks to the six members who
    contributed to a pleasant morning. (Thanks to Mike for leading.) Mike Jackson

  • Tuesday 23 November – Hawkesbury Upton Leader: Nick Hawkridge

    The mist and cold stayed with us all day, but being well coated and gloved it meant nothing to 24 walkers at
    Hawkesbury Upton. The Chaffinches, Starlings and House Sparrows that decorated the roofs and TV aerials in
    the village were keeping strange company – a Common Gull, so close that views of all its characteristic markings
    were plain to see. The power lines were being examined by helicopter as we walked along Sandpits Lane. A
    good outcome was the flocks of Golden Plovers and Lapwings that were flushed by its passing but a shame we
    couldn’t hear a blooming thing when it made several passes. After stopping by Bodkin Hazel Wood for coffee we
    watched corvids, plovers, pigeons and winter thrushes swirling above the trees, frantically trying to elude a hungry
    Peregrine. A little further along the track Long-tailed, Blue, Great and Marsh Tits were seen, plus a copse full of
    Chaffinches, a couple of Corn Buntings and eight Yellowhammers. With the count of winter thrushes nearing the
    100’s it was good to get close up views from within Horton Court Woods, which also contained Great Spotted
    Woodpecker, Mistle and Song Thrushes and a couple of flighty Bullfinches. The last count was near the cricket
    ground – c20 Golden Plovers, roosting with a fringe of Fieldfares and Redwings. Our final tally was 40 species.
    (Many thanks to Nick for leading.) Nick Hawkridge

  • Tuesday 16 November – Arlingham Leader: Alastair Fraser

    Arlingham is an area of mixed farming adjacent to the tidal river, situated on a bend in the Severn just south of
    Gloucester. Seventeen of us met on a dry day, overcast with some sunny spells, for a walk of just under four
    miles. We had a variety of woodland birds including a Great Spotted Woodpecker as we began our walk beside a
    drainage ditch at the edge of the village. There is a good population of House Sparrows here (and around one of
    the cattle sheds) which, these days, is quite notable. Redwing and Fieldfare were seen along the lane leading to a
    cattle shed, one Fieldfare posing beautifully in a nearby tree. A Great Spotted Woodpecker (the same one?) also
    obliged with a clear view. A Blackcap briefly popped up on a Hawthorn. We went up on to the sea wall; the tide
    was low exposing extensive sand banks. A white blob sitting on the sand turned out to be a Peregrine. There was
    a large flock of gulls, Lesser Black-backed, Herring and Black-headed, with a couple of Curlews and Herons.
    Further downstream we saw Little Egret, a Common Sandpiper and a large flock of Lapwings with seven Golden
    Plovers in among them. A Cormorant tried, and failed to eat a fish bigger than itself. A hovering Kestrel plunged to
    the ground emerging with a small mammal, and a mixed flock of Blackbird, Redwing, Fieldfare and finches was
    flushed along the hedgerow. We walked back across fields and through the village to our starting point. 46
    species. Thanks to Alan Daniells for keeping a tally (and to Alastair for leading.) Alastair Fraser

  • Saturday 13 November – Eastville Park and Stoke Park. Leader Richard Scantlebury

    Six members assembled for this walk. At the river we had immediate success as almost the first tree had a Great
    Spotted Woodpecker. As we were watching that, a Sparrowhawk appeared overhead. Further down the path we
    came across a pair of Jays then a party of Long-tailed Tits, one of which appeared to have lost its tail – very
    confusing! We stopped just before the weir to view a pair of Dippers on an exposed tree root, a brilliant view of
    these local stars. Eventually each took off and flew past us. We headed to Stoke Park, first stopping at Duchess
    Pond. A Grey Wagtail left as we arrived, otherwise there was very little to see apart from about ten Moorhens. We
    went on to Pale Plantation with the hope of catching up with the Firecrests reported . We heard snatches of their
    high-pitched song but seeing them was another matter. The Plantation held a couple of Redwings. Our walk
    back to Eastville Park was uneventful apart from a pair of Greenfinches near the BT tower on Purdown. We
    wandered back to the junction of the river hoping for another view of the Dippers when Claire found a perched
    Kingfisher, which we watched until it flew downstream. Thanks to Rich for leading. Peter Bryant

  • Tuesday 09 November – Wick and Golden Valley Leader: David Body

    Fourteen of us met at the Rose and Crown pub for a four mile walk along the River Boyd and through woods to the flooded quarry, and across fields and lanes. Although it was fairly quiet 31 species were seen, including twelve Common Gulls, a female Stonechat, Meadow Pipit, seven Fieldfares, and two Redwings. A large flock of Woodpigeons was seen, and we heard Robin, Wren, Blue Tit, Great Tit, and Long-tailed Tit, and two Skylarks. Other good views included two Grey Wagtails, a Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, and at least three Buzzards.
    Many thanks to David for an enjoyable walk. Sue Prince

  • Saturday 06 November – RSPB Greylake Leader: Robert Hargreaves

    Eight of us met in the car park at 10:00. We started with a walk up the south side to the screen. It was too windy for Bearded Tits but we heard a Chiffchaff and Sparrowhawk, saw Stonechat, Buzzard, Kestrel, and the first field had a few hundred Lapwings, a Great White Egret, Greenfinch and Linnet. At the screen there were flocks of birds far away, Redwing maybe or Chaffinches. Alan found a Cetti’s Warbler close in among the reeds, great excitement to see two. This small patch of reeds revealed three Stonechats, two Reed Buntings, three Chiffchaffs, Wrens and a Blue Tit. Seven Little Egrets flew past and finally a Marsh Harrier and three Snipe went over. Was that a Crossbill calling? Listening to sound tracks we realised it was a Redpoll. From the hides only a few ducks, Mallard, Gadwall and Wigeon were seen. We decided to go back and look for the Redpoll. No luck but Anne found a few winter thrushes in a tree, a Redwing and a few Fieldfares. But as we all took a look down a telescope we saw more birds flying about, and more and more. Something like 100 Redwings and 300 Fieldfares. Walking back we had Chaffinch and a Great Spotted Woodpecker with lots of House Sparrows. After lunch we went to Catcott. Very quiet, a few Fieldfares and Starlings, a flock of Long-tailed Tits and a Marsh Harrier. 46 species. (Thanks to Rob for leading.) Robert Hargreaves

  • Tuesday 02 November – Stanton Drew Leader Alan Craddock

    Twenty-four of us set out from Stanton Drew heading for Pensford on a cool and bright morning. We stopped at the farm by the Church to pick out a mixture of a Wren, Robins and House Sparrows in amongst the shrubs and brambles. There was a mixture of gulls (including Common Gull) and corvids around the standing stones, with the long neck and head of a Grey Heron showing behind. A solitary Buzzard sat on a post and watched as the gulls took off to give us a flypast. Further down the fields, eight Redwings flew over and a couple of Linnets sat on some wires long enough for some discussion as to their identity. We headed towards the River Chew and a sharp-eyed member pointed out the first of the day’s three Green Woodpeckers. A Great Spotted Woodpecker put in an appearance during coffee at Bye Mills. Coming into Pensford for a quick look at the River Chew from the bridge, a Grey Wagtail made a brief appearance as it hopped across and behind the rooftops. The river was still quite high and running fast, murky after the weekend’s rain, so no sightings of Kingfisher or Dipper today. Back along the Stanton Road and another Green Woodpecker was showing very well at relatively close range. On the footpath to Upper Stanton Drew a party of Long-tailed Tits worked its way along a hedgerow. In the next field a Song Thrush made a very brief appearance before making a rapid exit over the hedge. A short walk through Upper Stanton Drew and back up the hill and two Pied Wagtails greeted us on our return to the farmyard. 41 species in total. (Thanks to Alan for leading.) Alan Craddock

  • Tuesday 26 October – Bleadon Levels Nature Reserve Leader: Jane Cumming

    This new venue attracted 26 walkers despite the damp and overcast weather. When I arrived to find the car park full of birders I said “What are you all doing here? There won’t be any birds”, having seen very little during a scouting visit a couple of weeks earlier. How wrong I was! – we had 49 species. At first it was a little discouraging, if typical, to see nothing at all in the pool by the car park (and the second blind, visited later, overlooked reeds grown too tall to allow any view of the water). We picked up a distant flock of eight Lapwings in flight, then Mallards started flying about everywhere and at least 50 Teal and a couple of Shovelers sprang up from the out-of-bounds pools by the STW, at which point we noticed the two hunting Peregrines causing all the commotion. Popping up onto the bank of the River Axe we noted a couple of Little Egrets, a few dabbling ducks and some larks and pipits out on the levels. We strolled south west along the cycle path in a light SW wind and thin drizzle, watching flocks of Chaffinches and Starlings passing overhead with small parties of Skylarks. Many of the finches dropped in to feed in the hawthorn patches which were alive with birds. We stopped for a while to watch one of the most active areas where we picked out Robin, Dunnock, Meadow Pipit, Song Thrush, finches and at least one Chiffchaff. A few Redwings were flitting about in the bushes but were very hard to see; Chaffinches on the other hand arrived and left again in droves, a few Greenfinches and Goldfinches mixed in with them. We carried on along the cycle track to the bridge which crosses the River Axe at Brean Sluice. The sides of the bridge looked like a broken-down fence, but on closer inspection it proved to be a long and beautifully designed “driftwood style” bird blind with seating next to the larger gaps in the fence so that observers could look down the river to the gull roost without flushing everything. At least seven Snipe did get up and fly across the river to land next to a Grey Heron, but a hundred Redshanks didn’t leave their waterside roost until the tide fell far enough to expose their feeding grounds on the muddy banks. The big gull roost included eleven Lesser Black-backed Gulls, quite a lot for this end of the autumn, and also four-five Curlews. A Little Egret fed on one side of the bridge, a Cormorant and ten Moorhens on the other. There were 40 Wigeon on the river with a few Mallard and Teal. Scanning the levels produced a Kestrel and a couple of Reed Buntings. On the way back we encountered a large flock of Long-tailed Tits, a Stonechat pair, and heard several Cetti’s Warblers singing from deep cover. This is a there-and-back walk (no round route) of only two and a half miles but it made for a very pleasant morning’s birding. Note that the main gate and visitors’ car park are only open on weekdays. (Thanks to Jane for leading.) Jane Cumming

  • Sunday 24 October – Clevedon-Yeo Leader: Jane Cumming

    As 17 people, including a new member and another potential member, assembled in Old Church Road, the weather looked distinctly unpromising. However, it steadily improved through the morning and it certainly didn’t stop us from birding!
    There was relatively little on the water by Clevedon Pill, a handful of Shelducks and Great Black-backed Gulls being the pick of the bunch. On the rocks to our right were 54 Redshanks with six Oystercatchers on the point across the bay. The harbour had mostly gulls, predominantly Black-headed although one Lesser Black-backed was also picked out on the return journey; there was a Grey Heron knee deep in the water. The reedy/shrubby patch in front of the harbour held our first Stonechat of the day, being harassed by a Robin. Despite pausing for 15 minutes, we failed to positively identify a bird skulking in the reedbed and ‘peeping’ continuously (Little Grebe? Water Rail?). A female Reed Bunting was seen on the rocks near the harbour which held our first Meadow Pipits (dozens of which were heading south on migration accompanied by a smaller number of Greenfinches, Chaffinches and several pairs of Stonechats). Blind-Yeo had three Moorhens but little else, so we headed round the golf course to the estuary (it being close to high tide by this time). The most notable bird on the shoreline was a Little Egret poking away at the mud. A few yards down the path, however, we came across a Wheatear which flew past the group and then considerately paused next to a Rock Pipit, both giving good views. Approaching the end of the path, the wader roost came into view. Five Ringed Plovers were observed on the mud and, in the nearest bay, 30 plus Curlews could be seen, some feeding in the water, others on the grassy bank. A smartly plumaged Bar-tailed Godwit was admired, and gave us a useful comparison with Curlew when it moved closer. Three Dunlins flew left and right on the shoreline and then settled, although not for long. In addition, nine Lapwings wheeled overhead but did not linger. Around 25 Shelducks could be seen in the bay beyond the Curlews; Wigeon and Teal were also seen, with increasing numbers of both as the tide receded. The bird of the trip was a wild swan – Whooper – that flew slowly over us towards the golf course. It was reported half an hour later at Portbury Wharf. The return journey started with two Roe Deer in a grassy field, and some more Curlews feeding in the next field. A Grey Wagtail flew into the rocks close to where the Wheatear had been seen earlier; there were more Meadow and Rock Pipits and some Linnets. The final bird of the trip was a Peregrine flying over the harbour and on towards Wain’s Hill. Thanks to Jane for leading. Peter Bryant

  • Sunday 17 October – Bristol City Docks meeting was cancelled

    alas the rain was against us

  • Tuesday 12 October – Saltford Leader: Robert Hargreaves

    We met on a sunny morning but at quarter to ten Graham Blacker, our new Tuesday walks organiser, said he had seen a pair of Little Owls further down Mead Lane. To our delight they were still there. We met later arrivals up on the cycle track over the river. Going on two different routes, the hardy ones through the undergrowth, and the rest by the road we met up again at The Shallows. We took a new route going up the green slope above The Shallows to St Mary’s Church and out through the cemetery, where a Mistle Thrush sang to us. Going into the fields we found some Skylarks, Meadow Pipits, lots of Jays and a Green Woodpecker. Moving back across the cycle track onto Avon Lane the group split up again. While taking a late coffee break we had a Great Spotted Woodpecker, a Buzzard and some Starlings. Five stiles later we all met up at Avon Farm, a great place for Long-tailed Tits and a Peregrine. At Swineford weir we saw our first Grey Wagtail, plus some Moorhens. Following the river upstream we saw a Cormorant. Shortly after leaving the river we could look into a pool in the STW where we saw some Mallards and Teal. On to the weir at the ‘Jolly Sailor’ to find the Cormorant again, a Grey Wagtail and another Moorhen. Walking back up Mead Lane we found the Little Owls were still there but now fifty metres apart on the cliff wall, a great bookend to the walk, and two Goldcrest by the cars. 35 species. (Thanks to Robert for leading) Robert Hargreaves

  • Sunday 10 October – WWF Steart Leader: Richard Belson

    What a lovely day and what fantastic birds and, of course, good company! 14 of us met in the WWT car park and set off for the Quantock hide overlooking Otterhampton Marsh, meanwhile picking up a large flock of 80 Wigeon and 40 Teal in the sky in the distance. The waders here consisted mainly of Dunlin, 14 Ringed Plover and 120 Golden Plover looking really gorgeous in the sunshine. Shelduck and Shoveler were on the water and many Lapwing resting on the mud. Seven Spoonbills flew in and sat in a huddle in the middle of a flock of Black-headed Gulls. Later, one of them started to feed and we could watch it sweeping its bill and then raising its head to swallow its catch. We searched for the reported Little Stints but they were hard to find among the Dunlin. Leaving Jane in the hide, we walked on to the Mendip hide. Several Stonechats were perched on the bushes beside the path, flitting off and back again, and there was also a remarkably bright yellow Meadow Pipit and two Chiffchaffs. From the River Parrett path we saw a mass of Canada Geese, some duck, Kestrel, Sparrowhawk and a Cormorant, all rather distant. On our return to the Quantock hide, Jane had found three Little Stints, also two Grey Plover and a Ruff, so that was time well spent. Lunch was taken in the sunshine on benches beside the car park, then we drove down to the Natural England car park further on and walked on to the viewing point beside the now very full and shining River Parrett. An unusual view was a Buzzard and a Raven sitting together on top of a barn. A distant Marsh Harrier was spotted against the clouds and this was followed by some excellent views of four of them quite close, as well as five Kestrels. Further Meadow Pipits were flying across the track and more Stonechats spotted. Seven Little Egrets were on the edge of the water, two people saw a Cattle Egret, there were several Herons and 20 Lapwing. A Wheatear sat on a fence post, later moving to another post closer to us, showing all its colours, then 20 Black-tailed Godwits appeared. A couple of House Sparrows greeted us back at the car park. A most successful day: many thanks to Richard for leading, to Jane and Jeff for their input and to Alan for creating the bird list. Judy Copeland

  • Tuesday 05 October – East Harptree Leader: Nick Hawkridge

    The forecast was for variable weather and so it turned out with wind, rain and some sun. As 18 of us set off we heard, then saw, five Coal Tits in the conifers. Robin and a Wren were heard and then, as usual in this habitat, Goldcrest was also heard, followed by a Nuthatch and Blue Tit. Further along the path we added Carrion Crow and then had a very good view of a Great Spotted Woodpecker which stayed for a while, perched on the top of a telegraph pole. Whilst crossing a field we saw six Swallows, presumably making their way south and we then added Goldfinch and House Sparrow to our list. We saw our first Buzzard of the day and then a second group of Hirundinidae, as at least 29 House Martins were seen feeding and also on migration. The next part of the route, along a coombe, was the most adventurous part of the walk as, due to the heavy overnight rain, there was more water in the brook than expected. The path was quite treacherous in places. Needless to say, we did not spot many birds on this section, apart from one Jay and Jackdaws. Further on we saw a Lesser Black-backed Gull and then a few of the group had a fleeting view of a Sparrowhawk. Towards the end of the walk a Chiffchaff was heard and as we traversed a field, we saw some Meadow Pipits and as they flew up out of the long grass, we realised there were over 40 birds giving us a nice spectacle. A total of 32 species were seen or heard. Thank you very much to Nick Hawkridge for leading the walk at short notice and for providing a list of the birds. Mike Landen

  • Tuesday 28 September – Frome Valley, Frampton Cotterell Leader: Mike Jackson

    It was an overcast morning as 17 of us met by St. Peter’s Church. As we were about to set off a Great Spotted      Woodpecker was seen and we heard House Sparrows.  Walking past the allotments we saw a Blue Tit and a few Woodpigeons.  As we came to open countryside we saw Carrion Crow and about 13 Rooks calling loudly from the trees.  We soon added Jay, Magpie and Great Tit and walking alongside the river we had a fleeting view of a Grey Wagtail, and a Song Thrush was seen.  We then saw about ten Goldfinch and two more Great Spotted Woodpeckers.  A party of 14 Long-tailed Tits were seen, flying in a long ‘string’ and we found four more Goldfinches, a Chaffinch and a Blackbird.  Two Mallards were spotted in the river and one member of the group was fortunate to see a Kingfisher.  At the coffee stop three Little Egrets were found and quite a number of Starlings flew past.  As we continued, we had good views of a hovering Kestrel and heard a Green Woodpecker.  We then had a much better view of a Grey Wagtail.   We approached a derelict old barn hoping to find a Little Owl.  There was one in the barn but it flew out from a hole in the side wall, rather than the huge hole in the front wall and so was only seen by two or three of us.  We added Buzzard to the list but, as we began the last section of the walk, it started to rain very heavily and so we only added a single Lesser Black-backed Gull at the end.  Although the weather was poor it was an enjoyable walk in a nice area.  A total of 34 species were seen or heard. Thank you very much to Mike for leading the walk and to Nick for providing a list of the birds.       Mike Landen

  • Sunday 26 September – Goldcliff Leader: Robert Hargreaves

    Nine members met at Goldcliff on another pleasant, sunny morning.  We welcomed one new member to their first field meeting.  The first pool, Monk’s Lagoon, was really bare, the best being a Wheatear and some distant Godwits and Dunlins, and a large flock of Lapwings in the sky.  The tide was due in at eleven so we were in a hurry to get to the sea wall, only stopping briefly at the other hides on the way.  We had a good variety of ducks including Pintail and Wigeon and two Little Grebes.  There were a few remaining Meadow Pipits around from the 7,000 that were seen on an early vismig watch that morning.  At the seawall the tide was already fully in so not much to see.   Moving on to the last hide we started seeing Stonechat, my first of the autumn.  In the hide there was talk of a Pectoral Sandpiper but it had not been seen all morning, but there was a Ruff, some Snipe and a Green Sandpiper.  A young Marsh Harrier was eating a meal on our left.  A man who had been there four hours finally found the Pectoral Sandpiper which was difficult to see in the reeds.    There was also a Curlew Sandpiper.  In the pools on the way back we found two more among lots of Lapwing and Black-tailed Godwits.  After lunch an exploration of the west area of the Marshes found Snipe in the chine, a Sparrowhawk scudding past, and on the mudflats some Curlew and Shelduck at last, then Redshank, a Greenshank and an Avocet.  Still no Ringed Plover so we explored the beach off the point on the East side.  Lots of Gulls, more Curlew and Little Egrets, and then when we had given up, halfway up the beach, some Ringed Plover.  Altogether, 61 species were seen.  Thanks to our leader Robert for leading.    Anne Crowe

  • Tuesday 21 September – Tickenham Leaders: Jan Pridie and Lois Pryce

    20 people met on a warm still day that seemed very quiet but gradually filled with birds – even if only ones and twos of common species – to a total of 37. On the golf course stretch: dozens of Pied Wagtails with a Wheatear and a few Swallows above.  Through the wooded areas: Great Spotted and Green Woodpeckers, Raven, Jay, tits, Goldcrest, Chiffchaff and a Blackcap.  At Cadbury Camp: Buzzard, Meadow Pipit, and barely seen in the surrounding trees – a group of Mistle Thrush on autumn berries.  Down on the moor: Stock Dove, Kestrel, Grey Heron, Stonechat and flocks of Linnet and Goldfinch, with a Grey Wagtail and Kingfisher along the Land Yeo river. At our coffee break at Cadbury Camp overlooking the coast, Jan produced chocolate treats she had made to Peter Holbrook’s recipe and those who knew him raised a mental glass to his memory – RIP Peter. (Thanks to Lois and Jan for leading)     Lois Price

  • Tuesday 14 September – Marshfield Leader: Chris Perry

    Nine had faith that the vagaries of our venue would turn up trumps and despite the weather, it did.  Rook, Crow and Magpie were first to show and then a splendid Stonechat, with one then two Wheatear to follow.  A low flying Sparrowhawk caught someone’s attention, we all saw it eventually. Over at the farm (Culverslade), a Kestrel showed its displeasure by dive bombing a Buzzard that had taken over its roosting tree.  More Wheatear showed as we supped at 11:00 and the Linnet flocks were still haunting the power cables with the wires fairly weighted down with Starlings too.  As we dropped down towards Rushmead Farm a Whinchat was spotted with a Yellowhammer close by and, in a tangle of brambles over bushes, even more Yellowhammer showed really well. We were counting the Yellowhammer, when up popped a Blackcap (m), a Whitethroat, a Wren, some House Sparrow and one skulking Dunnock.  Sauntering back along the lane we heard a call from above, of a whistling, circling wader, possibly Golden Plover (couldn’t identify it positively even at home with the recordings)!  At the brow of the hill, the barn field encircled more than just horses – Pied Wagtail, many Meadow Pipit, more Wheatear and a Yellow Wagtail – very nice.  By the time we reached the cars our total was 34 species with the count of Wheatear at ten.  Many thanks for leading Chris.  Nick Hawkridge

  • Sunday 12 September – East Devon Leader: Jane Cumming

    It was decided the previous evening that the variety of birds being reported at Bowling Green Marsh was better than at Seaton Wetlands, so we moved the meeting point to Topsham for those who had signed up on Doodle, thereby abandoning three other members who hadn’t let us know that they planned to join the trip.  Anyway, they had a nice day at Black Hole Marsh at Seaton Wetlands watching Greenshank and gulls – a warning for those choosing not to book via Doodle!

    The official trip left our cars at Darts Farm and walked through Goosemoor towards Bowling Green Marsh.  A bird blind en route produced Teal, a Knot, two Common Sandpipers and a roost of 30 Greenshank.  With the tide high, the marsh at Bowling Green was loaded with Wigeon and Teal, Curlew, Redshanks and Black-tailed Godwits. Counting 20 roosting Little Egrets, we soon noticed the bigger bird with thicker black legs – an adult Spoonbill which slept for most of the morning but did show its extraordinary bill from time to time.  Amongst the ducks were smaller numbers of Mallard, Shoveler and Pintails, but no diving ducks – just a Little Grebe.  We struggled to see a sleeping Ruff in long grass but got everyone onto a Whimbrel, a single Dunlin, a few Lapwing and a good scattering of Bar-tailed Godwits amongst the larger Black-tails.  A Kingfisher flashed blue across the back of the pool and stopped in view, balancing on bending reeds.  House Martin and a reported Sand Martin swooped over the water.  After a rewarding couple of hours we walked on to the river platform but the water was still too high for waders there.  A pair of Black Swans out on the estuary (strays from the collection at Dawlish?) looked well out of place, and apart from those we saw only gulls.

    We moved on in hot sunshine to Aylesbeare Common.  Afternoons aren’t the best time for birding, but we picked out a Stonechat, a Kestrel, a Swallow and a few fly-over Linnet as we wandered around the gorse and heather covered hillside.  Down by the woods at the bottom of the hill we watched a family of Siskin.  A loop back up to the top produced Coal Tit, Spotted Flycatcher and a lot more Stonechat. The final total was 43 species.  Many thanks to Gordon for leading us around some of his favourite sites in East Devon.                                 Jane Cumming

  • Tuesday 07 September – Easton-in-Gordano Leader: Judy Copeland

    This was a hot day – 27C approximately!  We made for what shade we could find, including a large patch for the coffee break when I handed out cake in memory of Peter Holbrook who used to produce delicious chocolate brownies for his walks.  We started off from the village spotting Starlings on the church tower, House Martins in the distance, and progressed through a family of Long-tailed Tits at the entrance to the wood to a final list of 30 species, seen or heard by Alan but not all of us by any means.  Many Robins were heard (twelve were counted), and at one point a Wren sang well.  In the wood, a Great Spotted, and later a Green Woodpecker, and over the fields Buzzard, Raven and Sparrowhawk.  On the garden feeders at the bottom of Sandy Lane a collection of tits and a Chaffinch, then a party of gulls on a distant field was spotted, only visible to the less tall among us when we progressed up the hill.  Close to the gulls was a Buzzard sitting in a tree.    Blackcap, Goldcrest and Treecreeper were seen or heard, several Jays seen, and a Grey Heron flew over.  During the steep climb up through the second wood towards Failand House Coal Tits were heard and the new bridge constructed a few days earlier by National Trust volunteers was admired.  Then the long walk back. (Thanks to Judy for leading.)   Judy Copeland

  • Saturday 04 September – Chew Valley Lake Leader: Robert Hargreaves

    Fifteen people met at Herriott’s Bridge on a pleasant sunny morning.  We welcomed two new members to their first field meeting and a guest from the United States.  With water levels fairly low and with the help of ‘scopes, careful searching revealed some waders: two Snipe, two Ruff, Lapwing, Black-tailed Godwit and seven Green Sandpipers.  Among the usual ducks were found a few early Pintail and Wigeon.  A Cetti’s Warbler was heard and one of us caught sight of a Marsh Harrier over the main lake.  A short walk took us to the Chew Valley Ringing Station where our host Mike Bailey gave us a most interesting talk about the work of the Station. Aurora demonstrated ringing on a feisty Blue Tit, a quiet Chiffchaff and two Reed Warblers.  After thanking Mike for an excellent visit, back to Herriott’s to receive news of Black Terns over the main lake.  A few of us saw a Kingfisher at its usual post in the channel.  Moving on to Heron’s Green gave us more waders (four distant Greenshank, one Common Sandpiper) and three Cattle Egret around a Grey Heron and a Great White Egret.  There were quite a few Little Egrets gathered at the other side.  A lucky few had sight of a Whinchat at the back of the pool while a white-headed Buzzard (raising hopes of an Osprey) looked on from the dead tree.  Those who wanted to make a day of it proceeded to Woodford Lodge for a brief lunch break.  On the way out we saw numbers of Black Terns, some swooping in quite close, fabulous!  We next explored Villice Hide, highlights being numbers of Little Grebe and close encounters with a beautiful Hobby.   We ended the day with a visit to Stratford Hide.  Here we had much closer views of Greenshank and a Common Sandpiper, with a Sparrowhawk zipping through.  We were able to count nine Great White Egrets and spot a Marsh Harrier showing well on the far side.  It had been a wonderful day, ending “officially” at 16:30.       Thanks to our leader Robert.                                        Anne Crowe

  • Tuesday 31 August – Upton Cheney / Swineford. Leader: Dave Body

    On an overcast morning with a definite chill in the air 17 members met in the car park of the Upton Cheney Inn. Shortly after starting the walk, a Grey Heron was seen flying in the distance, followed by a Cormorant flying in the same direction and we also heard a Green Woodpecker. A little later a Greenfinch was heard. We saw a number of Swallows feeding over the fields giving us a reminder that summer is nearly over. The largest concentration was at our coffee break and the total estimate for the walk was 60. We also saw a small number of House Martins. As we approached St Martin’s Church, we heard the sound of Chiffchaffs and then saw three feeding in the tops of the trees, and by the end of the walk we had a total of nine, seen or heard. A Goldcrest was also seen. We joined the Bristol to Bath cycle track where we saw seven Rooks and a couple of Blackcaps were heard, but we did not get a sighting of them. By the river we saw a party of Long-tailed Tits making a total of about 18 for the walk. We also saw four Lesser Black-backed Gulls and one Herring Gull, followed by a pair of Collared Doves. Towards the end of the walk, we found a small flock of about nine House Sparrows. Some other species noted were Buzzard (two), Jackdaw (about 50), Magpie (15) and Carrion Crow (nine). We had a final list of 29 species. It was fairly quiet from the birding point of view, but it was a very pleasant morning’s walk.
    Thank you very much to David Body for leading the walk and to Nick Hawkridge for providing a list of the birds.

  • Tue 24 August – Little Sodbury. Leader: Nick Hawkridge

    Above the car two Goldcrests were spotted sporting in the Yew that stands in St Adeline’s church yard and our departure point. A party of 26 is almost bound to stretch over a fair distance, coming together only when we stopped, firstly for Great Spotted Woodpecker with a Nuthatch accompanist, followed by Coot and Moorhen on the reservoir (now screened off). Up Horton Hill we went, to watch Swallow and House Martin feeding over the farm buildings and the feeders busy with the mixed tits. Our coffee was taken by the Millennium Folly with sightings of Kestrel and would you believe it a Hobby, blast its eyes, waiting until most of us had departed before showing itself. The lanes and paths to the breakaway point at Little Sodbury Manor were rather bare of birdlife, but the view over the Severn valley was some reward. We said goodbye to nine walkers at the first breakaway, with a further two lower down, however not before seeing a football sized Giant Puffball (Calvatia gigantean) in the Iron Age Camp. Some more of the same species were seen before we gained our vantage point, close to the tower of St John the Baptist, where we took lunch. The dining entertainment was provided by a Sparrowhawk displaying, a Jay and Green Woodpecker calling, with the latter undulating its way into distant trees. We ambled back along the footpath with a stop, not far from Portway Lane, for us all to admire Spotted Flycatcher and Redstart, the former made up of two distinct family parties. The weather was kind and the company most convivial with a final total of 32 species. (Thanks to Nick for leading). Nick Hawkridge

  • Tuesday 17 August – Hinton Blewitt and Litton Leaders: Sue and John Prince

    Our group of 16 walkers met outside the Ring O’ Bells pub. After an overcast start the sun came out for us while a family of four Ravens displayed, and House Martins could be heard nearby. Down Coley Hill we heard Goldcrest, Nuthatch, and Great-spotted Woodpecker. A mixed flock of tits – Blue, Great, and Coal flitted through the trees. At the first Litton reservoir we saw a Grey Wagtail, a juvenile Cormorant, the first of two sightings of Grey Heron, eleven dabchicks, Coots, Moorhens, and a pair of Great Crested Grebes with one youngster. A lucky few heard and then saw a Kingfisher. The upper lake held another Great Crested Grebe but was otherwise quiet. The second half of the walk was up a grassy hill and then through several fields back to the village. The breezy conditions meant that we didn’t hear or see Yellowhammer, but a total of six Chiffchaffs were heard “wheeting”, and we reached the cars to the sound of Long-tailed Tits. Of note were a Common Shrew (dead), three Badger runs with prints, a Red Admiral, a Small Tortoiseshell butterfly, and a Magpie Moth. 39 species of birds were seen in all. (Thanks to Sue and John for leading). Sue Prince

  • Saturday 14 August – Chipping Sodbury Common Leader: Linda Moysey

    Eight members including the leader met at 0900 in Hatters Lane. The weather was 17-19°C, humid and overcast at first, sunny later and a light breeze. We walked up the hill along Trinity Lane past the golf club entrance into the common. Passing the large house (marked The Windmill on OS map) we looked for cattle, hoping to see Yellow Wagtail, but the cattle were a long way away across the common. We did, however, see a number of Blue Tits, Great Tits and Chiffchaffs in the garden. We proceeded downhill into the scrubby area where the main action was a large flock (c100) of Goldfinches some with Linnets mixed in, feeding off the thistles, with some good views of a splendid male Linnet. This took our attention for a good length of time as we tried to see what else was about or in the flock, notably twelve Swallows, one Whitethroat, one Lesser Whitethroat, one female Redstart and one Kestrel, with one Buzzard and one Peregrine in the distance. A Green Woodpecker was heard calling frequently. We stopped by a known Little Owl roost, but the bird wasn’t showing. We walked back through the scrubby area, which was now much quieter, and back to the start, finishing around 12:30. 27 bird species seen or heard altogether. Many thanks to Linda for leading this walk. Alan Daniells

  • Tuesday 10 August – Blaise Estate Leader: Di Bunniss

    August may be a quiet time for the birds, but the Buddleia bush near the Churchyard was full of butterflies. Red Admiral, Tortoiseshell, Painted Lady and Peacock all seen taking advantage of the flowers. Very few birds were seen in the churchyard, but the next field was more productive, with a flock of mixed Long-tailed Tits, Coal Tits and Chiffchaff, with a Tree Creeper heard in the background. Robin, Wren, Jackdaw and Crow were also seen. All was quiet as we walked to Blaise Castle, where a Buzzard overhead called as we had our break, and a Raven’s harsh croak was heard in the distance. The Beech Avenue revealed another Tree Creeper, this time seen as well as heard, and further flocks of mixed tits were flitting between the trees along Kings Weston Drive. Here we had a useful discussion on the difference between the call of the Great Tit and the Coal Tit with an admirable demonstration of the calls by one member of the group! Some of us decided we needed to swot up on our bird call recognition. Homework required. On the return route by Hazel Brook, we saw Grey Wagtail and Nuthatch. By the Old Mill a group of Goldcrests was spotted, two adults and two young, and another Treecreeper was heard. So, although August is a quiet month, we managed to see 23 species. Thanks to Alan Daniells for keeping the bird list (and Di Bunniss for leading). Di Bunniss

  • Tuesday 03 August – Kings Wood Leader: Clive Burton

    15 members assembled at the Kings Wood car park and proceeded westerly uphill along the West Mendip Way. The weather was 14 to 17°C, dry, still and cloudy at first, with sun and a light breeze later. Several species seen or heard in the woods included Nuthatch and Treecreeper. Coming out of the woods onto the heathland, the first of several Stonechats were seen along with a number of Pipits in the small trees. There was some debate, but identification of the exact species was not achieved due to the birds being too far away. Proceeding past Hill Farm along to the trig point on Wavering Down, Raven, Buzzard and Sparrowhawk were added to the list. The trig point served for our coffee stop with splendid views. After coffee we proceeded further west before parting with the West Mendip Way, going south and then east toward Bourton Coombe with good views of a Kestrel, also a solitary Linnet. We than went south down a steep path to Bourton Farm, encountering a productive tree with a mixed flock of Blue, Great and Long-tailed Tits, Goldcrest, Wren and Blackcap along the way. At Bourton Farm there were a great many dragonflies and some Swallows. We continued southeast, seeing two Stock Doves, and east past an abandoned quarry where there was a Green Woodpecker calling. Finally, we turned north for the last kilometre back through Kings Wood to the car park. 30 species recorded. Many thanks to Clive for leading. Alan Daniells

  • Saturday 31 July – Marshfield Leaders: Sue and Nigel Kempson

    Eleven members met at Tanners Close for this evening walk. As we gathered to start the meeting, the heavens opened and the first part of the walk was in pouring rain with little bird activity. We left the normal route to Rushmead Lane as it was overgrown and branched off directly to the barns on a public footpath. On the lane, the rain stopped and we had signs of bird activity. Walking down towards the Tormarton Road where the highlight of the evening was watching a Hobby swoop in low and take an unidentified small bird off the power line. We also had distant views of Yellowhammer and Corn Bunting. Retracing our steps, we headed back along the lanes to the start. Birds seen included twelve Woodpigeon, 60 Herring Gull, two Lesser Black-backed Gull, one Buzzard, one Tawny Owl (heard), two Kestrel, one Hobby, 50 Jackdaw, one Rook, 50 Carrion Crow, four Skylark, one Wren, 32 Starling, four Blackbird, three House Sparrow, four Linnet, twelve Corn Bunting and two Yellowhammer. Mammals included three Brown Hare, three Roe Deer, one Red Fox. After the walk one member called in at Down Road and heard at least one Quail calling. (Thanks to Sue and Nigel for leading) Sue Kempson

  • Tuesday 27 July – Redhouse Farm/Felton Common Leader: Melanie Patch

    Redhouse Farm – Winford Manor was a bit misleading as we didn’t visit the farm, but Felton Common was none the less a rewarding place to do our walk. With numbers up to our best so far and with two new faces (welcome both) twenty eight walkers set off in the company of Melanie Patch, our host from the farm. We found Skylark and Stonechat in the top section, House Martin at the Round House and two Yellowhammers as we crossed the common for the first time. Linnets were our constant companions throughout the day, often sitting on the top branches of Hawthorn bushes. One was summarily kicked off his vantage point by a splendid Mistle Thrush. As we turned to head back along the edge of the common, a family of Stonechats showed and Swallows swished close by our heads. At the coffee stop, a buzzard soared within the airport boundary, showing a particularly vivid white chest ring. We counted the nesting House Martins and fortunately they were all still there despite the rapid transit of a Hobby. A wander down Long Lane gave us calling Chaffinch and Chiffchaff. The track back to the bottom corner of the common, tree lined and shady held a Great Spotted Woodpecker and Treecreeper. The two Bullfinches seen at the top were not at first recognised – until they flew, as they were using a call new to some of us. Alas, only Linnet and Gulls were noted for the final dash back to the cars as it was tipping it down. Many thanks to Melanie for leading us round and for finding some of our thirty species. Nick Hawkridge

  • Tuesday 20 July – Velvet Bottom Leader: Geoff Harris

    It was a scorching day for our walk and most birds were keeping well out of the heat. It was very quiet walking down the valley along the old lead workings but the butterflies were out in force. Beautiful Dark Green Fritillaries, a speciality in the area, Brimstone, Small Heath and Small Skipper. Towards the bottom we had a glimpse of a Redstart and a Willow Warbler. A Green Woodpecker we heard earlier took off from the path as we settled down for the coffee break. Long Wood was pleasantly cooler and mercifully free of the biting horse flies we had encountered in the past. We heard Nuthatch, Chiffchaff and Stock Dove and with a bit of effort, we found a Spotted Flycatcher family in the tree tops. Further along the path we found a second Flycatcher family, this one handily posing for us. Nearby we saw Treecreeper and Goldcrest. When we reached the road, nine of us opted out and went back up the road to the cars. The rest tackled the open fields across the road for the final leg of the walk and had Skylark, a good flock of Linnet and our third encounter with Bullfinch. Swallows and Martins were notable by their absence. Finally, we found a Whitethroat family around the pond by the old lead kilns before making our way back to the car park. Thanks to Geoff for leading. Judy Copeland

  • Sunday 18 July – Forest of Dean (evening meeting) Leaders: Jane Cumming and Ed Drewitt

    Towards the end of a blisteringly hot day, our small party first assembled at Cannop Ponds. The ducks were not looking at their best, many of them being in eclipse plumage, but we picked out Mallard, Tufted Duck and (best of all) eight Mandarin. There was a sizeable Grey Wagtail family flying about at the end of the pond and a Little Grebe. Swift and all three common species of hirundine were identified flying over the water and a Great Spotted Woodpecker flew across.    We reconvened at the car park near Crabtree Hill and were introduced to Ed Drewitt who enthusiastically explained the planned walk; evidently it was going to be a multi-sensory experience as Ed described the sights, sounds and even smells we could expect! Almost immediately after we started walking, a Treecreeper was seen and then a Goldcrest, first identified by sound. Noting a Slow worm on the path, we soon came to the edge of the heathland when a Crossbill was first heard and then seen flying overhead. On the heath, we were entertained by a flock of Goldfinches, some Linnets, several Stonechats, a Jay and then a Song Thrush eating a slug on the path. By now it was approaching dusk, so Ed led us to a suitable spot overlooking the heathland area. It was quiet until about 21:45 (with just a Southern Hawker and a couple of Lesser Black-backed Gulls flying past us) when a distant ‘churring’ could be made out – Nightjar, our target species. We waited another 30 minutes before heading back to the car park as dark descended. The group had two or three brief glimpses of Nightjars in flight and some lucky people also saw a Woodcock. In the torchlight, we found a number of Dor beetles and Toadlets on the path. (Thanks to Jane and Ed for leading). Peter Bryant

  • Tuesday 13 July – Chew Valley Lake Leader: Mike Landen

    Nineteen members met in the main car park at Chew Valley Lake on a very pleasant morning with a good temperature for walking. We started birding from the end of the car park, looking towards the dam wall. There was a large flock of Canada Geese in front of us and in the distance, towards the end of the dam, two Great Black-backed Gulls and a Raven. A little later they were joined by a Grey Heron. A Little Egret was at the other side of the lake with a good number of Black-headed Gulls, including two or three rather attractive juveniles. The Tufted Ducks were mostly in eclipse plumage with male and female looking similar. A Common Sandpiper was quite close giving us some nice views, also Lapwing and Cormorant. We crossed the road to the north of the lake and walking along a lane we heard Blackcap, Goldcrest and Chiffchaff, as well as seeing a Wren. We entered a small wood and heard a Treecreeper. We continued through open countryside and saw a Buzzard carrying prey. We headed south along the road out of Chew Magna and, just as we left the road, spotted a Song Thrush. As we followed a lane across open farmland, the hedgerows provided good views of a Yellowhammer. Four more were seen or heard. This stretch also yielded House Martins, Swallows and Swifts. Across the fields a Kestrel perched in a dead tree with a second one flying close by. We saw a Roe Deer and then a reasonable view of a Linnet and a Great Spotted Woodpecker in flight. Walking back along the lakeside path between the two car parks we added Mute Swan, Sedge Warbler, Reed Warbler, Great Crested Grebe to our list and two of the group were fortunate to see a Kingfisher. It was an enjoyable walk with a total of 49 species. Thanks to Nick for keeping a record of birds. (and to Mike for leading). Mike Landen

  • Tuesday 06 July – Old Down, Tockington. Leader: Sue Black

    Ten of us left the Old Down cricket club with a brisk breeze blowing and under a rather lowering sky. Crossing the cricket pitch, our first Swallows were swooping, soon to be seen bravely mobbing a harassed Kestrel. Down the hill through a floriferous meadow, but the wind meant few butterflies. However, it didn’t deter a Blackcap, Goldfinch, multiple Magpies and Carrion Crows, nor some Buzzards managing to soar despite the gale. A Stock Dove, Jackdaws on rooftops, Swifts up high, Moorhens enjoying the Tockington school pond, House Martin nests under eaves. Then probably the high spot of the walk, a Whitethroat singing its heart out and posed in a low tree beside the road. Soon Wood Pigeons, House Sparrows, Chiffchaff, Skylark, Bullfinch and Greenfinch were added to the list. Towards the end of the walk, we were treated to three Green Woodpeckers busy foraging on a playing field as we watched, along with three Jays. In addition to birds, we saw a Marbled White butterfly just managing to flutter despite the wind, a Tree bumble bee, a Buff- tailed bumble bee, and last but not least Jean kissed a Dung Roundhead mushroom(but it didn’t turn into a frog!) All in all, a very good birding list of twenty eight, thanks to some brilliant spotters and hearers, you know who you are! (Thanks to Sue for leading). Sue Black

  • Sunday 04 July – Exmoor Leaders: Brian Hill and Brian Gibbs

    We met our two local guides at a new location for a club field trip, Haddon Hill, a mix of heathland and woodland edge. Redpoll and Siskin in the car park got us off to a good start. Generally, the birds were much harder to find than earlier in the season but walking along the woodland edge we managed Bullfinch, Nuthatch, Coal Tit, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff and Crossbill. A couple of people heard a brief Redstart call but nobody managed to see one. Only two Blackcaps and one Whitethroat were still singing. The heathland had good populations of Meadow Pipits, Stonechats, Linnets and Skylarks with a Buzzard just visible before it went behind a hill. Ravens ‘cronked’ overhead. Tree Pipits were hard to find but we managed one family close to where they were seen by our guides earlier in the year. A couple of Great Spotted Woodpeckers were chipping away in the woods. Then the heavens opened and we all got a good soaking on the mile or so walk back to the cars. Thanks to the two Brians for leading. Alastair Fraser

  • Tuesday 29 June – Gordano Moor/Walton Common Leader: Judy Copeland

    On my recce, I found that part of the advertised Clevedon/Walton walk was impassable with brambles, bracken and everything else – the path needed a working party before I could lead a group along it! – so I moved the walk to start at Moor Lane, Walton-in-Gordano, for the walk over to Walton Common.  Nine of us proceeded very slowly along Moor Lane and Clapton Lane – it was a picnic walk – we had plenty of time! – so every bird was studied.   Chiffchaffs vied with Blackcaps for the most song we picked up, we saw a pair of Stonechats, and two Pheasants in a field were having a set-to. We eventually went through the gate into the first field, where the grasses were very high and we were glad it was dry.  Here we had the coffee break. Two Ravens were seen flying over and a couple of Buzzards, then there was Whitethroat song and one bird seen in the bushes (I saw four here on the recce) and there was a blast from a Cetti’s Warbler.   Also, song from at least two Song Thrushes – quite late in the season this year – and a nice view of a family of five Mistle Thrushes feeding on the field opposite.  There was wonderful Skylark song as we walked beside the rhine towards the National Nature Reserve and sharp ears picked up Reed Bunting long before anyone else heard it. There was song and a fleeting view of a Sedge Warbler; someone mentioned Willow Warbler which always used to be found in this suitable habitat but they seem to have moved further north.  A female duck flying over the moor was assumed to be a Mallard, but quickly identified as a Tufted Duck and this was seen twice more, an unusual sighting. In the middle of the path was a beautiful Scarlet Tiger Moth, but the lack of sun meant that we didn’t see much of the butterflies, dragonflies or damselflies normally on the reserve. Leaving the NNR and entering AWT’s Weston Moor we saw two Buzzards on a field in the distance – there was obviously carrion there as Magpies and Crows were also in attendance.  At the road, three people who needed to get back took to the tarmac and the rest of us crossed and walked up towards the wood, stopping for a peaceful picnic at the top of the field.  As we entered the main path through the wood I said this was usually very quiet – which of course prompted Alan’s sharp ears to pick up Goldcrest, Treecreeper and Coal Tit, welcome additions to the list. On the Common we found Ringlet, Marbled White and many Meadow Brown butterflies, but only one person had a brief view of a Fritillary. The slow pace of the walk resulted in us not getting back to the cars till after 15:00, but the weather had warmed up nicely and there was no hurry!   45 species in all.  (Thanks to Judy for leading)  Judy Copeland

  • Sunday 27June – Eastville Park and Duchess Pond, Stoke Park Leader: Richard Scantlebury

    Four of us met on a cold, damp morning at Thingwall allotments for a walk around Eastville Park and up to Duchess Pond led by the extremely capable Rich Scantlebury. Having run around this park dozens of times during the pandemic I was surprised to find this new entrance, and we were greeted by a loud chorus of Blue Tit, Wren and Blackcap. Wandering further around the grasslands we could not make out any Peregrines on the distant Stapleton Church, but Swift hunted above and we listened to various common songs, much appreciated practice for myself. Wandering down to the pond we counted the water birds and enjoyed the flotilla of Mallard ducklings. Then came the highlight of the walk, a female Tawny Owl in the second box, well hidden but giving good views. The walk to Duchess Pond heralded two Grey Wagtail and fleeting Kingfisher views. Once at Duchess Pond the water itself was quiet, but a Buzzard and singing male Reed Bunting were great to see. The walk back to the cars also yielded the first Great Spotted Woodpecker and Stock Dove of the morning. Many thanks to Rich for leading, we ended up with 34 species across the two sites.  Pete Harrison

  • Tuesday 22 June – Goblin Combe Leader: Alastair Fraser

    We set off promptly with a Buzzard circling overhead. Blackcaps were calling from the trees beyond the car park, and soon we had added Wren, Robin, and Chiffchaff to the list. On entering the woodland proper, we hadn’t gone far before spotting more Chiffchaff and then a Spotted Flycatcher, flitting to and fro, probably taking food to the young. We watched quite a while so that everyone had a chance to see the bird, and we also saw a youngster, waiting patiently on a branch for the next feed. As we moved on two Goldcrest were seen in a nearby evergreen tree.  On the path in front as we headed off were two Bullfinches that fled before the main group had caught up. A large collection of twigs gathered high in a tree was very possibly a Buzzard nest. A very bedraggled Great Tit was spotted, the appearance possibly reflecting the effort of going back and forth through the nest hole feeding the young. Chaffinch were heard calling but not seen and Coal Tit were spotted. Moving on, disturbing a Roe Deer then bounded off into the deeper woodland, we climbed to the top field for a short rest. A Sparrowhawk was seen and one lone Swallow. The meadow has a wide area of Common Spotted orchids, Rock Rose, and wild strawberries. Coal Tits were seen and heard in nearby trees and a Robin watched us from close by. After admiring the terrific views and identifying a Ringlet Butterfly we made the descent, through quieter woodland. Nuthatches were heard, a family of four Chiffchaffs and four Great Tits were spotted, plus juvenile Blackcaps.  The finale, nearing the car park, was the bumblebee nest,  best left undisturbed. An excellent walk, with 24 species seen. Thanks to Alastair for leading.  Di Bunniss

  • Tuesday 15 June – Lower Woods and Wetmoor Leader: Jean Oliver

    A group of ten enjoyed a calm and sunny day of birding in the woods and surrounding countryside near Wickwar.  We started out in Lower Woods, which is a Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust nature reserve. Very quickly we began to see a good number of Common Spotted orchids and a wide variety of other wildflowers, and hearing, if not always seeing, a good number of birds. Early on in the walk we disturbed a Muntjac deer and I believe someone also saw a Roe deer.   Many of the birds on this walk were heard rather than seen due to the lush foliage on trees. However we did get good views of some juvenile birds which provided an opportunity to see birds in different stages of plumage.  The juveniles seen were Song Thrush, Spotted Flycatcher and Robin.  At least one of the Spotted Flycatchers provided some very obliging views for us as it flew from open branches out to catch insects and then returned to the foliage.  As we were watching the Spotted Flycatcher, a Tree Creeper made an appearance much to our delight.  There were many Blackcaps on the walk as to be expected, but luckily for me I was with someone who spotted a Garden Warbler which I could have sworn was a Blackcap. Maybe one day I will be able to recognise the difference!  Our walk also took us across open countryside which provided a nice contrast in environments and plenty of opportunity to see a variety of other wildlife such as dragonflies, butterflies, and moths.  Some of the highlights for me were the Beautiful Demoiselle (male and female), Chimney Sweeper moth, and Burnet Companion moth.  Thanks to the experts in our group (Gareth and Jean) I was able to learn the identity of these beauties.  The total species count was 27.  Thanks to Jean for leading the walk. Linda Moysey

  • Saturday 12 June – Westhay NNR Leader: Jenny Vickers

    All eleven people who signed up turned up – thanks, everyone.  It was a hot and sunny day with a light wind.  We started birding in the car park with a Reed Bunting and Whitethroats popping in and out of the bushes, then headed out along the main track.  An excellent find was a Hobby sitting on a dead branch and staying put long enough for us to get a telescope on it for a good view.  We turned off the track to follow the shady grass tracks looping through the wooded section which was cool and pleasant.  At the first hide there wasn’t much to see on the small pools, so we strolled on picking up singing warblers, particularly a Willow Warbler showing well in a tree top.  The “tower hide” overlooks a good stretch of reed-bed but sadly we couldn’t find the Bearded Tits that can often be seen from it.  Turning onto the London Drove we checked the much larger pools there to find families of Great Crested Grebes with the youngsters riding on the parent’s backs, a Great White Egret, Mute Swans, Mallard, Coots and Moorhens, and a delightful family of Long-tailed Tits.  A Water Rail called in the deep vegetation, and of course there were Cetti’s Warblers in the wet thickets. We listened to a distant Cuckoo and two singing Garden Warblers amongst the many Blackcaps.  Overhead were Cormorants, Swifts, at least two Marsh Harriers, a Buzzard and a Kestrel.  Back on the main track, we could hear a Bittern calling regularly but it refused to show, staying hidden in the reed-bed.  We added Grey Heron and Little Egret to the list for four heron species and checked another hide where Reed Warblers were singing. The group enjoyed trying to identify the damselflies and dragonflies which were numerous. It was a pleasant walk with 37 species – largely the same ones that you would find at Ham Wall but without the crowds, bicycles and dog walkers.  Many thanks to Jenny for leading. Jane Cumming

  • Tuesday 08 June -Sand Point Nick Hawkridge

    Picnic walk in warm weather – what luxury! Seven, a good number to ensure we all saw/heard the birds on offer. Shelduck on the salt flats, Stonechat in the scrub – one of many we saw during the day, including juvenile Whitethroat singing, at the Point and all along our walk route. A concerted effort was made to see the Garden Warbler we could hear. Green and Goldfinch were singing and calling, with a bold chested Linnet adding to the noise – all heard before the turn down to the riverside path. A poor showing was made by Swift, Swallow and House Martin – not over a handful of each. We discussed gull differences – a Great Black-backed Gull (3rd yr) provoked this particular interchange, we heard and then saw Rock Pipit. Lunch by the defunct mine testing jetty where a Lesser Whitethroat sang alongside a Chaffinch just to add confusion. The walk back allowed us better views of Rock Pipit, with a ‘beakful’ parent refusing to go to the nest until we were at least 70 metres away. A total of 37 species were seen and heard and excellent identification support from the participants.  (Thanks to Nick for leading)  Nick Hawkridge

  • Tuesday 01 June – Compton Dando Leader: Mike Landen

    It was a beautiful June morning as 13 of us met at Compton Dando. It felt good to be back with a group nearer to the normal size for our Tuesday walk. So, everyone appeared in high spirits as we set off towards the bridge over the River Chew, situated at the end of the village. A Grey Wagtail was quickly spotted as it perched on a branch over the river and immediately there was a shout of ‘Kingfisher’ from those looking up the river. Those of us who missed it did not have to wait long as we had three further sightings from the same spot and there were four different birds in total. A brilliant start. There was also a pair of Blue Tits behaving rather like Flycatchers as they hunted for insects. Rather reluctantly we left the bridge and made our way across the fields. We had a reasonable view of a Goldcrest and a Moorhen on the edge of the river.  We also added Great Spotted Woodpecker, Wren, Dunnock and Blackcap to our list. As we crossed the very pleasant meadows, we saw a Buzzard and a Lesser Black-backed Gull and were then treated to the sight of a Sparrowhawk flying quite close to us. As we approached Woollard two Mistle Thrushes were feeding in a field alongside the alpacas. In Woollard we saw Collared Dove and Swallow and a bit later Green Woodpecker, Mallard and Grey Heron. On the return leg as we left the woods, we had a sighting of a Red Kite. Interestingly this was almost at the same spot that we saw a Red Kite on the October 2020 walk.

    Many thanks to Nick Hawkridge for keeping a list of species seen, or heard. The total for the walk was a respectable 34 and included an estimated eight Great Spotted Woodpeckers, 16 Blackcaps, eleven Wrens and twelve Goldfinches.  (Thanks to Mike for leading)                                                                                  Mike Landen

  • Sunday 30 May – Ham Wall Leader: Jane Cumming

    Seven of us met on a beautiful warm day to tour this RSPB site, restored from 20th century peat workings (starting in 1994), and designed to enhance or recreate an extensive habitat of rhines, lakes and reedbeds. There was an almost continuous background of singing Blackcaps, excitingly interspersed with Willow Warbler and Garden Warbler, and Cetti’s almost too numerous to count… Whitethroat, Reed and Sedge Warblers, Song Thrushes and the occasional Chaffinch – what a soundtrack! We had a little master class on the Garden Warbler whose song sits squarely between the lush flutey fruitiness of Blackbird and the more manic Blackcap; with one member managing to record its song on a phone ID app which duly confirmed the identification. Beautifully marked male and female Marsh Harriers and one youngster hunted over the marshes, Bitterns boomed and skimmed across the reed tops, majestic Great White Egrets flew and settled, Hobbies were seen high up, their dark scimitar silhouettes so similar to Swifts, and we saw one Red Kite as well as Buzzards.
    Many water birds were breeding: we saw Mute Swans carrying youngsters on their backs; a tiny red-head-fluffed Coot on a little island nest, with smart older juveniles; Great Crested Grebe young with their humbug-striped head and necks; Lapwings defending against predation, and Shovelers bowing to each other; as well as many smart Pochards; scores of Gadwall, and a scattering of Tufted Ducks, Grey Herons and Cormorants. We did look, though without success, for the Bearded Tits and Garganey which can be seen by the lucky; and were surprised at the lack of Hirondines on this warm, still and insect rich day. As for insects: Odonata were appearing at last – pairs of Common or Azure damselflies, and dragonflies that were probably Hairy – but surely their late appearance must be affecting the Hobbies who feed on them? We saw a few Brimstone, Peacock, and a Common Blue butterflies. Many thanks to Jane, who has volunteered at Ham Wall on and off over the years and expertly guided our group; and we all enjoyed finally experiencing some proper ‘shorts and T-shirt’ weather! Total species count 44. Lois Pryce
    Chairman’s notes

  • Saturday 29 May – Oldbury Power Station Leader: Andy Middleton

    It was so nice to see a few old and new faces as we gathered in the Visitors Car Park after the strictures of Lockdown. Andy called us to order and about twenty of us (I wasn’t counting) set off in good and somewhat spritely order towards the first lagoon. Sharp-eyed Andy spotted a couple of Peregrines sitting atop the nearest power pylons that I thought I had scanned a moment or two previously. On the weedy surface of the pond below the lagoon were a couple of Canada Geese, a Moorhen family and apparently a Little Grebe which I didn’t see as “I was at the back”. However, being at the back meant that when Mike Jackson spotted a male Bullfinch, I was one of the few to appreciate its glowing rosy magnificence. Other species noted around this time were Chaffinch, Wren, Wood Pigeon, Carrion Crow, Chiffchaff, Buzzard and a first but definitely not last hearing of Reed Warbler. Moving on, we climbed above the other side of the lagoon where we could see a Song Thrush performing at the top of a tree and a Grey Heron, Goldfinch and later Linnets provided fly-pasts. There were Whitethroats whizzing around on the brambles and the occasional sighting of a Blackcap or Chiffchaff flitting in and around the trees. Further along the embankment around the higher defunct lagoon (now scrubland) there were sightings of Reed Bunting and more Whitethroats, but none alas of the elusive Cetti’s Warbler which, as usual, seemed to delight in being invisible despite being highly vocal. A Great Spotted Woodpecker made an appearance in the trees off to our left and a couple of Shelduck were flying in toward the Severn ahead of us. Meanwhile on the shoreline it was very quiet as it was high tide; a few more Shelduck and a lone Starling provided the interest until we passed the Power Station where a Pied Wagtail or possibly two put in an appearance. A Little Egret calmly flew past along the river as we were walking north to our coffee bench as did a Kestrel going south on the landward side. More Shelduck were evident along the river to the north and if you had a very good telescope, two very distant Oystercatchers. On the route back to the car park, great delight was taken at the presence of a Lesser Whitethroat, heard but not seen despite valiant efforts. Finally, in the orchard we saw Blue Tits, Chaffinch and a female Reed Bunting to round off the day. Thanks to Andy for leading and all due patience. Alan Craddock

  • Tuesday 25 May – Gordano Valley Leader: Geoff Harris

    A bright sunny morning for the walk from Walton-in-Gordano, with Geoff leading his select group of two, so we had V.I.P. attention! The first part of the walk, along Moor Lane, had a Buzzard soaring overhead, Long-tailed Tits, Chaffinch, Robin, Chiffchaff and Blackcap all spotted among the hedgerows and trees. Swallows swooped over our heads, close enough to touch, as they swept around the stables and farm buildings. Two Raven, with their deep croaking call, flew past, then a flurry of Goldfinch. Crossing over the stile on to Weston Moor, we immediately heard the Reed Warblers chattering. A Reed Bunting posed long enough to have his photo taken, and a call from the shrubs nearby revealed a Sedge Warbler, who also obliged by staying long enough for us to have a good look, then flitting from bush to bush before we lost sight of him. The ground was not as boggy as we feared after so much rain, so there were no problems traversing the three fields that are part of this special National Nature Reserve. Geoff pointed out the owl box in the distance but no owl to be seen. More Swallows were swooping low in the fields before we crossed the road to the footpath leading up to woodland. More Chaffinches and Blackcap, always a Robin or two, then a gentle climb up into the wood where we spotted a Green Woodpecker and later two Goldcrests. We emerged on to Walton Common, which was carpeted in wild flowers and herbs, beautiful for sight and senses. (Later it will be full of wild Thyme we were told, so a visit must be made again.) A Buzzard was perched on a tree, offering a great view, until he took to the skies and soared above us. Down from the Common, where diseased Ash were being felled, we saw Pied Wagtail and House Martins. Sparrows cheeped from the hedges of the houses at that junction. The rain that had threatened finally arrived but only for a few minutes. Altogether 30 species noted, and possibly as many Robins! An excellent walk through country lanes, Nature Reserve, woodland and open Common Land. Thanks to Geoff for leading and sharing his knowledge of the area. Di Bunniss

  • Tuesday 18 May Leap Valley Downend Leaders Joyce Donkor & Kate Cashmore

    This is a new Tuesday walk venue on the eastern side of Bristol with varied habitats including a stream, reed-fringed pond, open grassland, a bluebell wood with mature trees, blackthorn thickets and a small wetland. The walk incorporates part of the Frome Valley Way. It turned out to be a bit longer in time and distance than is normal on a Tuesday being over five miles in total, but no one complained. The weather was mild with a few showers.
    We started at a small rush-filled pond surrounded by willow and hawthorn where we found a family of Greenfinches as well as Goldfinches and a Bullfinch. The bushes were home to healthy populations of House Sparrows, with the houses, never far away, providing nest sites under the tiles for Starlings. The woodlands were full of song from Blackbirds, Song Thrush, Robin, Chiffchaff and Blackcap. Each passing shower provoked another burst of song. We had a brief flash of Kingfisher and two Grey Wagtails on the river. The fields and paddocks had hunting Swifts, Swallows and House Martins. A singing Lesser Whitethroat completed our list of 37 species. Thanks to Joyce and Kate for leading. Alastair Fraser

  • Friday 14 May – Frampton on Severn Leader: Mike Jackson

    Six of us met at 18:00 for this evening walk. Under fine bright skies we ventured first to the sailing lake, passing a Great Spotted Woodpecker in mature garden trees as we went. At the lake we could see Tufted Duck and up to a dozen Common Tern, some on the floating structure that always attracts them and some hunting low over the water, continually dropping to the surface to pick off morsels. Swifts were in good numbers with scores forming a dense gathering over the lake’s shoreline and the adjacent meadow. Sand Martin numbers matched those of Swifts but Swallows and House Martins were less numerous. A sizeable dark raptor appeared in the sky and arced around and across the lake without actually giving much away. We all agreed it was not a Buzzard, Osprey or Kite, but we couldn’t absolutely nail it as a Marsh Harrier which we felt was its probable identity. Reed Warbler, Blackcap and Song Thrush gave their renditions as we reached the south bank. Whitethroat, Chaffinch and Greenfinch joined the list, as well as a ground dwelling Rook.
    Hirundines on the overhead wire appeared to all be Swallows but a couple of them stayed after the others had flown. We spent a while picking out the two remaining birds field-marks from their right rear, only for one of them to realight and face the other way offering us the full view, these two now easily identified as Sand Martins.
    A fly-by Stock Dove, and a close to shore Great Crested Grebe and Green Woodpecker raised the tally before we stopped at the cereal fields for a patient search for a not found Yellow Wagtail. On we went to the damp woodland where common bird song surrounded us. Cetti’s Warbler was close, but as usual remained completely hidden, while a group of Long-tailed Tits were more obliging. Then an unexpected sound of a loose metal stake being hit with a metal hammer was identified as a Coot pinging from the dense vegetation!
    The rain set in for the next ten minutes but when it stopped a dark falcon raced across the now dim skyline to quickly veer out of sight – Hobby! Nearing the end of the walk we scanned the parkland in front of Frampton Court to find a gaggle of geese. This gave rise to a conversation about wild, introduced and feral birds, and particularly the origin of the Ross’s Goose we were watching, while a hybrid Snow x Bar-headed Goose encouraged further comment. Greylag, Canada and Barnacle were the other three. We ended just before 21:00 with 42 species (including the harrier and geese).
    Thanks to the group for making it such an enjoyable walk (and thanks to Mike for leading). Mike Jackson

  • Tuesday 11 May – Stoke, Eastville, Vassals Parks Leader: Rich Scantlebury

    In line with lockdown rules, six of us met in the pouring rain, three new and three experienced birders; thankfully the rain did not last too long and the sun came out. The walk through Vassals Park and Eastville saw the expected birds including Robin, Song Thrush, Wren, Great Tit, Chiffchaff, Great Spotted Woodpecker, most of which were heard but not seen. The Peregrine Falcon could be seen in the distance on Holy Trinity Church at Stapleton but, unfortunately, was not there when we walked past the church on the way back.
    As we progressed through Stoke Park, we saw Common Whitethroat and heard Lesser Whitethroat, an opportunity to compare the distinctive calls. Flying overhead were a Buzzard and Sparrowhawk, the size difference being very noticeable. On the pond, Moorhen and Mallard chicks were swimming around. Walking back, there was a Grey Wagtail posing for photographs by the bridge. Two of the highlights for me were as we walked back through Eastville Park; there was a female Sparrowhawk in a tree eating her lunch, which was joined by a male who appeared to get very friendly! We spent some time watching the feathers fall from the unfortunate bird it had caught. But on a happier note, it was not long until we saw two young Long-tailed Tits sitting on a branch being fed by their parents. Just before we arrived back at the cars a Sparrowhawk flew past and landed on one of the local roofs for yet another photo opportunity. For those who like statistics, we saw some 39 different species during the four hour walk. So, as a new birder on his first field trip, a very enjoyable experience, some new sightings and lots of things learned from those more experienced (thank you), and a special thanks to Rich for showing us the sights. Paul Salmons

  • Tuesday 04 May – South Stoke Leader Dave Body

    Following the non-appearance of one person who shall remain anonymous, four members set off a little late for our walk. Bright sunshine and broken cloud were a complete contrast from the heavy rain and strong wind of the previous day. A Kestrel was soon spotted as we took in the view as we headed east. Dropping down to Tucking Mill, Robins, Wrens and Blackcaps were heard. At the lake the resident Grey Wagtail were soon spotted and on the far side a Little Grebe. Climbing up to the railway path we were soon rewarded for our efforts with not one but three Buzzards. Further on a bird was heard in a nearby bush and after some discussion was agreed to be a Blackcap. At the old Midford Station we were entertained by a Song Thrush during out coffee break. Walking alongside the old Coal Canal, Chaffinch, Chiffchaff and Pheasant were heard and a pair of Song Thrush seen. Passing several locks of the old Somerset Coal Canal, we climbed the steep fields back to South Stoke, spotting the same Kestrel seen earlier. Sadly, no orchids to admire but lots of Cowslips. 24 species were mainly heard but some seen. (Thanks to Dave for leading) Dave Body

  • Tuesday 27 April – Puxton Moor Leader: Gareth Roberts

    Gareth is a volunteer warden at Puxton Moor Nature Reserve, a 180 acre area of pasture land networked with SSSI species-rich rhynes, near the small and quite remote village of Puxton in the North Somerset levels east of Weston-super-Mare. He led five of us through the village and churchyard seeing or hearing Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Bullfinch and Green and Great Spotted Woodpecker, and along hedgerow-ed lanes, open meadows and moors and along reeded rhynes and the Oldbridge River. Trees and bushes were full of Chiffchaffs (total 18), Blackcaps and Linnets, and rhynes with glimpsed Reed Warblers (total 16) and Reed Buntings, Whitethroat, Stonechat and Skylark. We could just make out a Raven’s nest in the top of a pylon with the bird sitting and flying, and Kestrel, Sparrowhawk and Buzzard hunting. We put up a Snipe and heard a Moorhen, and Mallards and Canada Goose flew over. A few Swallows hawked over the meadows or looked ready to nest in barns. Rhynes and river are odonata-rich and we looked for the earliest dragonfly, the Hairy Dragonfly, though without success! This was a lovely walk enriched by Gareth’s knowledge. Total 38 species. Lois Pryce

  • Sunday 25 April – New Forest near Godshill Leader: Jane Cumming

    A Covid-compliant group of six met at the Ashley Walk car park for a six hour walk in uninterrupted sunshine. The terrain was a pleasing mixture of lowland heath, scrub and woodland and everywhere was dry underfoot after a month with little rain. A stiff breeze inhibited the showing of birds and butterflies. Among our multiple sightings were Common Redstarts, Stonechats, Chiffchaffs, Willow Warblers, Mistle Thrushes, Greenfinches and Buzzards. There were good single sightings of Marsh Harrier, Kestrel, Tree Creeper, Nuthatch and Raven. With several species – Siskin, Bullfinch, Goldcrest, Marsh Tit and Stock Dove – we had to content ourselves with audio-only identification, courtesy of the sharper ears among us. Mid-morning brought the joy of a Cuckoo calling, the first of the year for all of us. We would hear it again throughout the day, with two birds calling from opposite directions at one point. One of our target species, the Dartford Warbler, proved very obliging on three separate occasions despite no effort at all on our part. One male even kindly demonstrated his song flight. Despite being a UK resident, Dartfords are still only one tenth as common in summer (1,700 breeding pairs, RSPB) as the migrant Cuckoo, even though the latter has greatly declined in numbers. Another target, the Wood Lark, was not in evidence. In scanning for ground movement on forest lawns, wind-blown dead leaves were a distraction. One brief glimmer of hope turned out to be three ground-feeding female Chaffinches. Humble LBJs can play tricks when you have hopes and expectations of something more exotic! The youngest member of our group initiated a game of Spot the Song Thrush, which was well hidden in a holly tree right in front of us. It was fully eight minutes later by the time the bird was finally seen by all, to a cheer of “Hallelujah!” Friendly banter and the sharing of hard-won knowledge is all part of a good birding trip. Thanks to Jane for leading and for being an inspiration. Our final species count was a modest 34 birds, plus Roe Deer, Common Lizard and lots of wild ponies! Trevor Hill

  • Tuesday 20 April – Ashton Court, Leigh Woods, Abbot’s Pool Leader: Brenda Page

    Bright blue sky, warm sunshine and the singing of Skylarks greeted us as we met at Ashton Court car park. A short walk over to Leigh Woods, where we were surrounded by birdsong, including an abundance of Nuthatch, Blackbirds, Blackcaps, Goldfinches, together with Wren, Robin, Marsh Tit, Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush, Goldcrest, Chaffinch, Dunnock, Stock Dove. And Wood Pigeon. Out into the open, on our way to Abbots Leigh, a Kestrel and two Buzzards put in appearances. At the Abbot’s Pool there were Chiffchaff, Moorhen and Mallard with their tiny fluffy ducklings. The return to Ashton Court gave us the highlight of the morning – a Wheatear. So back to the car park skirting round the area now partially roped off to protect nesting Skylarks. Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers, Jays, Magpie, Rooks, Jackdaws, Long-tailed Tit and Pied Wagtail added to a total of 32 species for the morning. (Thanks to Brenda for leading, Ed). Brenda Page

  • Saturday 17 April – Clevedon Pill Leader: Jane Cumming

    An hour before high tide we set out from the allotments to walk around the harbour, check the Blind Yeo for freshwater birds, then wander on across the golf course and down the edge of the saltmarsh to the gate that overlooks the mouth of the River Kenn. Unfortunately, on a dry and sunny Saturday like this one, such a popular route can get rather overcrowded and groups of people standing around on the rocks by Wains Hill meant no pipits on the foreshore. The Blind Yeo yielded a few Moorhens and Grey Wagtails and a singing Cetti’s Warbler. A handful of Swallows and a Sand Martin passed up the coast around us as we walked on. The pool at Dowlais entertained us for a while as we searched it for ducks and waders, picking out twelve Teal and a few Lapwings and Snipe. At the southernmost point of the walk we were dismayed to see a fisherman on the private land beyond, therefore nothing at all roosting around the river mouth. However, the near shore did hold four displaced Whimbrel, some Redshank and a few Mallard. A probable Whinchat half-lost in the heat haze might have been the morning’s best bird were it not too far away for positive identification. Back at Dowlais we re-checked the pools and then followed the path down to the road, along to the Strode Road bridge and back down the banks of the Blind Yeo. Chiffchaff was the only warbler, but the walk produced the expected corvids, sparrows and garden species. The other potential highlight was a harrier passing over so high that it was barely visible, but sadly that too eluded certain identification. It was a pleasant walk with 33 species positively identified as well as two that got away. (Thanks to Jane for leading, Ed). Jane Cumming

  • Tuesday 13 April – Conham Leaders: Karen Birmingham and Jean Oliver

    On a mild calm morning, we set off from the Conham Valley Nature Reserve car park into the broad-leafed woodland which has now replaced the highly industrialised landscape of a previous era. We spotted eight Mallard ducklings and two Treecreepers and then both saw and heard Blackcaps before ascending the 98 steps to the Panoramic Walk where we stopped for coffee with splendid views of the river in both directions. Jays were abundant (17) as were the Herons when we reached the heronry; there were at least 14 nests, probably more, some with well-grown young. A Stock Dove was heard as we returned by the river culminating with two Grey Wagtails which brought the total species to 30. (Thanks to Karen and Jean for leading, Ed). Karen Birmingham and Jean Oliver

  • Saturday 10 April – Sand Point Leader: Paul Gregory

    The six of us assembled at the car park on a bright sunny morning which had a chill edge to a brisk northerly wind. Dunnock, Chiffchaff, Blackcap and Greenfinch were singing and we checked out the hillside bushes spotting the Blackcap and Chiffchaffs before moving on up the path through the woodland and onto the high ground. Out on the top, there was a brief appearance of a Tree Pipit perched on some scrub and Goldfinches chattering as they flew past. Due to the wind, it was fairly quiet walking out to the point though Paul did hear some Siskins flying overhead and we spotted seven Swallows winging their way northwards. Out on the flats of Sand Bay were seven Shelduck feeding and a Curlew was heard calling. As we approached the point, four Oystercatchers flew past in a perfect Red Arrows diamond formation! Coming back on the sheltered south side of the ridge, we found one of our target birds, a beautiful male Redstart. There were also more Chiffchaffs and a few Willow Warblers in amongst the bushes. Moving on, we passed a place where a Ring Ouzel had been reliably spotted for the previous three or four days but our luck was out today. Another male Redstart flying along a hedge line and posing every now and then made up for our disappointment. The orchard by Woodspring Priory held another Willow Warbler. There were a good number of Redshanks along the Banwell River mudbanks. Past the MOD enclosure we came across a flock of Linnets and a solitary Stonechat. Heading back over the downland, we were searching for a Wheatear but again no luck, perhaps the cold wind was to blame. Still, it was a great morning’s walk with some nice birds. Back at the car park, Richard’s technology told us that we had walked five miles and expended 500 calories so that was worthwhile too! Thanks to Paul for leading. Alan Craddock

  • Tuesday 6 April – Newton St Loe Leader: Robert Hargreaves

    The regulation six met near Newton St Loe’s historic church on a chilly but fair weather morning for our second meeting since slight “lockdown” easing. It was good to welcome Janet and Rosemary to their first Tuesday walk. Starting off to the sound of Greenfinch wheezing our route took us through the churchyard, down the grassy slope to the ‘Send-a-Cow’ charity buildings and the houses where bird feeders gave us Goldfinch, Tits and a gang of House Sparrows. On through the woodland we could hear Nuthatch, Chiffchaff and Blackcap (and managed to see some of them, too), then to the noisy waterfall and the Fishermen’s Lake where often Grey Wagtails and a Kingfisher can be seen – but sadly not today! Top Lake had a pair of Tufted Ducks, which is quite unusual. Coffee was taken next to the weir from where one of our members was excited to find a Grey Heron nest for herself! Retracing our steps and walking through the University round the back of the lake, our leader pointed out the second nest. We saw four Grey Herons altogether including the two on nests. The walk took us across fields to woodland where Spotted Flycatchers bred last summer. Just as we thought it was nearly over we heard a Green Woodpecker, loud and clear. In the woods Jean Oliver showed us the fascinating “Town hall clock” flower, a new one to most of us. Everyone wanted to make the slight detour to see where the Barn Owl nests in an old tree, then back into the village. We had been introduced to a very pleasant walk, one worth repeating at a different time of year and had 39 species altogether. Thanks to Robert for leading. Anne Crowe

  • Saturday 03 April – Portbury Wharf Leader: Giles Morris

    The statutory six members met up on Sheepway for this walk around the Portbury reserve which had been rescheduled from March. I was concerned that we might now be too late for any of the winter wildfowl and a bit early for many incoming migrants. Having sorted the mix of singing species around the Sheepway gardens, we set off down towards the sewage works. Sheepway Lane was relatively quiet, but we heard Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Song Thrush and Greenfinch as well as Long-tailed Tit. Reaching the wetter areas near the seawall we heard our first outburst from a Cetti’s Warbler and picked out Teal and Curlew on the saltmarsh. The shelter of the Tower hide was very welcome and a scan of the North Pool quickly revealed an unexpected male Marsh Harrier, which gave us good views before dropping into the reeds. Closer inspection of the island turned up a lone Common Sandpiper and the tell-tale pink legs of a Great Black-backed Gull amongst the many Lessers. The Wigeon had indeed all left for the north, but there were Gadwall, Tufted Duck, Mallard, Little Grebe and Shelduck on the pools. On the walk back up Wharf Lane a passing Swallow reminded us that spring was creeping in, despite the cold. 41 species in all and an enjoyable morning in pleasant company. (Thanks to Giles for leading, Ed). Giles Morris

  • Tuesday 30 March – Stoke, Eastville, Vassals Parks Leader: Rich Scantlebury

    First, the sun shone, second, it was the first Tuesday field meeting following nearly three months of lockdown. It just had to be a good day – we were not disappointed! We walked through Stoke Park where we were welcomed by a cacophony of birdsong – Blackcap, Song Thrush, Chiffchaff, Greenfinch and Great Tit. On Duchess Pond was a Mallard with 15 ducklings whilst in the background Coots were displaying – a beautiful symbol of spring. Overhead, three Buzzards and a Kestrel flying on the thermals. Following a brisk walk to Holy Trinity Church at Stapleton we saw the resident Peregrine Falcon, plus two Sparrowhawk “gliding” on the thermals above. Then to Eastville Park where we heard Dunnock, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Jay and Nuthatch. Two Willow Warblers and a Chiffchaff were seen and heard enjoying the spring air. For lepidopterists there were Brimstone, Peacock, Orange Tip and Comma butterflies seen whilst walking along the Frome Valley Walkway plus more Chiffchaffs and a Nuthatch. At least 26 bird species ended up on our list but Goldcrest, Dipper and Kingfisher eluded us. It was a good morning and an excellent end to lockdown. Thanks to Rich for leading. Trudy and Len Sheen

  • Tuesday 29 December – Snuff Mills Leader :Nick Hawkridge

    A ‘refreshing’ breeze kept us moving! The water level in the River Frome was high, with the usual Moorhen and Mallard hidden. The trees on the south side of the river had roosting Woodpigeons with a nice flock of Long-tailed Tits tat were bustling along beside us and a couple of Goldcrests; ignoring us even when they got quite close. Robins singing everywhere. The first of our two Great Spotted Woodpeckers went bounding away as we climbed the slope towards the grass field and so out of the woods. Jay and Jackdaws were noted just before the top and a Song Thrush was foraging in the long grass when we got there. The feeders hanging in the houses by the allotments increased our count of Blue & Great Tits. Blackbirds were noted in hot pursuit, one male after another. Heading towards the play area in Vassall’s Park movement was seen in a brightly berried Holly tree; Redwing. Sneaking out from the interior to snaffle a few red delights and then retreating back to the depths. Coffee round ‘our’ normal tree; laden with fast thawing ice in the, by now, hot sunshine but alas, the Green Woodpecker stayed out of sight. The walk down to the Frenchay Bridge through the trees showed many more Jackdaws again all in pairs. Blue Tits were plunging hither and yon in endless games of chase and a calling Nuthatch. The walk back along the river revealed a single Moorhen foraging on the bank and prized above all, a Kingfisher catching a fish as we watched; she was keeping tight in to the bank where any sensible tiddlers would be sheltering from the torrent. Thanks to the photographer who spotted her. Our only other species were Sparrowhawk; one dozing in the tree tops and Mallards; coming from the shelter of the island to be rewarded with bread. Alas the rain had started and the car park was as full as a breakers yard, but a good morning total of 28 species (Thanks to Nick for leading). Nick Hawkridge

  • Sunday 27 December – Eastville Park Leader: Rich Scantlebury

    Chill was in the air at the Park Avenue car park but at least the high winds of the previous night had moved on. As the four in our party gathered, a Sparrowhawk cruised overhead, a Great Spotted Woodpecker was high in a tree down the slope and a Dunnock sang lustily in the vicinity. Our leader pointed out a Peregrine on a distant church spire. A promising start. We started on the path round to the westernmost point of the park, stopping to admire Goldfinches feeding in the trees. The trees at the corner of the park were productive with Long-tailed Tits and a couple of Goldcrests easily viewed with a mixed flock of tits. Two Song Thrushes were feeding on the open grass. As we reached the River Frome near the allotments, we could see that the river was very high with fast flowing water. A Jay was seen as we headed to the lake. On the water were a dozen Mute Swans accompanied by Mallard, Coot and Moorhen. There were two Herons (one adult, one immature) but no sign of the hoped for Kingfisher or Tawny Owl. Various parties of Cormorants were flying, fishing and roosting high in the trees above the lake. We also saw both Pied and Grey Wagtails on the lake edges and a pair of Coal Tit in a fir tree at the back of the lake. The weir was under water but we found a second Great Spotted Woodpecker nearby. Two Dippers were up the small tributary stream. They were very obliging, feeding along the stream edge until they felt they had delighted us enough. One flew off and the other jumped into the water speeding off downstream in the current. 33 species seen. (Thanks Rich for leading) Peter Bryant

  • Tuesday 22 December- Severn Beach and Pilning Wetlands Leader: Lois Pryce

    Five members walked from Severn Beach to New Passage and Pilning Wetlands and back, taking in the inland Pill. We saw about 300 Wigeon along the shore; Canada Geese, Shelduck, Curlew, Little Egret, Pied Wagtails and Meadow Pipits on the salt marsh; Shovelers, Gadwall, Teal, Tufted Duck, Moorhen, Coot, Little Grebe, 12 Dunlin, Redshank and Grey Heron on the pools, with a large flock of about 400 Lapwing flying above, put up by at least some of four raptors: a Buzzard, Kestrel and Peregrine, and a Merlin putting on a breathtaking horizontal chase and catch of a passerine; plus a Blackcap in the hedgerows and a Kingfisher on the Pill. Total species count 40. (Thanks Lois for leading) Lois Pryce

  • Saturday 19 December- Uphill Leader: Jane Cumming

    I was assigned to the monthly WeBS count on the estuary at Uphill in mid-2016 so I’ve monitored birds there regularly for more than four years. The last thing I expected as we set out for this morning walk was to get not one but TWO “patch ticks” – species I’d never seen there before. The threatened rain fell before the start of the walk and the morning went from dry and pleasant to clear, sunny and absolutely beautiful by noon (followed by thunder, lightning and hail at 15:30 but we were all safely back home by then!). With a 10:00 high tide we started on the beach checking the ducks and waders along the edge of the salt marsh: 143 Shelduck, only seven Mallard (where did the rest go?), 62 Wigeon and 275 Teal. A goose lurking in waterside reeds across the estuary was assumed to be a Canada until we put telescopes up and realised it was a Brent Goose – not at all common along the Severn and my first patch tick. We found nothing unusual amongst the winter waders but got typical counts of 80 Oystercatcher and 25 Curlew. We only saw six Dunlin, a low count, and I suspect we missed a lot of the Redshanks as we picked up only about 40 along the muddy banks of the River Axe and there are often a couple of hundred. Flocks of Black-headed Gulls were passing constantly up and down the coast. We noted three Great Black-backed Gulls (two immature) and two Lesser Black-backed Gulls amongst a dozen or more Herring Gulls. Meadow Pipit and Pied Wagtails completed the beach list. Moving down to Uphill marina we walked out past the pool which held two Little Grebes and a Moorhen, along the path at the base of the cliff – Goldcrests, Blue Tits, Chaffinch – and out onto Walborough Hill. A Raven flew over calling. The marshy pools below the hill held a few Teal and a Little Egret, and we scanned the Brean Down side to count 27 wintering Mute Swans in the fields. We walked on south along the dyke towards Weston Sewage Treatment Works. Skylarks failed to appear but we did see a Stonechat and a flock of Linnets, a Sparrowhawk hunting low over a stubble field, and flocks in flight which resolved themselves into 70 Redwings and 400 very distant Lapwings (probably over Bleadon Levels). Then something sprang out of the ditch by the cycle path, close
    to some walkers, and sped low and fast along the hedge away from us. It was quite large, chunky, loosefeathered and brown, and I couldn’t think what it was (partridge? Little Owl?) until it jinked sideways to show the long bill – Woodcock! My second patch tick, and most unexpected in this habitat of marsh, hedge, pool and ditch but no woodland. I wonder if it had migrated in overnight. It certainly made my day! We had 39 species altogether, or 40 if you count the rabbit…(Thanks Jane for leading) Jane Cumming

  • Tuesday 15 December – Gordano Valley Leader: Geoff Harris

    Five members met on a bright and sunny morning eagerly anticipating a good morning’s birding. The local gamekeeper was distributing feed at a small pond which disturbed the birds for us. There was a large group of Mallard and another of Teal, the eventual count for both being 56 and 206 respectively for the morning. Leaving the cars/motorbike we ambled along the route and slowly built up a total of over thirty species for the morning. A bird feeder in a front garden gave us Bullfinch and Nuthatch and some members were lucky to see the two Mandarin Ducks. The weather stayed dry and bright and we returned to our transport before 14:00. Many thanks to Geoff for a great morning and an interesting varied walk. 31 species in total. We were surprised to see two butterflies, a Red Admiral and a Peacock. Beth Yates

  • Tuesday 08 December – Stanton Drew Leader: Alastair Fraser

    The weather was kind to us; a frost free start and a bright sunny day. The route starts at the Druids Arms following the Two Rivers Way to Pensford and then returning via Upper Stanton Drew. The farmland is predominantly pasture (sheep) with hedgerow (scalped) and copse. Leaving Stanton Drew, and the Green Woodpecker on the Church, we saw good sized flocks of gulls, mainly Black-headed and Common with the odd Herring and Lesser Black-backed. We also had the first of four Great Spotted Woodpecker. Flocks of Sparrows on the edge of the village gave way to a couple of Pied Wagtail, Meadow Pipit and one Chiffchaff. Lots of Woodpigeon including one flock of more than a hundred. A couple of us briefly spotted a Kingfisher along the river followed by a Treecreeper. The first of our Buzzards made an appearance, shortly afterwards a Kestrel. Small numbers of Redwings were seen throughout the walk and just one Fieldfare (in Upper Stanton Drew). The nice, neat hedgerows were devoid of berries so nothing to attract the thrushes. The Dipper failed to make an appearance in Pensford, perhaps the river was running too fast following the recent rain. This may explain the lack of Grey Wagtails too. Thirty seven species in total. Thanks to Alan Craddock for the comprehensive route details. (Thanks Alastair for leading). Alastair Fraser

  • Sunday 06 December – Clevedon Pill Leader: Jane Cumming

    On a cold, fine day we met at the churchyard where grain on the path was attracting Chaffinches and a Collared Dove with a couple of Magpies in attendance. We walked along the woodland edge to the harbour where the tide was at its full height, and peered around the southern side of Wains Hill to find a tidal roost on the rocks of 70 Redshanks and a couple of hundred Dunlin with a few Oystercatchers. As the water started to drop and Blackstone Rocks emerged from the waves, it grew easier to count the birds that feed out there – 21 Shelduck, 19 Wigeon, 28 Curlew. A few Herring Gulls and one Lesser Black-backed were scattered amongst at least 150 Black-headed Gulls. We walked on round the harbour, looking out for typical salt marsh species such as Stonechat and Rock Pipit and finding both, as well as Meadow Pipit for comparison. The Blind Yeo produced Mallard and Moorhens, and a Green Woodpecker flew across it too fast for most observers to latch on to. We strolled on across the golf course and down to the River Kenn roost at Dowlais, seeing more Stonechats – we had a total of seven, so they were probably still on the move seeking agreeable winter quarters. A few Lapwings close by were well outnumbered by a distant flock of about a hundred in flight. We watched Grey Herons, a Little Egret, a few Skylarks and a typical selection of common hedgerow and woodland species: 35 on my list from an unexceptional but pleasant morning. (Thanks to Jane for leading). Jane Cumming

  • Tuesday 03 November – Eastville Park Leader: Rich Scantlebury

    Assembling for a chilly start, six members met at Snuff Mills car park for a wander through Eastville Park and environs. Reaching the bridge over the Frome, we could see that the river was in spate and so there would be little chance of seeing a Kingfisher unless on the ponds or in flashpast. We carried on into the Park and encountered our first flock of Long-tailed Tits of the day. Blue Tits, Great Tits, Blackbirds, Wren and Dunnock were in evidence along the brambles and Goldfinches and Woodpigeons in the trees opposite. One of the highlights of the day followed as we turned uphill into Wickham Glen where we found another mixed tit flock accompanied by a couple of Nuthatches, two or three Goldcrests, a Coal Tit and further up in a Yew tree scoffing on the berries, two Mistle Thrushes, a truly enchanting quarter of an hour in the autumn sunshine. Pressing on we came to the ponds where as usual there were a goodly number of Black-headed Gulls (c70), Mute Swans (being a little aggressive to one another), two trees worth of Cormorants (seven), two Grey Herons, Mallard, Coot, Moorhen, a single Lesser Black-backed Gull and in the nest box on the first island we came to, a female Tawny Owl (bigger than the male, thank you, Rich). Heading back, we saw a Sparrowhawk at height being shepherded away by a pestering Carrion Crow and somewhere along the way we also picked up in no particular order, two Woodpeckers (one Green heard and a Great Spotted seen), a Grey Wagtail and four Chaffinches. There were also a good number of Jays about (six). For our finale, we once again headed up the Fishponds Brook in search of the elusive Dipper but other than quite a lot of mud and a brief encounter with a cameraman who had spotted one an hour earlier, our luck had run out. 32 species seen. Thanks to Rich for leading. Alan Cradock


  • Tuesday 27 October – Sand Point/Middle Hope Leader: Nick Hawkridge

    One upside of COVID-19 numbers restrictions – we all got to see the three Goldcrest that were frantically feeding in the hawthorn bush above the welcome sign in the car park. Those and a dozen Long-tailed Tit were about the only species we saw before we got to the top of the windswept steps. It was a bit of a slog to get to The Point, with Shelduck being picked out on the tide line at about half a mile distance. Thankful to be out of the south west wind on the north face of The Point we collected sightings of Stonechat, Wren, Meadow Pipit and Great Tit as we hooded up against the rain. Coffee stop, in the usual spot, without rain was good, as was identifying a wader that some sharp eyed person had spotted; it was a Bar-tailed Godwit. Amazing how it could disappear against the background of weed, rocks and mud. We flushed another bird as we walked along the shore which resolved into a Curlew, while inland a couple of Redwing were feasting on Hawthorn berries. A brief foray along the track showed us a vast flock of gull in the flooded fields which we studied as we made our way back to the car park: c500 Black-headed Gull c50 Common Gull, a couple of Great and Lesser Black-backed Gull, and hiding in full view the sought after Egyptian Geese. Alas, there was nothing special in the woods as we descended to the top of the car park, although the Raven that had been around all day gave a single croak to send us on our way. Thirty species noted and as ever six walkers. (Thanks Nick for leading.) Nick Hawkridge

  • Tuesday 20 October – Compton Dando Leader: Mike Landen

    One member had to with withdraw from this walk, so five of us met at Compton Dando where visibility was quite poor but there was no significant rain and it was quite mild. We stopped at the bridge within the village but did not find either Dipper or Grey Wagtail on this occasion. On the next section we saw two Mistle Thrushes, with one perched at the top of a tall tree, giving us a nice view, and a little further on we spotted a Buzzard flying quite low over the trees. We soon added Herring Gull and Great Spotted Woodpecker to our list and, as we left the woods three Ravens flew overhead. We crossed a meadow which had been cut and saw a Jay (two more were seen later). A small flock of birds were identified as Meadow Pipits accompanied by two or three Pied Wagtails and then two birds flying at a medium height were spotted. In the poor light it was a little while before they were identified as Sparrowhawks and we all enjoyed watching them. Four Fieldfares flew over and then Chiffchaff, Nuthatch and Bullfinch were all heard. We arrived at the bridge in Woollard where we had a coffee break and also saw a Grey Wagtail. As we made our way out of the village we disturbed a Grey Heron which gave us a nice view as it quickly flew off and a Moorhen was spotted on the river. One member of the group was fortunate to see a Kingfisher but we were a little spread out at the time so the rest of us ‘dipped out’. As we made our way back across the fields, we were very fortunate to see a Red Kite. It flew almost overhead so gave us very good views and it had at least a couple of tail feathers either missing or damaged. Although it is becoming more common in our area it is still a nice bird to see. Our final species of the morning was a Collared Dove seen on the edge of Compton Dando village. It was a very pleasant walk with the weather turning out to be a little better than expected and we had a respectable total of 28 species. (Thanks Mike for leading.) Mike Landen

  • Tuesday 13 October – Goblin Combe Leader: Alastair Fraser

    A woodland walk, mainly deciduous with some conifers and areas of plantation. The woodland is largely closed canopy, creating an impoverished habitat at lower levels due to the lack of light. The ash trees are suffering from
    dieback that may, ironically, lead to more open clearings. The first section along the Combe was very quiet, a few Jackdaws and a Jay heard up in the trees and a small flock of Redwings that perched briefly before flying off. Our usual route was blocked by tree management, necessitating a detour that required some map reading. We heard Nuthatch and not much else. We navigated to Warren House, a more open area, and this proved more productive. Several flocks of Redwings passed overhead. Chiffchaff, Robin, three Ravens and Pied Wagtail raised our spirits. We finally ran into a flock of Tits, mainly Great with some Blue and a Coal, in the woods along Cleeve Toot. Also Nuthatch and Great Spotted Woodpecker. (Thanks Alastair for leading.) Alastair Fraser

  • Tuesday 06 October – Tickenham Leaders: Lois Pryce and Jan Pridie

    Six people met for this walk through Tickenham’s moors, woods and ridge – and only got rained on once! House Martins hunted over the golf course with Pied Wagtails on the greens. Through the woods we saw and heard Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers, Jay, Nuthatch, Blackcap, Coal Tit and flocks of Long-tailed Tits, and Chaffinch and Bullfinch. Ravens and Buzzards soared and called, a Sparrowhawk did a swift stealth flight, and Swallows hunted over Cadbury Camp where the view to the sea was swallowed by a rainstorm. On the moors the Land Yeo was rushing in full spate but we were lucky enough to have two quick views of a Kingfisher and a brief glimpse of a Grey Wagtail along its length; and on the flooded fields were great flocks of mixed Gulls (350 or more) with many juveniles, as well as Mute Swans, Grey Heron, Little Egrets, Stonechats, and about 60 Rooks. Insect life was abundant including Common Darters, many still coupling in flight, and a Red Admiral. (Thanks to both for leading.) Lois Pryce

  • Sunday 27 September – Portland Bill Leader: Jane Cumming

    The Portland trip was cancelled. The leader and the single booking member agreed to cancel owing to unfavourable wind conditions and the rain.

  • Sunday 20 September – Severn Beach and Pilning Wetlands Leader: Lois Pryce

    Four members met at New Passage on a very high tide with strong winds, after passing a couple of Swallows, and a Turnstone below the esplanade on the way from Severn Beach. On a flooded area of salt marsh we tried to turn a juvenile/cryptic Teal into the juvenile Garganey that had been there – the Teal hiding its green flash with its wing feathers; and later we saw more of the season’s new crop of Teal and Wigeon. Shelduck, Oystercatcher and Curlew rimmed the shore edge as the waters rose, with larger numbers of Canada Geese and Black-headed Gulls. Ringed Plover and Dunlin were settled on the salt marsh with a Sanderling, and Wheatear, Meadow Pipit, Pied Wagtail and large flocks of Linnet – 150 or more – but no Yellow Wagtail today. We were lucky enough to see five elegant Ruffs together on the first Pilning pool and appreciate the size difference between males and females; but looking past some Lapwings we couldn’t find the reported Pectoral Sandpiper, or Curlew Sandpiper on the marsh. However, with a Kestrel hunting above, the whole area hummed with life and enough excitement for our group! (Thanks to Lois for leading.) Lois Pryce

  • Saturday 12 September – Chipping Sodbury Common Leader: Mike Jackson

    Five members met at 0900 in Hatters Lane and joined one more at the entrance to the common. In fine weather, 15- 17°C with a light westerly breeze which strengthened toward midday, and dry underfoot, we proceeded up the incline on Trinity Lane past the golf club entrance onto the common. House Martin, Blackbird, Great Tit, Robin and House Sparrow had by now been seen or heard. As we passed the large house (marked The Windmill on OS map) we encountered a herd of cattle grazing with c.25 Yellow Wagtail amongst them in adult and juvenile plumage, with Swallow flying over. Going downhill into the scrubby area a Kestrel was moving between the bushes. A Green Woodpecker, a number of Blackbird, Stonechat, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Linnet and Meadow Pipit were also present. One Stock Dove was amongst Woodpigeon in the boundary hedge. As we walked north east along both sides of a bushy hedge a number of Starling and a female Redstart were in the hedge. A Grey Heron flew over and a Buzzard was heard calling, and there were around 30 Starling atop a pylon. We stopped at a known Little Owl roost but the bird wasn’t showing. We walked back into the scrubby area where further Stonechat, Redstart and Meadow Pipit were seen along with Whinchat, Wheatear, Lesser Whitethroat and presumably the same flock of Yellow Wagtail. At around 14:00, we returned along a scrubby hedge and back uphill out of the Common where there were more Starling in the hedge. The cattle were now resting which may have been why the Yellow Wagtail had moved into the bushes. Thanks to Mike for leading this walk. Alan Daniells

  • Sunday 06 September – East Devon Leader: Jane Cumming

    This was the Club’s first outing requiring COVID compliance, with the leader, three participants who committed in advance and two more who joined us knowing there was space on the trip. With the large airy hides at the two sites we visited, there was no reason to change anything about our usual mode of birding although the hide at Bowling Green may have been more crowded if we’d gone there earlier. This wader expedition began with the high tide at Black Hole Marsh, part of Seaton Wetlands, and moved west to Bowling Green Marsh as the tide fell. Note for next time: it would be better to catch the high tide on the Exe when the waders roost on the marsh, and move on to Seaton Wetlands with the tide falling to expose mud along the River Axe. Nevertheless, we found plenty to look at on the scrapes at Seaton, notably twelve species of wader: Oystercatcher, Lapwing, Ringed Plover, 30 Dunlins, two Knots, one (possibly two) Curlew Sandpipers, 50 each of Curlew and Black-tailed Godwit, Redshank, a Greenshank or two, one or two Common and one Green Sandpiper. A selection of the usual waterbirds were around – Mallard and Teal, a Little Egret, Grey Heron, gulls, Kingfisher and some heard a Water Rail. Of course, we had missed the tide and with it the Curlew Sandpipers at Bowling Green Marsh but there were more duck species, including three Pochards, a female Scaup, lots of Wigeons and many more Pintails than we are used to seeing in Avon. Hundreds of Black-tailed Godwits were still flying out a dozen at a time, and there were 20 Lapwings and a couple of Greenshanks hiding amongst the Redshanks. It was good to be out birding again! (Thanks to Jane for leading.) Jane Cumming

  • Tuesday 17 March – Badminton Leader: Nick Hawkridge

    After the grim news of a ban on all meetings, we were destined to be the last Tuesday walk for some time. However, eight of us gathered for a steady ramble round the patch. Our list started with Chaffinch and Greenfinch singing from broadcasting vantage points by the village green. There were plenty of House Sparrows chirruping away in the garden hedges and a good flock of mainly Common Gulls rose from the fields behind the houses. Up past the birdfeeder house, where we collected Blue and Great Tits, towards the barn field but, alas, it did not have a decoration of Little Owl. During the walk three separate flocks of Jackdaws were seen numbering more than 30 in each and of course making their usual clamour. At the coffee stop, having waded through deep mud in Long Drove, we had the 11 o’clock Buzzards mewing and circling, a distant Yellowhammer on the power lines, a mixed flock of Fieldfares and Redwings and the spring song of Skylarks. Out along the airstrip there were many more Skylarks and a pair of Mallards in the stream in the valley. A photo opportunity was taken by the placard (explaining what the remains of the plague house were all about) to demonstrate our ‘social distancing’ skills
    (Picture on BOC Facebook page). The star birds of the day were then found as we headed along the valley bottom, Wheatear and Stonechat. We found a total of six Wheatears as we headed back through the horse trial fields but, alas, no Little Owl in the old oaks. The lake hosted Mute Swan, Canada Goose and a pair of Gadwall, with the trees by the gates holding a couple of Nuthatch and a singing Mistle Thrush. A tally of 36 for the day was a good total. (Thanks to Nick for leading, Ed). Nick Hawkridge

  • Saturday 14 March – Uphill Leader: Jane Cumming

    With a good weather forecast eight members met in Links Road, Uphill. Unfortunately, the high tide made walking along the beach impossible so we headed back to the marina. Before doing so we had good numbers of Shelduck (27), Teal (44), Oystercatcher (34), Curlew (22), and Redshank (15) and also saw a number of other water birds. The highlight however was a Mediterranean Gull. At the marina the non forecast rain started but we headed on to
    Walborough and the sluice. On route we were pleased to see a group of Stonechat and heard a Skylark. The sluice area was not very productive (it was still raining) but there was a Marsh Harrier hunting. We returned via
    the road/path which was less muddy than the walk out and heard a Chiffchaff, possibly an early migrant but maybe it had overwintered. In total 43 species were seen or heard over the morning. Thanks to Jane for an enjoyable morning. Looking forward to many more when the current coronavirus restrictions are lifted. Beth Yates

  • Tuesday 10 March – Elm Farm Leader: Mark Watson

    On a wet and windy morning 16 members met for a walk around Elm Farm. We immediately saw eight Yellowhammer in a tree near to the farmyard which was a good start. A Kestrel was perched in a hedgerow tree as we walked on and 32 Jackdaws appeared along with a couple of Song Thrushes. Moving down the farm across fields managed under a Defra Countryside Scheme, a few more Yellowhammers were in the hedgerows. A Buzzard flew overhead and some folk caught sight of a Jay. Both Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers were present as we crossed fields towards the lower end of the farm. A flock of some 60 Redwings passed by. A very co-operative Chiffchaff gave us a good view on the way and at the pond and wetland at the lotto corner of the farm, a Heron and a Snipe were seen. A quick walk to the local sewage works produced a Nuthatch, Greenfinch and Coal Tit. In all we saw 34 species. The walk was led by Philippa Paget who farms here with her husband John. Thanks to Philippa for giving her time to guide us around the farm and its wildlife. Mark Watson

  • Tuesday 03 March 2020 – Clevedon to Dowlais Leader: Jane Cumming

    A magnificent 42 people gathered at St Andrews Church, Clevedon on a beautiful if chilly morning. We headed out round the Pill and down to the sluice on the Blind Yeo, logging Stonechats and Rock Pipits on the saltmarsh. Telescope scanning of Blackstone Rocks produced 55 Wigeon scattered along its edge, as well as Shelducks, Oystercatchers and Curlews. The foreshore held its usual mixture of mainly Black-headed but also Lesser Blackbacked and Herring Gulls. We walked on across the golf course to the Dowlais shore where a couple of hundred Dunlin were swirling about low over the waves and down as far as the gate overlooking the River Kenn’s seaward exit. With the tide rising fast 30 Teal were sheltering in the creek and the wader roost held 50 each of Redshank and Curlew. Linnets bounced around over the saltmarsh, a couple more Stonechats were seen and Skylarks were singing. We retraced our steps to Dowlais Lane and walked down past the pools where unusually there were eight Mute Swans as well as a few Lapwings. Roadside fields held a big corvid flock, mainly Jackdaws. The scattered groups of walkers recorded Peregrine, Kestrel, Little Egret, Grey Heron, a Blackcap and seven
    Redwings. At Strode Road bridge (just two Moorhens) we turned back down the Pill where three late Goosanders were seen by a lucky few (but sadly there was no sign of the Otter I’d watched the previous day.) Thanks to Nick as always for keeping the score; he recorded 50 species in total. (Thanks to Jane for leading, Ed). Jane Cumming

  • Tuesday 25 February – Greylake RSPB Reserve Leader: Mark Watson

    On a bright but showery and blustery morning, twelve members gathered for a walk around the RSPB reserve. In the car park we saw Dunnock, Chaffinch, Blue Tit and Reed Bunting and a Kestrel overhead followed by a Great White Egret. We set off around the reed beds towards King’s Sedgemoor Drain and heard but did not see several more Reed Buntings. Moving along the drain a Water Rail was heard, a male Stonechat perched on a thistle on the bank of the drain, and a Cormorant flew over. In the distance a huge mixed flock of Golden Plovers and Lapwings swirled in the sky as well as a Marsh Harrier over the pools and five Pintail. A few Black-tailed Godwits were feeding at the edge of the pools. At the end of track the view point gave a closer view of the Golden Plovers and Lapwings along with numerous duck including Shoveller, Mallard, Gadwall, Wigeon, Tufted Duck and Teal. We then moved on to the hides for a close up view of the ducks as well as Little Egrets. A pair of Marsh Harriers again came in to view and almost in front of the hide four Snipe were wading amongst clumps of reeds. Whilst a few of the group were finishing their lunch in the hide we were very fortunate to get good views of a male Hen Harrier along the edge of the reserve near the hide. In all we saw 36 species. (Thanks for leading, Mark – Ed.) Mark Watson

  • Sunday 23 February – Barrow Gurney Reservoirs Leader: Nick Hawkridge

    Waking to battering rain and wind, I did not expect to be leading ten waterproofed birders around the tanks, including Vanessa, new to birding and the Club. The decision not to take a scope was easy, but I was glad that the relative shelter of the trees, at the top of the steps of Tank 3, allowed more robust kit than mine to be deployed by others. Through these we got our first glimpse of the overwintering Black-throated Diver. Reported as a juvenile in mid November 2019, the plumage now looked in fine shape. Walking clockwise round the tank we found the battering head wind was no deterrent to the flight of the Common Sandpiper that we flushed from its roost beside a pair of Teal. Coot moved over and away from us, save one further out, which made a useful marker for everyone to get a first sighting of the Great Northern Diver. This too arrived in November 2019. It was reported as a first winter and at first had fishing line fouling its beak but thankfully it seems to have shed this now. Having fought our way round the tank the shelter of the trees was most welcome as was a pair of Common Sandpiper, a Pied and Grey Wagtail and a really close view of the Black-throated Diver. For the finale, we crossed over to Tanks 1 and 2. There we could see a patch of over 100 Cormorants, snoozing along the tank edge, their white breeding patches brightly contrasting the black feathers. With the wind now a whisper of its earlier force, all scopes were arrayed and found, eventually, the Long-tailed Duck. This too was another November 2019 import, spending its time showing off its splendid male plumage to one, in fact any female, Tufted Duck. The total for the morning was 32 species. (Thanks Nick) Nick Hawkridge

  • Tuesday 18 February – Backwell Lake Leaders: Sue and John Prince

    After a brief shower of rain 18 of us set off to walk around the lake. The Gadwall pairs were the highlight, amongst the usual gulls, Mallard, Tufted Ducks, Mute Swans, Canada Geese, Moorhens and Coots. Two of the six Cormorants in the willow on the island flew off. The path to Youngwood Lane was muddy and the lane was underwater in places. The next mile gave us 42 Redwings, two Jays, several Buzzards, a pair of Kestrels, and a pair of Great Spotted Woodpeckers – very much a couple! We saw Goldfinches in the wooded area, but no Siskins this time. We did however see 13 Dunnocks and four Chaffinches on the walk. There was plenty of bird song: tits, Wrens, Robins, a Blackcap, a Song Thrush and a Skylark. The birds obviously consider it is Spring! At Engine Lane the group split, some preferring the road to the very muddy track back to the cars. At least the sun briefly showed itself, and we had no more rain. The species count was 34. (Thanks to Sue and John for leading – Ed). Sue Prince

  • Tuesday 04 February – Bristol City Centre Leaders: Margaret Gorely and Nancy Barrett

    Early February with lots of sunshine ensured that Harbourside and Clifton were looking good for the 27 members who assembled for this regular winter – virtually mud free – Tuesday walk. As usual we set off across the Pero’s Bridge and followed the Floating Harbour past M Shed. There were plenty of Black-headed and Herring Gulls on the water, a couple of Cormorants and some Moorhens. The Cumberland Road flats were encased in scaffolding but the buddleia and brambles outside their back gardens yielded House Sparrows and a male Blackcap. Carrion Crows, Starlings and Robins were also seen. Mute Swans, Ravens and Mallards enlivened our coffee stop after which we continued to the Underfall Yard and then on to a deserted Cumberland Road, which is closed after the recent collapse of part of the riverbank. Goldfinch and Grey Wagtail were added to our list at the Create Centre and, because of Metrobus diversion owing to the road closure, we were able to spend time viewing from both sides of the Metro Bridge from which Redshank and Common Sandpiper were seen by most. More Redshank, Lesser Black-backed Gulls and a couple of Great Black-backed Gulls were on view as we looked down river towards the Suspension Bridge, before our return route to the bottom of Jacob’s Wells Road. From here ten of us took on the first and only hill of the day climbing up Brandon Hill. Jackdaw, Redwing, Wren, Greenfinch, Collared Dove and Great Tit were added to the list making a total of 29 species. (Thanks to Margaret and Nancy forleading) Nancy Barrett

  • Tuesday 11 February – Coalpit Heath Leaders: Pat and Duncan Gill

    The weather mitigated against a large turnout, so 16 on a blustery cold day wasn’t bad. We left the clubhouse with the wind pushing us along, as it was the two or three Cormorants and Grey Herons. A Sparrowhawk was circling, as normal, but pushed across the sky and out of sight in seconds. A single Redwing posed for a picture, others broke cover as we walked on and some saw a few Fieldfares mixed in. The water hazards on the golf course hosted 20 plus Canada Goose and we found the wind driven Herons in the company of squabbling Moorhens. A few Blue and Great Tits called, as did a Bullfinch but it remained concealed in the scrub. At the top of the lane we peered into the orchard to observe some Redwings that were feeding on last year’s fallen fruit. There were, at most, two Fieldfares around the base of the trees but they were hard to find. As we basked in the sun at the coffee stop a Jay flew into the railway embankment shrubs – all I saw was the white flash of the rump. Stopping briefly to acquaint those new to this walk with the history board at the Ram Hill pit head, we heard the call of Green and Goldfinches. Intel received before we set off said that our normal route along Broad Lane as far as Westerleigh was flooded, so we branched off towards Elm Farm. The hedges bordering the woods have had Yellowhammer but, alas, not today, our only bird being a lone Buzzard. Coming down the hill towards Bitterwell Lake a Coal Tit was heard, a couple of Moorhens and a few Mallards swam on the fisherman infested water. A total of 32 species were recorded. (Thanks to Pat and Duncan for leading) Nick Hawkridge

  • Tuesday 28 January – Stoke and Eastville Parks / Vassals Leader: Rich Scantlebury

    A group of over 30 members congregated in Snuff Mills car park for our walk. The weather was dry and cold but sunny. As we entered the Frome Valley walkway, we saw Goldcrest, Stock Dove, Long-tailed Tit, and various corvids including Crow (35), Jackdaw (30) and Magpie (eleven). As the group started to elongate members were spotting Goldfinches (42 in total during the walk), more Long-tailed Tits, and Nuthatch. From a little bridge over a tributary of the Frome we watched a Grey Wagtail. The light was good at this point so the distinctive yellow was highly visible. Moving on we reached Eastville Park lake where the highlights were Kingfisher and the resident Tawny Owl. At one point, a Kingfisher was sitting very openly in profile on a low branch by one of the islands, which made it easy to see. For most of the time the Tawny Owl was rather sleepily perched in the entrance to the owl box, However, just as most people were moving off, a shaft of sunlight came through, and a few of us were treated to a wonderful view of the owl’s full head as it bent down as if to catch the warmth of the sunlight. Other species observed included Cormorant, Black-headed Gulls (68), a Lesser Black-backed Gull, Grey Heron and six Mute Swans. During the second half of the walk the weather worsened bringing hail and cold wind. We passed through Ridgeway Park Jewish Cemetery where a few lucky folk saw Bullfinch and Green Woodpecker. At this point the weather was unpleasant so the group split and some people decided to head back to the car park. Those of us who braved the cold wet conditions were rewarded with a lovely sighting of two Dippers in a tiny stream that feeds down into the Frome. What a delight to see these beautiful birds in an urban setting. Other highlights include Greenfinch, Treecreeper, Sparrowhawk, Buzzard, Blackcap, Jay and Great Spotted Woodpecker. We were hoping to see Ring-necked Parakeet but, alas, that was not to be. Total bird species count was 40. Many thanks to Richard for leading this urban walk which never fails to delight. Linda Moysey

  • Tuesday 21 January – Pensford Leaders: Nick Hawkridge and Mark Watson

    The group met at 10:00 on a foggy cold day with the sun having little impact on the temperature. Geoff Harris was unable to lead so Nick Hawkridge and Mark Watson stepped up. We set off looking for the Dipper but it was not about, so instead we took the opportunity of looking at the 1968 high water levels marked on the walls. Slowly we added species to our list and were pleased to see 22 Long-Tailed Tits and at coffee break a Skylark was heard. Later additions included Nuthatch, Treecreeper and 40 plus Redwings. The sun finally broke through just before we returned to the cars and some warmth seeped into cold bones. Thanks to Nick and Mark for an enjoyable morning. Beth Yates

  • Sunday 19 January – Marshfield Leader: Nick Hawkridge

    On a bright sunlit morning, 17 muffled figures met in the layby in Marshfield. Health and Safety was on everyone’s mind as we sallied forth. Hazards included many frozen puddles, rutted frozen ground and lack of attention! The first distraction was a pair of Stonechat, busy with seed heads and keeping an eye on us. Along Northfield Lane beside the horses a lone Rook flew past and at the top of a tree a pair of Fieldfares was finally identified. A variety of small birds including Meadow Pipit, Yellowhammer and Linnet were seen in front of the barns. The Skylark feeding in the furrows gave us a lot of trouble with their identification, but scores of them, who were soaring, chasing and singing, were not a problem. The “jangle of keys” song alerted us to Corn Bunting but this blunt beaked ugly was hard to find, whereas the Yellowhammer glowed in the sun and one female called from above us as we watched a Kestrel hiding among perched Woodpigeon. As we scanned the power lines above Rushmead Farm to count the Starlings, a vast flock of predominantly Linnets was spotted bounding through the air. At this point we broke for coffee. Refreshed and warmed we followed Rushmead Lane back towards the village. We passed more Stock Doves, Stonechat, spotted a Song Thrush with three Blackbirds, a singing Chaffinch and finally Raven, both calling as they flew over. What a splendid day to be out, with a final count of 30 species. (Thanks to Nick for leading – Ed). Nick Hawkridge

  • Tuesday 14 January – Cheddar Reservoir Leader: Mark Watson

    The weather was damp and overcast and the forecast was for rain as ten of us set off around Cheddar Reservoir. Very wet and muddy conditions prevented us from visiting the levels to the south of the reservoir as planned. We were greeted by about 750 Coot as we crested the path, a regular sight at this venue. As we walked on about 60 Black-headed Gulls, 30 Great Crested Grebes, a small contingent of Tufted Ducks (15) and a handful of Cormorants and Shovelers were seen. We added a couple of Herring Gulls, a solitary Common Gull, three Pochards, six Mallards and a Grey Heron by the time we returned to the car park. Other species we saw around the reservoir included Blackbird, Pied Wagtail (yarrellii) Long-tailed Tit and Starling. Happily the rain held off apart from some occasional light drizzle for the duration and a brisk walk with a bracing wind was good for our health. Thanks to Nick Hawkridge for keeping a record of the 22 species seen. (Thanks to Mark for leading- Ed). Mark Watson

  • Sunday 12 January – Cotswold Water Park (CWP) Leader: Keith Williams

    Just five people arrived at the Upper Up car park outside South Cerney correctly attired in wellington boots and waterproofs. The rain actually stopped as we started off across the playing field towards the Shorncote Reedbed, pausing to watch Redwing, Fieldfare and Song Thrush. As we reached the flooded section of the path we “lucked” onto the Lesser Whitethroat (possibly of the Eastern race blythi) which was already being watched by three other birders who had been waiting two hours to see it. The pits by the hides were quiet with the best being a flock of 150 Lapwings as we walked back to the cars. After a short drive to Neigh Bridge, the sun was shining as we set off again along the Thames Path examining Pits 44 -Red-crested Pochards; 65 – many Coots; 57 – Shovelers and Common Gull before a larger flock of 450 Lapwings flew over us. The Thames was high although in summer 2019 it had completely dried out in this section. We paused by Pit 38 to nibble some food while watching Goosander and Goldeneye and then crossed some damp tussocky grass to Pit 29, flushing three Snipes in the process. There was no sign of any Smew (the UK numbers this winter are approximately 75% down from the previous year) but more Red-crested Pochard were found with two Little Grebes. The return route through Somerford Keynes provided some garden birds for the list. We were only able to cover two small sections of the whole CWP but it did provide a glimpse of what can be seen, especially if you want a very flat walk. A good time was had by all with 42 species seen. (Thanks to Keith for leading – Ed) Keith Williams

  • Tuesday 07 January – Between Chew and Blagdon Lakes Leaders: Sue and John Prince

    34 members met at Herons Green on a rather windy and overcast morning. Water levels in the lake were high but we saw several egrets (three Great White Egret and one Little Egret), and a female Goldeneye. On our return to the lake at lunchtime we spotted four female and two male Goosanders, as well as 17 Great Crested Grebes. There were two Little Grebes in the pool across the road. As we walked the lanes up to Breach Hill we disturbed small parties of Redwings, 26 birds in total, and three Fieldfares, as well as the usual small birds, Wren, Robin, Blackbirds, Pied Wagtail, and a pair of Collared Doves. The hedges were much cut back with no berries! A Great Spotted Woodpecker “chipped” from the wood, and a couple of Goldcrests were seen. A Teal was eventually found in the usual place at the edge of Blagdon Lake. At the Ubley Trout hatchery we had Jay, Mistle Thrush, Nuthatch, and Treecreeper. A group of Chaffinches was feeding around some farm machinery and Grey and Pied Wagtail were seen together on a roof. The only raptors seen on the walk were two Buzzards and a Marsh Harrier as we left the lake just before 10:00 (unfortunately, not seen by many). The rain held off and everyone seemed to enjoy the scenery, especially views of Blagdon Lake from the Common. 52 species were counted. (Thanks to Sue and John for leading – Ed). Sue Prince

  • Wednesday 01 January – Slimbridge Leader: Robin Prytherch

    31 members raised their hand at the start of the meeting – a wonderful turn out. This did mean of course, that we were crammed into the new Estuary Tower (ex Holden Tower site) initially, but all seemed to be enjoying the views of a variety of species. The tide was out so there was not the hoped for pack of waders on the Dumbles. A few geese and swans were obvious; Mute and Bewick’s Swans and Greylag and White-fronted and Canada Geese. Then a Black-bellied Brent Goose was spotted in a distant flock of Brent Geese – a goose too far for some members! A Peregrine Falcon was well out on the edge of the Dumbles and a Buzzard much closer. It was obviously a predator that caused a flock of Lapwing and Golden Plover to pass overhead and we did eventually see the waders settle in the damp fields from the Zeiss and South Finger Hides, where we also saw Dunlin and a single Little Stint. By now most duck species had been seen – I noted Mallard, Teal, Wigeon, Shoveler, Pochard, Gadwall, Tufted Duck and Shelduck. Snipe and Water Rail were seen. A good selection of passerines included House Sparrow, Blue, Great and Long-tailed Tits, Chaffinch, Meadow Pipit, Dunnock, Robin, Wren, Mistle Thrush, Blackbird and others. The grand total was 51 species, so I’ve obviously missed out a few (i.e. Crane). It was a pleasant fine morning’s birding to set off the New Year. (Thanks to Robin for leading – Ed). Robin Prytherch

  • Tuesday 31 December – Frampton Cotterell Leader: Alastair Fraser

    32 Tuesday walkers turned out for some post-Christmas gentle exercise and fresh air. Our leader, not as billed owing to an injury, was our Chairman, Alastair. He promised MUD – and this promise was kept! It was mild, calm and mainly grey, though there was an unexpected period with some blue sky and sunshine. First up were a gang of Jackdaws, then Great Tit and Robin and a Great Spotted Woodpecker seen by some. Carrion Crows came next and during the morning all the Corvids put in an appearance, Magpie, Jay, Rook plus a Raven being mobbed. Much of this wa lk was alongside the River Frome but a lot of the birds seen were in nearby fields including a very large group of gulls, watched both on the ground and in the air for a long while and estimated counts were 45 Herring Gulls, ten Lesser Black-backed, 20 Common and 300 Black-headed. Not all of the strung-out group saw all the birds on our final list of 38 species but there were some very satisfying close views of Goldcrest and Treecreeper and, as well as Blue, Coal and Great Tits, 29 Long-tailed Tits were seen. Blackbird and Song Thrush put in appearances, also 23 Redwings and ten Fieldfares, a satisfying dozen Greenfinches, some Goldfinches and a few Chaffinch, a couple of Wrens, four Dunnock and, on the more “watery” side, Moorhen, Mallard, Grey Wagtail, Pied Wagtails and Canada Goose. Only one raptor was spotted, a Buzzard. An excellent walk to see out 2019 – many thanks to Alastair for stepping in to lead and best wishes to Mike Jackson. Nancy Barrett

  • Tuesday 24 December – Snuff Mills Leader: Nick Hawkridge

    Twelve walkers to match the twelve days of Christmas – alas, none of the species (except ‘calling birds’) mentioned in the song were found. Across the river and up into the woods where the first stand of tall trees was alive with birds. Highlights were: Treecreeper, Nuthatch, Goldcrest, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Jay and many Long-tailed Tits. Further into the wood we found another Jay and as we crested the hill into the field area, half a dozen Redwings were seen. I think the feeders on the houses here have been abandoned as none of the normal Tit and Sparrow flocks were on show. Coffee was taken in Vassals Park, with welcome chocolate for those with a sweet tooth. Heading off towards the river again, there was a covey (eight) of Carrion Crows all splashing about together in the brook. In the tall trees on the river bank another party of Nuthatch and Great Spotted Woodpecker were playing chase and calling fit to burst. The rather muddy wander back along the river failed with Kingfisher, but we did get good views of Grey Wagtail, heard a Raven going over and saw a Sparrowhawk swishing through the lower branches. Search as we did, there was no sign of Little Grebe, Grey Heron or Kingfisher. A list for the morning of 27 and the expectation of a visit from Santa that night. (Thanks Nick for sparing the time to lead!) Nick Hawkridge

  • Tuesday 17 December – Newton St. Loe Leaders: Duncan & Pat Gill

    A thirty strong group of Tuesday walkers met with a few grumbles about the rain which, according to virtually allforecasts, should have been falling farther to the east for this pre-Christmas lunch walk. The rain continued to all for the first hour of the walk but in spite of it those with water defying binoculars and wipers on their specs’ managed to add Long tailed, Blue and Great Tits, Goldfinch, Jay, Redwing and Reed Bunting to our list. Although the walk was shorter than usual, we still had a coffee break in the Temple above the lake, en route to which some caught sight of a Kingfisher. The lone Whooper Swan, four Grey Heron, Moorhen, Coot, Mallard, Teal, Cormorant and Greenfinch all put in an appearance and Goldcrest were heard. On the return journey Nuthatch, Song and Mistle Thrush, Rook, Buzzard, Coal Tit, Meadow Pipit, Stonechat, Black-headed, Herring and one Great Black-backed Gull brought our total to 39 species. Many thanks to Duncan and Pat for leading and getting us back at exactly the right time – though we did find some non-walkers had beaten us to the table. Nancy Barrett

  • Sunday 15 December – Weymouth/Portland, meeting cancelled due to bad weather.
    Sunday 15 December - Weymouth/Portland, meeting cancelled due to bad weather.
  • Tuesday 10 December – Ham Wall Leader: Mark Watson

    On a wet and overcast day three members and the leader turned up in the hope of seeing the Starlings coming in to roost. The forecast was for heavy rain but thankfully this held off until we returned to our cars. Coal, Blue and Great Tit were on the feeders along with a Collared Dove and a Mute Swan and Mallards were on the pools along with a Moorhen. As we walked along to the first viewing platform Long-tailed Tits fed in the trackside bushes and trees. Coot were on the water to the right of the track with Gadwall and Shoveler, and many Tufted Ducks paddled about. In he distance a male and female Marsh Harrier were low over the reed beds and two Great White Egrets flew off. A couple of Greylag Geese also appeared. From the viewing platform we saw large numbers of Lapwings wading towards the far side of the pools. Numerous water birds including Gadwall, Pochard, Teal and Wigeon were around and a couple of Great Crested Grebe and a solitary Little Grebe were seen. The sky was grey as we moved on to the Avalon Hide where we had excellent views of both Marsh Harriers and Great White Egret fishing within ten metres of the hide. Canada Geese flew overhead and as the odd small flock of Starling was beginning to appear we moved back to the first viewing platform. The cloud base was low but we saw huge numbers of Starlings arriving to roost, some groups providing spectacular murmurations, whilst others dropped quickly onto the reeds noisily chattering amongst themselves. We saw 42 species in all and tens of thousands of Starlings. The RSPB estimate on 13 Dec. was about 200,000. (Many thanks Mark.) Mark Watson

  • Tuesday 03 December – Uphill Leader: Jane Cumming

    As the tide rose to its mid-morning high, 31 members met on the beach at Uphill on a fine morning with a light westerly wind. This being a neap tide, there was plenty of exposed beach even at high water, and today there were fewer dog walkers causing disturbance along the tideline than is often the case so the waders were able to feed on the Weston side, giving us the opportunity to count them and search for anything unusual. Counts of Oystercatcher (48) and Curlew (33) were lower than I expected, but we found four Knot amongst some 250 Dunlin spread out across the mud, and picked up an Avocet sailing serenely amongst Shelducks through the grasses and shallow water off the Brean shore. A Marsh Harrier floated northwards over the marsh, flushing about 400 Lapwings off the fields, came closer to us for a great fly-by and then rose to disappear out over the estuary. Redshanks were well scattered but there were probably about 200 in total. One sharp-eyed member picked up two Snipe crouching in the marsh grass, and we noted duck counts of 65 Shelducks, 50 Mallards, 40 Wigeons and 200 Teal. A walk out across the marsh yielded very little, so we checked the pool by the marina, which had two Little Grebes on it (and on the return walk, a Kingfisher), then we headed out along the cliff face to look for a reported Black Redstart. Sure enough it was soon picked up flitting about amongst the sheep on the grassy section, being harried constantly by an energetic and indignant Robin. On to Walborough Hill for the views down the estuary and the chance to find a Little Egret, a few Canada Geese and 54 Mute Swans along the river, as well as four Roe Deer lying quietly in long grass. We added to the list all five of the commoner gull species, along with a selection of such land birds as Buzzard, Skylark, Meadow Pipit, Goldcrest, various thrushes and a Raven, to reach a total of at least 46 species during a satisfyingly bird filled morning. (Many thanks Jane.) Jane Cumming

  • Sunday 01 December – Steart WWT Leader: Richard Belson

    15 members set off from the car park on a cold and breezy day, having already listed Kestrel, Raven, Stonechat, Redwing, Fieldfare, Starlings, Pied Wagtail, Marsh Harrier and a large flock of distant Lapwing. On our way to the Mendip hide we saw Blackbird, Chaffinch, Mute Swan, Wren, Herring Gull and Reed Bunting. The water level in the scrapes seen from the hide was very low and most of what we saw was distant, including Shelduck, Marsh Harrier, Crow, Redshank, Meadow Pipits and Reed Bunting. We then walked on to look over the River Parrott (high tide) and could see distant Wigeon, Grey Plover, Dunlin, Mallards, Curlew and Little Egret. Walking to the Quantock hide we had a flock of some 60 Skylarks overhead. As usual, this hide was the most rewarding with large numbers of Lapwing and Golden Plover, also Shoveler, Teal, Wigeon, Little Grebe, Cormorant, Grey Heron, Black-headed and Herring Gull. There were a few Snipe dotted about, but the high point was excellent views of a Merlin which perched obligingly on a gate post, giving all plenty of time to view it. Finally, we went on to the Polden hide then back to the car park for lunch, picking up House Sparrow, Moorhen, Great Tit, Dunnock, Greenfinch on the way. Throughout the morning we had large numbers of Redwing and Fieldfare moving around the reserve and the Kestrel was almost always in view. After lunch, eleven of us drove on to the Natural England car park (Blue Tit, Great Tit, Goldcrest) and walked out to the Breach (Robin, flock of 20 Curlew). By now the sun was shining and we had good views of Reed Buntings showing well in a nearby shrub, Great White Egret, Marsh Harrier, two Rooks, Redshank, two Little Egrets and a distant large flock of Avocets. All in all, a very pleasant day, 45 species seen. Thanks to Richard for leading.
    Sue Kempson

  • Tuesday 26 November – Eastville Park Leader: Rich Scantlebury

    The group of 13 gathered on a rather damp and overcast morning for the walk through Eastville Park. No damp spirits though, as a Goldcrest was soon spotted among the trees, a good start to the walk. On the bank of the river stood a Grey Heron, still as a statue, and on entering the open fields we saw a mixed flock of Blue Tits and Great Tits, with numerous Wood Pigeons settled in the branches above. Mallards were in the river, unperturbed by the strong current, and a flock of 23 Goldfinch flew overhead. Settled more sedately on the sodden playing field opposite were large numbers of Black-headed Gulls, Herring Gulls, Jackdaws and Wood Pigeons. The stunning autumn colours provided a fiery display against the grey skies. The carpet of bronze beneath our feet and the gentle downward drift of golden leaves was a glorious sight. Matching this glory, a Kingfisher was soon spotted, poised on a branch on the island, before taking off in a flash of brilliant blue. Most of the group also saw the Tawny Owl before it slipped down into the darkness of the nesting box. A group of nine Cormorants, perched high above kept silent watch as we enjoyed our coffee break. Mute Swans were being fed further up the lake and Black-headed Gulls joined in the scrabble for these morsels. As we rounded the lake the Kingfisher reappeared, a Chaffinch was spotted and further along the stream was a Grey Wagtail flitting among the rocks and a Dipper darted away. At this point the group split, with some choosing to follow the narrow path in the hope of seeing the Dipper again, while the remainder stayed on the main path. The Dipper remained elusive but both groups saw the Kingfisher again. Was this the same bird or were there two Kingfishers busy that morning? Other birds recorded included Jay, Wren, Magpie, Coal Tit, Dunnock, Great Spotted Woodpecker and Robin. 28 species in all. Many thanks to Richard for leading the walk. Di Bunniss.

  • Tuesday 19 November – Saltford Leader: Robert Hargreaves

    Twenty one of us met up on the cycle path, above the Bird in Hand, on a cool but pleasant morning. Flocks of Goldfinches and Long-tailed Tits were busy in the trees about us but the only water bird to be seen was a Cormorant. We left the track and headed out across the seven stiles, the best section of the walk, On across the airfield we only met Blackbird and Robin. Oh dear. As we approached Avon Farm finally we had a few Redwing and a flock of Starlings. These were followed by some Pied Wagtails, a Great Spotted Woodpecker and Collared Dove. At the farm we met up with two more members who had seen Green Woodpecker. As we turned back to the cycle track some Raven passed overhead. We crossed to the south side of the cycle track, taking the path through the trees to avoid the deep flooded fields. Coming out we were cheered by Fieldfares and Skylarks as we went to the river. We then saw a Jay and a Buzzard. Along the river bank there were Song Thrush, Linnet and Goldfinches, Dunnock, House Sparrow, Meadow Pipit and Grey Wagtail. Finally there was a small flock of Siskins, more Fieldfares and Redwings in the trees. The weir was too fast for any birds, and apart from a group of Cormorants on the path to the sewage works pool little was seen. On the pool there was a Grey Heron, six Gadwall and a Moorhen. A Nuthatch called in the trees. In the fields towards the Jolly Sailor there was a flock of Gulls with two Common Gulls. Above the lock some Mallards rested on some thick flotsam. The last bird to be added to our list was a Rook flying over. In total 42 species. (Thanks to Robert for leading, Ed). Robert Hargreaves.

  • Tuesday 19 November – Stoke Park/Eastville Park/Vassals Leader: Rich Scantlebury

    17 club members gathered at the new starting point for this walk, with access to Eastville Park along a footpath from Elmgrove Road in Thingwall Park. The weather was dull and overcast but the rain held off.
    As we entered the park we soon had Blackbird, Great Tit, Jay and Carrion Crow sighted. Looking across the valley we saw the spire of Stapleton Church and a grand view of two Peregrines perched on the side. We walked down to Fishponds Brook where we heard Blackbird and Robin calling. The walk took us along footpaths meandering through the estate where we saw more Jay, Raven, Blue Tit and Wren. We then headed towards Snuff Mills and Duchess Pond. Here, with the steady roar of traffic as accompaniment, we saw Moorhen, Coot, Mallard and a raptor in the distance being hassled by Crows. A Stonechat was busy fluttering up and down from among the thistles, fly catching. We sighted another Stonechat a bit further along, also busy feeding. As we rounded the far pond into a field we watched a spectacular display of aerial flight by two Peregrines. There was a flurry of feathers as one dived down for a Pigeon but seemed to have missed as he had no bird clutched in his talons. Walking back towards the Mill we saw a mixed flock of Long-tailed Tits, Blue Tits and Great Tits, and a busy chattering from the shrubs came from a charm of Goldfinch. A Grey Heron was poised in the River Frome, and later we also spotted Grey Wagtail. Our keen eyed leader managed to glimpse the Kingfisher although the rest of us missed it. At the lake a Sparrowhawk burst through a throng of pigeons sending them clamouring and flapping up into the air, but all survived. Black-headed Gulls, Cormorants, Mallards and Coot were on the lake, and another silent, motionless Heron stood among reeds in a corner. A large flock of Jackdaw flew above us as we left the pond to head back to the starting point. 34 species recorded. Thanks to Richard for leading and Nick and Alan for keeping the bird list. Di Bunnis

  • Sunday 17 November – Ham Wall Leader: Jeff Holmes

    Over 30 club members attended this morning’s circular walk around the wetland habitats of the RSPB reserve on a dry calm day. Looking across the reed-bed and open water a good variety of ducks were present including Shoveler, Wigeon and Teal. Amongst a noisy flock of Lapwings were around 30 Black-tailed Godwits and small groups of flying Snipe. Great White and Little Egrets were scattered around and a distant group of 19 Egrets in a field turned out to be Cattle Egret. On the edge of a ditch a Grey Heron had caught a rather large Pike which it eventually managed to swallow much to the disappointment of three Crows who were hoping for some left over bits. A backdrop of sound was provided by singing Cetti’s Warblers and squealing Water Rails. Bearded Tits were heard and seen by one lucky observer. At the Avalon hide a Kingfisher flashed by. At least five Marsh Harriers including two males flew low over the reeds giving some good views. Two Sparrowhawks were seen including a perched bird which gave good scope views. The woodland and scrub areas held good numbers of mixed Tit flocks and amongst them were up to six Chiffchaffs and Goldcrests. A Great Spotted Woodpecker was perched at the top of a bare tree with another seen in flight. Only a few Redwings were seen, feeding with Blackbirds in hawthorns, but no Fieldfares. The odd perched Buzzard was the only raptor seen in this habitat. Around 50 species were seen. (Thanks to Jeff for leading, Ed). Jeff Holmes.

  • Tuesday 12 November – Slimbridge Leader: Mark Watson

    Thirty-one members met at Slimbridge on a cold and damp morning. We set of towards the Robbie Garnett hide and being a large group split between the hides towards the Tower Hide to avoid overcrowding. On this part of the reserve we saw Shoveler, Lapwing, Mallard, Goosander, three Snipe and many Teal, Tufted Ducks and Wigeon. The strong wind discouraged small birds on the feeders but Blue Tit and House Sparrow braced the conditions. A male and female Pintail were amongst the throng and a few Berwick’s Swans were on the water’s edge on one of the pools near some Redshanks, and a Kestrel was out hunting. We moved on toward the Zeiss Hide seeing a Grey Heron and a couple of Little Egrets flying over. The wind made the Zeiss hide pretty chilly but we added White-fronted Goose, Common Gull, large flocks of Black-tailed Godwits, Golden Plovers and Dunlin in the middle distance. Five Pink-footed Geese on the edge of the Severn occasionally came into view. Knot and Ruff were also present in good numbers as were Coot and also a couple of Moorhens. We moved on to the Kingfisher Hide. Here we had clear views of two Barnacle Geese and the feeders were in use by Blue, Great, and Long-tailed Tits, and a Nuthatch. Several Curlew were on the wet meadows and just before we left the hide two Kingfishers put on an excellent display a few yards away to round off an enjoyable, if cold, visit. A total of 49 species were seen. (Thanks to Mark for leading, Ed). Mark Watson.

  • Tuesday 05 November – Winscombe Leader: Sue Watson

    Our walk set off from the village (with 23 members), in cool, cloudy conditions but little wind. We headed down the first grassy field, passing House Sparrow, Jackdaw and where a flock of 300 Woodpigeons whirled away in flight. A further field provided Meadow Pipit and the first Magpie, before a path between trees and bushes enabled us to surprise Wren, Robin and Chaffinch. On into a wide, hedge lined lane with many corvids in the muddy field alongside where small flocks of Fieldfares, a few Redwings and a Roe Deer were near the orchard at its end. Passing the nearby donkeys a Raven was heard, and a beautifully blue winged Jay sat on an open branch, where we started up Sandford Hill. (Several more Jays were seen later). Passing the preserved evidence of Italian POWs in the area we climbed steadily through the wood, where Long-tailed Tits flitted about and we were amazed to find a group of four Goldcrests interacting. Having left the wood, the sun had emerged and we enjoyed wide views over the valley and south west to Bridgwater Bay and Hinkley Point. We had heard Bullfinches but now found more. We saw two flying Stock Doves and Buzzard, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, as well as several Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers in the lower fields. A Cetti’s Warbler was heard nearby! Onward to mixed habitat where two more deer leapt a fence in retreat from us. The walk seemed to be enjoyed by all and a final two Jays at the village edge gave us a tally of 37 birds. (Thanks to Sue for leading, Ed). Sue Watson

  • Sunday 03 November – Newport Wetlands Leader: Mike Jackson

    Fourteen members, including two on their first meeting, enjoyed a sunny Sunday at this RSPB reserve. At the feeding station just outside the visitor centre the activity simply wouldn’t stop. We quickly got our first 30 species including Little Grebe, Water Rail, Great Spotted and Green Woodpecker, Jay, Long-tailed Tit, Cetti’s Warbler, Starling, Blackbird, Fieldfare, Redwing, Song Thrush, Stonechat, Chaffinch, Bullfinch, Greenfinch, Linnet, and Reed Bunting. On the way to the ‘Wetlands Experience’ trail, we came across Chiffchaff and Goldcrest, and a beautiful Little Egret perched high in a tree. We then walked along the estuary to look out for wading birds within the saltmarshes and mudflats. It was very enjoyable to observe flocks of species including Oystercatcher (52), Lapwing (65) and Curlew (70plus). A large flock of Dunlin was seen in the distance. Several species of duck were present as well, including Shelduck, Shoveler, Wigeon and Mallard. We were accompanied during the whole trip by an astonishing number of Stonechats and Cetti’s Warblers. The latter always seeming to be so close, but unspottable. On the way back to the visitor centre, we saw a Mistle Thrush, in order to complete our thrushes collection for the day. In total 51 species were seen at Newport Wetlands that morning. Keith Williams and others carried on at Goldcliff in the afternoon and added another 16 species including Gadwall, Teal, Pochard, Tufted Duck, Goldeneye, Goosander,
    Marsh Harrier, Avocet, Grey Plover, Turnstone, Snipe and Peregrine. Thanks a lot Mike for leading us!
    Adèle Remazeilles

  • Tuesday 29 October – Blaise Castle Leader : Di Bunniss

    The autumn weather stayed dry and cool as the group gathered for this walk through the Blaise estate. We passed by the mansion and took a short lane to the churchyard where a lone Mistle Thrush was seen perched high above us. From there we took the path out and through the short tunnel to emerge in Henbury field where sharp eyes spotted a Goldcrest darting among the branches. The trees along the field edge looked splendid in their autumn colours. Taking the path down to the mill, more birds were seen including Great Tits, Coal Tits, Blue Tits and two Goldcrest, whilst a bold Robin watched us with curiosity. On the edge of the stream was a Grey Wagtail, blending well with the background but showing a flash of yellow as it hopped from one stone to another. Following a climb to the castle (taken slowly, as it is quite steep) we arrived in time to find a perch and enjoy our coffee break where two Rooks were seen and heard. A flock of Redwing then flew overhead. I believe a flock was seen earlier in the walk… possibly this was the same group? Rested and refreshed we followed the path which eventually took us to the cobbled drive leading down to the top of Grove Road, which runs parallel with the woods. A little track led past a field with donkeys and back into the woods. Raven, Jay, Wren, Nuthatch, Green Woodpecker, Great Spotted Woodpecker and Goldcrest had all been heard or seen by this point. Another Grey Wagtail was spotted in the stream and a flock of Long-tailed Tits in the trees. On the final stretch back to the parking area we heard the distinct call of a Tawny Owl. A total of 25 species were recorded. Many thanks to Nick for keeping the bird record. (Thanks to Di for leading) Di Bunniss

  • Tuesday 22 October – Tickenham Leaders : Lois Pryce and Jan Pridie

    30 members met on a radiantly warm day to walk Tickenham’s moors and wooded ridge. This was nearly a month later than our usual walk date, so it was interesting to see the differences in birds found. This included a flyover Fieldfare and Redwing, Tit flocks in the woods with Blue, Great, Coal, Marsh and Long-tailed, as well as Nuthatch, Great Spotted and Green Woodpecker, plenty of Jays – and a Bullfinch which we rarely see. And on the partially flooded moors – a flock of 120 Black-headed Gulls with 40 Lapwings flying higher with a few Dunlins. Other birds in the lowlands included Mute Swans, Little Egret, Rooks, Meadow Pipits, Grey Wagtail, Stonechats and Chaffinch, while Ravens, Buzzards and a Kestrel flew above. A total of 38 species. (Thanks to Lois and Jan for leading.) Lois Pryce

  • Tuesday 15 October – Hawkesbury Upton Leader: Nick Hawkridge

    A fat, puffed up Woodpigeon was dozing on a TV aerial, when its reverie was disturbed by the settling of 15 Starlings, exit stage left – one pigeon. The Starling count (43) was only bettered by Common Gull; c140. As the road climbed slightly, more and more gulls were revealed, all searching for food in the pasture. Linnets, Crows, Jackdaws and a constant flow of Skylark all flew over as we sauntered along part of Marshfield Track. Our attention was drawn to a bush, upon which sat a little bird. The ideas as to its parentage were varied, until finally our intrepid treasurer slunk across behind a wall to get a closer look – Yellowhammer. Just over the rise and in site of the coffee stop, a Snipe whizzed away and half a dozen Swallows flew across the face of the wood in a most determined way. Now our coffee stop would not be complete without a Buzzard, so to find, in Bodkin Hazel Wood, a Nuthatch was a bonus. A Stonechat was spotted; a Great Spotted Woodpecker and Jay were heard as we walked towards Horton Court and in the trees at the start of Walk Wood a pair of Song Thrush and a Mistle Thrush dashed about in the tops. The Cotswold Way was joined and we found further Yellowhammer and a bold Sparrowhawk seen from the path. The ‘Way’ gives most splendid views out over the River Severn. A Pied Wagtail was sitting on top of the Cricket Pavilion and proved to be our final species, making the total up to 36. Thanks to the 26 who turned up on a day with a rainy forecast but which, happily, was nice and sunny. (Thanks to Nick for leading.) Nick Hawkridge

  • Tuesday 08 October – Old Down, Tockington Leader: Sue Black

    On a morning of gathering gloom and a forecast of rain and wind, a goodly gathering of about 20 set off from Old Down cricket club, having first spotted two Common Gulls and a Black-headed Gull on the playing field. One of the last Swallows flew over our heads. Across the cricket pitch and down the hill towards Tockington Manor, we gathered Robins, Woodpigeons in small flocks, Carrion Crows, and finally on the Tockington school rugby pitch a large number (31) of Pied Wagtails. Here also were seen Great Spotted Woodpecker, Nuthatch and Mistle Thrush. A Grey Heron sailed past, and a flock of starlings. Between ploughed fields with Rooks, Carrion Crows and Magpies, a Skylark was heard, and a Buzzard appeared, the latter prompting a shout for coffee! Into Sheepcombe Brake and through the woods, where the Jays were busy foraging for winter. Up through a stand of Turkey Oaks to the road where further passerines were added to the count, including Long-Tailed Tits. Near the end of the walk Rob spotted a male Peregrine. Despite the overcast weather we saw Green-veined White and Red Admiral butterflies. After two hours without a drop of rain, our luck ran out and there was a deluge, leading to a hasty and wet end to the outing. Thank you Nick for keeping the record of species seen, a tally of 29. (Thanks to Sue for leading.) Sue Black

  • Sunday 06 October – Portland Bill: Leader Jane Cumming

    Half a dozen people met at Ferrybridge on a bright sunny day with a brisk south-westerly wind. Unfortunately, that describes the least productive conditions at Portland where the birding tends to be much better in a howling easterly or poor weather – fog or rain – to bring seabirds and migrants into the Bill. The birding today was, not surprisingly, a bit rubbish. We checked out the tideline at Ferrybridge, finding two Little Egrets, 43 Oystercatchers, a couple of Bar-tailed Godwits and more Mediterranean Gulls (55) than Black-headed. Ten Skylarks were foraging on a thinly vegetated stony area. On to Portland Bill for a sea watch, where Gannets, Shags and a handful of Razorbills were passing to and fro unconcerned by the wind, and the leader claimed two Arctic Skuas which were dots on the horizon identified largely by process of elimination. Eight Swallows and seven Wheatears reminded us that passage migration was still going on, but the bushes were pretty much devoid of migrants.
    We went up to Southwell for lunch, got discouraged by mud and puddles around the barns, and drove over to Lodmoor where a few interesting species had been reported recently. The Great White Egret thrilled the locals more than us, spoilt as we are by lots at Chew Lake. The Little Gull was nowhere to be seen and the Grey Phalarope kept being seen in whichever part of the reserve we had just vacated! The best bird was probably a partial albino Ruff, presumably the same very striking male that spent last winter at this site. We upped the species list a bit with Grey Heron, Marsh Harrier, Gadwall and Teal, a Snipe, 19 Black-tailed Godwits and a few Lapwings. There were more Little Egrets and Mediterranean Gulls. A House Martin and a Cetti’s Warbler were the only other species of note. It was a pleasant day’s birding but hardly Portland at its best. (Thanks to Jane for leading.) Jane Cumming

  • Tuesday 01 October – Dolebury Warren Leader: Mark Watson

    After a very poor weather forecast of heavy rain three members set off up Dolebury Warren. Contrary to expectations some blue sky was emerging and the brighter weather held for the majority of the walk, although the wind was strong. On the way from the Crown to the A38 several Wood Pigeons, Goldfinches, Robins, Blackbirds, Dunnocks, Blue Tits and Wren were either heard or seen in the hedgerows and woodland. After crossing the A38 we passed through the hamlet of Dolebury Bottom and noted a few House Martin overhead and a Crow or two in the distance. Great Tits were heard and seen in the woodland beyond the gardens. As we reached the top of the climb to Dolebury Warren we saw the first of five Jays and heard a Green Woodpecker. The weather was now clear and we had good views across the Mendips to Bridgwater Bay. Along the bank of the hillfort a couple of Ravens went overhead followed by two Magpies. As we left the coniferous plantation we disturbed another Green Woodpecker on the rough grass and two of us had a fleeting but good view. We started back to our cars as the usual Tuesday Buzzard appeared as well as a Great Spotted Woodpecker. A Chiffchaff was heard and we saw a couple more House Martins as well as two Swallows. The rain did appear in the form of a very heavy shower about 15 minutes from our cars and happily we had enough warning to don our waterproofs. Not surprisingly the Tuesday target of seeing more bird species than walkers was met with 23 in all on a walk we all enjoyed. (Thanks to Mark for leading.) Mark Watson

  • Sunday 29 September – Pilning Wetlands.

    This meeting was cancelled due to adverse weather.

  • Tuesday 24 September – Arlingham.

    This meeting was cancelled due to adverse weather.

  • Tuesday 17 September – Marshfield Leader Chris Perry

    A bright sunny morning with a cool wind greeted 31 members for a walk over the agricultural land to the north of Marshfield. Early sightings were a flock of 22 Woodpigeons, some 70 Carrion Crows, a Buzzard and a Kestrel. Overhead power lines had Corn Buntings perching on them – we saw about 60 in all and we were able to have good views of them. As we moved past cereal fields and a crop of potatoes a large flock of about 60 Linnets kept us company for a while and Swallows (40) and Martins (60) were overhead. The hedgerows provided views of a Whinchat, Whitethroat and a couple of Stonechats and Reed Bunting. Coffee followed shortly after as we contemplated the excellent sightings so far. The return to the start point was equally productive, with a dozen Meadow Pipits, a couple of Red-legged Partridges noted. An uncommon sighting on Tuesday meetings of a Red Kite added interest and a Wheatear on a pasture was seen by some. In all 32 species were seen on a good morning’s birding. Many thanks to Chris Perry for leading a walk with much to interest us. Mark Watson

  • Tuesday 10 September – Folly Farm Leader: Jean Oliver

    We set off to see “our” hedge, that is the one we planted in October 2017 as part of the Club’s 50th anniversary celebrations. It seems to be looking healthy, even though the height of some species disappointed a few. It is not the time of year for birdsong but many Robins were heard en route plus calls of Chiffchaff, Chaffinch,Green and Great Spotted Woodpecker, Buzzard, Nuthatch and Bullfinch among others. Walking through a mixed habitat of woodland and fields, Woodpigeon, Kestrel, Jay and Coal Tit were soon added to our list which eventually included Blackcap, Whitethroat, Blue, Great and Long-tailed Tit, Wren, Pheasant, all the Corvids, many Goldfinch and others – 32 species in all. Coffee was enjoyed on Round Hill and the sun came out so many layers were stowed. Here, on the new route which Jean had devised for us, we enjoyed one of many splendid views we had throughout the walk in all directions – I spotted part of the Cotswold edge and May Hill from one point. With the sun came the butterflies including some Painted Ladies and a Comma, all in particularly good condition. While many had missed a Spotted Flycatcher early on, everybody was able to watch two adults hunting from a Hawthorn while a juvenile watched and took note, plus, a bonus for some towards the end of our rather strung out company, a Stoat put in an appearance at the same spot. Back on Folly Farm the Field Bean fields, which were awaiting harvest for animal feed, turned out to be a feeding heaven for about 100 Swallows and 60 House Martins. Many thanks to Jean for leading this ever popular walk. Nancy Barrett

  • Saturday 31 August – Chew Valley Lake Leader: Robert Hargreaves

    Fourteen people met at a cool and breezy Herriott’s Bridge. In the pool there were three Pintails among the more common ducks, two Great White Egrets and three Green Sandpipers. We saw the flash of a Kingfisher and a Chiffchaff called. Soon it was time to walk to the Ringing Station to be greeted by Mike Bailey and his team. Mike gave an extremely interesting talk illustrated by the ringing of the Reed Warbler, Goldfinch and Blue Tit – fascinating. There was then a tour of the nets and parts of the lake not usually accessible, affording a view across to the top of the Stratford hide. Then it was time for tea and luxury biscuits, as Mike thanked us for BOC’s generous grant for thermal imaging equipment, which enables night-time ringing. There was some further discussion about bird migration, punctuated by the excitement of a Collared Dove, caught in the garden net, being ringed. This was only the second Collared Dove ringed, making it rarer than the three times ringed Aquatic Warbler! At 12.30 it was time to leave. We thanked Mike and his team for the warm welcome and for giving us their time and expertise and emerged into a sudden downpour! At this point the group fragmented, some to leave, others to find lunch. When the weather improved, survivors carried on birding at Heron’s Green, the highlights were four Whinchats at the back of the pool, big numbers of Little Grebes in the pool and two Wigeon in the lake. A few of the group spotted a strange hybrid Wigeon with the tame Mallard and two Egyptian Geese near “Salt & Malt”. The long-stayers spent some time in the Stratford hide. We were too late for the Bittern flypast but were pleased with the Sparrowhawk that tried to fly right into the hide and the Hobby. We spotted the currently resident It was good to see Shoveler and Pochard among the ducks and a Great White Egret and Little Grebe close to the hide. It had been a walk with no formal ending, but with plenty to see and do. We had thoroughly enjoyed our visit to CVRS. Thanks to Mike Bailey and the ringing team and to our leader Robert. Anne Crowe
    Black Swan.

  • Tuesday 27 August – Elm Farm, Burnett Leader: Roger Palmer

    It was a fine sunny morning as 30 of us, including our host Philippa Paget, gathered at the farm entrance. This was to be Roger‘s “retirement walk”, his last time to lead it and so a bit special. Philippa described the farm’s involvement in Environmental Stewardship schemes, while Swallows and House Martins swooped around us. We set off across the fields. A Kestrel was spotted perched on a hay bale – maybe from the family raised in the Kestrel box this year. Near the gate a Green Woodpecker was heard and showed itself briefly. An owl box successfully used by Barn Owls this year was pointed out to us. We continued across fields with wild flower strips, enjoying the butterflies (more visible) as much as the birds. Looking across the valley we saw four Buzzards circling high above. Our coffee stop, half way down the hill, gave great views across to Compton Dando and of another Kestrel on a telegraph pole. Next we went through the cider apple orchard, and left across a rough meadow and enjoyed good views of our second Sparrowhawk, a fly-past Cormorant and heard the call of another Green Woodpecker. Avoiding trampling the Earthballs growing in the middle of the path and noting the ‘wheet’ of a Chiffchaff we all finally made it to the top. On our way back through stubble fields a lucky few saw a Yellowhammer – perched briefly before whizzing back into the hedge. Nearing the end we had our second large party of Goldfinches and stopped to enjoy the purple loosestrife and water mint around the small pond, attractive to butterflies including two bright Red Admirals. Finally it was time to thank Philippa for all the fascinating information about the management of the farm and its wildlife and to thank Roger for finding 30 species of birds and many butterflies and moths. Special thanks to him for all the past walks he has led at Elm Farm. Anne Crowe

  • Tuesday 20 August – New Passage and Pilning Wetlands Leader: Jane Cumming

    A great turn out for this morning’s high tide walk – people came and went a bit, but if you count them all there were 41 attendees altogether, still well beaten by the species count of 59. We started at New Passage corner, looking along the tideline where a large flock of Ringed Plover and Dunlin with a handful of Turnstones were hanging on to the last remaining pebble bank as the tide started to flow over it. The distant roost held Oystercatcher, Curlew and a few Shelducks. Amongst hundreds of Canada Geese was one Greylag (perhaps ‘George’ from Portishead boating lake) and a pair of Bar-headed Geese (probably the ones that summered at Portbury Pools). A single Wheatear was out on the short grass with them. Next, we walked along the Severn Way towards the pools, checking the marsh for pipits and wagtails, and were rewarded with a Meadow Pipit and a juvenile Yellow Wagtail with half a dozen Pieds and possibly a White Wagtail but it was unconfirmed and quickly lost. A juvenile Green Woodpecker showed well in the paddock on the right, and some lucky people saw a Kingfisher flying up the pill. At the pools we found another wader flock, this one holding the Black-tailed Godwits and Redshanks, and ten Lapwings got up from distant fields. The ‘grebe pool’ held the expected three Little Grebes and a single Tufted Duck in eclipse, and, of course, lots of Gadwall and Coot. A Teal or two sprung up and flew off, and we also noted Grey Heron, Little Egret, Buzzard and all three hirundines. Pride of place though was the skirmish between two Peregrines, with subsequent sightings of both Kestrel and Hobby – a fine falcon morning. (Many thanks to Jane for leading all those people!) Jane Cumming

  • Tuesday 13 August – Chew Valley Lake Leader: Mike Landen

    It was a very pleasant August morning with plenty of sunshine, not too hot for walking, with no rain forecast and so it was not surprising that 33 members met in the main car park at Chew Valley Lake. We did a bit of birding from the car park and then moved to the dam wall, seeing Little Egret, Grey Heron, Pied Wagtail, Black-headed Gull, Wren, House Martin, Swallow and Canada Geese. We then walked through fields to the north of the lake and added a number of common species – Chiffchaff, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Nuthatch, Jackdaw and Green Woodpecker. Further along, we saw, or heard, Coal Tit, Chaffinch, Bullfinch and at our coffee break Long-tailed Tits were seen and Goldcrest heard. At the end of Dumpers Lane we stopped on the road bridge which crosses the River Chew and three Mistle Thrushes were spotted at the top of a nearby tree. As we followed the footpath towards Knowle Hill, Collared Dove, Swift and Goldfinch were seen and we also saw our first Buzzard of the day, quickly followed by three more. A Jay was seen briefly. As we walked back along the lake between the two car parks we added Mute Swan, Herring Gull, Coot, Moorhen, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Cormorant, Gadwall and Dunnock. It was an enjoyable walk with a total of 40 species. It is interesting to note that the last time we did it, in December 2017, we had 57 species, highlighting the difference in the numbers seen in the summer compared to the winter. On the plus side Red Admiral, Holly Blue, Comma, Small Copper and Meadow Brown butterflies were seen as well as the caterpillar of the Vapourer moth. Thanks to Nick for keeping a record of birds seen. (Thanks to Mike for leading.) Mike Landen

  • Sunday 11 August 2019 – East Devon. Leader Jane Cumming

    After the previous day’s gales and squalls we were glad to wake to a calmer, sunny day although we did manage to dodge some very heavy showers in the afternoon. When seven members met at Aylesbeare Common the wind was urprisingly moderate and we decided to do the shorter walk around the top of the reserve. A Hobby skimmed over the valley and then settled into the top of a pine where we had excellent telescope views of it for at least ten minutes. Then we encountered a family of Dartford Warblers interacting with a Stonechat and dropping repeatedly down to the path, presumably to eat grit. We weren’t sure which species was the aggressor in the quarrel, but all the activity gave us great views of this often elusive warbler. Swallows hawked for insects and a Coal Tit pottered about in a small pine tree; some saw Buzzard and Kestrel too. We moved on to Seaton Wetlands, as the signposts called it, though I know it as Black Hole Marsh. There we found Oystercatchers, 40 Black-tailed Godwits, nine Dunlins, a Greenshank, a few Redshanks and several Common Sandpipers on the scrapes. Swallows were nesting again this year in the apex of the hide, the vocal young still in the nest. On to the tower hide where we picked up a Curlew and five Turnstones on the river bank, as well nine Cormorants, two to three Little Egrets and a great many Mallard and Herring Gulls. Adult Shelducks were nowhere to be seen but a number of juveniles were still present. Lots of Black-headed Gulls and a handful of both Black-backs were also in the roost, and a Kingfisher zipped by now and then. We failed to locate the recently reported Wood Sandpiper but did add a Great Spotted Woodpecker, Sand Martins and Linnets to our day list. Finally we drove west through sudden torrential rain to Bowling Green Marsh at Topsham to catch the late afternoon tide on the Exe. Magically, the rain stopped as we arrived, and the high tide roost was wonderful to watch with Redshanks and Black-tailed Godwits by the dozen constantly flying in. We picked out a Greenshank, a Ruff, a Dunlin and a dozen Lapwings, but it took a good search to locate the single Spotted Redshank amongst the hundreds of Redshanks scattered along the shore. Then a big flock of Curlews flew in – at least 130 – with about ten accompanying Whimbrels. Three Wigeon and at least a dozen Teal were early signs of autumn. We noted a Little Egret and a couple of Grey Herons, and the main hirundine here was House Martin. The final day-list was 46 species. (Thanks to Jane for leading.) Jane Cumming

  • Tuesday 06 August – Bridgeyate and Siston Leader: Dave Body

    Our party of 28 had waterproofs in hand or bag; it really did look like rain as we left the car park. A flight of juvenile Starlings flew left and then returned, a few House Martins swished about the chimney pots and five Jackdaws roosted on the tiles of No 29 London Rd. A keen wind made the odd Herring and Black-backed Gull fight their way east, with the Woodpigeons only making short forays from perch to perch. Passing through the newish houses we noted that they were devoid of House Sparrows, but the older ones came up with a couple of pairs. Before we started up the Dramway, two Crows were seen sporting leucistic feathers and a pair of Goldfinches called as we entered the shade of the overhanging shrubs and bushes. Not much to see along here but we heard a blast of Wren, a twitter of Dunnock and a tinkle of Robin. Across High Street and along the course of the Siston Brook we heard our first of four Buzzards calling, and on the Brook our only Grey Wagtail. At the pond a Moorhen and two chicks skulked in the reeds, with the trees above littered with Chiffchaff, all busily feeding and calling frequently. The rain lashed down briefly as we sheltered for coffee but undaunted we carried on over the common and towards Mill Farm and a female Mallard still guarding her eleven fairly large ducklings on the pond there. One sharp-eyed birder spotted a Peregrine on a pylon, and this was confirmed by an equally keen, but young-eyed colleague. The last five minutes – in sight of the car park – were hard-cruel – it poured with rain. A count of 26 wasn’t bad for the conditions and time of year. Thanks to David for leading. Nick Hawkridge

  • Tuesday 30 July – Failand Leader: Gareth Roberts

    Eleven intrepid walkers were not deterred by the forecast thunderstorms. In the event they passed us by, and despite some rain the conditions were mainly dry and warm. The farm at the start of the walk was productive as usual, we had five Swallows and the first of 17 House Martins, with two still active martin nests on the farm house. There were also Dunnocks, Linnets, and the first of 31 Goldfinches, in three charms. It was pleasing to record a Stock Dove and a Grey Wagtail. In the woods leading to our coffee stop there were two Chiffchaffs and two Long-tailed Tits. A Mistle Thrush was spotted and then three more, presumably a family group, giving good views. Further woodland yielded views of two Nuthatches, and the ‘yaffle’ of two Green Woodpeckers although these kept out of sight. Coal Tit was heard and two Great Tits were seen. A Jay and Buzzard contributed to our total of 27 species. There were some fine Monkey Puzzle trees with impressive “cones” by the track through the Tyntesfield estate, but sadly there were no specialist birds, brave enough to tackle them, in evidence. (Thanks to Gareth for leading – Ed.) Gareth Roberts

  • Friday 26 July – Acres Down, New Forest Leader: Jane Cumming

    Were the five members who braved the heavy traffic on the first school holiday weekend foolhardy, or did the hope of New Forest specialities make up for the lengthy drive? Well, we did have two distant views of Goshawk although the wished for Honey Buzzard failed to appear. Spotted Flycatchers performed well as did the Stock Dove in their display flights and Ravens flew nearby with their raucous ‘kronking’ calls. Further on a pair of Bullfinch flew from the heathland into the trees, while Stonechat and Linnet moved between the bushes. The woods proved to be more productive giving two Firecrest, four each of Marsh Tit and Nuthatch and a single Treecreeper. After a late lunch we fought with the traffic on the A31 and made our way to Martin Down just south of Salisbury with the idea of searching for Turtle Dove and Grey Partridge. Neither were found with the grass being too high to see the secretive partridges but the songs of Yellowhammer and Skylark brightened up the afternoon. Hobby and Kestrel appeared along with about 100 Swift feeding and soaring high above the woods. Overall 43 species were seen. Thanks to Jane for leading. Keith Williams

  • Tuesday 23 July – Little Sodbury Leader: Nick Hawkridge

    A very hot day. I was surprised that 21 walkers came for a picnic walk and that only three people broke away to finish early. The first bird was a Magpie, followed by a party of mixed tits and Chiffchaff, with a Raven at the
    top of a pylon sounding off every few seconds. A Great Spotted Woodpecker stayed on his bare tree perch all through
    our approach to the reservoir, where we found Little Grebe, Kingfisher and some splendid Emperor Dragonflies. A small flight of Stock Dove, some Corvid and House Martin were around Horton village, with Green Woodpecker making a racket in the trees behind the school. As we headed up the hill for coffee at the Millennium Folly a mixed bunch of tits were studied, with the prize being a Marsh Tit. Green Woodpeckers put up a splendid display both visual and auditory, landing on tree trunks and ‘disappearing’ – just so well camouflaged as we sat in the shade of the Folly. A Barn Owl broke from the Folly, but was quickly into the woods; alas no picture. A few Rook flew over by the hill fort, a couple of Goldcrest were heard by the gates of Widden Hall House, a Whitethroat and, by the corner of New Tyning Lane, the Yellowhammer were singing, with a female showing briefly. Kestrel, House Martin and Linnet were close by as we took our lunch at Old Sodbury Church where the shade offered by the graveyard was most welcome. The slog back in the heat was punctuated by sightings of three separate Buzzard, another Jay and on the final approach to the cars, a Coal Tit. A total of 38 species was not bad considering that it was – did I mention this before – the hottest of days. (Thanks to Nick for leading – Ed). Nick Hawkridge

  • Saturday 20 July – Marshfield Leaders: Sue and Nigel Kempson

    Twelve BOC members attended this walk around Marshfield on a thankfully dry evening. From Tanners Close we crossed the A420 and immediately had Pied Wagtail and Crow in the field and a group of Starlings perched on the distant overhead wire. As we went along the lane, we were treated to the song of our first Corn Bunting as well as distant Skylark. The usual small building was devoid of the Little Owl but as we continued along the track, we did see two Linnets, a Lesser Black-backed Gull, Greenfinch and two Stock Doves flying over. We had stops to have lovely views of a male Yellowhammer perched at the top of a nearby tree, more Corn Buntings and a number of Swallows, Swifts and House Martins flying overhead. One Red-legged Partridge was flushed from the path. Once we reached Rushmead Lane we had five Skylarks fluttering overhead and as we progressed along the lane, we had Blackbird, Pheasant, more Red-legged Partridge as well as distant Deer. We then drove on to Down Road to try for Quail, unfortunately they were not in evidence, but a distant Raven was added to our list. 21 Species in total. Thanks to everyone for attending. (Thanks to the Kempsons for leading – Ed). Sue Kempson

  • Tuesday 16 July – Clevedon and Walton Common Leader: Judy Copeland

    Another baking hot day. 22 people set off across Clevedon Golf Course, pausing to let the golfers do their thing before we arrived at the cottages, where we found Swallows, House Sparrows, a Pied Wagtail and a Collared Dove. Once we got to the path leading to and along the estuary, we heard the first of several Blackcaps singing and saw Herring Gull on the shore, a Crow on the hedge and a Magpie. Butterflies started appearing – Gatekeepers, Whites, Meadow Browns, and a Small Skipper on Birdsfoot Trefoil. In the big field we saw Great and Blue Tits on the feeders in the adjoining garden, also adult and juvenile Robins. We heard Wren, Bullfinch, Goldfinches and Green Woodpecker, heard and saw Greenfinch, and there were two Marbled White butterflies. From the cliff path we spotted the odd Black-headed and Herring Gulls on the rocks – no Mallard this year – and Dunnock and Wood Pigeons beside the path. We continued along the cliff path, and up the field and track towards Walton Common. In the wood a Wren and a Blackcap sang and there was a juvenile Song Thrush just sitting in the grass. We had lunch in the shade at the edge of the Common and here Brown Hawker and Emperor dragonflies were seen and several outstandingly bright orange Silver-washed Fritillary butterflies, also a Comma, Peacock and Red Admiral. The flowers on the Common – mostly marjoram, St John’s wort and heath and ladies bedstraw – were gorgeous. At the quarry we found an Avon Wildlife Trust work group who were happy to answer questions about the Reserve, then we continued down to the road and up into the wood leading back to the golf course. Two separate Buzzards were spotted briefly, one Goldcrest, a Nuthatch and a Coal Tit were heard. At the end of the walk we had excellent views of a Treecreeper. 26 species was the total. (Thanks to Judy for leading – Ed). Judy Copeland

  • Tuesday 09 July – Goblin Combe Leader: Alastair Fraser

    The walk goes from the car park by the old quarry, along the Combe then climbing to the top of the limestone escarpment, a short detour round Warren House and then a descent through the woods, passing the ancient settlement at Cleeve Toot. The morning started with a family of Green Woodpeckers flying over the car park and posing in a tree in the field opposite. The woodland in the Combe is quite dense with tall trees making bird sightings (apart from Robin, Blackbird and Wren) a challenge. However, the dawdlers at the back found a Marsh Tit with a Tawny Owl fly past. A Stock Dove could be heard in the trees above followed by the call of a second Marsh Tit further along the path. We had a stiff climb to an area of open pasture to find Bullfinch, more singing Blackcap and a flock of Swallow. Coal Tit and a Raven called in the woods. There was plenty of evidence of breeding with lots of young Robins and Thrushes with beaks of food. 31 species were seen or heard, not bad for the time of year. (Thanks to Alastair for leading – Ed). Alastair Fraser

  • Sunday 07 July – Forest of Dean Leader: Mike Jackson

    22 members assembled at Cannop Ponds on a dry but humid evening. We crossed the causeway, passing a Pied Wagtail family on the picnic tables. Inspecting the top pond we saw a Common Sandpiper perching at the far end. Also on the pond were a Lesser Black-backed Gull, Little Grebe, Coot, Moorhen, Mandarin, Tufted Duck, Mallard and ducklings. The male ducks were in eclipse. There was a Mute Swan on a nest on the bank with an egg plainly in sight. We moved through the woods, hearing Treecreeper, Jay and Wren, down to the lower pond. On this were more Coot, Mandarin and Mallard, also a number of Greylag Geese and another Mute Swan. A Grey Heron was on the bank and a Kingfisher was spotted perching on a branch on the far side before we got to the stone works. At the far end there was a Grey Wagtail on the fence next to the weir. At about 20:15 we set off for Speech House and met up with other members for the walk to Crabtree Hill. There was mention of wild boar being seen on the road. There was a Goldcrest amongst the conifers not far from the car park. More Blackcap and Wren sang from the woods. At Crabtree Hill, three Linnet were seen on the path, Stonechat including juveniles amongst the scrub and a number of Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler. Some deer were seen including at least one Fallow Deer. As it became darker, the first of the Nightjars began churring and calling. Then up to four at a time were seen flying in front of the trees. One settled for a while on a known favourite perch, giving us good views in silhouette through ‘scopes. As it became darker, the Nightjars began flying in the open and came quite near – a most pleasing encounter. Two Woodcocks were also seen flying at separat e times. 34 bird species were seen or heard. Thanks very much to Mike for leading the walk. Alan Daniells

  • Tuesday 02 July – Lower Woods/Wetmoor Leader: Jean Oliver

    32 members set off – and another three did a same location/different route walk owing to a late arrival! It was one
    of those perfect English summer mornings, blue sky with lots of cumulus clouds, cool breeze, temperatures just right (unless you like it tropical). However, during the first half hour it did seem to be more of a butterfly, moth and wildflower walk with so many of the former seen on the flowers and brambles bordering the woodland ride. A Song Thrush was singing lustily and some of the other early “spots” (or whatever the audio equivalent of a “spot” is) included Wood Pigeon, Blue Tit, Carrion Crow and the first of the many Wrens and Blackcaps heard throughout the morning. On the more open bits of the route a few House Martins and Swallows were seen, but only two Swifts. A noisy Jay seemed to follow us along a woodland edge at one point near our coffee stop. There had been orchids along the route but the star was a Bird’s-nest Orchid. Meadow Brown butterflies were very numerous and Silver-washed Fritillary, Comma, Speckled Wood, Painted Lady, Marbled White and Ringlet were also seen. A Sparrowhawk was seen by some and three Buzzards circled in a thermal. Among others, there were Linnets and calling Nuthatches and
    Chiffchaffs and the tail end of the group saw a Marsh Tit, making the total of 24 species. Thanks to Jean for leading. Nancy Barrett

  • Thursday 27 June – Exmoor mid-week walk Leader Jane Cumming

    On a glorious summer morning nine members met at Webbers Post and drove on down across the ford to spend a couple of hours in the cool of the valley floor exploring Horner Wood. Flycatchers were very difficult to locate, with just one glimpse of a probable Pied, but we did find Dipper, Grey Wagtail, Wood Warblers, Chiffchaffs, lots of Blackcaps still singing, Marsh Tits, Nuthatch and Treecreeper. A Buzzard glided over and a Jay crashed around in the treetops. Silver-washed Fritillaries glowed in the sunshine and we also noted Red Admiral and lots of Speckled Wood butterflies. With the huge old trees in full leafage and the constant backdrop of falling water, it was a very refreshing place to be on a bright, hot day. After our picnic lunch we drove up to the high moorland past Cloutsham Farm where Swallows outnumbered House Martins this year. We had missed Redstarts in the valley but as predicted we found them on more open ground, with one by the roadside and another with a juvenile at Chetsford Water. Walking Ember Combe and Chetsford Water we found at least five adult Whinchats and some juveniles. A couple of Stonechats and a Willow Warbler were seen, Meadow Pipits flitted about and a few Swifts zoomed around the sky. We did well for raptors on the uplands with Buzzard, Kestrel and Hobby riding the strong wind. The day ended with the traditional cream tea in Horner and a list of some 38 species. (Thanks to Jane for leading.) Jane Cumming

  • Tuesday 25 June – Velvet Bottom Leader: Geoff Harris

    A good count of walkers today (17), which considering the very low cloud and the final tally of 32 species was not bad either. Whitethroat was the first song we heard and having played the CD with the volume up in the car, we all had our ears tuned to hear the subsequent nine others. As we entered the reserve plenty of Small Heath butterflies were abroad and a small family party of Linnet sat on a fence wire, the dad staying to give us as good an inspection as he afforded us. Along the tree line topping Ubley Warren Farm, a massive flock 150 plus of, mainly, Jackdaw burst up into the fog with a terrific clamour. Along the track a newly fledged, barely flight capable Chaffinch afforded us intimate views. Chiffchaff and Wren were heard, a few Swallows whipped past and a family party of Long-tailed Tits brightened up the gloom. Blackcap and Willow Warbler were both singing and the first of the nine Song Thrush sang from the top of an old dead oak in the valley, which was as well, as a family of Bullfinches was seen as we listened to his melody. Once coffee was over we entered Long Wood and heard Nuthatch and Coal Tit and a bit further on, an acrobatic Marsh Tit was heard and then seen by all but the leader. Leaving the wood and starting the long climb towards the radio masts we were lucky to hear Skylark braving the damp conditions, a bright Yellowhammer showing his tail stripes and a grumpy looking Rook with a juvenile in tow. Before we got into the final stretch along the road, a Stonechat showed, and after a Kestrel was seen hover hunting, some House Martin jinked by and a Meadow Pipit hopped from branch to stem with a beak full of grub for the kids. The ponds didn’t disappoint this year with a fine male Reed Bunting singing form a Sallow branch. Thanks to Geoff for leading and being patient with us for taking an hour longer than normal. Nick Hawkridge

  • Tuesday 18 June – Hinton Blewitt / Litton Reservoirs Leaders: John and Sue Prince

    24 birders met on a fine but overcast morning and set off through the village of Hinton Blewitt. House Martins, Jackdaws and House Sparrows and a Pied Wagtail carrying food were seen along with a displaying Collared Dove. Rain started as we crossed the fields in which Meadow Brown butterflies were seen. The sound of birdsong aided identification of Yellowhammer, Blackcap, Blackbird, Wren, Robin, Song Thrush, Chiffchaff and Chaffinch. At the two lakes we saw Grey Heron, Kingfisher, Little Grebe, Mallard, Moorhen, Mute Swan, Tufted Ducks, Cormorant and a Green Woodpecker. There were several families of Pied and Grey Wagtails. Climbing e hill to the cars a few saw Bullfinch and we added Greenfinch and Goldfinch to the list, giving a species count of 42. Despite the non-stop rain everyone enjoyed the beautiful walk. (Thanks to Sue and John for leading.) Sue Prince

  • Sunday 16 June- Gower Peninsula Leader: Alastair Fraser

    Thirty three birders set off on a four mile walk around the Gower from Rhossili, after Alastair explained the ancient field systems we would be looking at, and the carboniferous and oolitic limestone rock formations. The fields dating from the thirteenth century and separated by earth banks were planted up with hay meadow, lupin, sunflower, linseed, lavender, lucerne and a sacrificial bird-mix. Normally full of bees and butterflies, the weather was rather dull for many insects to show themselves this day, though Swallows were hunting hopefully. High hedged narrow lanes took us towards the coast and gave good views of a Red Kite and two Ravens, a Yellowhammer was also heard. We had our lunch on convenient rocks overlooking the coast, watching Fulmars on a cliff ledge and small birds including Linnets and Goldfinches flying around the woodland. Kestrels put in regular appearances as we walked towards Worms Head and then a Chough was spotted on a rounded rock, to be joined by four others flying and landing on the grassy cliff edge. Watching a pair of Stonechats in the opposite fields we saw a juvenile Wheatear fly over a drystone wall and the Red Kite flew close by again. 36 species were seen plus one Grey Seal. This was a walk with stunning scenery and plenty of wild flowers and we were lucky that the promised rain did not begin until we were back within reach of the coach and cafes. Very many thanks to Alastair and to Judy for organising – and to the coach driver who had to interrupt a church service in order to get a car moved so we could get through the narrow lanes. Jacky Tonkin

  • Tuesday 11 June – Sand Point/Middle Hope Leader: Nick Hawkridge

    The rain only really became constant after we were on the way back from the picnic. Before we got to the top of the steps above the car park it was quite calm being totally in the lee of the hill. There was a juvenile Robin, calling Chiffchaff and Blackcap, with a Wren sounding off as we climbed. At the top of the steps we all (seven) watched a family of Whitethroat, the juveniles being ushered into the brambles after we had all had a good look. We did not walk to the end of the Point as it was really windy but cut down towards the normal coffee stop and did enjoy a Kestrel hanging in the wind and a Swift hurtling by. At the coffee stop (early) we watched an adult and juvenile Rock Pipit feeding. There was a bit of a splash as we walked along Middle Hope, but the rain and wind did abate for a while, enough for us to be astonished to hear Skylark – but we all did. We sheltered in the lee of the old concrete piers at St Thomas’s Head for a short lunch stop. A Shelduck and some Mallards were eating too on the banks of the River Banwell and a lone House Sparrow, Greenfinch and Blackcap were heard. As we walked back we had nice flocks of Goldfinches, many juveniles with their families and two Whitethroats. A Curlew and Cormorant were seen just above the horizon heading upstream and as we got back Swallows were flying at head height along the lane beside the car park at the bottom of the steps. For the conditions it was amazing that we got to 30 species, and well done to the hardy souls who turned up. (Thanks to Nick for leading.) Nick Hawkridge

  • Tuesday 04 June – Newport Wetlands Leaders: Margaret & Ray Bulmer

    Perhaps the threat of poor weather deterred some members, but 16 came along. For some, this was a first visit to the site and they were rewarded with a good days birding. The morning stayed dry as we walked around. Chiffchaff, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Greenfinches, Goldfinches and a Pheasant were around the feeders. A Little Grebe was seen on the pond and the first Reed Warblers were calling in the reeds, and eventually they were seen and also a Sedge Warbler. Cetti’s Warblers were very active and again some folk had good sightings. Only a few were fortunate to see two juvenile Bearded Tits and one member saw a Bittern diving into the reeds. The Cuckoo could be heard but not seen and a Buzzard turned out to be the only raptor of the day. A male Reed Bunting was picked up in the telescope and his plumage much admired. Common Whitethroats were singing from perches and a few Swifts flew over the reserve. The estuary had the usual Shelduck and a Curlew was eventually located hidden in a dip.
    The rain started as we were having lunch, but we were able to shelter in the hides at Goldcliff for the afternoon. The lagoons had a fair amount of water, certainly more than our visit in May, but we saw very few chicks this time and I wondered if they had been predated. A large flock of Black-tailed Godwits were feeding and a sizeable flock
    of Dunlins flew in. Lapwing, Ringed Plover and Little Ringed Plover were seen. The six legged Little Ringed Plover confused us until we spotted the two young sheltering underneath. Some Avocets were around but only one chick could be seen. The Canada Geese appeared to be the most successful with their brood of goslings. We saw a few Swallows at Goldcliff but there were no House Martins seen. A total of 45 species were identified. (Thanks to Margaret and Ray for leading.) Margaret Bulmer

  • Saturday 01 June – Ham Wall Leader: Jane Cumming

    15 members met on a beautiful summer’s morning. We were a little late setting off due to unforeseen roadworks en route but the trip was worth it. First seen were two Spotted Flycatchers, darting in the trees in an identifiable
    manner. We walked to the first platform and then out to the Tor Hide. Greylag Geese flew across in the distance.
    A Cormorant nesting colony was seen on the far side with at least three nests visible, and we were rewarded at the hide with great views of Marsh Harriers (three – four spotted on the day). Also seen near there, were a Grey Heron, Little Grebe, several pairs of Tufted Duck, a few Pochard and, at least, two Great White Egrets flew overhead. Further on, we walked via the board walk to the platforms on the far side of the Glastonbury Canal. There, we potted two Bitterns breaking cover from the reeds (the highlight of the day), and a Hobby. On the way back there were Great Crested Grebe families with young on their back, one – two Little Egrets, several Shovelers, and lots of Gadwall. Many birds were identified from their song or call, Cetti’s Warblers, Reed Warblers, Willow Warblers, Chiffchaffs, at least one Sedge Warbler, Cuckoo (seen once, heard several times), Water Rail and Bittern. Also seen were one Treecreeper, one Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gulls and several Lapwings. It was a great morning out. Thank you to Jane for leading the walk and thanks to Jane, Alastair and others for sharing their knowledge and helping the newer BOC members identify the birds seen and heard. Alison Hooper

  • Tuesday 28 May – Northend

    Twelve members set off on this lovely walk, which included fabulous views over Bath and the surrounding countryside. We started by climbing Solsbury Hill. After circling the top of the hill, we stopped for coffee before descending gently to Chilcombe Bottom and back to Northend. It was a cloudy day with occasional sunshine and showers. From Northend village we passed both cultivated and wild meadows until we reached Little Solsbury Hill. The song of the Skylark matched the glorious views perfectly. We continued round the top of the hill looking down on woodland and beyond towards Swainswick, Woolley and Lansdown. A Whitethroat could be heard in the woods below. As we journeyed on there was a brief shower but the sun soon came out and we could hear the song of Blackcap, Wren and Chiffchaff. The walk had been very enjoyable and the rain started again as we reached the cars. In summary, a splendid walk with 30 species identified and 215 birds noted. Special thanks to Robert Hargreaves for both leading the walk and keeping the list. Peter Trippier

  • Tuesday 21 May – Compton Dando

    It was a beautiful sunny morning but not too hot; just perfect for a four mile walk with the hope of seeing some good birds. As 22 of us set off from the Compton Inn there were some common birds around the village, including House Sparrow, Jackdaw and House Martin. There were also good views of two Goldfinches along the brook that flows through the village. After a very short walk to the bridge over the River Chew a Grey Wagtail was spotted in the river. Then there was that tell-tale flash of blue and most of the group had a good, although fleeting, view of a
    Kingfisher flying at great speed along the river. We added Wren to our list but we did not see a Dipper on this occasion. We then walked through pasture land bordered with woodland where we added Greenfinch, Blue Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Robin, Mistle Thrush, Blackcap (heard), Carrion Crow and an early morning Buzzard was seen. A Mallard was also seen in the river. After climbing a fairly steep hill we walked through a beautiful meadow where we saw, or heard, Chaffinch, Chiffchaff, Blackbird, Great Tit, Coal Tit, Pheasant, Song Thrush and Goldcrest. As we descended gently towards Woollard we added Sparrowhawk and Swallow to our list. On reaching Woollard we made a slight diversion for another view of the River Chew from the road bridge. We had our coffee break at a particularly nice spot by the river and then continued on towards Publow. We had decided not to do the detour to Publow itself, so we started the walk back along the other side of the River Chew. We saw Jay, Greater Spotted Woodpecker, Magpie, Canada Goose, Grey Heron, two little Egrets flying and a Raven. It was good to have Mark join us for the first part of the walk and as he returned to Compton Dando, he saw a Nuthatch, so we added this to our list, giving a final total of 39 species, seen or heard. We saw two of our three target birds: Grey Wagtail and Kingfisher. We all enjoyed the walk which passed through lovely countryside and gave frequent views of the river. Thanks to Nick for keeping his usual accurate bird list. Mike Landen

  • Sunday 19 May – Quantocks

    The sessile oak woods, stream and crowberry were a beautiful sight as 14 of us set off up Hodders Combe on a
    lovely sunny morning. A Wood Warbler was singing (the first of five and we saw one), and a Blackcap and
    Chiffchaff joined him. Some of the party saw a Garden Warbler. A Grey Wagtail was briefly along the stream,
    and a Treecreeper, two female Sparrowhawks circling, and Cuckoos calling, added to the excitement. Pied
    Flycatchers (two near nest boxes) and Redstarts were added to the mix. At lunch time on the heath near
    Bicknoller Post we were entertained by Tree Pipit, Whitethroat and Willow Warblers. On the way back across
    Longstone Hill we saw a Cuckoo, which flew past us, a Hobby, Linnets and Stonechats. A lovely walk. Thanks
    to our leader Jeff Holmes and his in-depth knowledge. Some 35 plus species were seen. Sue Prince

  • Friday 17 May – Highnam Woods

    On a cool but still evening Hannah Booth, RSPB site manager, gave 19 members another of her informative tours of the woods, with a focus on the habitat management for Nightingales creating blocks of coppice of different ages, together with wet areas. It was interesting to see how a block that we saw when it was newly created in 2017 had matured with its impenetrable Muntjac barrier. Even better, a Nightingale was singing close by the path at the start of our walk. As usual in the early evening Song Thrushes were the loudest and most numerous (over 20) presence. There were also plenty of Blackbirds (eleven), Blackcaps (seven), Wrens, and Chiffchaffs. Two Great Spotted Woodpeckers were active around a tree hole. The first of two Marsh Tits was heard, and briefly seen. Calls were also heard from Jay, Raven, Nuthatch, Long-tailed Tit, and Goldcrest. We completed the circuit at about 21:00 and a Nightingale was singing loudly and nearby – it was in a different block but may have been the same bird. Song Thrushes were still singing and one persisted with exchanges for a further twenty minutes. It was difficult to leave the mesmerising Nightingale song, and one of us made a recording. Despite the careful management plan and hard work, Nightingales continue to decline in numbers at Highnam. From a recent peak of 20 singing males in 2000, numbers fell to six in 2015, then up to 12 in 2017. It is thought that most of these did not pair and breed successfully and this year there are only four singing males. As Nightingales are highly site faithful, the future remains precarious. Many thanks to Hannah Booth for an excellent evening (22 species including the star performer). Gareth Roberts

  • Tuesday 14 May – South Stoke

    Led by Dave Body, 21 walkers gathered on a bright sunny morning in the centre of the village with lovely views across the valley. As we left the village, we saw House Martins busying themselves around the nearby houses, whilst Swift and Jackdaw flew overhead. South Stoke sits in a designated conservation area so the walk alone was of great interest, with a wildflower meadow, woodland and the reservoir and viaduct at Tucking Mill and what used to be Midford Railway Station. Early on, we saw a tree with several holes freshly carved by a Great Spotted Woodpecker. Many of the birds observed were gathering food for their offspring. We saw a Treecreeper on a telegraph pole by Tucking Mill and the reservoir provided views of numerous birds, including Grey Heron and a pair of Grey Wagtails posing for photographs in the sunshine. As many as twelve Robin were noted on the walk and two buzzards were seen overhead. Other notables included Nuthatch, Coal Tit and Swallow, whilst Pheasant were heard but not seen. All in all, a lovely walk with 37 species and over 150 birds noted. Our thanks go out to Dave Body for leading the walk and to Nick for constructing the list. Peter Trippier

  • Tuesday 07 May – Puxton Moor

    With competition from the holiday season, including the Club trip to Scotland, a select group of eleven walkers set
    out past the church with its leaning tower on a dry and increasingly sunny day. One of the village Swallows flew over and the first of 14 Wrens sang out. A Reed Warbler was singing as we approached the reed-lined ditches on the lane out of the village and obligingly flew to a bramble. They had arrived on the moor in numbers and we heard eleven on the day. Chiffchaffs were also widespread, but we had only one Blackcap. A Sedge Warbler flew up to a bush close to the path giving us good views. A Moorhen called from a hidden ditch and two Mallard flew off. Above us two Crows were harrying a Buzzard, and a Kestrel was spotted. We later found a Kestrel pellet on a footbridge. The moor was initially quiet apart from a Roe Deer, then the first of two Wheatear was seen, then two Stonechat (who were nesting close by), the first of four Reed Buntings flew by, and the first of four Skylarks began to sing. There were further close encounters with Sedge Warblers. At coffee we kept an eye on a Raven’s nest on a pylon with both adult birds seen (two juveniles had fledged two weeks later). On our return along the river two Swallows were impressively flying at a Sparrowhawk. Whitethroat song was heard and we had good views following a song flight along the scrubby edge of a field. We also heard Dunnock and a distant Green Woodpecker. An enjoyable walk with 38 species (plus an ill-timed Greenfinch at 09:50). (Many thanks to Gareth for leading)
    Gareth Roberts

  • Tuesday 30 April – Priors Wood, Portbury — Leader Judy Copeland

    A large number of people gathered in Station Road, an intermingling of groups, as a walking group from Nailsea was starting at the same time. House Martins were circling above us, a Blackbird was singing, also a Chaffinch and a Collared Dove. The walk started briskly with the frontrunners off ahead, but at the back we managed to hear Robin, Wren and the first of the Chiffchaffs (three in total), Song Thrush (three in total) and Blackcaps (twelve in total). We caught up with the group who had found a Mistle Thrush on a telegraph wire above the field giving good if distant views. Once into the wood we heard Nuthatch, Blue Tit, Coal Tit, Pheasant, Stock Dove, Willow Warbler (two) and a Great Spotted Woodpecker drumming. Then came the big surprise – Sue Prince had heard Pied Flycatcher song. Eventually, many people were able to pick it up and a few at the back actually saw it. (A Pied Flycatcher was reported the same morning from the Community Orchard in Pill, a mile or so away.) Sue also thought she heard a snatch of Wood Warbler, but our attention was diverted by good views of a Treecreeper. Goldcrest was heard by those with good ears, also Green Woodpecker, and a Marsh Tit was seen. The weather was excellent and the bluebells gave a good show though past their best the previous week. 30 species, 32 people. Judy Copeland

  • Sunday 28 April – Steps Bridge Nature Reserve — Leaders: Sue and Nigel Kempson

    After the wild and windy preceding day, it was a relief to drive south in calmer, brighter conditions. However at our destination the sky was overcast and it was spotting with rain and it continued to do so for most of the day. Seven of us set off from the Steps Bridge car park walking over the bridge and turning left to walk alongside the
    River Teign in this steep sided valley of mixed woodland. The height of the trees and the developing ‘leafage’ made spotting birds challenging and although many were seen, some were identified by their call. The list included Goldcrest, Blackcap, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Goldfinch, Robin, Blue and Great Tit, Chiffchaff, Chaffinch, Grey Wagtail and Wren, with Siskin flyovers and the occasional Swallow seen overhead. At one point the canopy cleared to show over a dozen House Martin above. Memorable moments included the loud continuous ‘rattle’ of a pair of very mobile Mistle Thrushes, and on the river, sightings of a Dipper feeding its fledgling. The odd Nuthatch was heard calling but not seen, as was a Tawny Owl. We had good sightings of Marsh Tit, a first of the year for some. Having initially followed the river, we returned on a track ascending along the side of the valley covered in a carpet of bluebells. Here we had excellent views of both male and female Pied Flycatchers, perching in the open or on a nest box. Great Spotted Woodpeckers were seen and heard as well as the distant ‘yaffle’ of a Green Woodpecker. Disappointingly, there was no sight or sound of Lesser Spotted Woodpecker here. On our return to the car park we drove on to Yarner Wood for lunch, on a quest to see Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, which had been showing well the previous weekend. Over the next couple of hours we heard LSW drumming and calling but only one member had a brief sighting. We however did have further gorgeous views of Pied Flycatcher and Marsh Tit and added Redstart, Pied Wagtail and Mandarin Duck to our list. Frustratingly, even as we returned to the car park we kept hearing the LSW calling, but despite frequent scanning there were no further sightings. Overall 33 species were identified. (Thanks to Sue and Nigel for leading) Sue Kempson

  • Tuesday 23 April – Badminton — Leader: Nick Hawkridge

    Twenty six people met at the village hall on a glorious morning, with ‘just in case’ waterproofs staying firmly in the rucksacks. The first of the Blackcap sang from the woods as we set off, with a further dozen record during the
    day. Jackdaw was much in evidence during the walk and the Blue Tit, the most often heard of the Paridae. A welcome sighting of two House Martin, the call of Chaffinch, Goldfinch and Wren made the village green a most popular place. Up Roach’s Lane to find (alas) last year’s Little Owl absent but a Song Thrush showed nicely and a Mistle Thrush sang beautifully from Tyning Wood. Lime Avenue held some birds, all feverishly foraging in the branches but allowing us to distinguish Coal Tit, Goldcrest, Long-tailed Tit and a pair of fly-through Bullfinch. At coffee the first of the Yellowhammer was seen, a distant speck magically zoomed in on by our excellent photographers. The Skylark sang, a Green Woodpecker ‘yaffled’ and as we walked down Seven Mile Plantation the ‘rattle of keys’ heralded our first Corn Bunting. Across and then along the airfield where there were more Yellowhammer, Corn Bunting and, oh so many, Skylark singing. Keen ears heard the scratchy song of a Whitethroat and we found the brown-backed bird singing from atop a thin spindle of May. A fine picture of a Yellowhammer was taken as we headed towards The Park, but no House Martin was yet in residence at the lodge gatehouse. There was much construction work in progress, for the forthcoming Horse Trials but the two Coot on the lake paid no heed. Into the village with Swallow showing well and a distant call of a Nuthatch completed the count (43). (Thanks to Nick for leading.) Nick Hawkridge

  • Tuesday 16 April – Kings Wood and Wavering Down

    The weather was wet, grey and gloomy. Thirteen hardy souls set off on what turned out to be a lovely walk in a
    variety of habitats. In total, 37 different species were seen, most notably a Redstart. Leaving the National Trust
    car park behind us, we journeyed upwards along the Mendip Way towards Wavering Down, through woodlands.
    A Sparrowhawk flew over and we saw Blue Tit, Great Tit, Blackcap and later four Nuthatches and two
    Treecreepers, Willow Warblers, Robin, Song Thrush and Swallows. The birdsong was both loud and plentiful – a
    joy to the ear! A Stonechat perched above us, watching our ascent to the ‘summit’, where we had a much
    needed coffee stop. The rain subsided and it was slowly becoming a nice day. Five Linnets were feeding on the
    grass not far from us and soon after we set off again Nick startled a large group of Carrion Crows and seven
    Ravens when he peered over a wall at their gathering. We continued downhill, accompanied by Willow Warblers,
    Chiffchaffs, Wrens, more Swallows, Meadow Pipit and we saw a Green Woodpecker in the distance perching in
    the open on a bare tree. We then had our star bird of the day … a male Redstart. Other birds observed included
    a large flock of Linnet perched high up and some Meadow Pipit. The weather continued to improve and our walk
    went on longer than originally intended but nobody minded because we’d had a most enjoyable time. Thank you
    Clive for a lovely walk. Peter Trippier

  • Sunday 14 April – Ashley Walk, New Forest – Leader: Jane Cumming

    Nine of us assembled in the Ashley Walk car park for an amble across heathland and through woodland for this all day event. A chilly wind from the south east kept the temperatures down and birdlife appeared quite sparse to start with. A handful of species were encountered on the heath at the beginning including Stonechat, Linnet, Meadow Pipit, Goldfinch and Skylark. A patch of scrub and trees added to the list with Blackbird, Chiffchaff, Dunnock, Chaffinch, Robin, Long-tailed tit, ‘wheezy’ Greenfinch, Woodpigeon and Wren. The woodland (Pitts Wood) proved more productive with soaring Buzzard, Song Thrush, Stock Dove (seen and heard), a singing Mistle Thrush, Blackcap, three species of Tit (Blue, Black & Coal) and a newly arrived Willow Warbler. As the walk went on, drumming Great-spotted Woodpecker, a Green Woodpecker and Siskin were also encountered, the Siskin flying high above a patch of Pine trees. Lunch was consumed back on the heathland on the sheltered side of a small mound which afforded lovely views of the surrounding landscape. The return journey was the most exciting however, when back in the wood in an open area of short grass, a male Redstart was spotted foraging, closely followed by not one but two Woodlark! Excellent views were had by all as they worked their way across the grass before finally flying off. Heartened by these fabulous views, a serious search for the elusive Dartford Warbler ensued through the gorse on the way back to the car. Sadly, Jane was the only one to catch a brief glimpse, but numbers appear to be down, possibly due to the bad weather last year. A Curlew was also heard across the heath. A short trip to Blackgutter Bottom in the hope of Tree Pipit ended our time together. 37 species seen in total. Many thanks to Jane for leading. Emma Davis

  • Tuesday 09 April – Hanham Leaders: Jenny Weeks, Jean Oliver, Karen & Luke Birmingham

    The rain held off more or less, as 22 of us walked through the mixed woodland of Bickley and Hencliffe Woods
    and back along the River Avon. The heronry was well populated with adults and two chicks were seen by most,
    as the youngest of the group had kindly brought his ‘scope’. Of the 35 species seen, highlights were: a new
    rookery, six House Martin, two Bullfinch, three Willow Warbler, a preening Peregrine Falcon and the songs of
    many newly arrived Blackcap and Chiffchaff. Despite the chilly weather, there was a good showing of spring
    flowers. (Thanks to Jenny, Jean, Karen & Luke for leading.)
    Jenny Weeks, Jean Oliver, Karen & Luke Birmingham

  • Saturday 06 April – Forest of Dean – Leader: Mike Jackson

    The Forest of Dean was always going to be tricky in early April. Winter flocks now diminished and summer migrants not quite ready. On top of everybody’s hit list were those forest gems – Hawfinch, Crossbill, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker and Goshawk. All we had to do was find them. From the Speech House Woodland car park, 25 of us set off towards Woorgreens Lake taking in common bird song including Goldcrest and Nuthatch. A Blackcap song was a welcome reminder of impending summer, while a Siskin called from the treetops but remained unseen. We debated the calls of Great and Coal Tit before reaching the lake where noisy Canada Geese and Greylags were most obvious, with a few Mallard and a Coot making up an economic tally of water birds. It was muddy around the lake and some chose drier routes, but when the group reassembled we were treated to the song of Willow Warbler under a soaring Buzzard, and our only gull species of the day, a Lesser Black-backed flyover. The lake had been quiet, but as we walked away towards a firmer path two Siskin alighted in the Birch scrub for all to see. We circled the dense conifer stand anti-clockwise in order to ascend Crabtree Hill, and saw a Treecreeper poking about on the ground, and then among tree roots and buttresses before eventually creeping up a tree trunk or two. There had been no Great Grey Shrike on the hill this winter but Mistle Thrush, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Linnet and Stonechat were all present. Back at the foot of the heath we had more Siskin and deciphered the identity of Goldcrest and a couple of leaf warblers, which were probably Chiffchaff with the confusion fuelled by a singing Willow Warbler just beyond. Lunch was enjoyed in
    partial sun at Cannop Ponds where the Mandarin were very obliging – the males that is. Females numbered only one, as if they may have been sitting on eggs at this time? Little Grebe, Tufted Duck and Raven increased the tally, but in the fast-flowing water between the lakes Dipper and Grey Wagtail were also seen. At RSPB Nagshead, our search for Hawfinch yielded none but three members caught site of a Goshawk soaring with a Buzzard, and a pair of Mandarin were on the Lower Pond. We trekked to the top of the reserve off the back of a Crossbill tip-off from the reserve warden, and indeed, upon arrival at the heath two Crossbill flew over our heads, calling as they went. It was over in a second and we were denied the chance of a good binocular view, but that’s birding!
    We ended with a count of 44 species, three being summer visitors, and we bagged two out of four of our forest
    gem targets (Goshawk and Crossbill). As well as the birds and the location it takes great people to make a field trip work, so thanks go to all 25 for turning up and sharing the day. (Thanks to Mike for leading the walk). Mike Jackson

  • Tuesday 02 April – Gordano Valley Leader: Geoff Harris

    After the recent warm spell the temperature had returned to a more seasonal six degrees, although the 18 walkers were relieved that the overnight rain had stopped. We were rewarded with an excellent spring total of 42 species. As we set out, the trees on Moor Lane were full of song with Blackcap (day total nine), Chiffchaff (16), Robin (14), Wren (seven), Great Tit (twelve), Blue Tit (16). There was no Willow Warbler this year, but the first of eight Greenfinch was heard and eventually seen. A male Bullfinch gave fine views at the top of his regular hedge.
    Turning the corner the dawdlers were rewarded with a Sparrowhawk flypast and a Buzzard soared overhead. A Green Woodpecker was seen on a tree and Nuthatch was heard. The first Chaffinch was seen and as the sun came out a Song Thrush sang out. Entering the path over the moor, a Kestrel was hunched on a distant post, teasing us into speculating on Little Owl. The briefest of April showers was timed perfectly for the coffee break, but a Reed Bunting was a consolation. Skylark began to sing and a Snipe flew out of a rhyne. Entering the wood up the hill we heard more of the same songbirds and also Great Spotted Woodpecker drumming. Returning to the village we saw a welcome, and for many, our first Swallow on a wire, alone and waiting for companions. 24 House Sparrow bickered in their usual garden, as a Raven flew over. At the end we saw our second Grey Wagtail, and finally a Stock Dove. Many thanks to Geoff for leading this excellent walk. Gareth Roberts

  • Tuesday 26 February – Uphill and Walborough Hill Leader: Jane Cumming

    When forty members met on the beach the tide was still well down. We noted four Little Egrets in the marsh, just
    a few gulls on Black Rock and not many ducks in the river mouth, so we decided to head up to Walborough Hill
    (stopping to notice a Little Grebe on the marina pool) to take a look across Bleadon Levels and the River Axe. A
    small male Sparrowhawk flew over our heads and stopped on a distant bush where we could get good telescope
    views of him. We checked the Teal feeding quietly in the marshes – 18 there. There were one or two more Little
    Egrets, and about 200 Redshank were scattered along the riverbank with two Dunlins just visible up at the distant
    bend. The marshes looked very wet, having probably been swamped by recent tides, but they wouldn’t be covered with water today. Across on the Brean side we could see 40 Mute Swans, and four Roe Deer resting along the edge of a field. Skylarks were singing and a Reed Bunting perched up to give good views.What a difference a few days can make! Last weekend on very high tides, 200 Dunlins were pushed up the riveronto muddy pools for convenient counting, whereas today there were none to be seen although they may still have been present, roosting somewhere in the long grass across the River Axe. As the tide rose we returned to the beach where we found just 14 Oystercatchers and eight Curlews, also 88 Shelducks, 73 Wigeons and a few more Teal. The flocks of Black-headed Gulls were starting to thin out, but we picked out a Common Gull and then a Yellow-legged Gull, a nice find for the day. The hedges turned up a good selection of common birds including Long-tailed Tits, a single Redwing, chaffinches and Goldfinches. Finally, there were at least a dozen House Sparrows chirping along the beach road. We saw about 33 species, outnumbered by the number of walkers! (Thanks to Jane for leading the walk) Jane Cumming

  • Sunday 24 February – Blashford Lakes Leader: Keith Williams

    Just four of us travelled down through the early morning fog to Ringwood for a walk around the Blashford Lakes reserve. We gathered in the sun at the Education Centre where the feeders held Chaffinch and Nuthatch, before making our way to the Woodland hide for excellent views of Siskin, Reed Bunting and Coal Tit. Ivy South hide was quiet with Pochard, Cormorant and distant Great-crested Grebe, however Ivy North hide hit the jackpot with a Bittern walking around clear of the reeds immediately outside the windows. Once it melted into the reeds, we listened to a Cetti’s Warbler and searched unsuccessfully for the Water Rail. A warm walk around the fenced off buildings produced Green Woodpecker, a couple of Lesser Redpolls and a single Roe Deer. After lunch we walked up by the stream to the Goosander hide (the Tern hide has been demolished and not yet replaced) to examine the gulls and other ducks on Ibsley Water. No rare gulls or grebes were found, but a single Red Kite drifted over us. The afternoon was rounded off with a drive to Milkham Inclosure which was also quiet, just adding Stonechat, Mistle Thrush, Skylark and Raven to the list. A good time was had by all with 52 species seen, but definitely quieter than last year. (Thanks to Keith for leading the walk). Keith Williams

  • Tuesday 19 February – Backwell Lake and Chelvey Leaders: Sue and John Prince

    35 birders met on a sunny and spring-like morning at the Perrings above Backwell Lake. Straightaway Canada Geese could be heard calling and most of these seemed to be already paired up. On the lake there were MuteSwan, Mallard, ten Tufted Ducks, three Shovelers, two Lesser Black-backed Gulls, Black-headed Gull, two Coots, and several Moorhens. Four Cormorants sat in the Willow tree on the island. As we walked the lanes towards Chelvey Church we heard eight Robins, two Wrens and two Dunnocks. We saw four Buzzards, Redwing, two Mistle Thrushes, a Song Thrush, and three Jays. A male Blackcap sang and Chaffinch, Greenfinch and Bullfinch were also heard. A Grey Wagtail was on a farmhouse roof. Snowdrops were growing wild, but the wild Daffodils were absent. In all, thirty-five species were seen (Thanks to Sue and John for leading the walk). Sue Prince

  • Tuesday 12 February – Ham Wall, Somerset Levels Leader: Peter Holbrook

    Twenty-seven birders set off from the RSPB car park on a mild but overcast afternoon. We walked along the main track towards platform one, seeing Kingfisher, Redwing and the usual tits, Robins and Chaffinches. At the platform we looked over the water and reed beds where good numbers of Shoveler, Gadwall, Tufted Duck, Teal and Wigeon with one male Pochard were to be seen. Water Rail and Cetti’s Warbler called nearby and Dabchicks weren’t far away either. A pair of Marsh Harrier quartered the reed. Some of us walked up to the open hides nearby where Snipe were in abundance and another Marsh Harrier showed its flying skills. Those members of the party who visited the Avalon Hide were lucky enough to see two Bitterns. The main event of the afternoon was to be the Starlings, but they had recently been using several roost sites and it was difficult to say where they might come in. Some of the party went to Meare Heath area. At about 17:30 the spectacle began, thousands in groups flew over on their way to Meare Heath. Those of the group there had close views – with six Marsh Harriers in the air beneath, keeping the Starlings swirling. Those at platform one had more of a binocular view. A total of forty-two species were seen during the afternoon including four Cattle Egret, Bullfinch, Great White Egret, Reed Bunting, Grey Heron, Cormorant and three to four hundred Lapwings coming in to roost in front of Platform One. Thanks to Peter for stepping in as leader. Sue and John Prince

  • Tuesday 05 February – Pensford Leader: Geoff Harris

    A warm coat, wellington boots – both pretty essential for today’s amble around Pensford. The playing fields opened our list with Common and Black-headed Gull picking off many tasty morsels. A wander into the village was rewarded – the Dipper whipped across the tops of the turgid water, first up river and then back before disappearing under the house. A Song Thrush regaled us with half-hearted song; a charm of Goldfinch with a few Chaffinch, twittered and trilled. The Mistle Thrush that was roosting in one of the trees went south but not until we’d all (20) had a chance to admire it. Out onto a soggy Publow Leigh with Fieldfare, Redwing and Starling all moving ahead of us. A bonus was a flock of Meadow Pipits, who danced away and then circled back for another look, before settling in a fold of the Leigh, close under Publow Wood. The first of the five Buzzards we saw were perched above the small pool that we had to pass, which contained a pair of Teals. At our coffee stop, close by Lords Wood, one of our throng spotted a pair of Mute Swans in the distance, their heads and necks could be occasionally seen above the bank of their pond. A mixed bag of the tit family was spotted within the woods, with a Goldcrest loitering nearby and three or four Great Spotted Woodpeckers chasing around the tree tops uttering their ‘yickering’ courting calls. As we descended from Compton Common to the River Chew a noisy Coal Tit scolded us and a little further away a Nuthatch sang, but escaped without being seen. The river in full flood was no place for a lone Moorhen, who clucked her way to the safety of the bank, while the line of trees above Grassington did not disappoint, the resident Raven pair displayed most energetically and stylishly. The pool at the bridge by Publow Church held a lone Grey Wagtail but search as we might, we couldn’t turn the many Blue and Great Tits into Siskins – a species often seen here in the Alders. A final total of 38 for the day and many thanks must go to Geoff for leading this splendid walk. Nick Hawkridge

  • Tuesday 29 January – Cheddar reservoir Leader: Alastair Fraser

    On a chilly, overcast morning 23 of us met at the southern car park. We started with a few minutes scanning the water then set off clockwise. Looking down to the fields, trees and hedgerows we soon spotted a Green Woodpecker poking around in the grass while a Jay flew into a tree nearby. A Mistle Thrush sang loudly; Redwings and Blackbirds rummaged around in the leaf litter. We stopped now and then to scan the water birds on the right, delighted to find a Scaup among the many Pochard; also, a single distant Wigeon. Great Crested Grebes were in pleasing numbers (79). Next: down the steep bank to the lane taking us to the rhynes, and on through the fields to Axbridge and the other side of the reservoir, an extremely muddy walk! This gave us mostly birds in flight including a Grey Heron, two Raven and a Skylark calling over the moor. Nearing the town, we spotted a pair of Stonechats perched on grass tussocks in a field and a Buzzard low in the hedge as we looked across to the woods on the left. A large collection of bird feeders gave good sightings of many small birds, including good numbers of bright Chaffinches and one male Blackcap. A Great Spotted Woodpecker flew into the tall trees opposite, to be hidden instantly. Cutting through the streets we came back behind the reservoir where we glimpsed several Reed Buntings in the boundary hedge. A walk through the woods took us back up onto the walkway. We were excited to find the Great Northern Diver in the distance; by the time we got to the sailing club it was really close, we had excellent views, good enough to see the cross-hatching on the back and its pale under- belly as it turned on its side; star bird! We also had just two Gadwall here. It was time to get back to the car park, picking out two Greenfinches and a Treecreeper in the trees and scrub on the way. It had been a great if muddy walk with 52 species seen (if we include the handsome Mandarin). It was good to see the large numbers of water birds, like the thousand or so Coot. Thanks to Alastair Fraser for leading the walk and Nick Hawkridge for the bird list and help with the route. Anne Crowe

  • Sunday 27 January – Exe Estuary Leader: Alastair Fraser

    35 intrepid birders boarded the coach for our annual trip to the Exe estuary. The weather forecast was unfavourable with promises of high wind and rain. Alastair suggested that if anyone wanted to abandon the trip on account of the weather forecast they were welcome to do so. There were no takers, so off we set. Our first port of call was to be Dawlish Warren. Journeying along the motorway Alastair spotted five Buzzards. Another member saw a group of over twenty Red-legged Partridge and a group of Lapwings on the wetlands.
    On arrival at Dawlish Warren it was dry, but with very strong blustery winds. That however, didn’t stop us from walking along the seafront. Some members spotted a Red-throated Diver and a Black-throated Diver, and everyone was able to have close views of groups of Great Crested Grebes. The strong winds and high tide meant there were fewer waders than would have been expected. However, there were the usual Cormorants, Shags and gulls flying around. Some members saw a Grey Seal. Some of us walked out to the hides and were rewarded with close-up views of Knot, Dunlin, Curlew, and Oystercatcher which were sheltering near the hide due to the high tides. Others wandered along the marshes looking for the smaller birds amongst the trees and shrubs, but there were only a few Great and Blue Tits. We could hear some twittering of Goldfinches but could not spot them. The smaller birds were wisely staying out of the strong winds.
    After lunch, we headed back to Exminster and walked along the road alongside the RSPB wetlands, and on to the towpath beside the canal and river, to rejoin the coach at Powderham. There were the usual large group of Canada Geese, Brent Geese, Greylag Geese and a lone Egyptian Goose. Also, Redshanks, Common Gulls, a group of Black-headed Gulls, one already with its black head, a large number of Black-tailed Godwits and at least one Bar-tailed. Thanks to Gareth for pointing out the difference. We counted an amazing 74 species. I believe a great time was had by all. I am sure the other members of the group would want to join me in saying a big thank you to Judy for coordinating the trip and to Alastair for leading us on the day. Joyce Donkor

  • Tuesday 22 January – Coalpit Heath Leaders: Duncan and Pat Gill

    33 walkers met at Kendleshire Golf Club. Our numbers were no handicap as we had seen three Bullfinches and one Greenfinch before leaving the car park, but we had no eagles nor albatrosses. Robins were enjoying the cold, sunny morning and we heard the first of 23 singing. Great Tits and Blue Tits were joining in and we had good numbers of both, the former showing their range of calls. Wrens were also starting to make their presence felt. Despite the lengthening days we are still in winter and we had a total of 93 Redwings, including a flock of 57, but there were no Fieldfares. Before we left the golf course we saw a Green Woodpecker with the thrushes among the birches on the far side of the fairway. The ponds had attracted the usual range of water birds with Canada Geese, Cormorant, Mallard, Moorhen and Coot on the list. Walking up the lane we came across 13 Long-tailed Tits flying down the hedge, and some of us had clear views of a Goldcrest on a bare branch, while a second was more typically flitting in and out of sight. On our return leg we were sorry not to see the usual Yellowhammers and finches in their long hedge, possibly because the field below had been sown with a winter cereal, and not left to stubble. However spirits were lifted by two Great Spotted Woodpeckers, four Jays, and a Treecreeper. Many thanks to Duncan and Pat for leading, and for arranging that the forecast rain stayed away until the end of this enjoyable and productive walk (34 species). Gareth Roberts

  • Sunday 20 January – Marshfield Leaders: Sue and Nigel Kempson

    Twenty of us turned out on this cold day which is testament to Marshfield’s continued popularity. We started out by walking towards the small barn that Little Owl have frequented in the past, but this time they were choosing to either stay warm below roof level, or they just weren’t present. As we passed the barn into Northfield Lane, Starling, Robin and Song Thrush appeared on the list. We then picked up on a coming and going of gulls on the ground which morphed from a century of predominantly Black-heads with a handful of Commons, into a single-species group of 127 Common Gull, with the Black-heads now dispersing all around. The next field that bordered the hotch-potch of Culverslade Farm buildings with its machinery, gave us a flight of 15 Skylarks. We stopped to make some observations on this stubble-covered field where a few more larks and buntings were seen, but this soon became a half-hour immersion of our time with 57 Corn Bunting, 47 Yellowhammers, 50 Goldfinches and half a dozen Chaffinches all sallying from the hedgerow and lower trees into and out of the stubble. As well as these, plenty more of other common species were enjoying this most sought after winter food source. A Buzzard with an apparent limp wing caused us some welfare concerns but soon dispelled any myth of injury by gliding effortlessly, and menacingly on to another nearby vantage point, wings now folded neat and proper. Eventually we left the stubble spectacle and ventured to Rushmead Lane where we took the easterly direction to its end. This location can favour passerines but was almost devoid of them at this time (likely they were all back at Culverslade Farm!) but we were compensated with a flock of 107 Lapwings, most of them in the sky but the ones on the ground were cryptic against the ploughed earth. Back along Rushmead Lane to just past the industrial buildings, five Linnet took flight and three Red-legged Partridges loafed in the hedgerow at the edge of Broadmead Brook. As we pondered the identity of a hedgerow-perched dark raptor, no doubt in the gaze of the skulking partridges, a mixed flock of Redwing and Fieldfare alighted on the ridge and proceeded to feed on the ground. The raptor moved and revealed itself as another Buzzard. There were more gulls, with Herring, Black-headed and Common again all featuring as we walked up West Littleton Road. There’s something about this site that keeps throwing up another spectacular; this time it was Meadow Pipit and Pied Wagtail. They were feeding at the fence line of the ploughed field and the first horse paddock, another case of ‘the more you look the more you see’ as our count reached an equal 30 pipits and 30 wagtails. Back at the cars, three Blue Tit and a single male House Sparrow gave us a total species count of 33 for the day.
    After the cold start this turned out to be a classic Marshfield field trip with all of the wish-list represented. Many thanks to Sue and Nigel for leading the walk and to Nick for his essentially precise tally count, and of course to all for turning out and sharing the birds with such good cheer. Mike Jackson

  • Tuesday 15 January – Bristol City Centre Leaders: Margaret Gorely and Nancy Barrett

    37 of us met outside the ‘We The Curious’ science museum in Millennium Square. It was a cold and miserable morning filled with that annoying misty kind of rain. We set off and crossed Pero’s Bridge, spotting Cormorant, Herring and Black-headed Gull, Mallard, Magpie and Mute Swan on the way. Crossing Prince Street Bridge, we made our way along the Harbour railway where, to the gardens on our left, we saw House Sparrow, Great and Blue Tit, Greenfinch and a Robin. More Mallards (hybrids), gulls, and a trio of Mute Swans kept pace with us as we headed for the Albion dockyard and the marina. We stopped for our coffee break at the giant ‘Hand of a River God’ sculpture in Baltic Wharf. In the gardens behind us, somebody spotted a female Blackcap. Flitting around the feeders in the gardens were the usual Great and Blue Tits, a Robin, some Chaffinch and a Coal Tit. Looking west from Ashton Avenue Bridge, we all saw and heard the solitary Redshank that was probing about in the mud below us. Walking on, we saw lots of Redwings, a couple of Robins and a Wren. Then we spotted what was, for me, the bird of the walk, a fabulous Peregrine Falcon looking down on us from the roof of the red brick Create Centre. We all had great views of it and everybody heard its distinctive call. At the very tip of Spike Island were a few small groups of Black-headed Gulls including three birds which were sporting almost summer plumage heads. Back in Hotwells Road the group split up with thirteen brave souls carrying on up Brandon Hill. Here we saw a large flock of ground-feeding Redwings interspersed with a sprinkling of Goldfinches, Woodpigeon, Jackdaw and a couple of very tame Dunnocks and a Goldcrest was heard but not seen. In all we saw 31 different species. Thanks to everybody for contributing to this walk with their presence, enthusiasm and knowledge. Special thanks to Margaret and Nancy for leading and thanks to Nick for his counting. Steve Smith

  • Sunday 13 January – RSPB West Sedgemoor RSPB leaders

    After a rather gloomy start to the day in Bristol we arrived at Dewlands Farm to be greeted by clear skies, albeit on a rather cool, breezy day. 15 members were in attendance and were met by Nigel and Elaine Smith who were our guides for the morning. Whilst in the farmyard we were treated to large flocks of Lapwing overhead, also Golden Plover and three Buzzards. On the short walk to the barn we had a variety of tits (Blue, Great, Long-tailed) and we heard the odd Redwing. Looking down on the reserve from the higher ground we saw two distant Cranes grazing and got the impression of large numbers of ducks. According to Nigel there were over 50,000 birds in total. Once we reached the barn and got settled in you could see the enormous numbers of ducks, Wigeon, Teal, Pintail, Gadwall and a smaller number of Mallards. Amidst the ducks were hundreds of Black-tailed Godwits and in the distance an enormous flock of Golden Plovers. Smaller numbers of Mute Swan, Canada Geese and both Little and Great White Egrets were present. The next couple of hours were action-packed as a number of raptors regularly disturbed the birds. We had at least four Marsh Harrier cruising the area and sending the birds up in a flurry of activity. Two Peregrines were seen alternately hunting over the site and then perching on fence posts. At one point, one Peregrine attacked a passing Buzzard. We had three Cranes fly fairly close overhead but the highlight for most people was a beautiful male Hen Harrier which took a leisurely flight past the barn giving exceptional views to all.
    Most of the group then proceeded to Greylake, some via Burrow Mump where six Bewick’s Swans and a Little Egret were seen. At Greylake there were again large flocks of Lapwings and Golden Plovers and yet more ducks. In the hide we spent an enjoyable time spotting Snipe tucked away in the vegetation. Once again, we had good views of Marsh Harrier and Peregrine. Overall, we had 30 species which included both quantity and quality. Many thanks to Nigel and Elaine for leading. Sue Kempson

  • Tuesday 08 January – Stoke and Eastville Park Leader: Richard Scantlebury

    Today’s walk was a real treat for the 48 of us (including a baby!) who met at the Snuff Mills car park. Weather conditions were sunny and still with an average temperature of 8°C. Straightaway we could observe a high number of magpies gathering together as expected at this time of the year. Blackbirds, Great and Blue Tits and Robins were singing as we walked towards the tunnel to cross the M32. We first stopped on the other side of the tunnel, at the bottom of Purdown, to listen to a Greenfinch singing. By the Duchess Pond, we saw four Moorhens, a Coot, a Wren, six Goldfinches in a small bush and a Green Woodpecker briefly flew over our heads. We had the pleasure to watch the majestic flight of a Grey Heron over the pond, before it disappeared. We kept walking away from the pond in Stoke Park Estate, only to stop a minute after in order to observe a beautiful pair of Stonechats at the top of a bush. At the same time, we were amazed by a flock of twelve Meadow Pipits flying overhead. On the way back to the car park, we encountered a Treecreeper and a Goldcrest in the same tree. At about 11:15 we walked along the River Frome towards Eastville Park and saw Mallards, Woodpigeons, Robins, Wrens and Long-tailed Tits along the way, but the star of the day was a gorgeous male Kingfisher. I learnt that male kingfishers have an all-black beak whereas females have a red base. He posed for us for a good ten minutes up on a branch before diving into the river and then calling as he disappeared. He stopped further away up on a branch and sat again for another ten minutes. It was the first time that many of us were able to observe a Kingfisher so close and for such a long time. Along the Frome Valley Walkway around the lake, we were pleased to see a sleepy Tawny Owl roosting in the box that was set up one year ago by the Friends of Eastville Park. Two Cormorants were up in a tree, one of which was a juvenile with its white belly. In total, six Great Spotted Woodpeckers were observed chasing around, an expected behaviour at that time of year. One Raven was chased by several Magpies and Carrion Crows. Above us we could observe Black-headed Gulls, and there were 40 roosting Feral Pigeons up in a tree. A beautiful male Goosander landed slowly in the lake, which was also occupied by Grey Herons, Mallards and Mute Swans. Just before leaving the Walkway, the Kingfisher – most likely the same as before – came back and stopped on a branch close to the water with a very big fish in his beak. At the same time, we could see two Goldcrests up in a tree. On the way back to the car park along the river we saw or heard the following species: Long-tailed Tit, Wren, Goldfinch, Song Thrush, Nuthatch, Pied Wagtail, Chaffinch, Bullfinch, Treecreeper, Dunnock and Starling. 45 species were listed overall. Many thanks to Richard who led this amazing walk! Adèle Remazeilles

  • Tuesday 01 January – WWT Slimbridge Leader: Robin Prytherch

    31 Members raised their hand at the start of the meeting – a wonderful turn out. This did mean, of course, that we were crammed into the Holden Tower initially but all seemed to be enjoying the views of a variety of species. The tide was out so there was not the hoped-for pack of waders on the Dumbles. A few geese and swans were obvious; Mute and Bewick’s Swans and Greylag, White-fronted and Canada Geese. Then a Black-bellied Brent Goose was spotted in a distant flock of Brents – a goose too far for some members! A Peregrine Falcon was well out on the edge of the Dumbles and a Buzzard much closer. It was obviously a predator that caused a flock of Lapwing and Golden Plover to pass overhead and we did eventually see the waders settle in the damp fields from the Zeiss and South Finger Hides, where we also saw Dunlin and a single Little Stint. By now most duck species had been seen; I noted Mallard, Teal, Wigeon, Shoveler, Pochard, Gadwall, Tufted Duck and Shelduck, Snipe and Water Rail. A good selection of passerines included House Sparrow, Blue, Great and Long-tailed Tits, Chaffinch, Meadow Pipit, Dunnock, Robin, Wren, Mistle Thrush, Blackbird, Robin and others. The grand total was 51 species, so I’ve obviously missed out a few (i.e. Crane). It was a pleasant fine morning’s birding to set off the New Year. (Thanks Robin for leading yet again!) Robin Prytherch

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • Saturday 08 December – Cheddar

    Cancelled courtesy of storm ‘Deirdre’.

  • Tuesday 04 December – Newton St. Loe Leaders: Duncan and Pat Gill, Peter Holbrook

    A record number of 50 members arrived for this year’s pre-Christmas lunch walk from Holy Trinity Church – but
    could we get 50 bird species? We set off in the welcome sunshine. Our group was well spread out, with Peter
    kindly waiting to gather up latecomers, so not everyone saw the single Bullfinch and Greenfinch. We walked past
    a feeder, busy with Blue, Great and Coal Tits, and the local gang of House Sparrows chirruping in the bushes,
    down to the Bath Spa University grounds to the lower lake where there were good views of a Kingfisher working
    its way along the far bank, the resident lonely Mute Swan and some of the 30 Mallards of the day. Moving to “Top
    Lake” we heard Goldcrests in the yew trees and a distant Nuthatch. Three Cormorants perched in taller trees.
    Coffee stop in the pavilion allowed us to admire two Grey Herons, the Mute Swan family (one juvenile left) and the
    ducks, including 23 Teal. One keen member went ahead to the bridge to be rewarded by the sight of a Dipper, a
    new bird for this patch; in spite of a frantic message we missed seeing it dash along the lake edge. We had to
    make do with a handsome Mistle Thrush feeding on what else but mistletoe. Wending our way over the bridge,
    and up through the woods a Treecreeper was spotted. On the way back to the village we saw both Green and
    Great Spotted Woodpeckers, plentiful Redwings and somewhat fewer Fieldfares. Two Blackcaps in bushes at the
    end of the drive rounded off our very pleasant walk, which gave us 40 species altogether. Then it was time to
    enjoy our excellent Christmas lunch at the Riverside Inn during which we showed our appreciation to Mark
    Watson for organising our Tuesday walks and to all the walk leaders including Robert Hargreaves who received a
    BOC Special Award for his contribution to the success of the Avon Bird Blog. Thanks to today’s leaders Duncan
    and Pat Gill and to Peter Holbrook who rounded us up and so efficiently organised our Christmas lunch yet again.
    Anne Crowe

  • Tuesday 27 November – Wain’s Hill and Clevedon Pill Leader: Peter Holbrook

    Clevedon was windy, overcast with a hint of drizzle as 19 members set off along the promenade towards Wain’s
    Hill. Half a dozen Turnstones were seen as well as at least 90 Black-headed Gulls. As we moved on to Poets’
    Walk, Blue and Long-tailed Tits were seen and heard and a solitary Jay was sitting in an Ash tree. A Nuthatch
    was heard and then seen behind us. As we walked through the woodland, Robin, Wren, Dunnock and Blackbird
    were added to the list. As we approached the headland two Goosanders were paddling furiously below us, and a
    small flock of 12 Oystercatchers flew low over the water. The sky was darkening and the promised heavy rain
    looked likely as we stopped for coffee and also to see about 50 Redshanks feeding at the water’s edge at the
    outlet of the Blind Yeo. A flock of 40 Fieldfares appeared and a few Shelducks were seen. We walked along the
    Blind Yeo for a short distance as the weather worsened and the walk was shortened as the rain came in. A Grey
    Heron sat across the river and a lone Grey Wagtail was added to the list. A few lucky folk had a fleeting glimpse
    of a Merlin on the riverbank. By the time we got back to the parked cars the rain was heavy. Nevertheless we had
    a good, if shorter than planned, stroll and chalked up 35 species. Thanks to Peter for leading. Mark Watson

  • Sunday 25 November – WWT Steart Leader: Richard Belson

    Eventually 14 BOC members met in the WWT car park for this all-day visit. Unfortunately, some arrivals had been
    delayed by the loading of bullocks into transport vans, which temporarily blocked the access road. The day was
    rather cold and cloudy with a 15 mph wind adding to the chill factor. However, whilst in the car park we were treated to the sight of twelve Cattle Egrets flying overhead and in the distance sky – flocks of thousands of
    Lapwings and Golden Plover with the odd Dunlin. As we headed off into the reserve, we saw Song Thrush,
    Chaffinch, Grey Herons, Starlings, Redwings and Kestrel. At the Mendip Hide we saw Shelduck, Dunlin, Mallard
    and some Redshanks. In the field behind was a flock of approximately 50 Stock Doves mingled with
    Woodpigeons. As we went on to Quantock Hide, we had some blue sky overhead and were rewarded by views of
    good numbers of Shelducks as well as Shoveler, Wigeon, Teal, Little Grebe, three Spoonbills, Snipe, Little Egret,
    Black-tailed Godwit and a single juvenile male Pintail. A flock of 40 Skylarks were also present. Again, we had
    excellent views of massive flocks of Lapwing and Golden Plover. As we progressed to the Polden Hide we added
    Blue Tit, Meadow Pipit, Reed Bunting, Curlew, Stonechat, Fieldfare and Buzzard to our list. We returned to the
    car park for a quick lunch following which nine of us went on to the Natural England car park to walk to the Breach.
    We had seven Greylag Geese fly overhead, unusual for this area. Disappointingly, there was little to be seen
    when we reached the Breach; however, our patience was rewarded when a male Marsh Harrier arrived flying over
    the reed bed. It then spent a good 15 minutes flitting up and down in the vegetation. Initially we were concerned
    that it might be caught or tethered, but eventually it flew off with a large unidentified prey in its talons. Shortly after
    this a female “ring tail” Hen Harrier flew by. It circled and, as it came by again, a Merlin pursued it; all of which
    disturbed a Peregrine. At one point all three birds were in sights of our binoculars. At the same time a Great White Egret flew by. To top it all, as we were driving back along the road, we had lovely views of a Short-eared Owl
    quartering the field. Overall, a really good days birding, with 46 species listed. Many thanks to Richard for leading.
    Sue Kempson

  • Tuesday 20 November – Hambrook Leader: Dave Body

    Forecast as a very cold day with a biting wind, 36 walkers still turned out for this walk – a good deal of which
    followed the Frome Valley walkway route. A Dipper was an early spot, along with various tits, 12 Long-tailed
    among them. The narrow path did mean the group was well strung out and not all saw the 32 species that were
    noted. The crow family was well represented with Carrion Crow, Jay, Jackdaw, Magpie and also two Rooks.
    Water-related species were Grey Heron, Grey Wagtail, Mallard, Moorhen, Lesser Black-backed, Black-headed,
    Common and Herring Gulls. Wrens were heard often and some seen. Surprisingly, our only member of the
    thrush family was one Redwing, very well lit by the sun, which warmed us on occasions, and posing next to a
    bunch of red berries. It had taken up the perch of a “query” bird, finally identified as a Yellowhammer. It was
    good to see lots of Chaffinches about and some of the group were lucky enough to get good views of a male
    Bullfinch. This walk was a “Dave Tombs walk” that we had not done for a long time and proved very worthwhile.
    Thanks to Dave for leading. Nancy Barrett

  • Tuesday 13 November – Saltford Leader: Robert Hargreaves

    On a fine, sunny morning 36 of us arrived in Saltford; so many that car parking had to spread all along the river.
    Those parked in the designated “The Shallows” were treated to the sight of a hovering, diving Kingfisher, soon
    joined by a second flash of electric-blue. A Greenfinch wheezed as we set off to join fellow walkers on the cycle
    path bridge over the river Avon. Their treat had been the sight of nine Buzzards in one field – remarkable! A
    short walk along the cycle track brought brief sights and sounds of many small birds, a few Redwings, two
    Collared Doves and a Jay. Turning right off the cycle track and in the fields around were large numbers of Pied
    Wagtails. The footpath continued through the farm where six Red-legged Partridges were spotted. At the coffee
    stop a lone Cormorant was spotted perched quietly in a tree to add to the three flying Cormorants seen on our
    walk and we enjoyed a flight of 24 Jackdaws. We continued down through the fields reaching the river at
    Swineford weir. Here was a pair of Mute Swans, two Moorhens. The next leg took us along the riverbank with
    interesting finds by various groups: including a Cetti’s Warbler, a Chiffchaff, one Little Grebe and a Kestrel.
    Passing under the railway bridge along the field edge brought us back to the cycle path near Avon Riverside
    Station. This led us back to Saltford allowing us to sharpen our senses to cope with the cyclists and to enjoy the
    birds in the trees and bushes bordering the path. These included two Treecreepers, two flocks of Long-tailed Tits,
    two Great Spotted Woodpeckers and one Song Thrush. We had seen many common birds like the plentiful
    Goldfinch (two flights of 25 and 30) and handsome Chaffinch; the total number of species was 42. The weather
    and scenery were lovely and everyone seemed to have thoroughly enjoyed the walk. Thanks to our leader,
    Robert. Anne Crowe

  • Tuesday 06 November – Goblin Combe Leader: Alastair Fraser

    Orange was a theme for this new walk through Goblin Combe as, despite the overcast weather, the beeches and
    birches were at their late autumn best. Before entering the wood we had seen Blue Tit, Great Tit, and the first of
    eight Long-tailed Tits. A Mistle Thrush stood out on a bare tree and Goldfinches flew over. Going up the wooded
    valley we heard Robin and Goldcrest, and then Coal Tits were seen and heard calling. To much excitement the
    experts picked out the call of two Marsh Tits, confirmed by sight. We climbed up to a clearing on the ridge where
    Raven and Buzzard were glimpsed as was a fine view to the Severn Estuary. At coffee we were joined by a family
    group of 14 small goats, grazing on behalf of the Avon Wildlife Trust and the first of eight Fieldfares and three
    Jays were seen. We soon came to a very productive open space. Two Bullfinches were seen, having been picked
    up by call. A flock of 20 Chaffinches were moving among the distant trees, and a second flock of 40 a little later.
    Four Greenfinches were seen nearby. As we returned to the start along the ridge we had a glorious view of
    orange Larch in the valley. We also had the familiar orange wing and tail colours of avis facilis on its unseasonal
    migration from the south to its roost at Lulsgate. A flock of 20 Jackdaws was seen in a paddock across the valley.
    Dunnock, Wren, and Collared Dove completed our total of 26 species. Many thanks to Alastair for leading this
    interesting and scenic walk. Gareth Roberts

  • Tuesday 30 October – Elm Farm, Burnett Leader Roger Palmer and Phillipa Paget

    Thirty six of us set off from Elm Farm on a fresh, dry autumnal morning. Initially we went along a level track for about 30 minutes before turning right into the valley crossing several fields with adjacent hedgerows and woods. Two Roe Deer eyed us suspiciously from a nearby field. Early birds included a Green Woodpecker, Long-tailed Tit, Goldfinch and Chaffinch. Small groups of thrushes were seen at a distance before they eventually came close enough to be identified as Fieldfare and Redwing. The highlight of this section was probably the Yellowhammer which perched conveniently on top of a bush for all to see. Coffee break was taken overlooking the lower half of the valley where two Buzzards sat on top of two telegraph poles together with a distant Grey Heron. The latter part of the walk took us through a copse and an orchard at the bottom of the valley and then up the long lane which brought us back up to the farm. A Great Spotted Woodpecker was seen in the orchard and two Bullfinches, Goldcrest and a Grey Wagtail were added to the list. A Common Gull was picked out amongst a group of Black-headed Gulls which were in a field next to the stream and a few saw a Sparrowhawk as we reentered the farm. Throughout the morning Philippa updated us on agricultural developments on the farm whilst Roger told us of the wildlife changes, in particular the success or otherwise of the many bird boxes located here, pointing out one Kestrel box which had produced five youngsters this year. Throughout the morning we were accompanied overhead by lots of corvids and flocks of Woodpigeons not to mention several aircraft making their final approach into Bristol Airport. The final bird count was 36. Thanks to Roger Palmer and Philippa for an interesting morning. John Lees

  • Saturday 27 October – Newport Wetlands Leader Mike Jackson

    Not many field trip reports bother mentioning Woodpigeon but on our approach to Newport Wetlands, and during
    the first hour and a half, Woodpigeons were passing southwards at around 1,000 birds every five to ten minutes.
    It would be no exaggeration to estimate in excess of 10,000 passed southwards by 10:30. Six of us had gathered
    at the car park in full sunshine, although the temperature was only just above freezing. Both White and Pied
    Wagtail showed and the first of many Cetti’s Warbler sang. Our walk began with more reed-bed classics; Reed
    Bunting and Marsh Harrier. The latter was a silhouette against the sun but we thought it probably a female or
    juvenile. There was appetite for winter thrushes but a hoped for Redwing dashed out of sight before positive
    identification could be made. Another species out of sight was Bearded Tit. We were told by the warden that five
    had been present, but in a reed-bed of this size and with the wind picking up later, a sighting was not to be.
    Another species not seen, but heard well, was Water Rail which frequently squealed from the dense reeds.
    Peregrine and Kestrel represented the falcons, and a Stonechat perched openly affording good views. A
    Chiffchaff showed its approval of the sunshine by serenading us with its two-note song. The open waters were
    quiet with Gadwall, Tufted Duck and Little Grebe the only birds of interest. On the coast, the falling tide attracted
    a steady stream of Curlews and a couple of groups of 30 plus Dunlins. Shelduck, Teal and Wigeon were on the
    estuarine water. Then we had one of those Cetti’s Warbler moments as one sang from the short, skinny hedge
    next to the path. This one had to be a dead cert. Up to ten minutes later we’re still staring into this ‘gappy’ hedge
    two metres away with absolutely no view of a Cetti’s whatsoever, despite the continuous song constantly
    providing a reference point. In the breeze the walk back to the Visitor’s Centre was less productive. Song Thrush
    and Green Woodpecker showed, and a late Buzzard was our fourth raptor. The count of House Sparrows at the
    feeding station made our list exactly 50 species. Thanks to all attending members for sharing bird sightings, and
    for being good company. (Thanks to Mike for leading the walk.) Mike Jackson

  • Tuesday 23 October – Blaise Castle Leader Di Bunniss

    A glorious autumn day encouraged a group of 44 to come along for the walk through Blaise Castle Estate. We set
    off past the mansion house and museum, heading down Church Lane into the grounds of St Mary’s Church.
    There we sighted a flock of 17 Greenfinches plus one lone Pied Wagtail. The walk continued through the tunnel
    and up onto Henbury Hill where Blackbirds were spotted along with the Robins, Magpies, Crows and Jackdaws.
    These appeared throughout the walk. On the path winding down to Hazel Brook, keen eyes and ears soon picked
    out the Goldcrest, Nuthatch, Treecreeper, Coal Tit, Mistle Thrush, Wren and Long-tailed Tits. As we reached the
    stream there flew above us a flock of Redwings, early arrivals for the winter. An exciting view of two Marsh Tits
    was also noted in this area. On the steady climb up to the castle a Raven called loudly and was spotted flying
    over Gorams Chair on the other side of the gorge. We reached the Castle just gone 11:00, so perfect timing to
    pause and enjoy the morning break with plenty of space for the large group to find somewhere to settle. On we
    went, Pied Piper fashion, to the long meadows of Kings Weston Drive. These proved disappointing, though two
    Jays made a bold appearance in the undergrowth, scrabbling among the leaves for food. Taking the quiet Grove
    Road back to re-enter the woods at a lower point, the group bringing up the rear were rewarded with a display
    from a Grey Wagtail close by in the brook that appeared unconcerned by the many people who stood watching it.
    And finally the Buzzard made an appearance, perched on a tree and remaining in good view while the group
    passed by. Other birds seen or heard were Black-headed Gull, Wood Pigeon, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Great Spotted
    Woodpecker and Sparrow. All together 26 species. Many thanks to Nick for keeping a record of species seen.
    (Thanks to Di for leading.) Di Bunniss

  • Tuesday 16 October – Uphill Leader Jane Cumming

    On an overcast but very mild day, seventeen people gathered at Uphill beach despite the threat of being made to
    count ducks and waders all morning. The beach here at the mouth of the River Axe is so flat that there is a huge
    difference between the height of the spring and neap tides. Today’s high tide got nowhere near the sea defences
    and Black Rock was hardly surrounded by water at all. This allows a lot of waders to hide in the long grass across
    the river without getting flushed out to higher ground so it’s difficult to know whether we managed to see them all.
    We only saw 30 Dunlin but there could have been a lot more in deep vegetation on the Brean Down side. We
    started with the very numerous Shelducks scattered across the estuary, making a rough count of 380. Freshwater
    duck numbers were lower with 60 Mallard, 31 Teal (mainly on pools and along the muddy banks of the Axe) and
    42 Wigeon, just back for the winter. We turned our attention to the Oystercatchers, some on Black Rock and
    others scattered about the tidal margins, and got to 69 of those, with a few Black-tailed Godwits feeding amongst
    them – eight at the final count. There were very few Curlews, only nine for certain, but at least 35 Lapwings
    feeding on the tidal mud and well over 150 Redshank in small parties along the river’s edge. We walked over the
    salt marsh towards the marina. A Sparrowhawk shot low over our heads and swooped up to do battle with a
    Kestrel over the marshes. There was the usual wintering Little Grebe on the freshwater pool by the caravan park,
    but no sign of the Black Redstart that sometimes spends the winter around the quarry. Along the hedgerow we
    looked and listened for small birds; the tit flock included a Chiffchaff but all the Redwings were flyovers, not
    settling in the berry bushes. On Walborough Hill we scanned the river, where we had better views of a couple of
    Little Egrets and roosts of mainly Black-headed Gulls of which there were about 450 all told. No Mute Swans – the
    winter herd is not back yet. Hundreds of Starlings were flying in close formation, some swirling around over the
    Levels, others apparently moving north-east overhead. Skylarks and Meadow Pipits drifted over the hilltop in
    small groups. Those with telescopes picked out a couple of Roe Deer browsing peacefully in the meadows behind
    Brean. It was a pleasant if not an outstanding morning. The numbers of birds using the estuary are starting to rise
    towards winter levels, but there will certainly be more next time. (Thanks to Jane for leading) Jane Cumming

  • Sunday 14 October – Portland Leader Robert Hargreaves

    We met at Ferrybridge with misty rain and high winds, and at high tide. Not much to see, except by the Chesil
    outlet a small group of waders remained on the few stones still above the water. A few Skylarks called as we
    walked down to see them, a couple of Brent Geese stopped on the fleet, but by the time we reached a spot to see
    the waders, they had been frightened off by some other birders leaning over the railings right above them. Still
    hiding in the seaweed were three Turnstones. Straight to the Bill and first the Observatory, where we were
    welcomed by Martin Cade, the warden, and a couple of Kestrels in the gardens, a lot of warblers, mostly
    Chiffchaffs, but talk of a Yellow-browed Warbler. Sue was the first to find it and had good views along with a
    Willow Warbler. A walk to the quarry revealed Stock Dove, Blackcap and Whitethroat. At the Bill Swallows were
    still passing through, Rock and Meadow Pipits, a Wheatear, but seabirds were few, two Gannets, two Auks and
    the Shags. On the way back we made a visit to Suckthumb quarry via Thumb Lane. Seemed very dead at first but
    we started seeing quite a few birds. Unfortunately, all were silhouettes and flew just out of sight each time, only
    Raven being identified. From one of the bushes came singing which none of us could recognize, a mix of many
    Warbler songs. Playing it to a local expert on leaving we were advised it was the sub-song of a Blackcap. Unusual!
    Deciding not to stop at Ferrybridge on the way back we could see a flock of Brent Geese as we passed. Pulling in
    at the pub we counted 82 Brent Geese, which flew off north. Along the edge of the shore were Ringed Plover,
    Dunlin, Turnstone, Oystercatcher and a Godwit which turned out to be a Bar-tail. Coffee at Radipole and the
    water was high. No sign of yesterday’s Lesser Yellowlegs, unfortunately, it had flown from Weymouth overnight.
    But a Snipe was seen on the little island off the café. A walk produced Shoveler and Gadwall, a Great White Egret,
    Cetti’s Warbler and House Martin. A last stop at Lodmoor, the biting north-east wind blowing straight in at us,
    gave our first Lapwing, Wigeon and some Black-tailed Godwits. Surprisingly, we had 70 different birds over the
    day, the unmentioned Mediterranean Gulls seen everywhere. Thanks to the two new members, Sue and Mark, for
    accompanying Anne and me around. (Thanks to Robert for leading) Robert Hargreaves

  • Tuesday 09 October – Hawksbury Upton Leader Nick Hawkridge

    A resurrected walk to the north of the village, hilly, so resuscitation was on the cards, but thankfully all 21 got
    round unscathed – even the octogenarian. We started by going through the gardens of the old pub, where a pair
    of Pied Wagtail ‘chizziked’ at our intrusion, and three Dunnock played chase. A couple of cock Pheasant paraded
    on a wall before scooting off down into Upton Coombe, where we followed. The sun was hot, with a light breeze, a
    zephyr to lighten the parties of Carrion Crows and Jackdaws, but sadly not strong enough to wind assist us to the
    top of Barley Ridge. An obliging Great Spotted Woodpecker remained in her treetop perch for most of us to get a
    ‘good bins full’. The first of several Buzzards circled, calling until another joined the merry-go-round. A test for us
    all was the padlocked five bar gate across the footpath – Pheasant rearing protection I suspect but really – -. A
    couple of Jays were spotted before we went down through Church Wood and into Hannel Bottom where coffee
    and sun were taken. It was quiet, bird-wise, along Small Coombe, a Blue Tit raising the list count (eventually 26)
    but nothing could detract from the tranquillity. Up again we went, past Wine Cellar Farm, with many Pheasants
    littering the landscape and, thankfully, a Nuthatch along the top of Bangel Wood. Our trek back through Upton
    Coombe allowed good views of Green Woodpecker and a much debated Kestrel. Back in the village, we had
    more Dunnocks, a lone Collared Dove and thankfully, for the tally, some House Sparrows. A very lovely day for
    bird walking – even with so few species. (Thanks to Nick for leading) Nick Hawkridge

  • Saturday 06 October – Blagdon Lake Leader Nigel Milbourne

    It was a wet, breezy and cold morning starting at 8°C. Not surprisingly we were a small group of five members.
    We took the cars along the south shore stopping at various points and ending at the hide. Duck numbers were
    building nicely and we saw 41 Pintail, many Teal, some Wigeon plus Mallard, Tufted Duck, Pochard, Gadwall and
    Shoveler. The population of Great White Egrets is increasing with twelve seen with many Grey Herons. Coots,
    Moorhens and a few Great Crested Grebes, one with a large fish, added to the variety. Waders were scarce but a
    Greenshank, Snipe and a Black-tailed Godwit were seen. The only passerines were Robin, Wren and some
    Wagtails and Meadow Pipits. In spite of the weather it was an enjoyable meeting. Thanks to Nigel Milbourne for
    leading. John & Sue Prince

  • Tuesday 02 October – East Harptree Leader Geoff Harris

    The sunny autumn weather appeared to have deserted the 15 members gathering for this walk and the strong
    breeze in the trees initially made identification by sound difficult for all but the very sharp of hearing. However,
    Wren, Blue Tit, Coal Tit and Great Spotted Woodpecker were soon on the list and then Goldfinches were spotted
    feeding on cones in one of the tall conifers by the track – and not just tens or twenties but an estimated 150 flying
    in and out as we watched. Five Pied Wagtail also flew over. The wood was fairly quiet after we turned off on the path to Smitham Chimney, though Goldcrest and Stock Dove were added. The next really active spot was a
    wonderful hedge – the sort that every field should have, with hawthorn, elder, holly, hazel and many other species.
    This, and the path beside it, was alive with birds including House Sparrow, Robin, a couple of dozen Chaffinches
    and an elusive Bullfinch which kept calling but remained invisible in the thick hedge. The descent into Harptree
    Combe didn’t yield many extra species and the going needed care with many fallen branches or whole trees.
    Later Green Woodpecker, Mallard and Pheasant were all seen and a single Swallow. Then a few Meadow Pipits
    heads bobbing above furrows revealed themselves to be a flock of over 90. Our total number of species was 30.
    This walk has been done in most seasons and is always rewarding – it needs to be with the number of hills en
    route, especially at the end! Thanks to Geoff for leading and keeping us climbing. Nancy Barrett

  • Saturday 29 September – Clevedon Leader: Jason Williams

    A total of twelve members joined me on a very bright but fresh morning at Clevedon. From the Church we made
    our way up to the ‘Viz Mig’ area of Wains Hill. Sadly, there was very little in the way of movement with just a few
    Meadow Pipits and resident Jays going over. Making our way around to the coast we had a Swallow and a
    Wheatear, and on the Estuary a long string of over two hundred Shelducks were observed. A Peregrine was at
    the top of one of the radio masts and was ‘scoped well for all. The Clevedon Pill held a Little Egret and assorted
    gulls and two Stonechats were seen well. A good group of twenty plus House Sparrows were also present. It
    was a quiet stroll along to the Kenn with a few Rock Pipits, Skylark, and Linnet seen. The Kenn had around forty
    Oystercatchers in the roost alongside approximately 40 Curlews, 100 Redshanks and some Dunlins. A few
    returning Wigeon were seen. Heading back we again saw the Peregrine, this time heading off to hunt and three
    more Wheatears. All in all a pleasant walk with around 45 species seen. Thanks to those who joined me.
    (Thanks to Jason for leading the walk.) Jason Williams

  • Tuesday 25 September – Easton-in-Gordano Leader: Judy Copeland

    Glorious sunshine after the deluge and really, the mud was not too bad. House Sparrow, Robin and Dunnock
    started the list. Robins were everywhere (Nick counted 21!), welcoming the sun in full voice and one or two
    Wrens sang as well. Green Woodpeckers were also calling – we had three or four. The wood going up towards
    Failand was very quiet but numbers of common bird species gradually rose, Coal Tits especially singing well. At
    the bird feeder house at the bottom of Sandy Lane were Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Great and Blue Tits flitting across from the trees and a Pheasant was seen there. Peering over the wall beside the track near Failand House Farm
    we found a single Mistle Thrush on the grass and a Green Woodpecker, which immediately flew – would have
    been a nice view! Nuthatch was eventually heard during the climb up through the wood to the farm. One or two
    Chiffchaffs were ‘weeting’, and over the fields we saw one Skylark, Swallows and several House Martins on
    migration. Six Linnet flew over as we came down towards the village. Speckled Wood butterflies were common
    beside hedges, and in the sheltered south-facing field below Failand church we spotted a Clouded Yellow, several
    Small Coppers, a Common Blue and a Red Admiral, while a Buzzard, first seen on a branch behind some
    overhead wires, gave a good show above us and two Ravens were tumbling. Apologies for the walk being rather
    longer and steeper than some had anticipated but I hope most people enjoyed it nonetheless! Nick counted 33
    species. (Thanks to Judy for leading the walk.) Judy Copeland

  • Tuesday 18 September – Tickenham Leaders: Jan Pridie and Lois Pryce

    The tail end of some stormy weather was kinder than expected to 20 members meeting by Tickenham’s church.
    Large numbers of Swallows, House and some Sand Martins hunted across the golf course with flocks of
    Goldfinch. Chiffchaffs ‘wheeted’, Green Woodpeckers ‘yaffled’, and Nuthatch, Goldcrest, Chaffinch, Coal Tits and
    Long Tailed Tits called or appeared along the path up to the ridge and along to Cadbury Camp. Two Buzzards
    circled above the woods down from the camp, one strikingly pale. On the return by the Land Yeo and across
    Tickenham Moor were two Cormorants (including one pale-fronted juvenile), Grey Herons, a Grey Wagtail, and a
    Mistle Thrush. Back at the church we finally saw our first two Starling on the spire joined by two more Mistle
    Thrush, and heard a Jay. Total species count 27. (Thanks to Jan and Lois for leading the walk.) Lois Pryce

  • Sunday 16 September – Uphill and Bleadon Leader: Jane Cumming

    Ten members including two guests from the USA met at Uphill boatyard. It was dull and overcast with a southerly
    breeze so perhaps not so good for any expected migrants. We followed the usual route through the boatyard and
    quarry. A Little Egret and Little Grebe were eventually located on the caravan park pond but the quarry and its
    bushes were surprisingly quiet with only a few Long-tailed Tits, Goldfinch and Robins present. A Bullfinch was
    heard but not seen. We carried on over Walborough Hill, finding several Swallows passing through, views of two
    hunting Kestrels, a few Meadow Pipits, Linnets and corvids and delighted by very close views of a Peregrine
    almost catching a Wood Pigeon! We made our way back and over to the estuary. There we found a few
    Redshank and a solitary Dunlin. Duck numbers were down but we saw plenty of Shelducks and four Curlews. On
    the rocky islands offshore were various gulls and Oystercatchers. Overall an unusually quiet morning, no doubt
    due to the wrong wind, but 35 species were seen or heard. Thanks to Jane for leading the walk. Geoff Dring

  • Tuesday 11 September – Woodchester Park Leader: Nancy Barrett

    A round dozen met in earlier than forecast drizzle and initially, as we walked down into the valley, the predominant
    sound was of rain in the Beech trees, which were a vivid, almost springlike green. By coffee time birds had been
    heard if not seen including Raven, Carrion Crow, Buzzard and Nuthatch. The sound of Mallard was a constant as
    we made our way along lake edges with a total count of 71 and there were Coot and Moorhen too. Search for a
    possible Garganey failed to come up with the goods but on other lakes Mandarin ducks including juveniles and
    Tufted Duck were seen. The weather started to improve and there was a group of House Martins around a
    juvenile Buzzard which was calling. Marsh Tit was heard. The sun put in an appearance during our picnic which
    brought out some butterflies, moths and dragonflies and then, as the National Trust Ranger was unable to join us
    for an update on work in the valley, we decided to continue down to the end of the final lake. This proved to be
    well worthwhile adding Grey Heron and Cormorant to the list and at the very farthest spot two Grey Wagtail and a
    Dipper were seen. En route back past the Mansion more Buzzards, House Martins and a few Swallows were in
    evidence and some calling Chiffchaff. So even if planning a picnic in September might have seemed like tempting
    fate, all’s well that ends well! (Thanks to Nancy for leading the walk.) Nancy Barrett

  • Tuesday 04 September – Arlingham Leader: Alastair Fraser

    Twenty-one of us met at the village car park in Arlingham on a dull but dry day. Our leader briefed us on the
    birding possibilities of the area – good for a variety of raptors near the river and pipits in the meadows. In view of
    the disappointingly gloomy weather however, we were warned that it may be a bird walk with “no birds”! We set
    off and made an excellent start with a huge flock of House Martins, an amazing 250 of them, wheeling through the
    sky on our left. By the petting farm (with miniature goats) we watched a young Goldfinch being fed by a parent,
    thinking it was a bit late in the year to be still raising a family. Birds included a few Collared Doves, Blue and
    Great Tits; most of us saw the Chiffchaff whose call had beckoned us. Mallards shot up from the invisible
    waterway, startling us. When we arrived at the banks of the Severn for our coffee stop the water was very low, the
    banks very muddy, with some interesting cliffs across the wide river. A Little Egret dropped out of sight behind a
    grassy bank while three Grey Herons rested on the mud. We continued along the raised path parallel to the river
    bank around the land that forms a great bulge into the River Severn, finding plenty of Coots in the water and
    enjoying views of the opposite bank. Not until we turned away from the river opposite the interesting looking town
    of Newnham did we find one Meadow Pipit! We walked back into the village where we were greeted by a
    welcome group of five Long-tailed Tits. A few stragglers missed the cut-through and had to be retrieved by our
    leader; after which more than a few repaired to the community pub, The Red Lion, to sample the excellent food.
    Though our only raptors and pipits were five Buzzards and one Meadow Pipit plenty of birds (31 species
    altogether) were seen or heard and everyone enjoyed the interesting landscape of this new walk. (Thanks to
    Alastair for leading the walk.) Alastair Fraser

  • Sunday 02 September – Pilning Wetlands Leader: Lois Pryce

    Nine people including two new members met at New Passage on a warm still day with a rising tide and two late
    arrivals who had been trying to find the Rose-coloured Starling at Severn Beach. From the shore birds could be
    seen stretching into the distance, included Turnstones, Curlews, Teal, Black-tailed Godwits, Redshanks, Dunlins
    and a Greenshank. The pools included Black-tailed Godwits with a few Knot amongst them, Gadwalls, Shovelers,
    Snipe, Lapwings nestled in a hummocky field, the odd-looking ‘Branta’ (Barnacle and Brent Goose) hybrid with a
    speckled Barnacle-type face, and Grey Herons. Swallows, House Martins and the occasional Sand Martin were
    flying above. The salt marsh included Little Egret, Meadow Pipits, Linnets, Pied Wagtails, a Skylark, a Wheatear,
    and large groups of Canada Geese; with Kestrels and Buzzard above. Hedgerows and fields included flocks of
    Goldfinch, Chiffchaffs, a possible Lesser Whitethroat, and a Green Woodpecker flying onto a telegraph pole. Late
    sightings as the group split up included a Kingfisher on the Pill, a smart Yellow Wagtail on a pool’s edge, a Stock Dove, a Willow Warbler, Ringed Plovers, and a raft of Shovelers at sea. Total 52 species. (Thanks to Lois for
    leading the walk.) Lois Pryce

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • Tuesday 31 July – Bath Racecourse Leader: Robert Hargreaves

    A group of 20 set out from Bath Racecourse on a pleasant summer’s morning. There was a cool breeze that made for ideal walking weather. As we left the car park and walked along open countryside we soon saw some common species that included Carrion Crow, Swallow and Goldfinch. Wren and Skylark were heard and, as we walked through a very nice wood, we added Blue Tit, Blackcap and Long-tailed Tit. As we left the wood some of the group saw two Kestrels – an adult and a juvenile. On the next part of the walk we saw or heard Chiffchaff, Great Tit, Coal Tit, Nuthatch, Bullfinch, Buzzard, Blackbird and Dunnock. We had our coffee break at a spot that gave excellent views towards Wales, with both Severn bridges visible. Two Ravens flew over giving us all excellent views. We walked on to a second viewpoint where we had good views of a female Sparrowhawk as it flew over the woodland beneath us and four more Ravens flew past. We also saw a party of ten House Martins making their way south on migration and a field in the distance contained a good number of corvids, including Jackdaw and Rook. As we approached the end of the walk we saw four Linnets drinking in the puddles and finished with a flock of 27 Starlings, giving a total of 28 species. Many thanks to Nick for keeping an excellent record of species seen. It was a very enjoyable morning with part of the walk following the Cotswold Way and there were information boards giving some interesting details of the Battle of Lansdown that took place in 1643. We are very grateful to Robert for devising and leading the walk. Mike Landen

  • Sunday 29 July – Newport Wetlands

    Gale force winds and torrential rain did not deter the two brave birders who joined us for this walk. The decision was made to head to Goldcliff and take cover in the hides but that was after a hot drink in the cafe and a scan of the pond, which yielded Gadwall, Moorhen, Mallard and a House Sparrow. The lagoons at Goldcliff were more wet mud than water and some were totally dry but the birds were there. Braving the winds were Grey Heron and Little Egret with Lapwing, Ringed Plover and summer-plumaged Dunlin all huddled close in to the grass. We watched a Kestrel trying to hunt and hover but it resorted to fence post hopping. A Snipe did a brief flight and a Curlew was seen on the bank. A number of Common Sandpipers ran along the muddy edges and a few Teal were noted. The moving herd of cows brought Starling and Yellow Wagtail in their wake. Just as we were thinking of heading home, a pair of Greenshanks caught our attention and with them a Wood Sandpiper. Having expected to find very little due to the weather we managed to see 26 species in all. (Many thanks to Margaret and Ray for some very brave leading.) Margaret Bulmer

  • Tuesday 24 July – Clevedon/Walton Common Leader: Judy Copeland

    Fortunately, it was still cloudy when 19 of us set out from Clevedon – the hot sun came through later. Walking up through the golf course we saw Herring Gulls, House Sparrows, swooping Swallows and a family of five crows on the roof of the barn. A couple of Greenfinches were on the wall. We stopped to look at the Severn but nothing showed, so we proceeded along the path beside the golf course with its high hedges and picked up some butterflies, mostly Speckled Woods and Gatekeepers and a Common Blue, and heard a Pheasant, a Robin and a Green Woodpecker. Coffee was taken in the big field overlooking the sea, the only birds being a Blue Tit in the adjoining garden and a Magpie, then Goldfinches in the bushes. The coast path was quiet too, but we found the odd Black-headed gull among the rocks and seaweed, including one juvenile. Two Grey Wagtails flew over the rocks and we saw a Crow with white markings on the wings. After we left the coast path, a Greenfinch was spotted flying across the field and it obligingly perched in full view on top of a bush. Once into the wood approaching Walton Common, we heard Buzzard, Goldcrest and Bullfinch. Lunch was taken under the trees and afterwards we saw several Dark Green Fritillary butterflies, eventually getting a perfect view of one on a flower head as we descended from the Common. Also, a Coal Tit was actually singing. In the wood leading back to the golf course we heard Chaffinch and another Green Woodpecker. Back in the open we saw a Buzzard hovering (no, it was not a Kestrel!). It was a nice walk in spite of the small number of species (22) in the heat – and I hope everyone enjoyed it – I enjoyed the recce too! (Thanks to Judy for leading – Ed) Judy Copeland


  • Tuesday 17th July – Little Sodbury Leader: Nick Hawkridge

    Nineteen started out under leaden sky and spitting rain that welcomed us and new members Sarah and Chris. A Buzzard and the first of the interminable Woodpigeon started our count, with a gap in the trees showing a vast host of Corvid on what looked like a newly harvested field. The lake had only a lone Grey Heron on the edge, and a singing Blackcap in the surrounding scrub. The upland, towards Horton, gave some Swallows, and the first of the tinkling Goldfinch we saw during the walk. The sun turned the day a deal warmer, although the bands of high cloud did keep us cool. We counted Swift, House Martin and House Sparrow as we negotiated the streets of Horton, with a Greenfinch on a suite of feeders and the school building sporting a couple of Pied Wagtails. The view from the coffee stop was magnificent, away across Bristol, over the Severn and on towards Wales. The raptor count was upped to two with the appearance of a Sparrowhawk and not much further along, a newly harvested field was being skimmed by 50 Swallows with juveniles on the wire waiting to be fed. One sharp pair of eyes discerned that actually one of the perched Swallows was a Yellowhammer and then the call and song of Goldcrest was heard which lead to a fruitful search for a sight of the gold crowned one. The path across the rape field was a convenient place for a couple of the party to return to their cars. We continued across the field, adding Skylark, and Linnet. On towards The Fort where we saw a big mixed flock of tits, with a couple of Chiffchaff amongst them, feeding in succession from scrubby bush to scrubby bush. After our lunch stop at Old Sodbury Church and the reduction in our numbers by those bent on a pub lunch, we found a Linnet singing from a power wire, a brilliantly coloured male with a vibrantly crimson chest. A flash of white and a harsh screech revealed a Jay and, as the path took us towards the cars, a Chaffinch made the total for the day – 36. (Thanks to Nick for leading – Ed).
    Nick Hawkridge

  • Tuesday 10 July – Lower Woods Leader: Jean Oliver

    As 19 walkers prepared to enter Plumbers Trench, on a cooler day than of late, Nuthatch, Blackcap, and Wren were heard around the car park. The reserve soon lived up to its reputation as a butterfly hotspot as three Silver-washed Fritillaries were seen in the sunshine, followed by a glimpse of a White Admiral. The birds were quiet until we approached the edge of the wood when Coal Tit and Blue Tit were calling, together with another Nuthatch and Wren. Crossing a field of stubble towards Wickwar we saw the first of five Buzzards. Some Woodpigeons and Goldfinch were seen and heard. Hirundines were seen over the village, and then flying closer; six House Martins, four Swallows, and 20 Swifts. Entering a small wood with a stream we heard the ‘yaffle’ of Green Woodpecker and calls of two Great-spotted Woodpeckers. A Bullfinch was heard from a hedge and four Linnets flew across a field as we approached the coffee stop in the shade of three young oaks. Along the edge of a recently mown meadow there were three more Goldfinches and a Blackcap. Near a brook two Grey Wagtail were added as we re-entered Lower Woods which was again quiet until we joined Horton Great Trench. As well as being “awash with Silver-washed” the woodland margin revealed a female Blackcap making a good fist of imitating Marsh Tit, and a Coal Tit was calling in the expected manner. In a clearing before the descent to the river we had our best birding moments. A Bullfinch was calling and one of two Spotted Flycatchers gave very good views as a large hawker dragonfly patrolled below. Returning to the car park a Chiffchaff song was heard and finally a few phrases of Blackcap song. This very enjoyable walk had yielded 24 species. Many thanks to Jean for leading and to Nick for keeping the list.
    Gareth Roberts

  • Sunday 08 July – Marshfield Leader: Mike Jackson

    On a sunny morning that promised to be very hot nine of us met in the layby on the A420 next to Marshfield, making sure to find a shady spot for each car. At 09:00 we set off along the track leading to West Littleton Road in the hope of seeing a Little Owl somewhere around the outbuilding. Although its old haunt had been disrupted by repair work the bird was back and did not disappoint; perching briefly and going in and out of a small hole with food for its young. What a delightful start to our walk! Continuing along West Littleton Road, two birds on the wire were confirmed (thanks to those who carried ‘scopes in spite of the heat) as Corn Buntings; we were pleased to find five in total. In a field on the left three Red-legged Partridges were spotted; a pleasing sight as they have been hard to find recently. Yellowhammer song dominated and soon we saw several, including a bright yellow bird adorning a power pole’s electrical apparatus. As we turned into Rushmead Lane a beautiful dark Buzzard, which had been perched, flew up the valley and a Wren sang out. Dusty farm buildings and machinery hosted a family of six Pied Wagtails. Our walk along the lane gave several Skylarks, flocks of Jackdaws, Carrion Crows and Rooks but small birds other than Yellowhammer (Dunnock, Chaffinch, and Linnet) were in ones or twos only. Before reaching Tormarton Road we turned back along the lane, pleased to hear a distant Whitethroat before we took a footpath across the field to the rough farm track, Northfield Lane. Two Swifts were spotted overhead to add to the Swallows and House Martins seen swooping over the land. The track proved to be hot and rough going but we were rewarded by the drama of a Sparrowhawk darting out of a tree mobbed by four Swallows. Back at the outbuilding the Little Owl was apparently having a rest from the unbroken sunshine. We concluded our walk soon after midday, happy with the birds we had seen and to finish on the note of a Bullfinch call. We had 26 species altogether and a most enjoyable walk. Thanks to our leader Mike Jackson.
    Anne Crowe

  • Tuesday 03 July – Sand Bay Leader: Nick Hawkridge

    Ten of us set out up the steps and into some shade. A Chiffchaff was located skulking in the cover and a couple of Blue Tit juveniles put on an acrobatic display – letting us get very close. Two Swallows were reported from the back of the group, while the front counted Black-headed Gulls, Shelduck and heard the first Skylark. Across the scorched grass and hot slippery stones, where above us the first of the Swifts appeared, with the crack and rattle of a Magpie and the liquid tinkle of Linnet – with quite a few bouncing about, we’d added three more to our total. As we dropped towards the Point, first Whitethroat and then Stonechat were seen and heard. Turning back along the seaward edge of the point a Greenfinch ‘wheezed’ and we flushed the usual breeding Rock Pipit from the rock face at the coffee stop in the pebbly cove. Above and behind us, three more walkers were seen, making their way carefully down and bought reports of three Rock Pipit and another Greenfinch from the very end of the Point. Skylark and Swift accompanied us as we walked the browning turf, with only Carrion Crow and Meadow Pipit being added before we reached the River Banwell and lunch. There were a few Oystercatchers and a couple of Mallard seen as we sat in the not very cool shade to munch our food, but we did benefit from the light breeze whispering in from the estuary. The tramp over the ‘Field System’, that once covered the whole of the downs, was hot. Skylark and Meadow Pipit were frequently seen and, lifting briefly from the hedge, our first raptor, a Kestrel. Our 29th and final bird species was House Sparrow, flying around the very welcome ice-cream van awaiting our return at the car park. (Thanks to Nick for leading – Ed).
    Nick Hawkridge

  • Sunday 01 July – Ubley Warren/Velvet Bottom Leaders: Sue & Nigel Kempson

    Six members met in the small car park for this morning walk. The recent heat wave may have put many people off attending, but in fact the morning was pleasantly cool due to light cloud cover and a helpful breeze. From the car park Reed Bunting, Chaffinch, Wren, Goldfinch and a Buzzard were seen. We followed the usual route to the pool with good numbers of Swallows and House Martins as well as Whitethroat, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Crows and Jackdaws. We crossed the field to the road and headed uphill towards the radio mast with constant Skylark song in the background. As we went down the hedge-enclosed track we stopped to view a dragonfly and some of the many butterflies. A number of Meadow Pipits were in the adjoining fields. Long Wood was noted for the aggressive horseflies attacking all and sundry, although we did have fleeting glimpses of Treecreeper, Song Thrush, Robin, and heard Great Tit, Coal Tit and Nuthatch as we rushed through. It was a relief to get to Velvet Bottom, although birds were sparse and, disappointingly, no Redstarts were in evidence. Three of us took a slightly longer route back to the car park and were rewarded with fine views of Linnets in vibrant summer plumage and a solitary Stonechat. Overall 32 species listed. (Thanks to Sue and Nigel for leading – Ed).
    Sue Kempson

  • Tuesday 26 June – Hinton Blewitt and Litton Reservoirs Leaders: Sue and John Prince

    It was an extremely hot day with temperatures up to 29C and sun in a clear blue sky. Consequently, there were fewer walkers than usual and we walked the circuit in reverse so that the open fields were tackled first downhill. We heard three Yellowhammer and saw one in an Ash tree. The village held the usual House Sparrow and Jackdaw and several houses were adorned with House Martin nests. At the Litton reservoirs we enjoyed welcome shade and we saw a pair of Mute Swans, Moorhen, Little Grebe, Cormorant, two Grey Herons, and a Little Egret. Both Grey and Pied Wagtails flitted around. The only ducks were Mallard and Tufted. Two Common Buzzards flew over calling. Chiffchaff and Blackcap were still singing. We saw Blue, Great, Coal and Long-tailed Tits. There were many Dragonflies and Damselflies. Other birds of note were a Starling nesting in a hole in the wall of a house, Song Thrush and two Mistle Thrush, with at least eight Wren singing. 37 species were recorded in total. (Thanks to Sue and John for leading, Ed) Sue Prince

  • Tuesday 19 June – Velvet Bottom Leader: Geoff Harris

    With little or no sun, it was hot and humid all day, as one guy we met said ‘the horse flies are biting and drawing blood’. The climb out of the car park allowed all 17 to see and hear many Jackdaw, all busy hoovering up some, but not all, of the wretched flies. The first Whitethroat was heard and for the impatient – not seen, while those at the rear had good views. A gang of four Magpies where ‘chacking’ and ‘cracking’ over something, unseen by us, in the grass. The hasty song of Dunnock, the tumbling refrains of a Garden Warbler, the first distant song of a Skylark, the near drowning out sound of two Song Thrushes and the tinkling of a couple of Linnets took us to the start of Velvet Bottom itself. The sharp eyed caught the quick drop, from hovering, of a Kestrel, and the keen eared, the sound of Coal Tit and the first Willow Warbler singing his mournful song. As we wandered along, the hedge line was temporary home to more Whitethroat, a Blackcap, some Robins, the first family of Great Tits and four Swallows who went skimming past. As we neared the coffee stop a pair of Bullfinches flew across, the one and only Swift slalomed away and the obligatory Buzzard circled. Above our usual seating area, where the bushes began, we found two Redstarts – both juvenile, who were happily foraging, so very close to us, and reducing the biting fly population in the process. As we entered Long Wood the call of a Great Spotted Woodpecker chipped out, the ‘ooh-ut ooh-ut’ of a Stock Dove was heard and the first Chiffchaff called. We braved the nasty-bitey flies all across the downs to the aerials; we added to the count of Linnets then finally back to the cars, with Goldfinch bringing the tally to 34 and a shocking number of bites. Many thanks to Geoff for leading us on this wonderful walk. Nick Hawkridge

  • Tuesday 12 June – Compton Dando Leader: Mike Landen

    It was a rather overcast morning and a little cooler than the previous few days as 16 of us set off from The Compton Inn. There were a good number of common birds around the village including House Sparrows, Collared Dove, Swallows and Jackdaws (45 for the whole walk). House Martins were absent from their usual haunt near to their nesting sites but we did see a good number (28) just outside the village. Swifts were also absent and, rather surprisingly we did not see any throughout the walk. After a very short walk to the bridge over the River Chew we were unable to find a Dipper, one of our target species for the walk, but we had a good view of a Grey Wagtail. We then walked through some pasture land bordered with woodland where we added Greenfinch, Chiffchaff, Goldfinch, Chaffinch and Wren. We climbed a steep path through the woods and then crossed a meadow but we did not see as many butterflies as usual, probably due to the lack of sunshine. Song Thrush, Green and Great Spotted Woodpecker, Buzzard and Lesser Black-backed Gull were added to the list. We heard another Chiffchaff and eventually saw it singing from the top of a tall tree. We reached Woollard and made a very slight diversion for another view of the River Chew from the road bridge. There were some beautiful damselflies over the river and a family of Mallards were seen. We also had good views of Pied Wagtails, a Linnet and a Mistle Thrush. We found a nice spot by the river for our coffee break and then continued on towards Publow. We heard a Lesser Whitethroat but, although we spent some time trying to locate it in the gorse, we failed to see it. As we started the walk back along the other side of the River Chew we spotted a Grey Heron. We could still hear the Lesser Whitethroat and, at the same time we also heard a (Common) Whitethroat and managed to see it. We saw two Ravens and we finished our species count with Blackcap, Pheasant and Bullfinch A total of 36 species were seen or heard. Thanks very much to Nick for keeping his usual accurate bird list. (Thanks to Mike for leading, Ed). Mike Landen

  • Friday 08 June – Forest of Dean Leader: Jane Cumming

    On a fine, warm evening eight of us met at Cannop Ponds.  It was good to welcome new member John Dix, joining us for his first field meeting with the Club.  The main theme here was “babies”; a Mandarin duck managing her brood of eight; Mute Swans with two cygnets; two Coot families; and families of Grey and Pied Wagtails. Star billing went to a very young Dipper, posing obligingly for some time.  Most of us had never before seen a Dipper baby (except on Springwatch).  Other birds included a handsome Little Grebe in fine summer plumage.  We moved to Speech House Woodland car park for our walk up to Crabtree Hill, an easy and pleasant walk in the evening sun.  Along the grassy path through the scrub on the lower slopes we were delighted by quite a few Tree Pipits singing and parachuting to the tree tops, the bright Stonechats and lovely red Linnets.  A black boar crossed our path further up.  At the top we took up our usual position to wait for the headline bird.  We heard the calls of the Canada Geese flying in to the lake.  While still light at 21:07 we heard our first churring – Nightjars were definitely around!  Another wait, during which we were entertained by the songs of a Song Thrush and two Garden Warblers, was rewarded by much churring and spectacular flights of Nightjars.   Some were close enough, after swooping over our heads, for us to see their white markings.  One took up position on a dead branch (same tree as last year) so we could see that characteristic silhouette.  In the middle of all this a Woodcock flew over, flying long enough for all except our unfortunate leader to get a good sighting.  As it grew dark, having had plenty of excitement, we set off back down the hill.  Suddenly another Woodcock flew over.   This time our leader saw it, happy to see her first in ten years.  We heard more Nightjars along the way churring and wing clapping.  Our descent in the dark was enlivened by bats (being detected with a gadget) and the odd toad to be avoided.  We knew we would be late home when we returned to our cars at around 22:30 but all felt we had enjoyed a truly thrilling evening with more than 30 species.  Thanks to our leader Jane Cumming.                              Anne Crowe

  • Tuesday 05 June – Badminton Leader: Nick Hawkridge

    An overcast day made for pleasant walking conditions as 22 of us set out across the green of this picturesque village. A Song Thrush and then four welcome Swifts were seen, and then a large number of Jackdaws. House Martins were nesting under the eaves. Before leaving the village we found House Sparrow, Blackbird, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, and the first of two Mistle Thrushes. Nick picked out a Stock Dove in a paddock. Then came the highlight for many as a Little Owl was spotted flying up from a gate to the apex of a barn, where it perched on a security light giving plenty of photo opportunities. A Buzzard looked on from a nearby tree. Another Song Thrush was heard from the wood behind us, then along the hedgerow a Yellowhammer was heard and then seen. A Great-spotted Woodpecker and Greenfinch were added to the list before we entered the wood. The silence along the atmospheric dark track was eventually broken by Blackcap and Chaffinch. Coming out into the open we paused in a field with wide wild flower margins. The first of seven Skylarks was heard, as was a Whitethroat. Two Corn Buntings on a distant wire were identified from a photo. Walking along the airfield we saw several bright Yellowhammers, and more Whitethroats and Skylarks. Two Dunnocks were singing. Entering the estate park we passed another House Martin nest on the gatehouse and a Blue Tit nest in a nearby tree. Six Swallows flew over. The lake had Canada Geese and Mallard (with ducklings). We passed some school parties enjoying the scene, and a falconry tent. Those raptors were not included in our list of 34 species! Many thanks to Nick for leading and keeping the list. Gareth Roberts

  • Sunday 02 June – Quantocks Leader: Nick Hawkridge

    What a gorgeous day! All we missed was Jeff Holmes, who could not lead and lend us his huge expertise because of illness. He told me when I visited him later that on the previous day cloud had covered the top of the hills – how lucky we were. Nick Hawkridge stepped into the breach as leader with a small amount of persuasion! Twelve people attended, though unfortunately the long walk got the better of some, who had to return to the car park and miss the wonderful views at the top. As we set off up Hodders Combe the woodland was very quiet to start with, damp underfoot, with just Robin and Wren singing. Very soon, Blackcap, Song Thrush, Blackbird and Chiffchaff were heard above the sound of the stream, rippling along beside us. Coal, Great and Blue Tits were seen, then at last came the trill of Wood Warbler – many were heard and we later had some fleeting good views. Calls of Great Spotted and Green Woodpeckers and Cuckoo were added to the list, and Gary found the first Pied Flycatcher, sitting at the end of a twig for all to see. Redstart, also in full view, was then spotted (a large patch of orange-coloured fungus on a tree trunk helped point the way to finding it) and the ‘whee whee whee’ calls were a frequent backdrop while we were in the woodland. Then Spotted Flycatchers were added, which we hadn’t expected. As we came out of the trees, Willow Warblers were heard and we started to see Stonechat families, which gave brilliant views, as did a couple of singing Garden Warblers, perched unusually on top of small birch trees. One Red Deer was seen on the skyline. As soon as we had a patch of grass and a glimpse of the sea beyond the combes, Nick proposed lunch – it just happened to be one o’clock! A pair of Cuckoos (found by Gary) appeared, one calling from the trunk of a distant row of pines and the other flying close past us. A shiny brown soldier beetle entertained us but its speedy activity would not allow photography, and Small Heath butterflies were amongst the heather. As we walked westwards along the top of Quantock past Halsway Post to Bicknoller Post, the views were stupendous and we heard the whistle of the steam trains below. Meadow Pipit, Kestrel and Buzzard were seen, Skylarks heard, and a distant Herring Gull led us to Swifts flying high. As we tarted descending from Bicknoller Post we heard Yellowhammers – these were soon seen perched on top of bushes – and our return trip down Lady’s Edge was accompanied by the songs of Redstarts, Garden and Wood Warblers and Blackcaps. Our final bird was a female Grey Wagtail, at last spotted by the stream. Thank you Nick for leading. Judy Copeland

  • Tuesday 22 May – Newport Wetlands Leaders: Margaret and Ray Bulmer

    A warm sunny day greeted the 30 walkers for a gentle stroll around the reserve. The Lesser Whitethroats were singing in the bushes near the car park but remained out of sight. At the visitor centre, Chiffchaff, Reed Warbler, and Cetti’s Warblers were singing in the reeds. The Sand Martin box is still awaiting tenants but a Little Grebe was spotted on the pond. Making our way to the lighthouse we added Reed Bunting, Sedge Warbler and a few Swallow, Swift and Sand Martin flew overhead. The hoped for Bearded Tits did not appear. At the estuary were the resident Shelduck, but a few added Curlew, Dunlin and Ringed Plover. In the reeds a brown bird rose and dropped and someone called Bittern. The very obliging bird flew another couple of times and allowed everyone a sighting. A Cuckoo could be heard in the distance and our only raptor for the day was a Buzzard. After a picnic lunch some headed to Goldcliff for the waders. Here we added Avocet, Redshank, Black-tailed Godwit, Ringed and Little Ringed Plover, Gadwall and Shoveler. Many of the species had young, including Pochard, Canada Geese, Shoveler, Mallard, Coot, Avocet, Ringed Plover, Redshank and Coot. So we had ducklings, goslings and chicklets. We heard that ten Lapwing chicks had been fitted with radio receivers but only five were responding; someone was wading around in the lagoons trying to locate the missing ones while we were there. The weather also encouraged the butterflies and dragonflies to be on the wing. Our final bird total was 54 species but with no Bearded Tits. (Thanks to Margaret and Ray for leading the walk and to Gareth and Godfrey for helping identify the damselflies and dragonflies.) The Bulmers

  • Sunday 20 May – Ham Wall RSPB Reserve (joint meeting with BNS) Leader: Giles Morris

    Ham Wall is now one of those venues that can almost guarantee an interesting and varied day’s birding, especially in May. This spring has been topsy-turvy in many ways, but those who made the trip were not disappointed, despite some Ham Wall “regulars” being missing. Setting out along the railway path allowed us to sort out our warbler song ID, with Blackcap, Garden Warbler, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Cetti’s and Whitethroat all performing. We stopped to view the Great White Egret colony, visible from the path – extraordinary how quickly this has become an ordinary event! At the first viewing platform ducks and grebes were much in evidence, with the unusually large number of Pochard present this spring being particularly noticeable. One of the missing species at this stage was Hobby. Having arrived from Africa expecting a dragonfly bonanza, most of these birds had pushed on to their breeding grounds without staying long, because the mass emergence of their favourite prey had been delayed by poor weather. Moving on to the Avalon Hide, we added Reed Bunting, Marsh Harrier and Cuckoo, but only one very brief Bittern flight. There is always an element of luck in some of these sightings. On the way out we had searched hard for a reported male Garganey without success, but on the way back the bird was showing well exactly where we had been looking earlier! The return to the car park also proved eventful. First, a long Bittern flight was missed by most of the group who were all watching a Willow Warbler, but then, soon afterwards, another long flight was seen by all the group. This was followed by a Hobby close enough for everyone to see and then an obliging Kingfisher hunting in the rhyne north of the railway bridge. A special bird to finish an excellent morning in a special place and bring the species total to 51. (Many thanks to Giles for leading this joint field trip.) Giles Morris

  • Friday 18 May – Highnam Woods Leader: Hannah Booth, RSPB

    On a fine early summer evening 23 members and guests were welcomed by Hannah Booth, the warden. The 120 hectare wood was bought by RSPB in the 1980s. Although a commercial woodland it had retained significant unmanaged areas with ancient oak (one pollarded oak is over 600 years old), hornbeam, wild cherry, and a glade of 150 year old field maple. The current strategy is to manage the habitat for Nightingale, by re-creating blocks of two to ten year old coppice, comprising 25% of the wood, and by creating pools for invertebrates as a food source. As we began our tour we heard the first of eleven Blackcap and nine Song Thrush. The evening chorus was joined by Robin, Chiffchaff, Chaffinch, and then Wren and Blackbird. We inspected the coppice block that was new at last year’s visit; it had shown impressive growth and the brash hedging with bramble was impenetrable to the Muntjac deer that would destroy the new growth. A Willow Warbler sang, the only one of the visit, reflecting the low numbers this year. A Raven ‘cronked’ and further along we saw both Mistle Thrush and Great Spotted Woodpecker, two of the five species identified by sight rather than sound in the atmospheric woodland. We then heard a Marsh Tit call. Last year we had heard Nightingale on arrival in the car park, but reflecting this year’s reduced numbers (six singing males, 12 in 2017), it wasn’t until about 21:00 that one began to sing, as the Song Thrushes began to quieten. But it was worth the wait, the strong and varied song held us entranced for 40 minutes of continuous performance. We heard a second Nightingale on the way back to the car park, and also a Tawny Owl, our 21st species. Many thanks to Hannah Booth for leading the excellent tour, and to Nick Hawkridge for the list. Please see next item Gareth Roberts

  • Tuesday 15 May – South Stoke Leader: David Body

    As parking was at a premium we ended up by the lookout point with its view over the Cam Brook valley. We admired the cloudless sky but mourned the lack of Swift and House Martin. As the party gathered (14), we then did see House Martin – six swirling around the houses, and someone had seen a Swift over the church. The song of Blackbird was with us throughout the day, as was the ‘crack jack’ of many Jackdaw, with Robin and Wren both singing lustily around their territories. The count of singing Blackcap ran to eleven, with Chiffchaff coming in at six. After we had crossed the main road and started down the valley, one of several Chaffinch was heard singing, a Song Thrush chimed in and a Mistle Thrush flew from the grass. We could hear the distant ‘yaffling’ of a Green Woodpecker, the ‘cronk’ of Raven, and in the woods the fast call of a Coal Tit. At the lake the obligatory pair of Mallard looked to us for a hand-out and a Grey Wagtail pair made dashes across the water collecting beakfuls of flies, then posting them into yellow gapes hidden within the greenery below the red safety buoy. Up on the cycle path the first and only Great Spotted Woodpecker chipped its call from nearby trees and a Nuthatch made a brief foray across the path, but not fast enough to be missed by our attentive team. We didn’t see our first Swallow until the farm alongside the canal, which also provided another Green Woodpecker and a single Greenfinch. As the heat built up, any shade and breeze was most welcome but we needed to cross and climb the wide open, and alas, barren orchid field. We did see two Long-tailed Tit and not long before the end a Jay cackled at us. The final bird count was 36 – (an addition of Goldfinch by the cars) and thanks to David for leading. Nick Hawkridge

  • Sunday 13 May – Stoke Park and Eastville Park Leader: Richard Scantlebury

    I joined BOC only very recently. As I live in the local area to Eastville Park and Stoke Park, I chose this walk to venture out (rather early for me on a Sunday morning!) for my very first BOC walk. I was taken aback when Richard explained we wouldn’t finish till one o’clock but had a laugh by the end because it actually finished mid-afternoon – the time had just flown by. Significant interest began right at the meeting point at Snuff Mills car park by the trees where Blue Tits and Great Tits were using the nesting boxes above. Blackcaps, Wrens, Robins and Chiffchaffs were singing as we walked towards the tunnel to cross the M32. Out of these, the Blackcaps are the birds I was not much familiar with so I decided that my challenge for the walk would be to focus on the Blackcap: to see one in real close-up and to be able to identify its song. As we arrived on the other side of the motorway at the bottom of Purdown, Greenfinches were singing; the elongated “eeeeee” feature of their song helpfully reminds us of their colour, “greeeeeeen”, and therefore their name, so makes them easy to remember. By the Duchess ponds, the Canada geese, a pair of Moorhens with their six fluffy chicks and an Orange-tip butterfly were enjoying the glorious warm, sunny weather as much as we were. The aerial interest included a Buzzard (likened by one of the group to aeroplanes circling the skies at Heathrow), a pair of Swifts and a Heron. In the area with the Dew Pond, Richard hoped to spot Whitethroats. I learnt that Blackcaps like to remain inside bushes whereas Whitethroats prefer open scrub and often perch and sing on the top of the tallest bush. And furthermore that the warblers, apart from the Blackcap and Chiffchaff, are summer visitors from the African continent – I too originally arrived here one summer as a visitor from the African continent!
    Soon the group split into two which is when I learnt a key lesson that on a bird walk you can’t see it all. I thought I would press ahead with the faster birders but if only I had stayed with those ambling far behind us I could have had my first ever view in real of a Blackcap. The amblers enjoyed a close-up view as it proudly sang its heart out. Oh well … We ascended the steep slope rising up from the Dew Pond and paused at the top to take in the views of Bristol and beyond, stretching out for miles before us. Then it was on through the woods which was where the Blackcaps decided the time had come to test me out on identifying them. The foliage was too thick to see them but I think I passed the test by correctly identifying their song three times in a row so I was thoroughly pleased and it helped me get over the disappointment of the missed visual sighting earlier. Deeper into the woods, we took time patiently gazing up at the Nuthatch nest which Richard pointed out to us. Nuthatches often use woodpecker nesting holes, they reduce the size of the entrance hole with mud, he explained, and we were finally rewarded with a sighting. A Long-tailed Tit was perched on a post during our walk up to the mobile phone mast and more were flitting in the bushes. Further along, still in the scrubby approach to the mast, we heard a Whitethroat singing clearly from inside a large bush.
    As we descended back down the slopes to cross the motorway, lots of Greenfinches were heard but the highlight was spotting a Bullfinch. On the last leg of our walk through Eastville Park we paused at the Tawny Owl boxes installed on the island in the lake, but there was no visible activity. I was pleased to spot my first Grey Wagtail on the muddy areas of the river bank and then the flash of brilliant blue of my first Kingfisher darting down the river.
    Thanks to Richard for his knowledgeable and friendly leadership of this walk, introducing me to the fascinating and abundant wildlife of my local area and the joys of taking part in a BOC walk. Reethah Desai

  • Tuesday 08 May – Ashton Court Leader: Brenda Page

    Having basked in record bank holiday sunshine, 24 members turned up expecting t-shirts and sun hats. What a shock! Cloud, mist and a biting cold wind, at least first off. The sun came through late morning causing multiple de-layering. The walk took us from Ashton Court, through Leigh Woods, Monarch’s Way, Fish Pond Wood and back. It was definitely a day for sound as well as visuals. We were greeted with Skylarks over the golf course with a distant Mistle Thrush just audible. The woods were alive with bird song; many Blackcap, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Wren, Goldcrest and the Mistle Thrush, Fish Pond Wood being particularly impressive, the wooded valley concentrating and amplifying the singing birds. A chip of a Woodpecker drew us to a Great Spotted exploring the dead branches in the canopy and Nick was pleased to find a bit of Green Woodpecker poo on the path, maybe from the bird we heard ‘yaffling’ earlier. We saw a few Swallows but no Swifts, a couple of Buzzards being the only raptors. 33 species in total. Thanks to Brenda for leading. Alastair Fraser

  • Tuesday, 01 May – Folly Farm Leader: Jean Oliver

    20 members set out on a beautiful spring day with an early Buzzard to start our list, some Ravens tumbling, the first of many Wrens singing and a Swallow. Singing Blackcaps were also heard and some seen, but the most consistent sound during the walk was probably the bleating of lambs. We tackled our first hill of the day and then walked down to inspect the hedge planted by BOC members last autumn. It’s doing well and there was a bit of pointing to a particularly well grown specimen and claiming to have been the one who planted it! Leaving our burgeoning hedge, we moved on, spotting a Skylark or two and a Sparrowhawk. A Whitethroat was heard but quite hard to find and Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Goldfinch, Bullfinch and others added to the list. Then came the hill of the day – it was quite a long haul but the view at the top made it worthwhile and the coffee tasted good. A welcome descent followed and then a woodland walk. Both Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers were added to our list and Goldcrest and Nuthatch among others. After a possible breakaway, we climbed the final hill of the day to a plateau with panoramic views. There was something for everyone in this walk including Orange-tip, Comma and Brimstone butterflies, a short, sharp shower with hail and a singing Mistle Thrush aka Stormcock. 36 species in all and many thanks to Jean for leading us. Nancy Barrett

  • Tuesday 24 April – Puxton Leader: – Gareth Roberts

    On an overcast day, 21 of us tried out this new walk starting at Puxton church with its leaning tower. There was plenty of birdsong in the village and churchyard: Greenfinch, Blackbird, Goldfinch, Robin, Blackcap, and the first of many Wrens were heard. After crossing a thousand year old oval field we headed to Avon Wildlife Trust’s Puxton Moor Reserve, part of the North Somerset Levels. Swallows and House Martins were seen in small numbers, and a Song Thrush was in fine voice. Approaching the reserve we heard the first of seven Reed Warblers in the narrow reed beds along the network of ditches, although they remained out of sight. A Reed Bunting was more obliging, seen on the scrub next to the reeds, and another seen flying. The first of three Grey Herons flew over. Eight Skylarks were seen or heard, some giving close views as they lifted off close to the path. After crossing a series of footbridges we had coffee by a splendid old willow, while a Cormorant kept us in view from a pylon. The first of two groups of Linnet flew over and a phrase of Yellowhammer song was heard. Leaving the moor there was Chiffchaff and Chaffinch song, and a Bullfinch was heard, but not seen, in the thick hedge along the lane. However, we had very good views of a Whitethroat singing on a wire. A Swift and a Sand Martin were seen by some, giving us a full house of hirundines. Approaching a patch of reeds where two Sedge Warblers had been seen a few days earlier, a brief snippet of their characteristic song was heard, but they remained elusive. There was a distant yaffle of Green Woodpecker as we passed a group of inquisitive cattle enjoying their first week on the new grass. Back in the village we had the extremes of Goldcrest and Buzzard. The enjoyable walk in a peaceful landscape had yielded 42 species. (Thanks to Gareth for leading, and to Nick Hawkridge for the bird list). Gareth Roberts

  • Saturday 21 April – Ham Wall Leader: – Alastair Fraser

    I have only been to Ham Wall once before to see the Starlings so I was looking forward to going there again to see the place in its springtime splendour. I was not disappointed. Nine of us met in the RSPB car park on a sunny morning but with a hint of mist, which complemented the beautiful setting of reed beds and marsh land. We set off on the Ham Wall loop stopping at the rail-bridge to spot our first of many Marsh Harrier sightings, five in all, and listen to the Chiffchaff and Cetti’s Warbler. Three Great White Egrets appeared to be nesting in the nearby reed beds and a Cuckoo was heard. Further on, the Cuckoo flew over our heads and perched in full view on a bare branch. Those with ‘scopes helped everyone admire our first Cuckoo of 2018. With new leaves just appearing, there were good chances to spot those birds often heard but difficult to see. We had good views of a pair of Blackcaps, Cetti’s Warbler and Chiffchaff. In the reed beds we saw Reed Bunting and had an excellent view of a Sedge Warbler singing away and showing its bright red mouth. A Reed Warbler was sighted further on by the Tor View hide. We heard Bitterns booming and eight were counted in all, (which was pretty good from a reported total of 19). I had not heard Bittern boom before which was one reason I wanted to participate in the walk so I was delighted to hear so many. Garganey were spotted twice as well as other wildfowl including Teal, Shoveler, Wigeon, Tufted Duck and Pochard. Alastair spotted three Common Sandpipers standing on a drowned tree trunk looking at water that seemed too deep for them. Robert and Ann saw two Whitethroats and Lesser Redpoll, which sadly the rest of the party missed. Nevertheless a highlight for me was seeing two Great Crested Grebes courting with head nodding and gifts of weed to each other and another pair who were past that stage because one had some tiny young perched on its back. My thanks again to those with ‘scopes who picked this out. I think we had a very successful day birdwatching, and thank you to Alastair for leading, and to the group for sharing their knowledge and making the day so enjoyable. Alison Hooper.

  • Tuesday 17 April – Kings Wood and Wavering Down Leader: – Clive Burton

    It was a grey and blustery day, not the best conditions for hearing the newly arrived warblers we were hoping to locate. There was some danger of the number of walkers exceeding the number of bird species as we headed up through the bluebell woods to the summit of Wavering Down “because it’s there”, and nearly got blown off the top, but once we dropped down into more sheltered regions we finally got the total up to over 30 species against 22 walkers. Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs were singing lustily, about seven of each, though I couldn’t hear the one singing Willow Warbler picked out by sharper ears than mine. Two Nuthatches and a Treecreeper were nice finds, and we had good views of a Raven on the ground. A couple of Swallows were a welcome sight since the main arrival hadn’t yet happened. One lucky member wandered off on his own and found two Tree Pipits. The most unexpected sighting was of three Cranes flying over us, far too high to work out whether or not they were wearing the Slimbridge colours although they were certainly heading in the right direction for WWT. A Jay and two Green Woodpeckers were heard but not seen. Many thanks to Clive for leading the walk and for pointing out the Wood Anenomes, Lady’s-smock, Lesser Celandines and the just-appearing Bluebells amongst many other flower species in these beautiful woods. Jane Cumming

  • Sunday 15 April – St Catherine’s Valley Leader: – Mike Jackson

    In this location to the south of Marshfield, the ground soil in the valley lived up to that boggy name with ankle deep mud being the norm after, seemingly, months of rain. With a light mist but none of the forecast precipitation we set off to see what the late coming spring had to offer. As a warm-up we identified some standard stuff including several splendid Yellowhammers, then at quarter distance we were thrilled to hear the bubbling call of a Curlew. Though not seen we estimated it to be not that far away, but probably flying by, a field or two beyond. As the mood returned to bird-searching our gaze was directed at a singing Skylark, but it was interrupted by a dashing wading bird slightly more distant than the lark; Golden Plover was the shout, and a very welcome addition to our growing list. As we descended Ayford Lane the valley became a bowl of acoustics where the drumming of Great Spotted Woodpecker, and the ‘yaffling’ of Green Woodpecker, accompanied by ‘cronking’ Raven and broadcasting Mistle Thrush resonated around us. There was some energetic sparring between Buzzard and Raven of which we did not identify a victor, it was just good sport. Other than Chiffchaff and Blackcap, a lone Swallow and a couple of singing Willow Warblers were the extent of our summer visitors. Near the reservoir five Canada Geese and a Cormorant were, perhaps, expected, but the constant fly-past of Lesser Black-backed Gulls were more about passage movements than the presence of the water body.
    When a falcon appeared all eyes went skyward to label it a Peregrine but as the bird quickly disappeared over the ridge it was replaced by an incoming lighter weight Kestrel, thus opening debate on the Peregrine identity. Yellowhammer had been prolific in the early stages but Nuthatch remained vocal throughout the walk, thus providing us with welcome opportunity to enjoy these fantastically attractive species. The nine of us ended up with a total of 41 species (Peregrine included), having walked around seven km in three and a half hours. Thanks to all attendees who made the morning so productive, and ultimately very enjoyable, despite the big muddy clean up that was so necessary at the end. (Many thanks to Mike for leading this rather muddy walk). Mike Jackson

  • Tuesday 10 April – Hanham Leaders: – Karen Birmingham, Jean Oliver and Jenny Weeks

    Twenty-five of us met on a damp grey morning for a muddy walk up through woodlands with bluebells just starting to show some colour, over the fields and back beside the river Avon, with the song of Blackcap, Chiffchaff and Wren frequently accompanying us. Thirty-three species were identified including a large parcel of Linnets, several Great Spotted and Green Woodpeckers, Goldcrest, Greenfinch, Nuthatch, Cormorant, Kingfisher, Mistle Thrush and Swallow. Grey Heron chicks were seen in one of the nine active nests in the heronry. (Many thanks to Karen, Jean and Jenny for leading this walk.) Karen Birmingham

  • Saturday 07 April – Sand Point Leader: – Paul Gregory

    As the rain poured down I did wonder how many willing wanderers might brave the weather for a migrant search on Sand Point. In fact eight of us made it and within half an hour the rain stopped and the birds started to show. There were lots of Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps in the bushes but we failed to locate any Willow Warblers amongst them. Hirundine movement started soon after the rain and by the time we finished, over 200 Swallows had passed us heading east with a few House and Sand Martins to accompany them. A couple of Tree Pipits went over giving their “zip” calls and a nice Rock Pipit sat up on the rocks at the end of Sand Point allowing us to compare its greyness, black legs and strong black bill to the finer marked Meadow Pipits around. A male Wheatear gave us a bit of a run around but eventually gave itself up along the rocks on the south side. Middle Hope was quiet although we did locate a male Redstart along a hedgerow near the old admiralty site, which is always nice. A Peregrine gave good views on the return walk and we had regular encounters with Stonechats and Ravens. (Thank you Paul for leading.) Paul Gregory

  • Tuesday 03 April – Winscombe – Leader Sue Watson

    Rain threatened as 22 of us set off from Winscombe; however, we completed our walk in dry conditions with a little sunshine too. Crossing fields to Sandford Hill we heard a vociferous Wren and saw Jackdaw, Crow, Rook and a good variety of the usual suspects in the hedgerows, such as Blue, Great and Long-tailed Tits plus a Lesser Black-backed Gull. Two large flocks of white domestic doves circled the area. Soon we passed the four donkeys, sharing their space with a squirrel. Up the hill we had a glimpse of a retreating Jay, clear views of Blackcap and, emerging from the wood, a brief glimpse of two tumbling Raven. There were lovely views before a grassy downhill where a Yellow Brimstone butterfly fluttered in the sunshine. Here in the next field were 50 crows on the ground. A Song Thrush entertained until a Chiffchaff took our attention and Fieldfare were also heard. Further along a beautiful pair of Kestrel swooped low across the lane and hedges, alighting on a wire and adding to our raptor score of five Buzzards. Later a Grey Heron left a garden pond to the clamour of Herring Gull mobbing. Our count included Greenfinch, Chaffinch and Goldfinch and some of us were lucky to be able to watch a Roe Deer cross two fields in the sunshine. Bird species counted: 37. (Very many thanks to Sue for leading this walk.) Sue Watson

  • Tuesday, 27 March – Wick Leaders Duncan and Pat Gil

    Maybe the forecasters hadn’t quite got the hang of British Summer Time as it was still raining at ten o’clock when
    25 of us set off – but it did soon stop. Our first pause at the bridge showed how fast the river was running, so no
    Dipper or Grey Wagtail. A Heron on the far bank was spotted and appeared to be in exactly the same place some
    three hours later! Back-tracking we took the Red Ochre trail through Golden Valley – the mud showing it was
    aptly named. Although the greyness of the day kept both song and sightings down, with patience and many pairs
    of eyes, we were soon adding Robin, Wren, Dunnock, Blackcap, Blackbird and Great, Blue and Coal Tits to our
    list and particularly enjoyed several Goldcrests more easily visible than usual in a bare deciduous tree. Plenty of
    Nuthatches were calling and some eventually seen, as were Long-tailed Tits. Coffee at the quarry yielded good
    close-ups for everyone of a Treecreeper. A Chiffchaff was seen by some and a Peregrine heard. When we heard
    and then, on some feeders, saw Greenfinches, their relative rarity nowadays on Tuesday walks was commented
    on. Both Mistle and Song Thrush were seen, but no winter thrushes. At another point near the river there were
    Dipper signs on the top of rocks nearly submerged by the high, fast flowing water – but no Dipper! However a
    Grey Wagtail was seen by some before the walk was over. 35 species were counted including 71 Jackdaws in
    two groups. Thanks to Duncan and Pat Gill for leading. Nancy Barrett

  • Tuesday 20 March – Greylake RSPB Reserve. Leader: Mark Watson

    Thirteen members met at Greylake on a dry but cold morning and though the recent snow had gone from the
    Levels and Moors the going underfoot was squelchy and some of the paths were closed due to the wet conditions.
    In the car park we saw Reed Bunting, Blue Tit, Great Tit and Chaffinch and a flock of 25 Lapwings as we set off to
    the lookout at the far end of the reserve. Some of us saw a Marsh Harrier in the distance but it quickly
    disappeared behind a copse. We moved on around the reed beds to the viewpoint hearing a Cetti’s Warbler and
    seeing Goldfinch, Mute Swans, Buzzard, Skylark, and a Fieldfare on the way. At the end of the path we all had a
    good, if distant, view of two Marsh Harriers along with a few Mallards and ten Teal flying overhead. Four Great
    White Egrets were on the marsh, occasionally flying short distances, a Little Egret was also feeding and a solitary
    Cormorant passed by. As we moved on to the hides Water Rails were heard and six Snipe were close by on a
    small island as we reached the hides. From the hides many Teal, Gadwall, Wigeon, Shoveler and Coot were on
    the pools and we managed to locate two Pintails reasonably close by. A Grey Heron sat at a field edge and a
    Kestrel hunted overhead as we walked back to the car park. One lucky birder saw a Cetti’s Warbler
    uncharacteristically sitting in full view and Chiffchaffs were heard in the hedgerow. After lunch four of us went on
    the Stathe and were rewarded with a good view of 14 Common Cranes on Aller Moor along with a couple of
    Canada Geese, and also nearby a flock of 23 Little Egrets on the wet grassland next to the River Parrett giving a
    total of 40 species. (Many thanks to Mark for leading.) ` Mark Watson

  • Tuesday 13 March – Gordano Valley. Leader: Geoff Harris

    The first shirtsleeve walk of the year, hurrah – well I had my arms out to collect some rays, but of the other 26, all
    muffled up with scarves, coat, etc, at least most had dispensed with gloves. As we gathered, the Buzzard started
    to be seen; first up the valley, then down the valley, some above Walton Down and others over Tickenham Hill, so,
    if your geography is up to scratch, all around us. There were Mallard and Pheasant close to the margins of Moor
    Lane Wood and Goldfinch, Blue and Great Tit sang from its branches. A glimpse of Jay and Long-tailed Tit were
    seen as we rounded the top corner of Harley Lane but alas no specials (we have seen Siskin in the past) on the
    feeders. As we wandered along Clevedon Lane, Robins sang, Woodpigeon co-cooed, Greenfinch wheezed,
    Chaffinch trilled and Goldfinch tinkled – a real ‘start of spring’ soundscape. The Skylark took to the heavens as
    we crossed Weston Moor, an obliging Kestrel circled above and the first of seven Reed Bunting were seen just
    before our coffee stop. Up then, through Common Hill Woods where we added Goldcrest to the list, with the third
    and then the fourth Nuthatch of the walk, chiming in with his ‘Toyy, toyy’ call and longer ‘chi-chi-chi-chi-chi’ song.
    On the feeders at Home Farm, an assortment of House Sparrow, Reed Bunting, Blackcap, and all the tit species
    were logged. After a Mistle Thrush, the last bird noted was a Greenfinch singing from the trees at Walton Cross.
    A total bird count of 32 and warm thanks to Geoff for leading us on this splendid walk. Nick Hawkridge

  • Sunday 11 March – Barrow Gurney Reservoirs Leader: Sean Davies

    Report next month.

  • Tuesday 06 March – Snuff Mills. Leader: Nick Hawkridge

    After a pre-walk review of the Forest of Dean and a hasty rearrangement of venue, 28 members met at the car
    park in Snuff Mills for a pleasant walk with no rain and some sunshine. After crossing the roaring River Frome we
    walked up the valley, seeing many Treecreeper and Goldcrest. A pair of Great Spotted Woodpeckers went tearing
    round the treetops with shrieking cries, and Treecreeper followed suit around the bole of a couple of trees. The
    Long-tailed Tits contented themselves with feeding, with the appearance of already being paired off. Another pair
    showed well – Stock Dove, the iridescent neck patches catching the weak sun, and when a lone Raven crossed
    the vale they departed with a clatter. A Nuthatch was seen before we left the wood and once on the flat we saw
    several Black-headed Gulls – some sporting summer hoods. Carrion Crows probed the sward, getting a meal
    from the mole hill infested grass. At our coffee stop in the park we found half a dozen Redwings scouring the last
    of the holly berries and more Great Spotted Woodpeckers called and drummed. The Song Thrush, on the far side
    of the valley, swelled the spring song soundscape and a little further on the first Blackbird added his melody.
    Before we descended to the river a group of five Jays came chasing over, squawking and shrieking in hot pursuit
    of each other – it’s that time of year. Despite careful study of the river bank twigs and bushes, we didn’t find the
    Kingfisher until we were almost back to the mill, with a final tally of 34 and bright sun on our faces. (Thanks to
    Nick for leading, and for sorting out an alternative walk.) Nick Hawkridge

  • Tuesday 27 February – Bristol City Centre Leader: Nancy Barrett

    No “Beast from the East” can deter Tuesday walkers it seems! 22 members turned up and a 23rd joined us along the way. Our first stop near the Prince Street Swing Bridge was to look at the Cormorants and discuss different types and note the evident breeding patches. Walking along past M-shed, we saw the first of many Herring Gulls plus Lesser Black-backed and Black-headed and a Common Gull. The buddleia, brambles and back gardens of Cumberland Road yielded House Sparrow, Great Tit and Dunnock and a Pied Wagtail accompanied us, finding food among the rail tracks. Although the Chocolate Path was closed, we ventured onto the footbridge over the river in a bit of a snowstorm and were rewarded with good views of a Common Sandpiper. Continuing along beside the Floating Harbour, we went through the Underfall Yard and then crossed the road onto a path new to most of us followed by a bit of the Metrobus route. After a welcome coffee stop in the Create Centre we had a look up river to the Suspension Bridge and saw Redshank and distant Buzzard. After returning on the north side of the harbour to the bottom of Jacobs Wells Road, some of the party continued up onto Brandon Hill where Wren, Long-tailed Tit, Song Thrush and Starling were added to the list. We also watched a nearby group of Redwings in good light turning over leaves. 32 species seen and a satisfying morning. Many thanks to Nancy for leading

  • Sunday 25 February – Chew Valley Lake Leader: Robert Hargreaves

    16 members turned out on a cold but sunny morning. The water level of the lake was very high and this had affected the birds, no egrets today for example. However, we got off to a good start at Woodford where the woodland behind the car park revealed two Bullfinches and two Great Spotted Woodpeckers and calls from a Green Woodpecker and two Jays. 50 Redwings were on the move, together with five Fieldfares. Despite the cold, Spring was in the air with song from Dunnock, Chaffinch, and Wren. There were three Goldeneyes on the lake. We then drove in turn to the hides on the west side of the lake. At Villice there were three Scaup (one male) together with more than 20 Tufted Ducks, a Pochard, and a large number of Coots. At Herons Green there were five Teals and two Pochards at the pond, and two Snipes flew in. Two Buzzards were watching from a nearby tree. On the lake side was a large mixed flock of the four usual gull species (we had a Great Black-backed Gull later, at Herriotts). Continuing to Moreton we had Goldfinch, Siskin, Goldcrest, and Long-tailed Tit in the wood. Opening the hide we felt the full blast of the Siberian wind and we didn’t stay long, having taken in the ubiquitous Tufted Duck and Coot. The water was up to the level of the boardwalk at Stratford hide and a Cetti’s Warbler was singing nearby. We had close views of a male Goldeneye, and more distant views of 18 Shoveler, and a female Scaup. At Herriotts Bridge two Reed Buntings flew in as we arrived. The day’s largest concentration of birds included Shelduck, Pintail, and Grey and Pied Wagtail. On the lake side a pair of Great Crested Grebes began displaying with weed, providing a memorable finish. Thanks to Robert for leading this enjoyable meeting, yielding 51 species Gareth Roberts

  • Tuesday 20 February 2018 –Uphill Leader: Jane Cumming

    Birds never do what you want them to, do they?  Every trip leader will recognise that “it was here yesterday” feeling.  On the previous day’s Wetland Bird Survey, as the tide receded hundreds of waders had flown across from their rocky roosts to the beach and trooped along the tideline in an orderly manner for easy counting.  Today they just sat miles away on the rocks watching that vast expanse of beach opening up as the tide dropped, not one flying across to take advantage of the newly available feeding opportunity. 25 people counted ducks as we waited in vain for the waders –81 Shelducks, 130 Wigeons, 45 Teal, twelve Mallards–and estimated the Lapwing flock at around 170 when they flew.  The Oystercatcher flock had dropped to 50 birds and there were about 60 Curlews.  Redshanks were scattered along the muddy banks of the Axe in half-hidden groups so we only found around a hundred of yesterday’s 300 birds For the rest, we left Rob on the beach to make an accurate count of 447 Dunlinsas he waited in vain for yesterday’s 25 Ringed Plovers to appear.  An advance party quickly gave up on the chilly beach-watch and walked out down the Axe to the Bleadon Levels, picking up Little Egret, Grey Heron,Coot, and Reed Bunting for the list.  The rest waited out the waders for a while, then set off along Uphill’s high cliff face to Walmsley Hill, noting three Little Grebe on the freshwater pool and checking the bushes for passerines.  Stonechat and Meadow Pipit were noted and some saw a distant Peregrine putting up the wader flocks on the Brean Down side of the river.  We couldn’t find the reported female Black Redstart but the last stragglers on the return journey eventually picked it up, and some returned to see it after a good lunch at the marina cafe.  It was an enjoyable morning despite the uncooperative waders, with 40 species on the list. Many thanks to Jane for leading (Editor).                                                                                                                    Jane Cumming

  • Tuesday 13 February – Chew Valley Lake Leaders: John and Sue Prince

    An intrepid group of 13 walkers met at Herons Green, Chew Valley Lake, whilst the rain was pelting down. The walk should have gone over Breach Hill to the Ubley hatchery but it was decided to go to Woodford Lodge for coffee to see if the rain would abate. The rain eased so we decided to walk the Grebe and Bittern trails instead as the weather improved. As we passed the first reedbeds a pair of Stonechats and a pair of Reed Buntings gave us good views. The wooded areas were quite wet but the birds were showing well with two Treecreepers, three Goldcrests and several Cetti’s warblers were heard and one seen. A Water Rail was heard. We had good views of a Grey Wagtail. A flock of at least 50 Fieldfares flew over and a Sparrowhawk was mobbed by Carrion Crows. We noticed that Chaffinches are starting to sing. Great Spotted Woodpecker drummed but we could not find it. Two Common Buzzards and two Grey Herons were seen. The lake was very choppy so only Mallard, Coot and Tufted Duck were noted with a pair of Goldeneye close into the shore. It was a good walk. Thanks to John and Sue Prince for leading (Editor). Sue Prince

  • Tuesday 06 February – Eastville Park – Leader: Richard Scantlebury

    After a cold, frosty night 26 of us, well wrapped up, set off for Stoke Park. In the sun the song of familiar small birds and sight of three Great Spotted Woodpeckers dashing about in a nearby tree cheered us. A Green Woodpecker yaffled. We paused at Duchess Pond to admire the red fox standing out on the grassy slope; a Grey Heron poised then flew, disturbed by a dog walker. After a circuit of the pond we checked the small reed bed for Snipe but they were in hiding. We made our way to Eastville Park via Stapleton Church, enjoying the sound of a Coal Tit calling loudly across the street, but the Peregrine didn’t grace a pinnacle or us with its presence. By the river in Eastville Park we found a Grey Wagtail and, at the weir, our first Kingfisher. Suddenly a Treecreeper was spotted, then another and another. The three Treecreepers were flitting about from tree to tree – another sign that spring is on its way? A look across to the playing fields and allotments yielded two Mistle Thrush, a Stock Dove and a large number of Moorhens (bringing our total for the walk to 14). At the pond we enjoyed the three Cormorants decorating the tree top, another Great Spotted Woodpecker drumming away loudly and some exciting Crow/Sparrowhawk interaction. The pond had the usual water birds along with the glossy red-faced Muscovy Duck, which always causes comment. On our way back around the pond we were fascinated by the perfect stillness of a Grey Heron perched on the edge of “the square” staring intently into the water, holding its neck at an impossible angle. Our return journey gave us another Goldcrest and excellent views of the Kingfisher; we saw it was a female (lipstick!). During our walk we had several small groups of Long- tailed Tits in twos and threes rather than the large flocks of winter but only a single Redwing. We had a very enjoyable walk in spite of our chilly start, with several signs that spring is coming and 37 species altogether. Thanks to our leader Richard Scantlebury.
    Anne Crowe

  • Sunday 04 February – Blashford Lakes

    Despite the reports of some rare gulls just five of us travelled to Ringwood for a walk around the Blashford Lakes reserve on a cold but dry day. On arrival we had a quick scan of Ibsley Water for any of the rarities but only saw Goldeneye and Goosander with the more common ducks. We then gathered at the Education Centre where the feeders held Siskin and Nuthatch before making our way to the Woodland Hide for excellent views of Brambling and Long-tailed Tit. The next two lake hides gave Little and Great Egrets but we missed the Kingfisher directly in front of the hide by five minutes. The reported Firecrest proved elusive (as it did last year) although a family of Roe Deer and a melanistic Fallow Deer were seen. After lunch the party split and two went to look for geese on nearby fields, successfully finding a good flock of White-fronted Geese. The other three returned to Ibsley Water to concentrate on the gathering gull roost. Oystercatcher and Green Sandpiper were added to the list but the main hide was full to the brim and the gull viewing mound also filled up meaning that only one was tall enough to see the Ring-billed Gull. None of the other rare gulls were found before we left to drive home. A good (if cold) time was had by all with 69 species seen. Thanks to Keith for leading (Editor). Keith Williams

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • 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

  • Saturday 13 January – Marshfield Leader: Sue Kempson

    23 members turned up on a rather cool and cloudy day for this morning walk. As we gathered there were five Meadow Pipits obligingly sat in a tree over the road, as well as a few Fieldfare and Redwing in the taller trees.
    Immediately after crossing the busy A420 we saw a pair of Stonechats in a ploughed field. As we continued on the footpath bordering the fields (accosted by a biting wind) we ‘scoped’ a variety of Pied Wagtails, Fieldfares and Meadow Pipits in the stubble. In the far distance a massive mixed flock of birds were seen but were too difficult to identify. We had good views of a Kestrel hovering near the farm and a mixed group of finches and Starlings were seen moving between the ground and a nearby tree. A single Yellowhammer was noted. Absent were the Skylarks which usually abound here and the Corn Buntings. Jackdaw, Crows and Rooks were seen and a Wren sheltering in the crevices of a stone wall (and who could blame it!). As we got to Rushmead Lane we turned right and immediately had a Raven fly overhead. We continued to the junction with the Tormarton Road which is usually a good spot for Corn Buntings and were rewarded by a small group perching in a tree. On the other side of the Tormarton Road we saw Collared Dove, more Fieldfare and Chaffinch. Skylark could be heard in the distance. A possible Peregrine identified by its flight was seen flying over. As we returned along Rushmead Lane we had a group of approximately 25 Golden Plover fly over. Down in the valley to our left a number of hunters were out shooting, a single Pheasant was noted but, unsurprisingly, no Red-legged Partridge. As we approached the junction to turn left and complete our walk we saw a large number of Fieldfare on the field to our right, whilst on the left a small group of Yellowhammers were seen. Overall 25 species were listed. We were somewhat frustrated by poor light and multiple small and large groups of birds in the far distance which defied identification.
    (Thanks to Sue for leading) Sue Kempson

  • Tuesday 09 January – Ham Wall Leader: Mark Watson

    The weather was cold and misty as 15 of us gathered in the RSPB car park at Ham Wall, not ideal conditions to see the Starlings coming in to roost later. After a brief period before Christmas roosting on Shapwick Heath the Starlings had returned to Ham Wall after the festivities. Blue Tit, Great Tit and Chaffinch were on the feeders and fliting back and forth to the hedgerow, where Wren, Dunnock and Robin were also found. A pair of Pied Wagtails appeared and a single Mute Swan serenely paddled along on the pond next to the car park. Moving along to the first viewing platform we heard a Cetti’s Warbler and passed Mallard, Coot and Gadwall on the pools to the right. At the platform Shelduck, Tufted Duck, Gadwall, Great Crested Grebe, Little Grebe, Pochard and a Great White Egret were before us. A Snipe flew over the reed beds and a male Marsh Harrier quartered the beds giving excellent views of its brown, pale grey and black tipped wings despite the poor visibility. We were also able to see a female and male (probably the same one) further on at the Avalon Hide. On the way to the hide Reed Warblers were heard and a flock of Linnets flew over and a few Goldfinches were in the hedgerow trees along with Jackdaw and a Carrion Crow towards the woodland across the Marsh. After a brief stop for tea/coffee we moved on towards where the Starlings had been recently roosting, well down the old railway track towards the far end of the reserve. After a slow start it was apparent the at least three roosts were in use; one near some of our group at the end of the reserve, one further away beyond trees across the marsh and another beyond the first viewing platform where we passed chattering Starlings when leaving. The best murmuration was distant but there were several thousand starlings dropping onto the nearby reeds next to the track and passing just over our heads. A single Bittern was flying low over the reeds. In between Starling arrivals, a Bullfinch flew across the track and a small flock of Fieldfares also passed by before we headed home. In all 41 species were seen and we had a reasonable show of Starlings even though conditions were not ideal. (Thanks to Mark for leading) Mark Watson

  • Tuesday 02 January – Newton St Loe Leader: Robert Hargreaves

    Well, what a day! It was pouring with rain, an amazing eleven walkers in full wet gear, and seventeen Hawfinches seen, a 21st century record for Avon. Starting by the church we soon found a Redwing, but little else. The gate at the bottom of the lakes was deep in mud so out in the wind along the open road to the University. A flock of 50 Redwings were put up by a dog walker ahead of us, along with many Black-headed and Common Gulls. We took shelter around the University buildings, before setting out towards the Keep. A Cormorant could be seen below on the lake with some Teal, Moorhen and a Grey Heron, while a Song Thrush scuttled into the undergrowth. Some finches flew over us, rather large and heavy in flight. Our boys, we guessed excitedly. Getting the binoculars on them showed we had seven Hawfinches, the largest group so far reported in Avon this winter. They quickly disappeared across the lake, followed by an eighth. A Mistle Thrush stayed behind looking down on us, while some Goldfinches twittered. Eagerly we followed the Hawfinches round the lake, but they kept moving ahead of us, then circled back. Those in front saw a flock of seven or so fly back across the lake, and then four more. Our guest, Glen Maddison, set off back to see if the Hawfinches had returned to the first location. The tail end of our walkers hung back, waiting for Glen to report and were pleased with an obliging Goldcrest showing well. From that position they were treated to good views of at least twelve and possibly 17 Hawfinch. Glen’s group finally caught up with the main party for a late coffee stop in the shelter of the pavilion. Hawfinch excitement was very high! A quick visit to the bottom lake revealed a male Goosander, which flew to top lake, later joined by a female. All of us decided to go in search of the Hawfinch again. More were seen with better views; also some Greenfinches and Mistle Thrushes, but no decision on the number of Hawfinches. Wayne Tucker of NSL birding took over the search while we had to set off back. Later he confirmed the full 17 Hawfinches, seen all in flight in one go. We had presided over a record sighting. On our walk back we had Pied Wagtails, two Ravens, twelve Long-tailed and two Coal Tits, both Woodpeckers, and more Goldcrests, bringing our total to 40 species. It was an excellent morning’s birding all round and thanks to everyone. Anne Crow

  • Monday 01 January 2018 – WWT Slimbridge

    Thanks to all the 27 members who turned up for this meeting – a very good showing, and a very good showing of birds too, with 64 species logged. About a half of these were noted on our way to (and from) and at the Holden Tower. It was quite a scrummage in the tower as people tried to see everything! Bewick Swans, White-fronted and Greylag Geese were all on show, as well as Canadas, Barnacles and a lone Red-breasted Goose (genuine?). All the expected duck species were seen – eight in all. But the waders were attracting most attention and in particular, two Little Stint which proved rather elusive for some of us, but ticked off by all eventually. The ten species seen, as well as the Stints, were Golden Plover, Lapwing, Dunlin, Ruff, Snipe, Black-tailed Godwit, Curlew, Redshank and a couple of Avocets, although these were seen best from the Zeiss hide where there were more Snipe. The expected Peregrine was seen and a Buzzard or two watched from fence and hedge. Just as most of the party had left the Holden Tower a Hawfinch was seen there – perhaps the star bird of the morning. We were by now heading through the grounds ‘mopping up’ passerines as gulls (five species) sailed around. These included Redwing, Song and Mistle Thrush, Cetti’s Warbler, Goldcrest and Treecreeper, as well as the expected tits, crows and finches. A swimming Water Rail was spotted from the Kingfisher hide. The weather was mostly kind to us and it was a great morning’s birding. (Thanks to Robin for leading) Robin Prytherch

  • Tuesday 26 December – Snuff Mills Leader: Nick Hawkridge

    We were twelve at the start and we all saw the first bird on the list – a Goldcrest, which came out of the car park hedge and hung in the trees by the café, giving most of us time to get close with our ‘bins’ – well done Judy. As we walked to the bridge, a further member joined us, Richard, the patch man himself. We squelched along the right bank of the River Frome, which was fast flowing, very high, turbulent and muddy-looking. Up then through the woods to the corner of the hospital having heard a distant Raven calling, seen the usual tit species, two Treecreepers and a cross-looking Buzzard that threaded its way through the branches before alighting and staring down at us. The Magpie count started in the woods and ended at 15 for the day, the Long-tailed Tit 26 – seen in six small flocks, the biggest being eight. We walked past the allotments, where the rear of the party saw Nuthatch, round the new-build homes – Song Thrush and House Sparrow and then onto the playing fields. Only a dozen Black-headed Gulls were feeding on the grass but they were quickly moved on by the dog walkers. A sighting of Coal Tit was made by some and his call heard by most. He was the last bird we saw before we stopped by the fallen tree for coffee. A Redwing was seen as we supped and Starling passed through the gaps in the trees. On our return journey, we were able, thankfully, to walk down the bank of the river even though it was muddy and slippery. The tally built nicely against each species, and we were able to add, most excitingly for Richard, a Little Grebe. It was busily feeding just past the Rhododendrons and among some Mallards – well done Jan for that one. The total for the day was 27, with the final bird being a Jay (well done Lois), seen as we climbed into the cars, in my case heading home to a Boxing Day lunch with family. (Thanks for turning out to lead, Nick.)
    Nick Hawkridge

  • Tuesday 19 December – Iron Acton Leader: David Body

    A group of 22 set out from the White Hart Inn on what turned out to be quite a pleasant winter’s day, which was clearer than expected with some sun. We immediately saw a number of common species which included House Sparrow, Magpie, Chaffinch, and Jackdaw. A little further on we heard a Green Woodpecker which then gave us a fleeting view. We left the road and walked alongside a field in which there were a large number of birds feeding on the ground. Although at this time of year we may not see as many species on a walk the total number of birds seen is often higher. In this field we saw Blackbird (nine), Fieldfare (179), Redwing (67) and Starling (98) – these numbers being the total seen on the walk. We added Song Thrush and a flock of 100 plus Wood Pigeon, followed by Wren, Goldfinch, Collared Dove, Coal Tit and Dunnock. A Bullfinch and a Pheasant were heard. As we followed a path between two fields a female Stonechat was spotted, quickly followed by the male which gave us an excellent view. From the same spot the winter sun enabled us to have a nice view of a male Yellowhammer in a distant hedge. A flock of 28 Linnets was seen and we added Rook, Herring Gull, Buzzard, Long-tailed Tit, a pair of Mallard and Grey Wagtail. As we approached the end of the walk some of the group saw a Sparrowhawk and others saw Lesser Black-backed gull and Common Gull. Thanks to Nick for keeping a record of the species and numbers seen and to David for leading the walk. Mike Landen

  • Tuesday 12 December – Pucklechurch Leader: Duncan Gill

    After the coldest night of the year, 22 well-wrapped members met for the pre-Christmas Lunch walk on a crisp, sunny morning. The Rose and Crown car park proved productive with eleven species sighted before we set off (but after ten o’clock!). These first sightings included flocks of both Redwings and Fieldfares. After crossing the road and climbing the first stile we saw two foxes. We then went along a lane adding to our list with Wren and Blackbird and Collared Dove, Starlings, whose plumage was showing well in the bright sunlight, and then Redwing close enough for everyone to see in detail. Redwing were spotted on various occasions during the walk, 15 plus the largest flock noted. Coffee was taken near the garden centre where distracted by a horse and two ponies meant that most missed a flock of Golden Plovers and another of Lapwings. However, good views of about 40 Golden Plovers were seen in the next field as they wheeled around and eventually landed. Yet another flock, seen by some, were Linnets, again about 40, on the electric wire at the end of the walk. The morning’s total was 29 species. We were back at the pub by midday to join other Xmas lunchers, who hadn’t walked, and we all enjoyed an excellent meal with lots of laughs. Many thanks to Peter Holbrook for arranging it, and then re-arranging it after the original choice of pub closed, and to Duncan Gill for leading the walk and Mark Watson for organising all our Tuesday walks. Nancy Barrett

  • Saturday 09 December – WWT Steart Leader: Richard Belson

    On a cold but initially clear day – eight intrepid members attended this walk around the Steart Marshes. Whilst in the reserve car park we could see multiple groups of Starlings on the move, as well as a large flock of Dunlin which must have been in the thousands. On our way to the Mendip Hide we checked the bushes and trees and were rewarded with good views of many Stonechats as well as a variety of other birds. At the hide were large numbers of Shelduck, some Wigeon, Redshank and Curlew. A male Marsh Harrier spent some time hovering over the reeds giving good views, then a Sparrowhawk came through putting many birds up. On our way to the river we saw Reed Bunting, Linnets and a very large flock of Chaffinches, and on the water were large numbers of Dunlins, a flock of about 180 Avocets and a smaller number of Grey Plovers. At the Quantock View Hide Teal, Shoveler, Little Grebe, Black-tailed Godwits, Grey Heron, Little Egret and Merlin were seen. On our way to the Polden Hide we had a Kestrel and our first Redwings of the day. As we left the hide an unexpected Black Redstart obligingly perched on a post for us.
    After a brief lunch break back at the car park we went on to the Natural England car park and walked out to The Breach. Here we had a closer view of wading Avocet and further views of Marsh Harrier. A Buzzard and possible distant Peregrine completed a good raptor day. Overall 48 species seen.
    Thanks to Richard Belson for leading the walk. Sue Kempson

  • Tuesday 05 December – Chew Valley Lake Leader: Mike Landen

    A pleasing turnout of 24 members set out from the main car park at Chew Valley Lake on a rather overcast December day. At the dam wall we had a good start to the walk seeing a number of species that included Coot, Moorhen, Goldeneye (five), Teal (six), Great Crested Grebe (twelve), Wigeon (eight), Gadwall (eight), Pochard (six) and a large number of Tufted Ducks. We also noted Black-headed Gull (100 plus), Common Gull (six) and Herring Gull (five) as well twelve Lapwings. We then walked through fields to the north of the lake and added a number of common species to our list. These included Long-tailed Tit, Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Bullfinch, Chaffinch, Goldfinch and Redwing (a total of 27 by the end of the walk). After we had crossed a very muddy short section or used the rather perilous diversion, some of the group spotted Grey Wagtail, Treecreeper and Buzzard. After our coffee break we walked along Dumpers Lane and a short section of Denny Lane adding Mistle Thrush,Dunnock, Collared Dove and House Sparrow. As we followed the footpath towards Knowle Hill we enjoyed the best of the morning’s weather and added Jackdaw, Lesser Black-backed Gull and Fieldfare (a total of 57 by the end of the walk). There were a number of very well-maintained hedges alongside the path and on the edges of the nearby fields we saw Yellowhammer (eight), Linnet (15), Skylark (eight) and a flock of Starlings (80). As we walked back along the lake between the two car parks we added Little Egret, a single Great White Egret, Grey Heron, Shelduck, and Goosander, as well as hearing both Great Spotted Woodpecker and Water Rail. It was a good walk with a respectable total of 57 species. (Thanks to Nick for keeping a record of birds seen and to Mike for leading.) Mike Landen

  • Sunday 03 December – Ham Wall and Shapwick. Leader: Giles Morris

    Eleven people gathered at Ham Wall car park in anticipation of a good morning’s birding and as usual the Avalon Marshes did not disappoint. We started by searching the car park area for the Firecrests that had been reported and, while they failed to show, we quickly started to find a good number of species, including a big flock of Goldfinches and Siskins on the alder cones. This was the first of several finch flocks we saw during the day, but despite some careful searching through these tree top gatherings, there were no Redpolls amongst any of them.
    The new Noah’s hide on Shapwick provided a comfortable stop from which to admire the many hundreds of duck on the lake. The majority were Wigeon (1500 by a recent count), but a search through the melee added Tufted, Gadwall, Mallard, Teal, Shoveler and a few smart Pintail. Two Marsh Harriers added to the excitement, causing flurries of panic in the duck ranks. The walk there and back added Raven, Jay, Reed Bunting, Bullfinch, Stonechat and a couple of Kingfisher fly-pasts and as we returned to the car parks a mixed tit flock included a Chiffchaff and several Goldcrests. Hints of a Firecrest moving with them were confirmed by some of the group as we lunched in the carpark. Switching to the Ham Wall side in the afternoon added several species we had missed in the morning, including the resident Glossy Ibis, our first (surprisingly!) Great White Egret and Snipe feeding on one of the islands.
    All in all a very enjoyable few hours birding with a very good mix of species, giving a final list of 53 for the day. (Many thanks for leading Giles.) Giles Morris

  • Tuesday 28 November – Cheddar Reservoir / Chedddar Yeo Leader: Mark Watson

    A fine sunny morning with a chilly wind greeted 23 members for a walk around about two-thirds of Cheddar Reservoir perimeter and the remainder on to the levels south of the water to the river Axe and back via Axbridge. From the top of the bank we could see Tufted Duck, Coot in large numbers across the water and a Moorhen near to the bank. As we walked around the reservoir we had a clear view of the several hundred Coot along with a few Great Crested Grebe and Black-headed and Lesser Black-backed Gulls. We descended the bank to walk along a squelchy drove to the Axe. On the way to the river Axe, a Bullfinch, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Grey Heron Goldfinch, Dunnock, and Robin were seen though only in small numbers. Somewhat surprisingly no Fieldfare or Redwing appeared and there were no Little Egrets on the Axe and adjacent rhynes, although some members spotted a Buzzard, and over 20 Meadow Pipits were counted. Along the path to Axbridge a Stonechat sat in good view and a Kingfisher flashed by. Blue, Great and Coal Tits fed in the hedgerows and on feeders, a Chiffchaff was heard and two Redwings were the only thrushes we saw all morning. Back on the reservoir path Mandarin Duck and Mallard along with quite a few mixed varieties were on the water, and on the way back to the car park the adjacent woods and scrub produced Goldcrest and Long-tailed Tits giving a total of 45 species. (Many thanks to Mark for leading this walk). Mark Watson

  • Tuesday 21 November – East Harptree Leader: Geoff Harris

    As November enters its final few days, the prospect of any ‘nice’ days grows dim. Today at East Harptree must be counted one of the dimmest so far, but, it didn’t rain. From the car park we could hear Raven calling and what came after? Well, it had to be, Goldcrest, as it is the next, after RN, in the current taxonomic order. A fair few were working hard in the bare fronds of a Spruce, all so very busy, picking off the tiniest of insects, and never still. A Wren called from the deep cover of some old brown leafed brambles and Goldfinch hung (and for a heart stopping moment we thought of Siskin) on the many catkins of the Birch trees. As ever, the pond by the Smitham Chimney was without bird life – it was coloured brown and the paw marks at the edge spoke of many dogs playing. The first flock of Starling came over and we observed many Fieldfare, Redwing and Chaffinch feeding on leaf litter before retreating to the trees and then back down to feed. More Fieldfares were above us and in the distance a vast flock of mixed corvids appeared above the skyline showing three distinct sizes, so probably Rook, Jackdaw and Carrion Crow. The first Jay screeched out its presence and flew rapidly away into the trees, under which we took our customary coffee stop. Geoff declared the path down to the combe to be a no-go area – far too wet, so we dropped down into the village from the top fields, finding a couple of Pied Wagtail there. We didn’t, for certain, latch onto the Grey Wagtail that is often to be found by the stream, only a silhouette of a departing bird, undulating its way into the gloom. Across the fields and to the house whose owners have given notice of wanting to stop up a footpath – shame. A Great Spotted Woodpecker was drumming in the woods above the village, two more Jay called and flew, and our final flock of Fieldfare came over. Ten walkers found 28 species and gave Geoff a big ‘thank you’ for leading. Nick Hawkridge

  • Tuesday 14 November – Eastville/Stoke Park Estate Leader: Rich Scantlebury

    Twenty-six members met at Snuff Mills car park for a walk round part of Eastville Park. The weather was overcast and damp but the rain held off until after we finished. Eastville Park is well used by dog walkers, joggers, cyclists, walkers and a new development; people camping out. Many birds make the woodland their home, in spite of the disturbance. Just inside the entrance to the park we had Jay, Blue and Long-tailed Tit and heard a Redwing and a singing Blackbird, although the song seemed different to normal. It was either a winter sub-song or possibly a European migrant. An obliging Grey Wagtail sat near the weir and we had a good view of its back and tail before it turned round to show off its yellow frontage. We scoured the brush and shrubbery for Firecrest without success but we saw Goldcrest later on. Then we met a lady who had just seen an Otter in the lake. So we hurried down for a look. There was clear evidence of something in the water and a number of the group were lucky to see a head poke up momentarily. It’s amazing how long they can hold their breath. We had our first view of a Kingfisher on the lake and further round we saw two more, adult and first-winter males. They circled one of the islands in dispute over ownership of the territory. A Sparrowhawk flashed overhead on our return journey, the only raptor of the day. A total of 27 species were seen or heard. Thanks to Richard for leading. Alastair Fraser

  • Sunday 12 November – Axe and Exe Estuaries Leader: Gordon Youdale

    Three unusual birds can’t be bad!!? Eight members met the leader at the Seaton Wetlands, an extensive mosaic of habitats created specifically for wildlife watching. We walked along to Colyford Common hide (tidal saltmarsh and reed) and then back to Stafford Marsh (ponds, reeds and Stafford Brook). Ducks included Shelduck, Teal, Mallard and Wigeon. There were also Herring and Black-headed Gulls. Waders included Lapwing, Redshank, Curlew and Dunlin. Buzzard, Sparrowhawk and Little Egret were also noted. We visited the Island Hide at Black Hole Marsh which is a saline lagoon with islands and added Little Grebe, Coot and Grey Heron to the list. The Tower Hide also at Black Marsh but with views also of the Axe Estuary produced several Common Gulls, Cormorant, Black-tailed Godwit, Snipe, Great Black-backed Gull, Oystercatcher, Mute Swan and a very obliging Kingfisher on the rail outside. We then drove to Budleigh Salterton where we walked along the River Otter- there we added Glossy Ibis. On to Mud Bank Hide at Exmouth which overlooks the River Exe where, despite the very choppy waters, there were many Wigeon and Pintail and even a Bahama Pintail. Turnstones were present on the beach and across on the mudbank could be seen many Dark-bellied Brent Geese at a distance. Some of us went onto Bowling Green Marsh hide where we added Shoveler and Greylag Geese. Two members went on with the leader to the viewing platform adding Black Swan, Red-breasted Merganser, 100+ Avocets, Golden Plover, Knot, Stock Doves, Fieldfare and Redwing. Unfortunately, the Pale-bellied Brent Geese and Cattle Egrets seen earlier in the week failed to show. Altogether, about 55 species were seen, on a good day, with sunny spells and a couple of light showers and a northerly wind. Thanks to Gordon for leading and sharing his local knowledge.
    Rosemary Brown

  • Tuesday 07 November – Frampton on Severn Leader: Alastair Fraser

    Fourteen eager birders, including two guests, met at the car park near the sailing club in spite of a poor weather forecast. We set off for a walk around the lake stopping at the club launch area for a good look across the water. A Little Egret danced past us and several Moorhens pottered about. Great Crested Grebes were quite close. The sole intrepid ‘scope bearer, Rob Hargreaves, enabled examination of the raft of Coots and the large number of Tufted Duck for anything special, and a Yellow-legged Gull was spotted among the other gulls (yes, for once it had truly yellow legs!). Showery rain didn’t stop us walking on, hearing and seeing the usual small birds in the trees and bushes. Looking across the open fields a large flock of winter thrushes was spotted in the distance. A newly turned field produced a large number of Pied Wagtails, with quite a few Chaffinch hopping around the base of the pylon. The tree-lined path at the bottom of the lake gave us groups of Long-tailed Tits, a Bullfinch calling, Coal Tits and a Treecreeper. We were all quite damp by now and happy to shelter under trees for our coffee stop, where we were pleased to see two Jays (probably caching food) and a Song Thrush perched on the fence, among other birds. At this point our leader decided to forego the pleasures of the extremely muddy path through the woods in favour of returning between lakes. Trees and bushes here gave us Great Spotted Woodpeckers, Bullfinch, a flock of Goldfinches, good sightings of Redwing, a fly-past Mistle Thrush and our only raptor of the day, a Kestrel. The small private fishing lake gave us a very clean, bright Mute Swan – a shame it turned out to be a dummy! Court Lake was more productive with Gadwall, Pochard and Mallard to add to our duck list, Little Grebe and a flighty Green Sandpiper. Further along Rob’s ‘scope helped us obtain a good view of the single Whooper Swan, an exciting find. At noon, exactly as forecast, heavy rain came in; our walk was curtailed and we beat a hasty retreat to our cars, or in our brave leader’s case, motorbike, but it had been a good walk with around 40 species seen. Thanks to Alistair for leading the walk. Anne Crowe

  • Sunday 05 November – Chew Valley Lake Leader: Robert Hargreaves

    Arrived at Herriotts Bridge to find a new member, Pete, had found two Goosanders. Before I could get to see them a rumbling noise could be heard approaching from the Mendips – quite intimidating. As it got louder we saw this dark line bearing down on us. A flock of 150 Canada Geese came in close over our heads, half turning to the lake, and the rest landing on the pool – a very memorable sight. As we all gathered we noted a Kingfisher in the channel, 13 Pintails on the pool, two Dunlins by the lake, and Cetti’s Warbler and Chiffchaff were heard. Herons Green first, as there were large numbers of Great White Egrets reported but to my surprise there were only seven present: a Green Sandpiper in the corner was hard to see and only two Black-tailed Godwits. Later we started finding Common Gulls, then eleven Goosanders, a Kestrel, and lastly an immature Yellow-legged Gull. Paying for a permit was not popular so we headed round to Hollowbrook: another Chiffchaff in the woods, two Buzzards flew over and, at the half-finished new Bernard King hide, we found eight Goldeneye and 226 Cormorant in a line, off Denny Island. At lunch at the Dam another three Goldeneye were diving, but no Egyptian Geese. Finally to the Bristol Water hide at Stratford which was pretty full – a good sign. Parades of Wigeon and a Dunlin, two drake Red-crested Pochards in a group of three out in the middle, with more Pintails and gulls. Next was a search for a Jack Snipe in the reeds below – difficult but a Snipe was found. And then, as we got our eyes in, a Snipe deep in the reeds was bobbing up and down. The stripes on its head and short bill confirmed a Jack Snipe. To finish off the day a Water Rail paraded along the front of the reeds and a Bearded Tit called. Thirteen participants enjoyed the day. (Very many thanks, again, to Robert for leading this field meeting)
    Robert Hargreaves

  • Tuesday 31 October – Saltford Leader: Robert Hargreaves

    Starting below the Bird in Hand pub we went up to the cycle track, where the first arrivals caught sight of a Kingfisher. Walking west along the cycle track Chiffchaff and Goldcrest were found. After 400 yards we turned into the fields along a path with six rickety stiles. Large numbers of Blackbirds and a Redwing flitted along the hedgerows. At the grass airfield there were a few Pied Wagtails with Meadow Pipits mixed in among the sheep. The more we looked the more we saw, 36 Pied Wagtails and 15 Meadow Pipits. Then, in the trees behind, large flocks of Goldfinches, and a Bullfinch and Redwings across the skyline – all so busy. What a buzz. No Red-legged Partridges in the next fields but a Pheasant ran off. Coffee break at Avon Farm and a flock of 19 Longtailed Tits passed through. Down the avenue of trees we heard Green Woodpecker and then photographed a Great Spotted Woodpecker on a treetop. Down by Swineford Lock were four Moorhens, two Swans, and another Kingfisher, and finally two Mallards. Walking downriver a Grey Heron flew over and then another Great Spotted Woodpecker, which turned into three at once. Finally a raptor passed over, a Buzzard. The last fields on the walk back above the cycle track revealed a flock of several hundred Goldfinches and 300 Woodpigeons – winter magic. In the last copse Jean Oliver found a male Bullfinch. The best walk I’ve had there for some time. 18 walkers and 38 species. (Thank you Robert for leading this walk) Robert Hargreaves

  • Sunday 29 October – Clevedon – Leader: Jason Williams

    Fourteen club members joined me on a dry but quite cool day with a brisk NW wind.   We started by walking to the ‘viz mig’ spot of Wains Hill, but this produced only a few Chaffinch and Winter thrushes.   The loop around the headland was generally very quiet with little of note.  We spied a few Redshank, Curlew, Wigeon and a lone Little Egret on Blackstone Rocks below us. Proceeding down to Clevedon Pill we watched a Rock Pipit before walking to the Blind-Yeo sluice; alas, there were no birds on the Yeo. A Peregrine drifted by putting up most of the Gulls and a few Lapwing.   At Blackstone Rocks two male Stonechats buzzed around us for a while. The walk down to the Kenn produced small numbers of Skylark, Meadow Pipits and Linnet. A Buzzard did a good impression of a chicken, sticking out it’s white rump as it sat in a bush.   At the Kenn there were a few Dunlin and Curlew along with Redshank.   The best find of the day was here, a female Scaup. The walk back to the cars was uneventful.  A total of 40 species for the morning.  Thanks to those who joined me. (thanks also to Jason for leading)                                                                                      Jason Williams

  • Tuesday 26 September – Priddy

    Twenty-three members turned out for this popular walk on a misty morning. We spent some time near the church at a very productive tree watching a Tree Creeper. Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Robin, Pied Wagtail were also seen plus Blackbird, Blue and Great Tit and a Song Thrush. Some more distant “thrushes” just might have been winter ones. Robins were singing throughout our walk, a large party of Goldfinches was seen and all the corvids at one time or another. A few Swallows were spotted – will this be the final Tuesday walk of 2017 to see them? The old drove road which led us up to the Priddy Barrows tends to be wet and muddy in dry weather and it outdid itself this year, slowing progress and meaning that eyes were mostly looking downwards but Great Spotted Woodpecker and Meadow Pipit were seen before we stopped for a late coffee break. While conditions meant the view could have been better, two Kestrels were on nearby wires and a singing Skylark lifted any hearts that needed lifting. Smart Red Admirals and a few Speckled Wood butterflies were seen and numerous types of fungi which were duly identified by our regular expert. We shall almost certainly ask what they are again next week, Jean – though might remember the waxcaps! Onward and in spite of much scanning no Wheatears were seen on the walls. Then another muddy path took us down to the Mineries, which were quiet on the bird front but there were lots of darter dragonflies mating. The flat remainder of the walk netted plenty of corvids, some displaying, a couple of Buzzards, House Sparrows and a Nuthatch, and in all 36 species were seen. Thanks to Bill for leading.
    Nancy Barrett

    Leader: Bill Dobie

  • Tuesday 24 October – Folly Farm, hedge planting

    Thirty-four members gathered at Folly Farm on a warm October day to be briefed on how to plant the 1,100 new trees funded by the club as our main 50th anniversary conservation project. Some very experienced gardeners seemed a little surprised to be told that they had been using a spade incorrectly for too many years to mention, but the resulting twin lines of two foot high saplings and the lack of any recourse to the first aider was a very satisfactory outcome. After lunch in the outdoor classroom, a small group completed the protective stock-fencing while the remaining dozen were given a guided tour by Joe McSorley from AWT. We were treated to a potted history of the site, a wide selection of fungi, and several mixed flocks of finches including Siskin. From the top of the hill we looked down on two Buzzards reeling around. A Raven flew over during the planting session. Green Woodpeckers were heard but not seen. The fields contained many ant hills just waiting to be attacked. I recorded only 17 species but the main purpose of the day was the hedge planting, so thanks for the great turnout. Mark Watson and Mike Landen coordinated our efforts and Ken Caruthers set up the project.                  Keith Williams

  • Tuesday 17 October – Barrow Gurney

    Eighteen members gathered at the village hall carpark on a warm October day. Our first Yellowhammers were seen along the cycle track heading towards the A38. Once we regained the fields a single Coal Tit showed briefly. We then had distant views of Barrow Tanks finding Herons, Cormorants and three Little Egrets (identity confirmed by a later visit to the tanks) amongst the more common ducks and geese. The birding was quiet while we walked through lanes, with high hedges on both sides, apart from hearing a brief Bullfinch call. Once we re-crossed the A38 (carefully) the open fields supplied good numbers of Meadow Pipits and Skylarks with more Yellowhammers and a Kestrel. Many Woodpigeons were seen with one flock of at least 300 before the final fields gave us three Buzzards and a ‘cronking’ Raven. A good time was had by all with 35 species seen. Thanks to Mark Watson for leading and for some judicious use of the secateurs to clear the way over one of the stiles.            Keith Williams

  • Sunday 15 October- Migration watch – 07:00 to 11:00
    Bird Aust NP/NW Portishead Wains Hill Sand Point
    Canada Goose 49 N        
    Hobby       1  
    Golden Plover 4 1 flock      
    Woodpigeon   15   49  
    Great Spot Woodpecker       4 2
    Skylark   47     17
    Swallow         4
    House Martin       1  
    Starling 181 140   67 730
    Song Thrush       3  
    Redwing 1 240   2  
    Pied Wagtail 49 12 10 19 21
    Meadow Pipit 69 50   34 37
    Water Pipit 1        
    Chaffinch 409 280 12 E, 96 SW 936 1560
    Brambling 2     1  
    Greenfinch 5 30   27 41
    Goldfinch 72 10 25 16 6
    Siskin 3 16   2 9
    Linnet 52        
    Redpoll 2 3   11 1
    Crossbill       1  
    Bullfinch       4 9
    Hawfinch 1 ??     2
    Reed Bunting 3   1 1 2
    Lapland Bunting       1  
  • Tuesday 10 October – Pilning Wetlands – Leader: Jane Cumming

    Despite the light drizzle and general murkiness, 25 members turned out for the walk at Severn Beach.  The tide was exceptionally high with the Pill well overflowing its usual banks.  We saw little in the murk apart from a Chiffchaff fly-catching from a bush, until we reached the corner where the concrete walkway ends and we stopped to look out across the levels.  Here was plenty to see:  ducks, gulls, Oystercatchers and Curlews in a distant roost, eleven Ringed Plover on the saltmarsh.  We checked through the flocks of small gulls but could find only Black-headed.  Onwards towards the freshwater pools to count ducks: 41 Teal, 24 Gadwall, eight Shoveler and twelve Tufted Ducks though no-one counted the Mallards.  We turned our attention to the waders: half a dozen Dunlins were feeding amongst the Redshanks and Black-tailed Godwits, one to two Common Sandpipers were about, someone noticed a Ruff and someone else pointed out three Snipe.  A flock of 28 Lapwings floated around the grasslands. Skylarks and Meadow Pipits were passing overhead in some numbers, probably migrating, but I missed the only Swallow of the morning.  Other passerines of interest included a Rock Pipit, Stonechats, Wrens and a sizeable flock of Starlings.  Surprisingly, a Shelduck in flight as we walked back was the only one of the morning.  It was a shame we couldn’t find the Grey Phalarope which was reported later that day, but Nick’s final count was an excellent total of 55 species. (thanks to Jane for leading)                                                                            Jane Cumming

  • Sunday 08 October – Steart Marshes

    28 members met at the WWT carpark on a warm day with sun and light wind. We were greeted by a Peregrine on a distant pylon that maintained its watch all day. Cetti’s Warbler (heard) and several Stonechats were among the reeds en route to the Mendip hide. The water level was high and there were many Little Egret with Redshank, Shoveler, and Shelduck. Two Grey Plovers flew in, and two Marsh Harriers were flying in the distance, beyond the Parrett. Walking towards the river we saw Dunlin and Pintail in the marshes, and distant views of Avocet on the river. A second pylon Peregrine gave good views, and there were two Kestrels on a further pylon. The next stop was the hide at Otterhampton marshes where we had the greatest variety of species. A lucky few glimpsed a Brown Hare. There were good views of Golden Plover in the sun, and a Ruff showed itself briefly. More Grey Plovers were seen. Wader highlights were individual Greenshank, Spotted Redshank, and Curlew Sandpiper. After lunch ten members proceeded to the village car park for a walk along the coast towards the tower hide at the point. The tide was well out so wader views were distant, but we had Stonechat in good numbers. On the lane back to the village we saw Greenfinch among a large charm of more than 100 Goldfinch. A Sparrowhawk flew over to provide a fine final bird of the day. The meeting yielded a total of 54 species, including five raptors and 15 wader species. Many thanks to Richard for leading this enjoyable day.                                                                                                                                                                         Gareth Roberts

  • Tuesday 03 October – Portbury

    A dry autumn day but traffic chaos caused by a lorry crash on the M5 delayed the arrival of the seventeen walkers who made it through. Along the lane to Portbury Warth Woodpigeon, Carrion Crow, House Sparrow, Chaffinch and Pied Wagtail were seen in the hedgerows and fields along with a couple of Stock Dove. As we walked down the lane to the nature reserve Blue Tit, Great Tit, Greenfinch and Chiffchaff were seen and heard and the obligatory Buzzard flew overhead. The hides overlooking the pools produced several ducks including Mallard, Teal, Wigeon as well as ten Mute Swans, Coot, five Cormorant and a flock of 50 plus Starling. A few saw a Whinchat as we moved onto the edge of the saltmarsh and several Curlew were just visible feeding on the mud beyond at the water’s edge. The highlight of the walk back across grass fields was a flock of 30 plus Linnet flying overhead. Other birds included Long-tailed Tits, Dunnock, Goldfinch and a pair of Collared Doves giving 33 species in all. Thanks to Roger for leading a good walk and a pleasant day.     Thanks to Roger and Lana for leading                                Mark Watson                                                                             

  • Sunday 01 October – Newport Wetlands

    The forecast of torrential rain and gale force winds may have deterred some, but it turned out to be a worthwhile visit for the seven who set out and the weather was not really a problem. At the wetlands, the ponds had the expected Little Grebe, Wigeon, Gadwall and a Swan family with three largish cygnets.  Cetti’s warblers and Stonechats were in the bushes and a Great Spotted Woodpecker was seen high on a pylon. With the tide well out we had Curlew, Little Egret and Herring Gulls. A small group of Swallows was swooping over the ponds. We reached 29 species before moving round to Goldcliff.  A quiet start initially with Greenshank, Shelduck and Pied Wagtail but the birds started to arrive as the tide was turning. Now Redshank, Spotted Redshank, Dunlin, seven Little Stint, Lapwing and Ringed Plover were added. A Peregrine was perched on a gate and a Marsh Harrier demonstrated low level flying and landing before a Kestrel did a fly past.  Ruff and Black-tailed Godwit were present and a solitary Sanderling appeared amongst the Dunlin flock. A Snipe, two Wheatear, a flock of Linnets and a Chiffchaff all helped to make a very respectable 55 species (Thanks to Margaret and Ray for leading and the report. Editor).                                                                Margaret and Ray Bulmer

  • Sunday September 24 – Portland Bill Leader: Jane Cumming

    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

  • Tuesday 19 September – Easton-in-Gordano Leader: Judy Copeland

    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


  • Sunday 17 September – Blagdon Lake

    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).
    Nigel Milbourne

    Leader: Nigel Milbourne

  • Tuesday 12 September – Upton Cheyney/Swineford

    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

  • Sunday 10 September – New Passage / Pilning Wetlands

    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

  • Tuesday 05 September – Tickenham Moors and Ridge

    On the meadow lowlands many Swallows and House Martins flew, including pairs apparently kissing in mid air – parents food-passing to young? Buzzards sat on hay bales, and over twenty Pied Wagtails fed in the Golf Club grass. Climbing the ridge and along the wooded top, birds seemed disappointingly few. When we entered Cadbury Camp with its great views down the Bristol Channel, there was a Wheatear on the banks, six Ravens rolling and displaying, and an aerial fight between a Hobby and Kestrel, the Hobby then doing a long shallow stoop to catch what was probably one of abundant dragonflies. Further along the ridge were high calls from Long-tailed Tits, Goldcrest, Jay, and Green Woodpecker down the slope. Blackcap and Linnets were seen round the old quarry at the base. Back on the moors were Mute Swans, Grey Herons, Kestrel and Wheatear using hay bales as perching spots. Around 40 Rooks were feeding, and a Sparrowhawk and pair of Stock Doves flying; and to the leaders’ pleasure, a Kingfisher, which they hadn’t seen for a long time on the Land Yeo. On the day there were 20 walkers and 33 species recorded. (Many thanks to Lois and Jan for leading). Lois Pryce

    Leaders: Lois Pryce and Jan Pridie

  • Thursday 31 August – Axe and Exe Leader: Jane Cumming

    On a beautiful warm, sunny day we met at Black Hole Marsh near Seaton, a new but rapidly developing site with river habitat and extensive shallow scrapes that are excellent for both freshwater and saltwater species.  There was a variety of herons, ducks and waders including a dozen or more Little Egrets from the nearby breeding colony, 68 Black-tailed Godwits, two Greenshanks, Common and Green Sandpipers, Ringed Plover, Dunlin and Snipe.  The hide’s ceiling hosted an active Swallow nest full of restlessly begging juveniles, and we watched a Kingfisher hunting along the river Axe.  We spent a leisurely and enjoyable morning finding, counting and comparing the various wader species. Bowling Green Marsh was something of a disappointment to those of us who weren’t aware of the recent and extensive redesign, which has completely changed its landscape.  The long muddy raised banks held over 300 Canada Geese and little else on this not-very-high tide, although we were assured that on a bigger tide the roosting waders still turn up there.  We counted Wigeon and Teal, Gadwall and Shoveler, but the only waders on view were a single Dunlin and a single Bar-tailed Godwit with 66 Black-tailed Godwits and a few Redshank. All the same, where better to be on a lovely day like this one than at a couple of East Devon reserves giving us great views of all those birds? The final count was in the region of 40 species.

    (Very many thanks to Jane for leading this trip)                                                                               Jane Cumming

  • Tuesday 29 August – Newton St Loe

    Though overcast and nothing like the sunshine of the previous day, quite a crowd of us (29) gathered in Newton St Loe for what is always a good walk in an attractive setting. As we left the village, there were Rooks, Swallows, House Martins and a Kestrel. We walked down the hill towards SendaCow, and realised the trees were alive with a large party of small birds, mainly families of Blue and Long-tailed Tits, but also at least one Nuthatch. At the lakes we got good views of one Kingfisher and some people saw a second one. During our coffee stop two Ravens flew over and shortly after that we saw the visiting Little Egret in a tree. There was a family of Mute Swans with five teenage cygnets, and a solitary Black-headed Gull. When we walked on, we had brief views of another large party of small birds, which stimulated a good discussion as to which species; in addition to Blue and Great Tits, there were definitely Coal Tits and a family of Willow Warblers. By this time, our leader realised we had not left ourselves enough time to complete the circuit through Stanton Prior, so we came back through the college, speculating this time on the history of some of the buildings. We ended with a tour of the village where we saw a large flock of Goldfinches (c60), some falconers with what looked like a Harris Hawk, at last Collared Doves, and finally a large flock of House Sparrows (c30). Other birds seen by some of us included Hobby, Chiffchaff and Grey Wagtail. Our total was 41 species. Many thanks to Robert Hargreaves for leading such an excellent walk. Dru Brooke-Taylor

  • Tuesday 22 August – Wick Golden Valley

    Unmistakeable signs of Autumn – Swallows all heading South, Robin’s song now quite wistful. However, there was nothing autumnal about the weather and 22 of us left the Rose and Crown in warm hazy sunshine on a walk which is as scenic as the name suggests. First stop, the River Boyd. Despite recent rain, it was low with little bird life, just two Wrens darting over the water into bushes. Dipper and Grey Wagtail are sometimes seen here, but not this time. In the woodland, a young Buzzard, Green Woodpecker and Great Spotted Woodpecker were heard in quick succession. At the second bridge a Jay was moving quickly through trees and a Collared Dove and Blue Tit were seen. At the quarry viewpoint overlooking the larger lake, four House Martin, Coot, Raven and Herring Gull were noted. A Kestrel flew past followed a little later by a juvenile. We scanned the rock ledges in vain for Peregrine and then at last there it was, perched unmoving on a rock on the far side of the quarry. Top marks for those who saw it first! At the second lake were Mute Swan, Mallard and Canada Geese. Much activity was noted as we started to return along the lane to Wick, with one tree alone producing Goldfinch, Chaffinch, male and female Bullfinch, Blue Tit and Great Tit. A highlight was a Spotted Flycatcher atop another tree. As we neared the end we heard Nuthatch calling, then saw it fly past. A flock of Long-tailed Tits, a Treecreeper and a Goldcrest completed the tally. Thanks to our leader Dave Body and to Nick Hawkridge, who logged 38 species. John Beaven

  • Tuesday 15 August – River Avon

    The bus was on time and we arrived at Abbots Leigh to meet the group who had come out from Bristol, so we were now 23 people to enjoy a morning of hot sunshine and some cloud. Some Swallows and House Martins were flying over the field and a Wren was heard, but otherwise it was very quiet until we reached the woodland around Brackenwood Garden Centre and Leigh Court. Around five Long-tailed Tits were high in a tree, a Collared Dove and a Jay were heard, then we found two or three Goldcrests flitting around in a conifer and a couple of Coal Tits on the trunk. A Nuthatch called loudly and three Buzzards were seen above us, then Suk found a family of Bullfinches in a dark area of low vegetation, not easy to see! There was a Blackbird, a Robin on a twig (they have started their autumn song now), a Blackcap was spotted and a Blue Tit was heard. Down by the river, where we had our coffee break, were an eventual total of 70 plus Black-headed Gulls, and two Common Sandpipers were seen skimming along the water by those quick enough to get on to them. A couple of Mallard were down on the mud – the count went up to 16. Two hawker dragonflies flew around us. At Sea Mills were six juvenile gulls (Herring or Lesser Black-backed) and later seven Herring Gulls flew over calling and one Lesser Black-backed. There were six Redshanks on the bank. A Chiffchaff called from the hedge beside the cycle path and in the big field was a large corvid flock of Crows, Jackdaws and one or two Rooks. A Cormorant flew over, a very pale Buzzard passed at a low level on the Shirehampton side and two Herons were in the trees. Ham Green lake produced only two Moorhen and one Coot, Goldfinches were in the bushes, two Magpies were in a tree apparently sunbathing, two Raven were heard and seen and our last sighting was a lovely sunlit Sparrowhawk flying over. 37 species in total. (Thanks to Judy for leading.) Judy Copeland

  • Saturday 12 August – Chew Valley Lake

    About 25 members met at Herriotts Pool at 09.30hrs. After a brief look for the Garganey on the pool we hurried along to Chew Valley Ringing Station (CVRS), as early birds catch their worms. Mike Bailey organised us into two smaller groups to show us how the ringing system works, while a Sparrowhawk flew past the window. There were examples from Cetti’s Warbler, Chiffchaff, Willow, Sedge and Reed Warbler. It is amazing how small and fragile birds look in the hand and how light they are; some members got to hold birds and see how they were aged. Puffing up the chest feathers you could see how much fat they had stored and how soon they would migrate. It was an inspiring revelation to many members. Our thanks to Bob Medland and their team for hosting us. Afterwards, we made a journey round many of the haunts of the lake, where we saw Barnacle Goose, Gadwall, Teal, Shoveler, Little Egret, Great White Egret, Great Crested Grebe, Little Grebe, Water Rail, Lapwing, Dunlin, Black-tailed Godwit, Common and Green Sandpiper, Greenshank, Kingfisher, Swift, Grey Wagtail and found the Garganey. (Many thanks to Robert for leading.) Robert Hargreaves

  • Tuesday 08 August – Winford Manor

    We didn’t fill the yard with our cars, but 24 walkers still required a fair meterage. After we had counted the Swallows using the barn, our host Melanie took us first to their ochre quarry at the back of Redhouse Farm. It is a large site extensively worked in the past with its refined product being shipped all over the world. The tranquillity was palpable, the sun came out and butterflies exposed themselves to our scrutiny. A Common Blue and a Gatekeeper; fresh out the packet, were much photographed. Bullfinch, Nuthatch, Chiffchaff and Robin were heard and after a long period of song, a quick flash of a Coal Tit. All these were below the lip of quarry, while above, a Raven scooted by and a lone Lesser Black-backed Gull rowed his way from the direction of Chew/Blagdon. Afternegotiating the many chickens, we saw a vast corvid cloud erupt over the trees, and not long after, at the coffee stop, we had good sightings of Goldcrest, Blue and Great Tit and a fair few Chaffinch. Leaving the fields, we turned right onto Hen Lane and followed it to Kingdown, spying a Tawny Owl box in a very exposed position. The houses in the hamlet were well populated with House Sparrow but nothing stirred beneath the closed canopy of Kingdown Lane. Once out onto Felton Common things brightened up, a Willow Warbler sang and a most obliging female Yellowhammer came and sat for an admirably long time. Various aeroplanes trundled over as we wandered towards the airstrip where the eaves of The Round House could be seen to be teeming with House Martin. Turning now to cross the common we came upon some Linnet, a couple of Stonechat and a Whitethroat; debate on the validity of Redstart was inconclusive, so it failed to get on the list. As we left the common, more Chiffchaff called above us in the bushes and a thin Buzzard -like call was heard but not identified conclusively. Our penultimate bird, and only seen by a few, was a Spotted Flycatcher, one of a family that were breeding here earlier. Our final and 34th species was a pair of Collared Dove, seen in the farmyard, where we offered our hearty thanks to Melanie for a delightful birding walk. Nick Hawkridge

  • Tuesday 01 August – Failand

    29 walkers gathered at the Failand Inn as the clear air after rain gave some fine long views. Walking up the lane to Failand Lodge Farm we had Mistle Thrush and Chaffinch. Two Swallows flew over, the first of a dozen tracking our progress. However, gathering Linnet, Goldfinch, and Starling highlighted a change in the ornithological season. The first of these was a flock of 40-50 Linnets, flitting between a hedge along a field of brassicas and telegraph wires above. Goldfinches, in smaller numbers, flew in noisy groups. Three Buzzards were seen, and then splendid close views of a Kestrel showing brilliant colour in the sun. In the distance both Severn bridges gave a marvellous backdrop. Along a woodland edge we added Nuthatch and Green Woodpecker to the list and three House Martin flew over. Entering woodland after coffee we encountered Goldcrest, Coal Tit, and Wren. Three Ravens ‘cronked’ over some newly restored barns, with one tumbling. Two Swifts, possibly our last of the year, were fuelling up for their journey. We had further fine estuary views as Chiffchaff called. As we entered the Tyntesfield estate there were many Wood Pigeons over the harvested fields, and a Roe Deer bounded into a wood. We ended our walk as warm sun returned, with sight of Blue Tit, call of Wren and finally a Lesser Black-backed Gull on the field. Thanks to Nick for keeping the list, a total of 27 species. Thank you to Maureen and Bill Dobie for leading this excellent walk. Gareth Roberts

  • Tuesday 25 July – Wick

    On a bright sunny morning 27 members set off from Bridge Yate for a walk along the Dramway and across farmland and woodland south of Siston. On the way to the Dramway, an old track bed for hauling coal, we picked up Collared Doves, Chaffinch and Great Tit and four Swifts flew overhead. Moving along the Dramway numerous Robins were heard and at least three Treecreepers were seen but Bullfinches often seen here were in short supply apart from a fleeting sight of a tail flying into the bushes. As we walked in Warmley Forest Park towards Siston Court, Great Spotted and Green Woodpeckers were heard, a couple of Buzzards soared over us and Swallows and martins were about. A solitary juvenile Coot dodged in and out of reeds on a pond, Chiffchaffs were heard and an eagle-eyed walker saw a Grey Heron in the distance. The tail end for the group saw a Sparrowhawk and Kestrel passing overhead and later four Linnet nearby. Going back to the car park two Whitethroat and a Jay were heard and Pied Wagtail, Blue Tit and Long-tailed Tit added to the list. Thanks to David for leading a good walk which yielded 37 species. Mark Watson

  • Tuesday 18 July – Clevedon/Walton

    A cloudless sky and hot sun brought out 17 people. We walked up to the Golf Club buildings where we found a roof covered with 16 Swallows, and also House Sparrow, Blue Tit, Woodpigeon, Coal Tit, Blackbird, Pied Wagtail and Goldfinch. On the gate leading to the track was a juvenile Robin and through the hedge we could see a large number of Herring Gulls and two Lesser Black-backed Gulls, presumably pursuing grounded flying ants on the grass. On the track above the sea we added Linnet and Carrion Crow and one Black-headed Gull on the estuary, but butterflies here were more numerous than birds – Speckled Wood, Meadow Brown, Red Admiral, Gatekeeper, Comma and Brimstone. During coffee in the field, we found two Green-veined Whites with a Small White gathered together on one spot of dried mud. The coast path did not yield much except a high tide and lapping water, but there was one Mallard on a rock pool, one Rock Pipit, occasional Black-headed Gulls, and Wren was heard. Up on Walton Common we saw a Buzzard, Long-tailed Tits, Magpie, Jay and three Swifts, and enjoyed our picnics in the shade. After moving off beside the woodland along the Common towards Walton we found several Silver-washed Fritillaries and a large blue dragonfly – maybe an Emperor. We walked back to Clevedon Golf Course up a wooded footpath and arrived back at the cars at 1400 hrs. The temperature was 28ºC ! Judy Copeland

  • Saturday 15 July – Marshfield

    About a dozen people met on a rather overcast and windy evening, not ideal for finding Quail and in fact we didn’t hear any of them although several were reported singing around Marshfield on that date. However, there was compensation in the form of two Little Owls sitting out on a rooftop, and good views of Red-legged Partridge, Yellowhammer and quite a lot of Corn Buntings which were sitting on the wires or hovering over the barley before dropping out of sight into it. Other observations included two Buzzards and a Kestrel, a scattering of the large gulls drifting about over the fields, a few Swifts and plenty of Swallows, a Skylark or two (not singing any longer), lots of young Starlings flocking in their teenage gangs and some Linnets. Keep trying, those Quail are out there somewhere though more likely to call on a calm and sunny evening. Jane Cumming

  • Tuesday 11 July – Hinton Blewitt and Litton Reservoirs

    23 members met on a fine and sunny morning. July is often a quiet month for birding but our morning walk from Hinton Blewitt to the Litton reservoirs via Coley was full of interest. We had excellent views of a male Kestrel hovering and two Buzzards. There were plenty of Swallows, House Martins and a few Swifts. One house had several House Martin nests and we saw the adults coming in with insects for the young. We had lovely views of both Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers. Many young birds were seen including Little Grebe, Pied and Grey Wagtail, Coot and Tufted Duck. A young Heron stood in a tree and a rather muddy Little Egret stood at the water’s edge. Three Bullfinches and families of Goldfinches and Greenfinches along with Linnets and a female Chaffinch and House Sparrows were around the villages of Hinton and Coley. We heard Skylark singing over the fields of barley. It was a most enjoyable walk. (Thanks to John and Sue Prince for leading). Sue Prince

  • Saturday 08 July – Forest of Dean

    This was a joint meeting of Bristol Ornithological Club and Bristol Naturalists’ Society with an attendance of 28. We met at New Fancy View car park and climbed up to the viewing platform. The birds were generally quiet although Siskin were heard. On the way down some were fortunate to have a splendid view of a male Crossbill at the top of a conifer. We then had a walk around one of the Cannop Ponds. A number of Mandarin Duck were seen including eclipse males, females and juveniles. Grey Wagtails, both adult and juveniles, were active around the outfall. Swallows and Swifts hunted insects over the water.
    We then drove to the car park beyond Speech House and walked up to the Crabtree Hill clearing. Linnets and a Stonechat were seen and heard as we positioned ourselves for the main target species of the evening. After about 20 minutes the first “churring” was heard indicating that a Nightjar was indeed present. There then followed a magical half hour, right through dusk, of frequent sightings of Nightjar, some close enough to observe the white spots on the wings of the males. There were at least four birds and the highlight was seeing a bird perching lengthwise on a branch giving a marvellous view in silhouette. About 40 species were encountered during the evening. (Thanks to Mike for coping with quite a large multi-club trip.) Mike Johnson

  • Tuesday 04 July – Dolebury Warren

    We set off from the Crown Inn, Churchill on a grey morning with rain forecast to visit the National Trust land at Dolebury Warren which is managed by Avon Wildlife Trust. As 14 of us left the car park Robin, Wood Pigeon, Carrion Crows and House Sparrow were seen or heard. On a short path though woodland we descended to cross the A38 seeing Blue Tit, Long-tailed Tit and a Song Thrush. We took the easier way up onto Dolebury Warren Hillfort and on the way more Blue Tit and a Coal Tit appeared. Once on top of the fort we walked around the boundary dyke seeing Herring and Lesser Black-backed Gulls overhead and a few Swallows doing aerial acrobatics – always great to see. Going through scrub to the far end of our walk a Linnet provided excellent views on top of a hawthorn bush and numerous Goldfinch chattered and flew about, occasionally landing on the scrub. Whilst taking coffee four Green Woodpeckers flew back and forth along the edge of some woodland and occasionally sat on a tussock of grass allowing a reasonable view, though as is the way of things they more often than not sat behind tussocks. A heavy downpour happily coincided with a canopy of trees so we donned waterproofs for the return journey which had the satisfactory result that after five minutes the rain stopped and it stayed dry to the end of the walk. The return added Buzzard, Meadow Pipit, Kestrel, Bullfinch, Mistle Thrush and Blackcap to our list giving a total 27 species. (Thanks to Mark for leading.) Mark Watson

  • Sunday 02 July – Dinas, mid-Wales

    Robin, Alastair and I met in Shirehampton from which it was barely a two-hour drive to Dinas, rather than the three hours threatened in Club News. What a pity that no-one else joined us for a pleasant and peaceful walk through this lovely old oak forest with a rushing torrent running through it and high hills on all sides. There were still plenty of Wood Warblers dancing through the oak leaves, now uttering a somewhat half-hearted trilling song, and Redstarts with juveniles around the woodland edges. We saw two or three Spotted Flycatchers but were unable to locate a Pied Flycatcher – they breed here, but perhaps have already disappeared into the high canopy with their fledglings. The boulder-clogged river produced a Dipper and both Pied and Grey Wagtails. Overhead, Swallows and House Martins hunted, and across the river on a steep grassy slope we picked out a Stonechat family and a Wheatear. Ravens ‘cronked’ overhead now and then and we saw one each of Buzzard and Red Kite. Wrens were still in good voice and the woodlands held Song and Mistle Thrush, all five of the expected tit species and a few more common warblers.
    After a picnic lunch watching a Great Tit coming in for mealworms, we went up to the local reservoir where Robin thought he heard a Tree Pipit, and then checked out another quiet valley or two full of Swallows and Redstarts, but not the Common Sandpipers we were looking for. However, we had a lovely day in this wild and empty part of Wales. Thanks to Robin for leading and Alastair for driving. Jane Cumming

  • Tuesday 27 June – Velvet Bottom

    This is a really lovely walk across open hills and through wooded combes on top of the Mendips, and 23 members turned up to enjoy it. Song had definitely quietened down, with Song Thrushes and Wrens still making plenty of noise but hardly a peep from Robins and Blackbirds. The warblers were still singing – the group heard Blackcaps, Whitethroat, Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers. Plenty of Swallows and House Martins were swooping about overhead. On the highest footpath we encountered Meadow Pipits and a family of Stonechats. In the woodlands we found a family of Nuthatches, a Treecreeper and a Goldcrest. The target bird, Redstart, held out until nearly the end of the walk, but we found at least one adult and a juvenile by the reedy pool close to the car park where we’d started. Other species included a Buzzard, Stock Doves and a Reed Bunting. Two people took a shortcut back to the car park and were rewarded with views of a family of Spotted Flycatchers which the rest of us missed. A selection of crows, tits and finches took my total to 33 species but I suspect I missed a few. Thanks to Geoff for leading one of the most scenic walks in our calendar and for only overrunning by 45 minutes!
    Jane Cumming

  • Peregrine Watch – 24/25 June

    Despite the breeding failure of the Avon Gorge birds this year, the two day watch period still enabled visitors to the site to observe both adult birds who had remained in the area watching over their territory. On June 24 the two birds were mainly seen perched in various locations on the Leigh Woods side of the Gorge. During the first watch, I was at the site and saw a juvenile Peregrine fly towards the site from the direction of Avonmouth. It circled around in the area for about four or five minutes then turned and headed off back in the direction of Avonmouth. The remainder of the day both adult birds were observed either flying around the Gorge or perched.
    On June 25 once again both adult birds were observed by visitors either perched in various trees once again on the Leigh Woods side of the Gorge. There were two close-up fly-pasts during the morning by the birds much to the enjoyment of our visitors. Unfortunately, a short sharp squall came in from the direction of Avonmouth which caused our members to shut up their scopes until it had passed over. During the afternoon, most of the time both adults were in view to visitors again, either circling around above the site or perched. At about 15:45 both birds flew off down the Gorge in the direction of the Suspension Bridge and did not return for the remainder of the watch.
    Three new members were signed up plus two others who made enquiries and took away the various membership documents to fill out later. Lots of Peregrine leaflets were handed out to interested parties who visited us. All in all, it was a very successful and worthwhile watch weekend.
    Thanks go to the following members who gave up their time to this watch weekend:
    Barry Gray, Gareth Roberts, Julie/Peter Ottley, Robert Hargreaves, Jenny Ellis, William Earp, Judith Craddock, Alastair Fraser, Judy Copeland, Jean Oliver, Phyl Dykes, Mandy Leivers, Annie Davis, Brenda Page, Charles Stapleton, Cecille Gillard.
    As this is the last Watch weekend that I shall be organising, (but will still carry out a shift when I can), I should like to thank all our Club members who during the 16 years that I have been running the watch weekends have given their time to make this event the success it has been. Very many thanks and especially to Brenda Page who took on the role of assisting me by organising and getting the members for the Watch weekends. Charles Stapleton

  • Tuesday 20 June – Compton Dando

    It was an extremely hot summer’s day which probably dissuaded some from undertaking a four mile walk and so it was just twelve of us that set off from The Compton Inn at Compton Dando. There were a good number of common birds around the village including House Sparrows, Collared Dove, House Martins, Swifts, Swallows and Jackdaws (25 plus). We also had views of a Grey Wagtail flying along the brook that flows through the village. After a very short walk to the bridge over the River Chew a Dipper was spotted in the river but it was difficult to see through the trees and so not everyone got a view of it before it moved on. We then walked through some pasture land bordered with woodland where we added Greenfinch, Dunnock, Blackcap, Goldfinch, Whitethroat, Wren and an early morning Buzzard was seen. A Mallard was also seen in the river. The next part of the walk took us away from the river up a quite steep path through the woods where a Chiffchaff, Goldcrest and Long-tailed Tit were heard. We crossed a beautiful meadow where we saw Meadow Brown butterflies and a few Marbled Whites. Song Thrush, Green Woodpecker and Nuthatch were heard and some of us had a good view of a Jay. We reached Woollard and made a very slight diversion for another view of the River Chew from the road bridge. There were a lot of damselflies over the river (beautiful demoiselles) and a Moorhen and Pied Wagtail were spotted. Then there was that telltale flash of blue and we had excellent views of a Kingfisher flying away from us. It sped around the bend in the river about 100 metres away. A few seconds later it returned but saw us and did a very fast u-turn and was gone. We found a nice spot by the river for our coffee break and then started the walk back along the other side of the River Chew. We added Lesser Black-backed Gull, Swift, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Magpie, Bullfinch and Coal Tit. Some of the group also saw a second Kingfisher flying along the river. As we came towards the end of the walk we had good views of a Green Woodpecker and a Raven and we finished our species count with a Grey Heron. Considering the high temperature we finished with a good total of 43 species seen or heard and also saw all three of our target birds: Grey Wagtail, Dipper and Kingfisher. Most importantly we all returned safe and sound with no reports of heat exhaustion! Thanks to Nick for keeping his usual accurate birdlist.(Thanks to Mike for leading)

    Mike Landen

  • Tuesday 13 June – Folly Farm

    A large group, which waxed and waned a bit throughout the walk, but for the most part numbered 41 members, set out on this new Tuesday walk. The morning started warm but cloudy and turned into a real sunny summer’s day. Our route took us into pastures with long (wet) grass and the sound of many Rooks plus the first of several Song Thrushes with extensive vocabularies which were heard throughout the walk. There were many wonderful views to all points of the compass and with the good visibility Mute swans on Chew Valley Lake were added to the list. Among the summer migrants, seen and heard, were Blackcap, House Martin, Chiffchaff, Whitethroat and Willow warbler.
    At coffee break Mark Watson reminded us that as part of the Club’s 50th anniversary activities, we are funding the purchase of hedging for a planting project at this Avon Wildlife Trust location. This will take place on a Tuesday in late October – hopefully with an even larger group of members! Bird News will have all the details in due course.
    We can usually count on seeing a Buzzard, which reminds some that it’s time for a coffee break. Four were seen early on this occasion and a Kestrel towards the end of the walk. A Hobby, spotted by Sue Prince, was possibly the star of the show for some – though our group was sometimes split into two or three so although the final count did match the number of walkers, not everyone saw or heard every species, which included Great Spotted and Green woodpecker, five species of corvid, most of the Tits, Goldcrest, Dunnock and Nuthatch. Two lucky returners to the carpark were treated to a very close, low level, noisy flypast of a Hobby hot on the heels of a Carrion crow.
    Many thanks to Jean for leading and introducing so many of us to the delights of Folly Farm. Nancy Barrett

  • Tuesday 06 June – Sand Point

    Six people made the ascent to the trig. point at the top of the steps, where any lingering cobwebs were swiftly dispatched eastward at about 40 knots. Trees and shrubs being all in full leaf and the roaring of the wind over ears, it is surprising that we did get to 28 species. Whitethroat and Blackbird were along and over the path. One Swallow, several Lesser Black-backed and Herring Gulls were patrolling, skilfully using the updraft from the cliffs. We spent ten fruitless minutes at the point, no dark sickle shape of Manx Shearwater, no long winged Gannet, in fact nothing. Before we reached our coffee stop, three then four beautifully coloured Feral Pigeon played chase along the cliff edge. In the lee of some boulders we drank our brews, the sun warmed us, and above Stonechat and Rock Pipit both scolded loudly. We flushed a Skylark from the newly cut meadows, no soaring song flight for this one, just lifting off, no higher than a Dunnock, sliding along the wind and down. A flock of 28 Goldfinches made enough noise to attract our attention; they swarmed from bushes onto some thistles and back again. Four Jackdaws shot into the belfry of the priory church, a favourite spot. Here two of the party departed for home and we few sat, a little further down for our picnic on the edge of the River Banwell. We listened to singing Blackbird, Greenfinch, Chiffchaff, Blackcap and saw several Shelducks and a single Mallard. The far bank of the river fairly teamed with Corvids and at one point they all lifted off, high enough for us to see that there were well over 300. We would normally have walked back via the Severn edge at St Thomas’s Head, across the field system, but the clouds that were racing towards us had an evil look, so we headed back to the cars. Although it was blowing all day and a few spots of rain hit us, it was an exhilarating outing. Nick Hawkridge

  • Sunday 04 June – RSPB Arne

    Forty-seven members of the BOC, Bristol Naturalists and Bath RSPB joined the coach trip to Arne RSPB reserve. The weather was overcast with sunny spells and a bit windy, the rain holding off until the journey back. RSPB staff, Rob and George met us at Arne. We split into two groups for a guided tour of some of the reserve, including parts not normally open to the public.
    My group walked up the West Trail passing remains of a WWII gun emplacement. Arne was a decoy for the cordite factory at Holton Heath and was heavily bombed. Some of the bomb craters are now wildlife-friendly ponds. A Neolithic barrow is close by. The barrow is on the highest point of the reserve and was once covered in bright flint nodules visible for miles in a treeless landscape. The barrow and the gun emplacement mark the beginning and end of lowland heath in Arne. The natural state of the land is oak woodland. Our Neolithic ancestors felled and burnt the trees. The thin, acid soils turned to heathland (which once stretched from Sussex to Devon). In the 1940s the heath converted to conifers for timber production. The RSPB is restoring the heathland landscape. A thick mulch of needles is left once the pines are gone. This prevents natural regeneration and is difficult and expensive to remove. The RSPB is experimenting with Mangalitza (woolly) pigs who root about exposing the soil. Heather seeds can remain dormant for 100 years and will germinate once exposed to light and air. The pigs also supply the bacon for the café which is harsh, but tastes delicious. The pigs are confined by an ineffective electric fence. They escaped and followed us like a pack of dogs as we walked down the hill.Arne is a stronghold for Dartford Warblers. In the 1960s only ten Dartfords survived in the whole country with just two in Arne. With careful management, Arne now has up to 70 pairs. The birds don’t migrate and are very vulnerable to cold winters. They have up to three broods a year so recover from population crashes quite quickly but they are slow to recolonise if they become locally extinct. The gorse is coppiced in rotation to create low, dense bushes that shelter the birds, and the spiders they prey on, from winter snow. We had a good view of a family of four Dartfords, in spite of the wind.
    The heath is also home to Smooth Snake, Adder, Grass Snake, Common and Sand Lizards. We were shown a number of shallow, oval holes created by Sand Lizards excavating burrows for their eggs. We saw one female lizard in the act. Rare Ladybird Spiders (as seen on Autumnwatch) are captive bred and released onto the reserve, so far going well with an expanding population.
    After the tour, we were free to explore the rest of the reserve. Coombe Heath is to the south. This looks out over Middlebere Lake (part of Poole Harbour). This area is good for Dartford Warbler, Stonechat, Linnet, Meadow Pipit. We were unlucky not to see Osprey. A young male has adopted one of the artificial nest sites but on Sunday he was elsewhere.
    To the north, the reserve consists of mixed woodland (oak, birch and pine), farmland pasture and patches of heath. A colony of Black-headed and Mediterranean Gulls nest on Long Island. An evildoer stole all the eggs last year (apparently gulls’ eggs are a thing in posh restaurants). Increased vigilance this year has led to a successful breeding season, although the only Mediterranean gull seen was in Middlebere Lake. Common and Sandwich terns nest on Brownsea Island but we saw not one! However, one member saw a group of Avocet in the distance. Plus a couple of Common Seal.
    A very enjoyable and interesting day out. As is normal with birding ‘we should have been there yesterday’ but we saw 59 species including a Red Kite from the coach (near Shaftesbury). (thanks Alastair for the organisation and leading) Alastair Fraser

  • Tuesday May 23 – Newport Wetlands

    An unpromising start with low cloud and drizzle over the estuary but this slowly disappeared and the sun eventually came through. Around the centre were House Sparrow, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Coot and Little Grebe on the pond. The artificial Sand Martin bank is still unused. Walking out towards the lighthouse gave us Reed Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Reed Bunting and Cetti’s Warblers, hiding from view as usual. The Bearded Tits did appear briefly but not seen by all. Swifts, Swallows, House and Sand Martins were all flying over the water. The tide was well out so there were few birds to see. Curlew, Oystercatcher, Herring Gull and Shelduck were visible and the Whitethroat was a noisy accompaniment as we walked along to the hide where Grey Heron and Moorhen were added. In the wood were Blackcap, Wren and Chiffchaff.
    After lunch the group headed to Goldcliff and were able to add Redshank, Lapwing, Ringed and Little Ringed Plover. The Ringed Plover was seen with two little balls of fluff. The Avocets had a few chicks and we had a brief visit from two young Grey Wagtails. A Marsh Harrier and a Buzzard were the only raptors seen, but a family of Raven were mobbed by Crows. Dunlin and Black-tailed Godwit were in summer plumage and the drake Garganey was still hanging around. A Teal, a Wigeon and a Black-headed Gull seemed to be the last of the larger flocks. The fifteen walkers enjoyed the two sites and the day gave us a good total of 61 species but sadly no Cuckoo. (thanks to Margaret and Ray for leading) Margaret Bulmer

  • Tuesday 23 May – Newport Wetlands

    The prospect of hail and blustery wet conditions did not deter the group of 23 members. The birds were in full voice in the bushes and hedgerows all around the reserve including Robin, Whitethroat, Blackcap, Wren, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Blue Tit, Song Thrush, Blackbird. A Cettti’s Warbler and Lesser Whitethroat were seen by a few of us. At the Centre, Greenfinch, Sparrow and Goldfinch were added. The pond had Coot with young, and a Little Grebe showed on the return. At the start of the walk, towards the lighthouse, Bearded Tits were flying to and fro across the reeds. A few of us saw a Reed Bunting. Reed Warblers were keeping low, although were noisy enough. A Sedge Warbler sitting in a small tree gave everyone a good view. We were hearing a Cuckoo in the distance. Then, first one and then two flew around the reeds giving wonderful sightings. A perching individual allowed some ‘scope work. Later, a third Cuckoo joined the pair before it went off in a different direction. The tide was going out at the estuary; only Shelduck, Curlew, and a Brent Goose were added. Swallow, Sand Martin, House Martin and Swifts were swooping over the reed beds. The RSPB built an artificial Sand Martin nest by the Centre but it has not yet attracted any to nest.
    After lunchtime, the weather began to change so we headed to Goldcliff to shelter in the hides. A sudden hail storm had us closing the windows to avoid a battering. The Avocets did not appear to have young but a few birds were sitting in the grass. Lapwing, Black-tailed Godwit, Redshank, Little Ringed Plover, Little Egret, Gadwall and Shoveler and Tufted Duck were added. The Canada Geese had a few goslings but the Redshank chicks seen the previous week were not on view. A Skylark was heard. A Buzzard was the only raptor of the day. A small group was keen to go on to Magor Marshes to see Water Voles. The Wildlife Trust released over 200 Water Voles and set up floating platforms baited with apples. The voles climb onto the platform and are unperturbed at being watched. This turned out to be a very successful day with 47 species noted with some firsts for the group.
    (Thanks to Margaret for leading and for the report. Editor). Margaret Bulmer

  • Friday 19 May – Highnam Woods

    Storm clouds were gathering as we drove towards Gloucester but we missed the rain. 20 members met on a still, fine evening. A Nightingale was singing metres away as we pulled into the car park, joined by a second in the distance. Hannah Booth from Gloucester RSPB had serious competition from two Song Thrushes as she introduced the walk. Hannah led us on a circuit interspersed with presentations on the ecology of the woodland and the management plan to enhance the habitat for Nightingale at the western edge of its range. Along the first path we heard Chiffchaff, Robin, Wren, Great Tit, and Blackcap. We paused by a two hectare “coup” of coppice as Swifts flew over, Raven ‘cronked’, and there were short bursts from another Nightingale. Coppice, not dense scrub, is the Nightingale’s favoured habitat. The RSPB creates coppiced coups, removing large standard trees to open the canopy. New growth needs protection from Muntjac deer and each coup is surrounded by a thick barrier of cut branches knitted together by bramble. The RSPB bought the 120-hectare wood, predominantly oak and ash, in 1984. Highnam had been a commercial woodland and the scrub and regrowth supported good numbers of Nightingales. There were 20 singing males in 2001, but falling to six in 2012. There were 13 in 2013, but eight in 2016, consistent with the national 50% fall in Nightingale numbers in the last 30 years. As we progressed we heard more Song Thrushes; our evening total was eleven, a third of the reserve’s singing males. Blackbird, Dunnock, Greenfinch, and Chaffinch were added to the list. One third of the wood is intensively managed, including the wide rides which support butterflies and native flowers. Hannah showed us the rare Tintern Spurge, encouraged by heavy machinery disturbing the ground. We passed under a rope across the ride, a bridge for dormice. Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, elusive on this visit, favour the undisturbed part of the wood, with some trees up to 200 years old. We did however have both Great Spotted and Green Woodpecker. We heard another Nightingale near a boggy area newly created, by damming ditches, to encourage invertebrates. Some ash trees were less happy with the wet conditions and were dying, good news for the woodpeckers. A Goldcrest and a Coal Tit were heard on the final leg of our walk. We returned to the original coup as the Song Thrushes fell silent.
    We were rewarded by two Nightingales beginning a night of competitive singing providing an atmospheric end to an excellent and informative evening. We totted up nine singing Nightingales, although none were seen. Many thanks to Hannah Booth for giving us so much of her time. (Hannah stayed on for a night survey and two more singing males were located, bringing the reserve’s total this year to eleven). Thanks also to Nick Hawkridge for keeping the bird list, a total of 21 species. (Thanks to Gareth for leading and writing the report. Editor).
    Gareth Roberts

  • Tuesday 16 May – Shapwick Heath/Ham Wall

    Fifteen members met at the RSPB Ham Wall car park on a grey morning with a damp forecast. We were immediately treated to a display of a dozen Hobbies over the adjacent reedbed and Cetti’s Warblers singing loudly from the hedgerows. Swallows and Swifts and the occasional House Martin passed overhead. We went on to Ham Wall for the morning and soon saw a Great White Egret flying past and a distant Cormorant. Blackcap, Wren and Robins called loudly from the hedges and we heard several Garden Warblers. Towards the first viewing platform we had an excellent view of a male and female Bulfinch about twenty yards away across the South Drain. Numerous duck including Mallard, Tufted Duck, Wigeon, Gadwall and Pochard were on the pools on either side of the old railway track. At the Avalon hide we caught a distant view of a Buzzard. A couple of the group walked a little further along the drain and were rewarded with a Glossy Ibis, Garganey and Cattle Egret. On the return journey, the rest of the group saw the first two of these but, sadly, not the Cattle Egret. The path to the hide was accompanied by Reed Warblers, Reed Buntings, Lapwing and, from the hide, a male and female Marsh Harrier circling over the reeds, a magnificent sight. A pair of Great Crested Grebe was taking it in turns, somewhat reluctantly, to carry their chicks around on their backs. Little Egrets intermittently flew past. We could hear Bittern and one or two of the group saw them flying. The rain was patchy and followed us back to the car park and lunch. After lunch with the weather not looking good some decided to call it a day. The rest went to the Shapwick Tower hide. Here we had good views of Kingfisher, Oystercatchers, Black-tailed Godwit and a couple of Marsh Harriers before returning home. The tally of species for the day was 56.
    (Thanks to Mark for leading and writing the report. Editor). Mark Watson

  • Tuesday 09 May – Southstoke

    21 walkers gathered on a cool cloudy morning in the centre of this picturesque limestone village with fine views across the valley, and beyond to the Westbury White Horse. David Body introduced us to the fascinating history of the landscape, which can justifiably lay claim to be the birthplace of geology. We heard Greenfinch, Robin and Blackbird. As we left the village we saw two House Martins around a nest and a Swift flew over. We heard Chaffinch, Wren, and Dunnock as we descended through a field of cow parsley, cowslips, buttercup, and bugle. A group of Jackdaws was soaring, a sight repeated throughout the morning. Blue Tit, Pied Wagtail and Mistle Thrush together with a ‘yaffling’ Green Woodpecker were added to the list.
    Entering woodland full of garlic, we heard the first of ten Blackcaps, as well as Chiffchaff. We had good views of a Great Spotted Woodpecker. At Tucking Mill reservoir, a pair of Grey Wagtails was showing brilliantly in the welcome sunshine. Swallow, House Martin, and Swift flew over the water. Climbing up to the old “S and D” line, now a cycle track, we had our coffee on the platform at Midford Halt. We saw Goldfinch and Long-tailed Tit along the line, and Buzzard and Sparrowhawk overhead. At Midford a Goldcrest sang so loudly that even some of us with age-related hearing loss could hear it. We followed the valley of the Cam brook and the disused Somerset Coal canal, now reclaimed by nature leaving some fine bridges to nowhere. We saw a Bullfinch and a juvenile Dunnock, naively staying out in the open for us. In an oak wood, we heard more Blackcap and Chiffchaff, our only warblers of the day. Passing under a second disused railway, we came to the remains of the Coombe Hay flight of 22 locks on the canal. Another audible Goldcrest lightened the walk back up the hill to Southstoke, together with sounds of Nuthatch and Stock Dove. We returned to the village in warm summer sunshine and as we passed a splendid limestone barn and the imposing church a group of low flying Swifts screamed overhead. Many thanks to David for leading this excellent walk and to Nick for keeping the list, a total of 35 species. Gareth Roberts

  • Tuesday 02 May – Elm Farm, Burnett

    28 members set off for the walk around Elm Farm on a beautiful sunny, warm spring morning. The farm is managed to enhance wildlife and records are kept on bats, insects (moths, butterflies, hoverflies, dragonflies), flowers and, of course, birds in order to monitor progress on improving biodiversity. Parts of the farm are sown with a variety of plants specifically for insects, birds and mammals resulting in good habitat and the production of winter feed. As we set off we saw Greenfinch, Goldfinch, House Martin and Swallow around the farm buildings. We saw a number of common species including Jackdaw, Chaffinch, Grey Heron across the fields. We heard Dunnock, Blackcap and Song Thrush. We heard, and then saw, Skylarks and added Chiffchaff and Pheasant to our list. The farm had 150 Yellowhammers during the winter and although most of these dispersed to breed, we had good views of four feeding on the seed put out on the ground. A Sparrowhawk was hunting in the distance. We then saw a Buzzard, Jay and a Bullfinch, with a good view of the tell-tale white rump as it flew away from us. We had heard a Green Woodpecker earlier and then had good views of another one as it flew in front of us during our coffee stop. Towards the end of the walk we had good views of a Willow Warbler and added Raven, Whitethroat, Mistle Thrush, Goldcrest and Collared Dove. Our walk was enhanced by hares and foxes as well as various butterflies and flowers.
    Thanks to Roger Palmer for leading and to Philippa Paget for explaining the management of the land and for arranging a lift for those who wanted to avoid the walk up the hill back to Burnett. Thanks also to Nick for keeping his usual accurate bird list. In all we saw 36 species on an enjoyable walk. Mike Landen

  • Saturday 29 April – St Catherine’s Valley

    A group of twelve stalwarts gathered together in Beek’s Lane for an invigorating walk in the Valley. Expert birders they were too! I just had to point them in the right direction, mainly down in the first half and back up in the second half. But before that we chalked up quite a few species as we put on our boots. These included Skylark, Great Spotted Woodpecker and Song Thrush. We walked on to a chorus of Blackcap, Chiffchaff and just a single Willow Warbler, Goldcrest (seen not heard) and a Whitethroat, which gave us enticing views in the top of the hedge. We then found the Yellowhammers in a taller hedgerow adjacent to an arable field (recently seeded). A few Linnets appeared there as well. A Sparrowhawk sailed low over the woodland and soon after a Buzzard appeared – the first of several. As we walked the valley bottom Mallard, Mistle Thrush, Long-tailed Tit, Raven and Swallow were added to the list. Monkswood Reservoir held many Lesser Black-backed Gulls plus a few Herring Gulls but a Grey Wagtail was on the roof of the adjacent buildings, unfortunately only seen by a couple of us. On the slow climb back to the cars we added Whinchat (which also flew off before all could see it), Magpie, Green Woodpecker and Jay to the list. The total seen was 44 species. It was a thoroughly enjoyable walk in fine weather. (Thank you for a splendid walk Robin) Robin Prytherch

  • Tuesday 25 April – King’s Wood and Wavering Down

    Twenty-three members set off from a car park packed with dog-walkers and entered the glorious spring woodland, carpeted with Bluebells, Lesser Celandine, Wild Garlic and orchids. Our wildflower experts were much in demand the whole trip. Bird song filled our ears on a beautiful spring morning – Willow Warbler, Song Thrush, Wren and Blackcap especially singing their hearts out. Out on Wavering Down we saw several Song Thrush anvils – empty snail shells surrounded the large stones that had been used to crack them open. Linnets and Stonechats showed well, Skylarks, Meadow Pipits and Whitethroat gave song flights and a Green Woodpecker perched on a drystone wall watching us watching him. Our coffee stop had stunning views over the Somerset Levels, across the estuary to the West Somerset Coast and over to Wales (and we were out of the wind on that side!) We heard, but never saw, a probable Garden Warbler; Stock Dove and Raven were seen by some and it was good to see Swallow, House Martin and Sand Martin all flying together near the quarry. Back in the woodland we surprised a perched Buzzard and the final bird count was 36 species. Thank you Clive for a lovely morning! Julie Ottley

  • Sunday 23 April – New Forest

    Thirteen of us travelled to the New Forest for a walk from the Ashley Walk car park. The number was far from unlucky as we had sunny weather (albeit a bit cool at times) and great views of a pair of Woodlarks in Pitts Wood Enclosure. These were lifers for some members and a long-searched for UK-first for a few others. From the beginning of the walk we started to find the New Forest specialities we had come for such as Linnets, Stonechats and both Meadow and Tree Pipits. On closer examination, all of these refused to turn into a Dartford Warbler which remained elusive throughout the trip. Another highlight was a beautiful male Redstart perched at the top of a tree. Two Lapwings were spotted on a flypast and twice we heard a Cuckoo but it refused to show itself. Three raptors were seen – Buzzard, Kestrel with a single Red Kite as an added bonus; this species is really spreading out from the various reintroduction sites. The lone Hawthorn bush in front of the lunch stop had a Stonechat and Common Whitethroat competing for the highest branch to search for their lunch.
    On St George’s Day, I wonder if we all realised the significance of the area to the defence of the realm. Who noticed the large white mound, which was not ash from a fire, but a pile of chalk used to mark the targets on the wartime bombing range? Lunch was taken on top of a replica German submarine bunker now covered in earth at the top of Hampton Ridge! The return route produced nice views of Green Woodpecker for the backmarkers and finally a Wheatear, which is unusual for this site, and did someone mention a Willow Warbler (or 20!)? A good time was had by all, with 34 species seen. Thanks to Jane for leading. Keith Williams

  • Tuesday 18 April – Chilcombe Bottom, Northend, Bath

    Today’s 21 walkers had been warned about quantities of mud during the pre-walk, but by this point in a parched spring the earth was cracked and dry everywhere which at least made for easy walking. We checked Northend for the traditional village species such as House Sparrow and Starling, Collared Dove, Swift and House Martin (the last two not back yet), then walked up the long slope to Solsbury Hill, watching Swallows, Linnets and Skylarks en route. We sat down for a coffee break on the ramparts of the hill fort to admire the views over Bath, while a Whitethroat sang in a nearby bush and Skylarks hovered over the summit serenading us. Swallows were coming in to perch on twigs around the large barn down the hill, perhaps checking out a potential nest site. We 14 walked round the summit and away down the northern slope through fields of sheep and greening woodlands. Turning down Chilcombe Bottom, we stopped to read signs about the disused reservoirs and their new life as part of a nature reserve, but the only waterbirds to be found were a couple of Moorhens. On through a pretty green valley full of sheep, with plenty of Buzzards around and a Raven calling, across a small stream and up to a market garden – this walk has a wonderful variety of habitat. Although some migrants hadn’t returned to their breeding locations yet, we managed a total of 37 species on a sunny spring morning. (Thank you Jane for leading one of your favourite walks.) Jane Cumming

  • Tuesday 11 April – Castle Combe

    Being at the top of the combe, the car park offered up many vocal corvids flying over, including; Raven, Carrion Crow, Jackdaw and Rook. The first of 27 Chiffchaff was heard as we entered the lane and one even showed itself a bit further down. Some Blackbirds were singing fit to burst and filling the combe with noise, quite masking the soft ‘coocoocoo’ of a spooning pair of Stock Doves. Our climb up the opposite bank had Nuthatch calling and at the top, towards the houses, a Song Thrush and then some Greenfinches also lit up the soundscape and even afforded us a nice clear sighting. Many Blackcaps and Robins sang for us but were not often seen, but the squeaky toy call of the Coal Tit was rewarded with a sighting. The rookery at Upper Castle Combe had nine active nests, more spread out than last year with the old site containing many abandoned homes. Along Summer Track the first Buzzards were seen, a small flock of Linnets twittered their way across out path and we had a fleeting glimpse of a Bullfinch couple. We went for a short way on the B4039, then down to Kent Bottom where the pond had a nice selection of birds; a pair of Tufted Ducks, two House Martins, five Mallards (all male), 16 Canada Geese and singles of Lesser Black-backed Gull, Coot and Little Grebe. The racing circuit being in use made identifying a possible Garden Warbler very difficult. As the lure of identifying the Garden Warbler took so long, we were behind the rest of the group. Along Kent’s Bottom Plantation we had a splendid Peregrine flypast and two Marsh Tits ‘pitchoue-ing’ in the bushes with lengthy sightings of aggressive ‘battle stance’. At the mill in Long Dean a pair of Swallows were caught napping on the roof. Along the path above the river a Great Spotted Woodpecker was seen, more Nuthatch and the lovely song of a Mistle Thrush echoed along the valley. Back in the village, one lucky person saw the Dipper fly round a corner of By Brook and we all heard Greenfinches calling. At the car park a few of the advance party were happily munching their lunch and told us of the finding of Lesser Whitethroat and Grey Wagtail, which brought the tally up to 49. A splendid walk was had by the 30 of us and our thanks go to David for leading. Nick Hawkridge

  • Saturday 08 April – Dundry

    Fifteen members met on a perfect spring morning for a walk around Dundry, Dave’s local patch. Dave is a fount of information about Dundry – its history and birds, and today he expressed concern about the slow arrival of spring migrants. However, the corvids were very busy (the rookery contained 18 nests in 2016) and Dave involved the group in looking more closely at their identification features including when in flight and their calls. In the quarry area we saw Pied Wagtails and heard a Chiffchaff. As we enjoyed the views from Dundry Down we could see Stock Doves in the fields below. Two Swallows and three Buzzards raised our spirits, and passing Herring and Lesser Black-backed Gulls provided another opportunity for Dave to give us some further identification tips. Although distant, a scan of the Barrow Gurney tanks gave us views of Mute Swan, Coot, Mallard, Tufted Duck and Cormorant, with a Little Egret in the surrounding fields. Making our way round to the south side of Dundry, a Raven flew overhead and a Green Woodpecker called; a Blackcap was seen and a Willow Warbler heard but still no Wheatears. A Yellowhammer eluded the group for some time before being located and giving good views to all. We also enjoyed hearing and seeing Skylark and Nuthatch. This was a delightful morning’s birding with Dave and at least 37 species were recorded. The group enjoyed and benefitted from his local knowledge and invaluable ID tips and would wish me to thank him very much indeed Ken Carruthers

    PS A few days later, Dave reported 32 Wheatears, a male Redstart and a male Yellow Wagtail from Dundry.

  • Tuesday 04 April – Hanham

    On a warm, dry spring day, 32 of us met at the Chequers Inn, Hanham, for a new walk through deciduous woodland, along field edges and by the river Avon. Trees were almost in leaf, and we admired the billowing Blackthorn and Wild Cherry blossom and the profusion of spring flowers; carpets of Wood Anemones, Bluebells, Cowslips and Lady’s Smock. The bird list numbered 37 in all, either seen or heard. The highlights were the Grey Herons and chicks in the heronry, Buzzard on a nest, Goldfinch building nest, Peregrine, Willow Warblers, Chiffchaffs, Greenfinches, Goldcrest, Nuthatch, Treecreepers (three) but surprisingly only one Chaffinch. (Thank you to our leaders for introducing us to this new walk)

  • Monday 03 April – Mid-week “Margaret walk” – Dorset

    Eight members made the trip on a sunny spring day following a misty start. We visited three locations: Lytchett Fields, an RSPB managed wetland area on the edge of Lytchett Bay; Upton Park, an area of mixed woodland on the edge of Holes Bay; and Morden Bog, which is part of Wareham forest.
    Lytchett Fields attracts a range of wildfowl, waders and their predators. A Green-winged Teal and Lesser Yellowlegs had entertained birders for some months and I had seen the Teal on a recce a few days before when the tide was high. However, neither bird could be located on the field trip itself when the tide was low. Many Teal were roosting or hidden in creeks or behind clumps of reed. Something (probably the fox seen on the far shore) put all the Teal up in the air and they landed largely out of sight. No sign at all of the Lesser Yellowlegs, which has been very elusive over the last few weeks. However, we saw about 20 species including Black-tailed Godwit, Little Egret, Redshank, Curlew, Shelduck, Blackcap, Cetti’s Warbler and Greenfinch. We also saw Orange-tip, Brimstone and Peacock butterflies.
    At Upton Park we added two stunning Jays, Common Gull, Mistle Thrush, Coal Tit, Bullfinch, Wigeon, Shoveler, Great Spotted Woodpecker, several very noisy Nuthatches and Raven. The cold water of the incoming tide meeting the sun-warmed mud created a low level rolling mist that was very atmospheric but not ideal for watching distant birds. A couple of weeks ago there was a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker seen at the park. While we were eating our sandwiches Sue saw a small, black and white bird with a ‘bouncy’ flight. It whizzed across the walled garden, over the wall into the trees beyond. Lesser? The jury is still out, unfortunately, as the view was too fleeting for her to be sure and no one else saw it. On to Morden Bog where Great Grey Shrike and Woodlark are recent sightings. We walked though some mixed oak and conifer woodland (Goldcrest, Coal Tit, Chaffinch, Green and Great Spotted Woodpecker) and onto the heathland. The heath seemed very quiet initially until Suk saw our first (of many) Stonechats followed by Linnet 13 (Suk again) a stunning Yellowhammer (Suk) and then, unexpectedly, the Great Grey Shrike (Anne this time) posing at the top of a conifer. On the walk back two Dartford Warblers (yes, Suk again) flew up and perched in a Birch tree. Although it was a bit of a journey and we missed four of our target species we all had an enjoyable day out in three lovely locations with 35 species of bird. (Many thanks to Alastair for organising and leading.)
    Alastair Fraser

  • Sunday 02 April – Sand Point

    Sand Point can be a brilliant migration watchpoint on a good day but unfortunately this wasn’t one – cool, dry and overcast with a light wind but very little moving. Eight people joined Paul in the car park and climbed the steps up to the grassy summit serenaded by singing Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs. We scanned the shore counting 20 plus Shelducks, 100 plus Curlews, a couple of Little Egrets and a handful of Mallard and Teal. Three waders flew by resolving into a Grey Plover with two Dunlins. We walked along the top ticking off the common passerines and remembering other visits where the fields were dripping with Wheatears – none today, nor any hirundines either. Never mind, the views were wonderful! The River Banwell held a good roost of 120 Redshanks and three Mute Swans. A Raven flew over croaking, a couple of Stonechats attracted our attention, and a couple of Cormorants passed overhead. Thanks to Paul for leading and for finding some 32 species on a very quiet day. Jane Cumming.
    PS It was rather galling to watch reports of loads of great birds turning up at Sand Point over the following week or two, but that’s birding, isn’t it!

  • Tuesday 28 March – Gordano Valley

    Starting in fog and ending in rain, sunny during the walk – excellent. The crowd of 21 (welcome to new walker Simon) gathered at the trees in Moor Lane to listen to the song of a male Blackcap (totally hidden), the rapid ‘cherteach, cherteach’ of a Coal Tit and the call of a distant Willow Warbler. A perching Buzzard resolved into a female Pheasant and the quack of Mallard revealed their position under the hedge. A true Buzzard posed for us as we climbed the slope, showing a strong dark necklace and many Greenfinch wheezed and sang us up the hill. Another Buzzard then flew past and we were delighted to see ‘Blondie’ (nearly all white underwing) one of the regulars in the valley (Not Blondie – one of a pair centred on Norton’s Village, both very pale – RJP). A collection of four Bullfinches showed well, with the males’ chest colour even discernible in the poor light. Linnet, Long-tailed Tit and Goldcrest were all found after the turn along Clevedon Lane, but alas the feeders in the garden opposite didn’t give us any Siskin as they had in previous years. We heard and finally saw our first Chaffinch of the day, near the turn across the Walton Moor and close to a group of five Pied Wagtails. The path was good and we found the first of five Reed Buntings; the splendidly marked male, singing strongly and the female answering with her own quiet whistle. Two distant Lapwing were seen, and a Skylark in song flight. Plenty of Buzzard action was visible across Walton Down including one very aggressive individual seeking to keep the park to itself. Within the trees on the Down we heard Nuthatch calling and the yaffle of a Green Woodpecker, then more Goldcrest and Coal Tit. A Treecreeper came to join the foraging throng – clearly old oak is rich with food at present. Back down towards the village and wondering if we’d see any Swallows or House Martins (alas not) we extended our list to 41 with the addition of Great Spotted Woodpecker and a pair of popinjay Grey Wagtail. All was not finished however, for as we were getting out of boots and into shoes, a Cetti’s Warbler called from the edge of the stream. Well done to Geoff for leading and arranging the weather so conveniently for us.
    Nick Hawkridge

  • Tuesday 21 March – Uphill

    As we set off in the car it started to rain, turning to hail before it eased off.  Quite a surprise, then, to find that 23 people had decided to defy the dire weather forecast and risk a soaking, but there they were, admiring a couple of newly-arrived Wheatears at the edge of the golf course.  We moved round to the beach to discover that the neap tide wasn’t coming far enough up the sand to force the waders to roost, so we counted 72 Oystercatchers feeding along the tideline, checked out a couple of dozen Wigeon and Teal, then followed the muddy path round to the salt-marsh.  As we topped the dyke a Short-eared Owl flew off in front of us, but to our delight it settled on a fence post and sat there for some time, watching us as we watched it back.  Great start! We spent a while on the dyke, scanning the marsh, and unexpectedly picked up a Sandwich Tern above the moored yachts – in fact it was fishing over the little boating lake.  A good sighting – Avon doesn’t get a lot of these.  We worked round back to the coast path, registering Skylark, Meadow Pipit and Stonechat on the way, to watch the tern plunge-diving into the boating lake and coursing up and down over our heads.  Off to the hilltop overlook to scan Bleadon Levels, where we counted 69 Mute Swans, 42 Shelducks and 106 Redshanks, but not much else on the marsh other than a scattering of Teal.  Some nice raptors though – Buzzard, Sparrowhawk and Kestrel.  Best of all was the Merlin that one lucky observer photographed on the hilltop, but sadly the rest of us missed it. We returned along the hedgerows (various singing finches but no warblers) to the cliff where a female Black Redstart blended completely into the dark grey boulders until she moved.  A Green Woodpecker called and flew off.  There was still no rain, despite heavy skies and threatening clouds all around us.  In fact it was a really enjoyable morning with some great birds – 42 species on my list. (Thanks to Jane for leading). Jane Cumming

  • Saturday 18 March – Newport Wetlands

    The weatherman promised us clouds and gales, as seventeen birders went over to Wales. You could write a poem about it, but I’m not going to. It was an all-day trip; lagoons, reed beds and foreshore in the morning, lunch near the RSPB centre, then along to the ponds and hides at Goldcliff in the afternoon. A goodly total of 57 species of birds was recorded, mostly what you’d expect to see, so I’ll just mention a few of the highlights. At Goldcliff we counted more than 30 Avocet. A member of the stilt family, and although a proper ‘wader’, they have webbed feet and swim readily, often ‘up-ending’ to feed. In the early 20th century they ceased breeding on the east coast, due mainly to land reclamation. But during WW2, access to the beaches was restricted and the birds returned. There are now over 1500 breeding pairs and are considered to be one of the most successful conservation and protection projects. A Peregrine was seen sitting on a post near one of the hides. When they attack a flying bird, typically a pigeon, they ‘stoop’ at an estimated 180mph and break the prey’s neck or back. In a successful attack, the prey knows nothing about it. On the incoming tide we saw a Cormorant, Latin name Phalacrocorax carbo. Its common name is also derived from Latin, short for Corvus marinus, the sea crow. A most apt name don’t you think? But did you know they are members of the pelican family? A Ringed Plover was spotted at Goldcliff, and another bird attracted a lot of attention and discussion until it was finally decided it was a Little Ringed Plover. They were seldom seen in the UK before WW2, but the advent of sand and gravel pits has provided good nesting environments. When given the Latin name Charadrius dubius, it was thought by French naturalist Pierre Sonneret, in 1776, to be simply a variant of the common Ringed Plover. Hence the ‘dubius’. Two passage migrants, a Greenshank and a Spotted Redshank, were a delight to see. Cetti’s Warblers were seen and heard and Chiffchaffs were calling everywhere. We were all a little dismayed to see so much woodland had been chopped down at the east end of the lagoons – the underlying ash deposits have been cited as the reason. Not a cold day, but windy and overcast, and I think enjoyed by everyone. (Thanks to Ray and Margaret for leading).
    Ray and Margaret Bulmer

  • Tuesday 14 March – Eastville Park

    It’s quite unusual for the first bird spotted on a Tuesday walk to be a Peregrine – apart from, maybe, one that starts at the Peregrine viewing spot on the Downs! However, being on the leader’s patch has many advantages and so, while boots were still being donned and latecomers arriving, a Peregrine on Stapleton Church had many pairs of binoculars trained on it and, for any members lacking the required faith, a splendid close up photograph was taken by Vera. And the next spot was a Sparrowhawk! A somewhat unexpected sun shone upon 32 members for much of this walk around the park, past the lakes and then along part of the Frome Walkway. There was plenty of birdsong from, among others, Song Thrush, Great Tit, Dunnock, Chaffinch and Greenfinch but Wrens seemed to be outsinging them all – double figures of this species singing were noted. Magpies were in profusion and 45 Carrion Crows counted. More Sparrowhawks and three Buzzards were spotted to add to our raptor count. Some but not all caught sight of a Kingfisher and most a Grey Wagtail. Goldcrest were heard in a Yew tree – by those with excellent hearing – and there was much pondering about sightings in this tree as Firecrest have been observed in the park. However, after more research after the walk, it was decided that two Goldcrest had been seen. 38 species was the total, and the return of the Chiffchaff, several seen and heard, was a real reminder of spring. Many thanks to Richard for leading us. Nancy Barrett

  • Saturday 11 March – Blashford Lakes

    These lakes are a two hour drive from the Bristol area but the birding was, and usually is, well worth the journey. Ten participants began at the Tern Hide on Ibsley Water where we picked out Egyptian Goose, Scaup, Goldeneye and Goosander amongst the commoner freshwater ducks all of which were represented here. An Oystercatcher, a couple of Redshanks and plenty of Lapwings indulging in a bit of spring display flighting were the only waders. We were delighted to locate a Water Pipit and compare it with a couple of nearby Meadow Pipits. We moved on to the Woodland Hide where dozens of finches were on the feeders, including Greenfinch, a few Siskins joined by a single Redpoll and three very attractive Bramblings, the males coming into spring plumage. On to the Ivy South Hide for deeper water and more diving ducks, and our first Teal. A Green Woodpecker called and Great Spotted Woodpeckers were drumming. We finished the morning with a visit to the Ivy North Hide overlooking a small reed bed, which held Cetti’s Warbler and Reed Buntings, then lunched at picnic tables behind the visitors’ centre. In the afternoon we worked the edge of the stream up towards Mockbeggar Lake, finding Goldcrests, a rather elusive Firecrest and two Treecreepers. A Kingfisher was seen several times by some and not at all by others in the party! We walked the 600 metre path up to the Lapwing Hide for a different view of Ibsley Water and greater numbers of ducks, counting 13 Goosanders and enjoying the mild spring air and the sunshine. Having covered all of the Blashford Lakes, we finished the day a couple of miles upriver on the Hampshire Avon where we picked out a White-fronted Goose in a flock of Greylags and an impressive 24 Egyptian Geese (mainly in pairs) feeding in riverside fields. Many thanks to Robert for leading an excellent day and finding a total of 65 species.
    Jane Cumming

  • Tuesday 07 March – Forest of Dean

    reconnoitre had shown that the Hawfinch would be away from Parkend by 8:30. So, not wishing to waste time looking, or get everyone up at the crack of dawn, we met as usual at New Fancy View at 10:30. A fair crowd (31) managed to pack the viewing platform around some helpful other birders, and we waited and waited – – -. Some nice aerial gymnastics from two groups of Ravens, an ear-bursting song from a Dunnock, distant Greenfinch and Mistle Thrush song, and at last a distant view of Goshawk. We had a slight change of plan and for the second leg of our trip we went up Crabtree Hill in search of Great Grey Shrike. There it was, fairly high up in a distant spruce, (well done to Jan for spotting it). As we got to the top of the hill it gave much better views, perching on low branches and nicely contrasted against the dark background. We walked to the end of the track in search of Lesser Spotted Woodpecker but without success. We were compensated when Margaret found a fine male Crossbill, oh, what beautiful colours. We learned later that those who were at the front during the climb up the hill had seen another Goshawk. Back ‘on plan’, we took our lunch at Cannop Ponds where trotter prints in the mud around the picnic tables and the absence of grass, indicated a wild boar attack of the most distressing kind. We picked up a few more species and counted the Mandarin Ducks (39) as we wandered around the bottom lake. Two or three Treecreeper gave lots of trouble, moving so quickly in the gloom of the trees as to be missed by some of the party. We paused at the end of the lake to search and listen for any sign of Lesser Spotted Woodpecker. No realistic chance as, again, it’s an early morning bird. We arrived back at the cars with our tally on 42 and a good day’s birding behind us. Some of us stopped at Parkend on the return trip for the Hawfinch – alas without success. However, at the nearby church we found six Redpolls, hanging comically, and feeding on the catkins at the ends of the slimmest of silver birch branches. (Thanks to Nick for leading). Nick Hawkridge

  • Tuesday 28 Feb – Pensford

    We welcomed four new walkers to the group, Di and Pete, Chris, and Vera, making our team up to 17. Today was a raw, windy but bright day, but, alas, in the last 30 minutes – heavy, soaking rain. The playing fields by the car park contained no less than five Mistle Thrushes and a couple of gulls. From there, we all piled down to peer under the bridges in the village to try and locate the resident Dipper- a no show. The river was in brown watered spate, handling the Mallard with ease and keeping the Moorhen (red billed with yellow tip) firmly on the banks. As we went up through the village, many House Sparrow called from the roof tops and ivy clad walls. A couple of Starlings posed as sentries on chimney stacks, whistling their love songs into the wind. Nesting material was seen being carried by Jackdaw and we finally located the Greenfinch who’d been wheezing from the scrub. We crossed a very damp Publow Leigh, where a Grey Heron flew ahead of us and a Cormorant was heading west for his elevenses at CVL. We had our first sighting of winter thrush in the fold of the valley, flying up to a magnificent Oak tree, this was just as we entered Lord’s Wood – and once inside the wood, a Green Woodpecker was heard, and a Mistle Thrush started to sing – brilliant. Several Goldcrest showed themselves in the ivy cover of four tall fir trees, with a couple of Long-tailed Tits that were spotted dashing about with a Coal Tit. More Winter Thrushes, in slightly bigger flights were seen, with a Jay for company and Woodpigeons asleep close by. We crossed Compton Common and all had excellent views of a male Great Spotted Woodpecker, first posing in one tree and then another. As we approached the River Chew again, a Buzzard was cleverly spotted sitting on a post. No doubt he was keeping an eye on the Fox lounging in the meadow, who in turn was eying up the flock (80 plus) of mainly Common Gulls – fat chance. A pair of Ravens were on the tall trees behind Grassington and eight Rooks probed the grass beneath, but alas no Dipper or Kingfisher on the river. It was a delightful walk for whose splendid leadership we were most grateful to Geoff. Nick Hawkridge

  • Tuesday 21 February – Between Chew and Blagdon Lakes

    Weather-wise, a misty damp day but surprisingly the birding was quite good. There was Goosander and Goldeneye on Chew Valley Lake as well as Tufted Duck, Pochard and Mallard. Canada Goose and Cormorant were also close enough to see. As we walked up towards Breach Hill we saw flocks of Redwings, Fieldfares and Starlings with a Song Thrush singing as well. A party of Long-tailed Tits flew in front of us and vanished into the roadside hedge. There were plenty of signs of spring – Primroses and Periwinkle in eye bright flower, Robins (ten) and Chaffinches in full throated song and away to the west, Rooks active in their rookery. Wren, Blue and Great Tit were also singing well, along with several Goldcrests, a Nuthatch and a Great Spotted Woodpecker chip chipping. Some of the group (total 18) were lucky enough to see Grey Wagtail, Buzzard, Kestrel and a couple of Treecreepers. Our views of Blagdon Lake were rather misty but altogether it was a pleasant walk finishing with a female Stonechat on the top of a hedge as we neared the turn along the Chew Lake road having seen 44 species. (Thanks to Sue and John for leading). Sue and John Prince

  • Saturday 18 February – Barrow Gurney Reservoirs

    Six members joined Sean for a walk round the three reservoirs named imaginatively Tanks 1, 2 and 3. The weather was mild, overcast with mist in the hills, brightening later. The tanks attract fewer birds than past years possibly due to milder winters as there can be an influx if the weather turns cold. Ringed Plover have a bespoke nesting area next to Tank 2 that the birds have never taken to. The Sand Martin nest holes have been more successful. The tank’s perimeters are exposed so it is difficult to sneak up for closer views but there are spots with cover you could settle down and wait if you had the time. The Long-tailed Duck was very visible in Tank 3 although being a diving duck it was frequently under water. The dives lasted up to a minute and occasionally it would stick up only its beak for a breath before the next dive.
    Birds on the water – Three Wigeon, two Gadwall, 19 Teal, 23 Mallard, 16 Shoveler, 13 Pochard, 69 Tufted Duck, one Long-tailed Duck (1st winter male, not a female as identified earlier), one female Goldeneye, 19 Cormorant, two Grey Heron, 14 Little Grebe, 13 Great Crested Grebe, 63 Coot, nine Lapwing, two Common Sandpiper, five Snipe, 200 plus Common Gull, two Great Black-backed Gull, 200c Black-headed Gull and a few Herring and Lesser Black-backed Gulls.
    Birds around the water – One Buzzard, one Kestrel, one Green Woodpecker, two Grey Wagtail, four Stock Dove, several Meadow Pipits, Great Tit, Blue Tit, two Goldcrest, Long-tailed Tit, Chaffinch, Robin, Wren, Goldfinch, Raven. Many thanks to Sean Davies for leading. Alastair Fraser

  • Tuesday 14 February –Greylake

    Ten members met at Greylake on a damp/drizzly morning. In the car park we saw Reed Bunting, Blue Tit, Great Tit and Chaffinch. As we started along the reserve some Carrion Crows flew over and a flock of Lapwings were an impressive sight. Throughout the morning we saw about 400 Lapwing which is encouraging as habitat restoration appears to be working well since the reserve was ‘reclaimed’ from arable fields in 2003. We moved on around the reed beds to the furthest viewpoint seeing Goldfinch, Mute Swans and a Stonechat amongst others on the way. At the end of the path we had good, if distant, views of two Marsh Harriers along with Coot, Teal, Wigeon, Shoveler and Gadwall. After a bit of debate a very pale Buzzard was confirmed on a faraway fence post. We then went to the hides and had good views of five ‘close by’ Snipe, Pintail, a Black-tailed Godwit and two Golden Plover. On the return to the car park we added half a dozen Redwing, a couple of Fieldfare, Cetti’s Warbler (heard) Common Gull. Greenfinch and Canada Geese to the list along with a Rook. Five members picnicked in the car park and then went off in search of the Cranes. As we arrived at Stathe a Kestrel rounded the corner of a roadside house. The drizzle was increasing considerably and no Cranes were visible from the bank of the Parrett despite a careful search so we decided to call it a day in view of the weather. We totalled 47 species for the visit. (Thanks to Mark for leading). Mark Watson

  • Tuesday 07 February – Bristol harbour

    On a lovely sunny morning about 25 members met in Millennium square for a walk around Bristol harbour. The birds proved to be strangely elusive possibly because there was so much disturbance on the walk with the works for the Metrobus route and building at the SS Great Britain and Prince Street Bridge. Cormorants were not on their usual perch at Prince Street Bridge but several were seen at other locations. The bushes by the railway tracks which usually produce a few species were very quiet. A few House Sparrows were seen. On the water were Black-headed, Lesser Black-back and Herring Gulls but not in their usual numbers. Eight Mute Swans were seen. They have not bred in this area for the past three years. Moorhens are doing well in the harbour and the pair that nest in the reed bed produced five young last year. Many of them are still around. The Grey Wagtails that nest near the SS Great Britain have probably been disturbed by the building work. Crossing over to the New Cut the mud provided a Redshank and a Grey Wagtail was flitting around. Good views were had of a Kestrel which perched for the photographers. A Sparrowhawk and Buzzard were also seen but no Peregrine this time. The corvids were represented by Magpies, Crows and a Raven. Those that climbed the steep route on to Brandon Hill added Goldfinch, Song Thrush, Greenfinch and Great Tit to the list. Altogether a species list of 30 was obtained. Thank you Nick for recording the birds. (And thanks to Margaret for leading) Margaret Gorely

  • Sunday 05 February – Exe Estuary

    32 members of BOC and Bristol Naturalists set off by coach for the mouth of the Exe Estuary. During the week storm Doris had poured, so we were lucky to have fair weather. After Exeter excitement rose as we saw some beautiful Brent Geese. By 10.30 hours we had arrived at Dawlish Warren. “Take your lunch with you”, said Gordon Youdale, “it’ll be four hours before you’re back”. Although at first the sea wall appeared to give an empty sea, a Great Northern Diver was soon found followed by Common Scoter, Shags, Cormorants and a few Great Crested Grebes. The walk east along the coast to the hide produced the first Turnstone, Rock Pipits and two Eider. Approaching the hide a wily member of the group caught site of a Peregrine catching a wader on the shingle beach. From the hide, lots of Oystercatcher and Dunlin could be seen. Looking further there were Grey Plovers, showing their black armpits, then racing Sanderling and Knot. Across the water, Goldeneye and two smaller Slavonian Grebes were noted, one coming in close later for good views. Finally, Gordon picked out a Bar-tailed Godwit. Time for lunch and watch the Brent Geese. The return walk gave another Great Northern Diver, a Water Rail and Snipe. Then across the far estuary both Red and Black-throated Divers were seen. On to Powderham for the walk along the estuary, sadly a walk to and back as Doris had flooded the fields and made thepath impassable. No Cirl Bunting, but a glorious Red-breasted Merganser by the bridge, cameras flashing. The look across the mud flats showed over a hundred Avocet, a flock of more than 500 Golden Plovers looking golden in the late afternoon sun, even the Curlew shining. Ending the day over 500 Brent Geese circled in the sky, a fine day, Nick recording over 60 species. And then Gordon found Black-tailed Godwits as well, but then he was the leader. (Many thanks to Gordon for leading) Robert Hargreaves

  • Tuesday 31 January – Clevedon Pill

    In view of the damp and unpromising weather, and thinking of dripping trees and slippery slopes, we agreed to move the start of the walk from Wain’s Hill to St Andrew’s Church, nearer to the pill, and concentrate on water birds. In the event, the weather improved considerably and 22 members had a lovely walk down the coast to the Dowlais farm track, left on Strode Road and back along the Blind Yeo. The harbour area usually holds Stonechats and Rock Pipits, which eventually gave themselves up, and as the high tide turned, the offshore mud banks began to reappear, attracting 45 Shelducks and twelve Oystercatchers back to join the amazing count of 55 plus Carrion Crows that were hanging around the shore and fields. Nick spotted a single Dunlin amongst 21 Turnstones – then we looked a half-mile down the beach to see a distant flight of about 300 Dunlin. Curlews were easier, 22 of them with 70 Lapwings feeding in the Dowlais fields.
    The Blind Yeo produced a Little Grebe and a magnificent 18 Goosanders (six drakes) from the Strode Road Bridge. Along the river we added a Coot, a total of six Moorhens, and for the luckier walkers, Kingfisher and Grey Wagtail. As the tide fell, a few Redshanks returned to the emerging mud-banks and we picked out the larger gull species amongst at least 200 Black-headed Gulls around the harbour. A Buzzard in the churchyard was the last bird of the morning. Nick’s list totalled 47 species for a very pleasant walk. (Thanks to Jane for leading)
    Jane Cumming

  • Saturday 28 January – Marshfield

    On a rather cold and cloudy morning 18 members (including three new members) met for a walk around Marshfield. As soon as we had crossed the A420 we flushed a Stonechat (one of many Stonechat sightings through the morning) that obligingly perched on a fencepost. As we reached the fields we could both see and hear many Skylarks that were present in large numbers throughout the walk. We made rather slow progress as we had many excellent views of Yellowhammers in both small and large groups. Also we were alerted to the presence of Corn Buntings by their characteristic ‘jangle of keys’ call. There were plenty of Fieldfares, accompanied by a few Redwings in the fields. A flock of about 110 Lapwings sat on a ploughed field interspersed with about 30 Golden Plovers (later on we saw a larger flock of Golden Plovers in flight). Unusually, a single Reed Bunting was seen. Circling back through Rushmead Lane we had views of a large flock of approximately 70 Fieldfares in flight and saw a group of seven Red-legged Partridges. The only raptors seen were Buzzards with, unfortunately, no views of Little Owl. Overall, as the cloud disappeared and the sun came out, we had a very pleasant walk with continuous Skylark and Corn Bunting song and good sightings of 29 species. Sue Kempson

  • Tuesday 24 January – Backwell Lake

    Thirty-nine members met at the Perrings on a frosty morning to walk round Backwell Lake and along the lanes to the west of Nailsea. Despite the strong sunshine the lake was half-frozen. Two Mute Swans displayed and a Grey Heron flew into the willow tree on the island. There were plenty of gulls, mostly Black-headed, with Common, Herring and Lesser Black-backed present. There were about 16 Shovelers plus Mallard, Pochard and Tufted Ducks with the usual Coots and Moorhens. A lucky few saw a Water Rail emerge from the reeds onto the ice. Another was seen later in a ditch along the lane. A Song Thrush sang lustily and a couple of Bullfinches and many Robins were seen in the trees. Leaving the lake area a Green Woodpecker provided a bit of excitement. We saw our first Redwings and Fieldfares and more were seen throughout the walk. As we headed along Youngwood Lane we saw three Stonechats as well as Mistle Thrushes, Goldcrests, Great and Blue Tits, Blackbirds and Dunnocks. Several Pied Wagtails flew over. Three Sparrowhawks flew past pursued by corvids including a Raven. At Bizley Farm a Little Owl was seen on the roof of the farmhouse. Chaffinch and Greenfinch were added to the list. Coming back along Netherton Wood Lane we found two Common Buzzards in the field opposite Engine Lane. Returning to the cars a Nuthatch was heard calling so the total came to 43 species.
    (Thanks to John and Sue Prince for leading.) Sue Prince

  • Saturday 14 January – Greylake and Catcott Reserves

    The car park at RSPB Greylake is a great place to start a day’s birding. Whilst waiting for the group to assemble we had seen 16 species even before we set off into the reserve. Apart from tits and Reed Buntings on the feeders, the adjacent fields contained good numbers of foraging Fieldfares and Redwings. Once in the main hide we were soon treated to an aerial maelstrom of wildfowl as a Peregrine made repeated stoops into the whirling mass of duck. It soon gave up, having failed to make a kill, and the duck soon settled back down to feeding.Amongst the many hundreds of Wigeon, Teal and Shoveler there were a good number of Pintails, the smartly marked drakes showing up particularly well. Greylake is usually a good place for close views of Snipe and once the first one was picked out we realised that there were about a dozen sitting quietly close in front of the hide. Other notables were Lapwings and distant Golden Plovers disturbed by one of the quartering Marsh Harriers.
    We then moved north to Catcott Lows, where a wintering Chiffchaff was working the hedge in the car park. The main hide here provided a similar selection of species to Greylake, so we decided to walk to the wooded area of the reserve. Searching through the abundant alders, we found a large and restless flock of Goldfinches on the cones, but some thorough checking soon started to reveal Redpolls, with everyone finally getting good views.
    A splendid morning’s birding had fallen just short of 50 species and it says something about the rapid changes to the rich diversity of the avifauna of the Levels that having Great White Egret on the list is now hardly worth a mention. (Many thanks to Bob Buck and Giles Morris for leading) Giles Morris

  • Tuesday 10 January – Coalpit Heath

    The weather was not cold, just overcast, and miserable; this however did not deter 26 walkers from meeting at the Kendleshire Golf Club. Magpie were seen almost at once with Blue and Great Tit, but the first bit of magic was an overflight of a single female Peregrine. A few minutes later a Buzzard flapped from cover and circled over a single spot – suggesting a prey item, but we got too close and it departed. A Blackbird was flushed from the brambles and as our attention turned towards it, there sitting perched atop a bush – a russet-coloured Kestrel. Just past the greenkeeper’s fire we found a Song Thrush and a handsome Mistle Thrush, who came close enough for all its finer points to be seen. At the water hazards of the 12th green we discovered 31 Canada Geese busily cropping the grass with three Coots, several Mallards and some Black-headed Gulls. Redwings and Goldcrest were next on the list and a further raptor at the top of the lane, in the form of a Sparrowhawk. More Redwings were seen as we headed towards the railway line, but were eclipsed by a brilliantly coloured Bullfinch. At our coffee stop we added Collared Dove and House Sparrow. Out into the countryside parallel to the railway, we added Greenfinch, Wren, Jay and saw many more Goldfinches and Redwings. A single Coal Tit was heard, three Long-tailed Tits seen, several Rooks and then another magic moment, a mixed flock of Yellowhammers/Chaffinches numbering 50 plus falling from the hedges onto the ground with multiple flashes of bright yellow. Up into the air rose another flock, this time Redwings mixed with calling Skylarks, and the last addition – six Moorhens and a single Lesser Black-backed Gull. Thanks go to Duncan and Pat who, at the last moment, stepped in to lead.
    Nick Hawkridge

  • Sunday 08 January – Portland and Radipole

    Weather: dull and damp all day in Bristol but a lovely mild and sunny day in Portland so you know where you should have been. The day’s birding started with a quick twitch in Dorchester for a Rose-coloured Starling. Then on to Ferrybridge to join the rest of the group. Eighteen members made the trip including two new members. The tide was well out meaning the birds were a long way off so we stayed just long enough to see 60 plus Mediterranean Gulls, Red-breasted Mergansers, Little and Black-necked Grebes, Raven, Skylark and Little Egret. Not many waders (a couple of Oystercatchers) and no geese. (Over 500 Mediterranean Gulls are reported roosting in Portland Harbour). A quick stop at Portland Castle: Cormorant and Shag, 50 plus Red-breasted Mergansers, and Kingfisher. At Portland Bill the mild conditions and flat sea looked unpromising but there was quite a bit out there: 20 plus Kittiwakes, Razorbills, Guillemot, Gannet and a probable skua, but too far away to identify for certain. On the cliff below we saw a Rock Pipit and a group of Turnstone with three Purple Sandpipers. A short stop at Chesil Cove for Black Redstart and on to Sandsfoot for a Great Northern Diver, a group of nine synchronised-swimming Black-necked Grebes, more Red-breasted Mergansers, Great Crested Grebe with the backing track of a Song Thrush. The final, scheduled stop was at Radipole where we had several stunning views of Bearded Tits, Reed Bunting, a good mix of ducks and a male and female Marsh Harrier. An additional twitch at Upway for Cattle Egret produced three egret-like birds, but two fields away and mostly obscured by a thick hedge – Cattle Egret not confirmed but a pager alert reported a Cattle Egret at Litton Cheney. Well, why not? It’s sort of on the way home. Where could it be though? Probably near the man with the long lens camera. And there is was – a herd of cows with one Cattle Egret and one Little Egret as a handy comparison. A Grey Wagtail flyover completed the day. Total species for the day: 58. Thank you to Jane for leading and to all the drivers.
    Alistair Fraser

  • Tuesday 03 January – Shapwick Heath/Ham Wall

    Twenty-five members gathered at the RSPB Ham Wall car park on a cold dry afternoon in the hope of a good showing of Starlings towards dusk. We headed along the track on the Shapwick/Meare Heath side first towards the Tower Hide as a Great White Egret flew past. From the hide a few saw a Water Rail and many heard it and a Marsh Harrier quartered the reed beds. Numerous Robins sang and a Reed Bunting was seen as we moved on. On the water Moorhen, Shoveler, Tufted Duck, Wigeon, Pochard, Gadwall, Great Crested and Little Grebe were added to our list. Some of the group went to Noah’s Hide and most walked further on where four Whooper Swans were seen. Meare Heath Hide yielded a single Kingfisher flashing past and, from Noah’s Hide, the usual Cormorants and a Mink were seen. We moved back towards Ham Wall seeing Little Egrets on the way. As we started along the Ham Wall track a Tawny Owl was heard. Blue Tits, a Great Spotted Woodpecker, Nuthatch, Siskin, Bullfinch, Chaffinch, a Jay and a Bittern were seen and on the pools we added Pintail to the list. A Kestrel, Snipe and a flock of 40 Linnet passed over as the sun stared to go down. We saw a huge number of Starlings streaming in to the reed beds at both the first and second watching points on the track, making a tremendous noise as they settled and shuttled between different parts of the reed beds to choose a spot for the night. On this occasion we were not treated to prolonged murmurations but it was nevertheless an impressive sight as tens of thousands of birds flowed into the reserve like rivers in the sky. A total of 55 species overall made for a worthwhile visit. (Many thanks to Mark for stepping in at the last moment to lead) Mark Watson

  • Sunday 01 January 2017 – Slimbridge

    What a miserable start to the year! The morning was chilly and wet, and I doubt I would have bothered to turn out if I hadn’t been asked to lead at the last minute. However, 18 hardy souls braved the weather to join me on a search for interesting birds from various reasonably dry and comfortable hides. I believe this was the first time a winter visit to Slimbridge produced just a single Golden Plover and no White-fronted Geese at all (apparently 120 of them were feeding out of sight, two fields north of the reserve), but the Bewick’s Swans were showing well and we checked off the common duck species for our new year lists. We grilled a couple of Dunlins on Rushy Pen but couldn’t turn either of them into the Little Stint that was being reported regularly there. A few Snipe and a Redshank were some compensation. A group of nine or ten Common Cranes were a lovely sight but, of course, these birds were bred here in captivity so they don’t go on my list! The Zeiss Hide produced a Ruff or two, as well as the lone Golden Plover and plenty of Lapwings and Dunlins. We added more species at South Lake: Cormorant, Great Crested Grebe, and Common Gull. I completed my day’s list with a few Fieldfares and a Reed Bunting, and retired to the pub for a good lunch, but some of the party persevered into the afternoon and Nick’s list got to 52 species, an excellent total under the circumstances. Thanks to all who joined me to carry on the Club’s New Year tradition of a Slimbridge start – and here’s hoping for better weather this time next year! (Jane, many thanks for stepping in as leader.) Jane Cumming

  • Tuesday 27 December – Snuff Mills

    26 members set out on a nice winter’s day. A few common birds including Blue Tit, Long-tailed Tit, and Robin were seen in the car park. A Song Thrush was heard singing at the start and was still singing when we returned at the end of the walk. As we walked through the woods we spotted Jay, Magpie, Jackdaw, Great Tit and Woodpigeon. We added Wren and Carrion Crow which included one group of twelve. On reaching open parkland we saw Lesser Black-backed Gull and Herring Gull and some of the group heard a Green Woodpecker. There were also a flock of about 40 Black-headed Gulls and we then added Blackbird and Coal Tit to our list. We stopped for our usual coffee break and had an excellent view of a single Redwing perched in a nearby tree. On the return the footpath was officially closed due to a fallen tree, so we split into two groups with some returning through the village and others alongside the river. Between the two groups we added House Sparrow, Collared Dove, Grey Wagtail, Chaffinch, Grey Heron and Moorhen. Mallards had been seen earlier but there was a large group of about 22 in the water. Similarly Goldcrest had been either heard or seen earlier but some of us now had better views of three to four birds. We had a total of 27 species. Thank you to Nick for leading as well as for keeping a record of birds seen. Mike Landen

  • Tuesday 20 December – Severn Beach

    The weather was good, the tide was rising and we all (26) enjoyed the walk down river along the path at the front of Severn Beach. There were plenty of waders to look at, with enough telescopes to allow all who wanted to have good close views of Wigeon, Knot, Dunlin, and Redshank. We walked back towards the M4 Bridge and watched with awe the Dunlin, Ringed Plover and Turnstone lifting clear of the rising tide and settling back onto the rocks – like fluttering silvered leaves in the low sunlight. A few Pied Wagtails flitted beneath our feet as we walked towards New Passage. Thrushes offered themselves for inspection on distant hedgerows and resolved into Redwing, Fieldfare and Song Thrush. A lone Buzzard guarded a gate entrance from atop the hinge side post and he didn’t stir a feather when the thrush flock took flight. The tide was full as we all grouped around the Pill mouth where Shoveler, Redshank, Teal, and Wigeon had been thrown up on the river bank edges by the encroaching water. Away in the distance on Northwick Warth, and at full scope magnification, we could see Canada Goose, Shelduck, Curlew and Lesser Black-backed Gull waiting for the tide to turn. A quick sally to the Pilning Wetlands by some of the cast showed the often reported flock of Black-tailed Godwit, Knot and Dunlin – all put to flight by a Peregrine and then a Marsh Harrier. Lapwing within the flock gave the best display as their broad wings turned and flashed in the light. A final flick of white from a departing Little Egret, one of blue from a Kingfisher and we turned for the cars and home. Our last bird of the day was a Greenfinch and a final tally of 52 for the day. Thanks to Duncan for stepping in pro tem and Peter for leading. Nick Hawkridge

  • Tuesday 13 December – Newton St Loe

    On a fine dry day 31 of us set off on a pre-Christmas lunch walk around the grounds of Bath Spa University led by Peter Holbrook and Duncan and Pat Gill. As we walked through the village and down to the University we saw numerous Blue Tits, a Redwing, Song Thrush and Starling in the tree tops whilst a Raven flew overhead alongside a Common Gull. We passed Chaffinches, Goldfinches, Robins, Great Tits and Dunnock as we neared the University grounds. A Nuthatch shuffled up and down a tree trunk, Goldcrest flitted about and one eagle-eyed walker saw two Marsh Tits. We progressed uphill in the grounds to the second lake where Mallard came into view along with two Grey Herons, Moorhens, seven Goosanders and 20 Teal towards the top of the lake. A Green Woodpecker appeared, and moving through the woods up to the University, we picked up Siskins, Collared Doves and Pied Wagtail on the way back to Newton St. Loe. We counted 34 species in all on the two hour walk so thanks to the leaders for a pleasant precursor to lunch. Thanks also to Peter Holbrook for ably organising our lunch which was attended by 50 members. We have walked every Tuesday in 2016 and thanks go to the leaders who make this possible, though new leaders and walks are always welcome. Many thanks too for the book token presented to me at the lunch, it was much appreciated. Mark Watson

  • Sunday 11 December – Blagdon Lake

    Report next month

  • Sunday 11 December – Blagdon Lake

    Nigel Milbourne and eight members of BOC met for a morning walk and had a good time, racking up 63 species in the four hours. They also saw a Peacock butterfly in the sunshine, presumably woken up by the warmth. Notable birds included seven plus Great White Egrets, ‘teens’ of Little Egrets, eight adult Bewick’s Swans, the Common Shelduck, several Goosanders, a Chiffchaff, a Common Sandpiper, a small flock of Northern Lapwings, a Eurasian Stonechat and we heard a Water Rail. Many thanks to Nigel for showing members around his patch.

  • Tuesday 06 December – Slimbridge

    The morning was grey and misty but noticeably milder than of late. Eighteen of us set off initially heading towards the Holden Tower. We stopped off at two hides overlooking the Tack Piece where we saw five Common Crane, a largish flock of Canada Geese and good numbers of Lapwings and Rooks. The ponds (which were predominantly free of ice) were mainly occupied by Teal although a single Snipe was seen by some. A group of Pintail flew low in front of us. Chaffinch and Jackdaw were amongst the birds around the busy feeders. A Water Rail was initially heard and then clearly seen and a Buzzard was perched low nearby. Long-tailed Tits, Shelduck and a Great Black-backed Gull were added to the list together with a large flock of Barnacle Geese. Robins cropped up everywhere throughout the morning. After coffee we moved to the Zeiss Tower where there were more Teal, Shelduck and Lapwings, Shoveler, six Dunlin on the edge of one pond and a good view of another Water Rail. Whilst walking between hides a small group of Bewick’s Swans flew over. We then moved towards the Kingfisher Hide where there were ten Gadwall and a Little Grebe. The small hide en route, however, provided perhaps the highlight of the morning when after much patience we saw a Bittern emerge into a gap in the reeds, fish in bill. A Treecreeper, Greater Spotted Woodpecker, Stonechat and Bullfinch also featured in the total of 54 wild birds recorded. Thanks to Nick for leading and for keeping a comprehensive list of sightings. John Lees

  • Sunday 04 December – Steart

    Eight members met on a beautifully bright but cold and frosty day. We spent the morning at the WWT reserve. Although it was high tide the water had not come into the pools outside of the Mendip Hide so views of the birds were a little distant – Shelduck, Little Egret, Redshank, Curlew, Dunlin. Bird feeders on the way gave views of Blue Tit, House Sparrow and Robin. We walked out to the River Parrett where we saw Avocets, Grey Plover, Mute Swans and Teal. A Peregrine which had been sitting on a pylon flew and had an altercation with a Raven. During the day we had several views of Marsh Harriers. Fieldfares and Redwings were seen and heard as we walked to the Quantock Hide where Wigeon, Mallard and Little Stint were added to the list. A group of Roe Deer were seen nearby. On the way to the Polden Hide four Snipe were seen in the grass and two Skylarks seen and heard. After lunch we moved onto the Natural England reserve and walked along the shore by Stert Flats to the Tower Hide. Buzzard was added to the list and a mixed flock of Canada and Barnacle Geese grazed on Fenning Island. Several pairs of Shoveler were seen and four Little Grebes, as well as several Golden Plover. Other raptors included Sparrowhawk, Kestrel and for the four of us who walked up from Steart Gate car park to the ridge overlooking the Breach – a Merlin perched on a fence and then flew at lightning speed to the mud, returned with a wader and proceeded to pluck it. A stop on the way back at Wall Common unfortunately did not reward us with any Short-eared Owls. Over 50 species were recorded. Thanks to Richard Belson for leading. Rosemary Brown

  • Tuesday 29 November – Chew Valley Lake

    A good turnout of 26 members set out from the main car park at Chew Valley on a beautiful day. At the dam wall it was slightly unfortunate that we were looking into the sun which prevented us from having a great view of the birds. However we did see Mallard, Pochard, Gadwall, Coot, Moorhen, Tufted Duck and Great Crested Grebe. We also saw a Goldeneye and a single Lapwing, although more were seen later. We then walked through fields to the north of the lake and added a number of common species to our list. These included Long-tailed Tit, Wren, Dunnock and Robin. Some of the group spotted a couple of Goldcrests and two Grey Wagtails were also seen, as well as our first winter thrush of the morning – a Redwing. As we continued the walk alongside the river we added Rook, Song Thrush and Goldfinch. After our coffee break we walked along Dumpers Lane where the light was now brilliant and we were rewarded with superb views of two Fieldfares and a Mistle Thrush. As we reached the end of the lane two of the group were fortunate to see a Kingfisher flying along the River Chew. Making our way back towards the lake we saw Coal Tit, House Sparrow, and Starling and our only Buzzard of the morning. A small party of six Linnets were seen as well as a Meadow Pipit and a Yellowhammer. We had a very nice view of a male Stonechat showing really well in the bright sunshine. Walking back along the lake between the two car parks we added Teal and Mute Swan. It was a good walk and a respectable total of 47 species. Thank to Nick for keeping a record of birds seen. Mike Landen

  • Saturday 26 November – Ham Wall and Meare Heath

    Eleven members met on a bright crisp mid – morning at the RSPB car park at Ham Wall. We were informed by RSPB staff that the Starlings had roosted on Ham Wall the previous evening so we opted to spend the morning walking through the Natural England Meare Heath reserve. There were a few Redwings in the trees by the car park, audible with their thin “tsueep” call. Goldfinches and Long-tailed Tits fed enthusiastically in the alders and a pair of Great Spotted Woodpeckers flew over with characteristically undulating motion. There followed the first of many sightings of Great White Egret both in flight and on the ground. It is amazing that this once “twitchable” species is quite often more numerous on the day than its cousin, the Little Egret. Both adult female and juvenile Marsh Harriers glided low over the reeds occasionally quickly dropping from view to pursue prey. We spent some time in the hide at Noah’s Lake as the wildfowl spectacle was brilliant with about 1000 birds on view, the majority being Wigeon. A flock of about twenty Black-tailed Godwits flew over and a Kingfisher darted past the hide, There were nice views of two male Pintail, and a Blackcap, more often in gardens in winter, was seen in adjoining willows. After lunch we walked into the Ham Wall reserve. There were three sightings of Bittern, two in flight and one occasionally seen standing camouflaged in the reeds. By late afternoon we had recorded 49 species but no Starling. This was soon rectified by the first of many flocks, some small and some enormous, swirling in over the reeds from all directions. The weather was perfect for a prolonged display as the flocks twisted and condensed together, particularly when attacked by a Peregrine. A splendid finale to a fine days birding. (Thank you Mike.) Mike Johnson

  • Tuesday 22 November – Wick/Golden Valley

    A hardy group of eleven members gathered in Wick despite the wet conditions for an interesting walk around Golden Valley. Happily the rain held off until the last quarter of the walk and we saw 29 species. As we left the car park, Starling flew over, several Jackdaws were on roof tops and a couple of Magpies were seen. As we walked up the valley alongside the River Boyd, House Sparrows chattered and Chaffinches flitted about the hedgerow and the first of several flocks of Redwings were spotted. On the river, some saw a Grey Wagtail on the far bank, two Goldcrests were spotted and as we crossed the fields above the quarry a male and female Bullfinch moved along the trees ahead of us. Numerous Robins and Wrens made themselves heard and Black-headed, Lesser Black-backed and Herring Gulls passed by. In a large flock of gulls on a field some distance away a few Common Gulls were distinguished. A Kestrel moved past and a few Carrion Crows and Rooks were on the ground. Thanks to Dave Body for leading.

  • Tuesday 15 November – Cheddar

    In very misty weather eleven of us crested the reservoir bank and looked carefully for the opposite side which was faintly visible. Not deterred we set off towards the sailing clubhouse as Pied Wagtail danced along the embankment. The water was very low and a Great White Egret was on the ‘island’ about 50m away, along with Black-headed and Lesser Black-backed Gulls. Coot were much in evidence on the water with Teal, Mute Swans, Mallard, a couple of Great Crested Grebes, and bevy of Cormorants and a Grey Heron. Grey Wagtail were also around and a few Meadow Pipits flew by. As we neared our path towards Axbridge, we saw Tufted and Mandarin Duck, and Pochard as we left the reservoir. The ‘squelchy’ part of the walk began with a Goldcrest in the adjacent hedge. Long-tailed, Great and Blue Tits were around as we entered Axbridge and many Goldfinches and a solitary Greenfinch moved about the hedgerow trees. We made our way over the levels to the River Axe, seeing two Little Egrets on grassland and a Great White Egret flying past (probably the same one that was on the reservoir). A Little Grebe and two Moorhen were hugging the banks of the Axe and an adjacent rhyne. Many Fieldfares were around, though fewer Redwings, and a Buzzard flew overhead. As we walked back to the southern side of the reservoir a Green Woodpecker was heard. The weather proved to be better than expected and 46 species were seen. Many thanks Mark. Mark Watson

  • Sunday 13 November – Cheddar Reservoir

    The appointed leader, Kim Howard, found himself alone at the reservoir – maybe because of the Tuesday meeting scheduled two days later. Thanks Kim.

  • Sunday 13 November – Cheddar Reservoir

    This autumn has seen water levels at Cheddar Reservoir fall to their lowest for a number of years and that has provided abundant habitat for many birds. Even though levels had already started to rise, this Sunday walk provided an opportunity to see many of the autumn’s visitors at relatively close quarters but, unfortunately, that opportunity was taken only by me. Perhaps others were off hunting White-tailed Eagles or knew that October’s Lesser Yellowlegs had already departed, but they missed hundreds of wildfowl, including Teal, Wigeon and Gadwall, a thousand or more Coots and four of the spectacular Great White Egrets which have adorned the reservoirs of late. Three small waders dodging between the loafing Cormorants offered an identification challenge and turned out to be day-tripping Dunlin. (Thanks for agreeing to lead the trip, Kim – see what you missed, folks? – ed.) Kim Howard

  • Tuesday 08 November – Clevedon

    A dry day with a sharp wind greeted us as we gathered on the sea front at Clevedon for a walk along Poet’s Walk and the Blind Yeo. On our arrival at the sea wall Turnstone were on the beach along with a solitary Curlew and Oystercatchers. As we started through the woodland Goldcrest, Chaffinch, Dunnock, Robin and Blackbirds were seen and heard. Blue and Great Tits were also present as we moved on to open ground on the headland overlooking the mudflats and creeks where the Yeo enters the Bristol Channel. Here we saw a good collection of waders and duck including Shelduck, Little Egret, a Canada Goose, Wigeon, 15 Redshanks and a couple of Grey Herons. Whist we had coffee on the breakwater at the foot of Wains Hill, a Stonechat and Wheatear give us excellent close views. We moved along the sea bank to the Blind Yeo and a few saw both Reed Bunting and Meadow Pipit, and a couple of Moorhens were skulking along the river bank. Along the Blind Yeo we saw Goldfinch, Greenfinch, a Green Woodpecker, and Jay. Further on a Sparrowhawk flew low overhead and on the way back a Kestrel sat in a bush giving excellent views, and Herring and Lesser Black-backed Gulls passed over. Thanks to Jane for leading a great walk with 43 species in all. Mark Watson

  • Tuesday 01 November – Stoke Park

    A misty morning greeted 24 members at Snuff Mills car park for a walk in Stoke Park and along the Frome. A Grey Heron was at the edge of Duchess Lake along with Moorhen, and a female Stonechat showed briefly. A lone Black-headed Gull sat on a fence post. Several Magpies and Jackdaws were around as well as a flock of 40 or so Wood Pigeon. As we walked around the edge of the Lake over 40 Redwing passed overhead as well as moving around in the trees on the hillside. Three Skylarks rose upwards and a Great Spotted Woodpecker was glimpsed. A couple of flocks of 20 and 30 Goldfinches flew over and when we returned along the edge of the Lake the Stonechat obligingly sat for some time on the top of some briars. We moved out of Stoke Park and along to Stapleton Church, where we had excellent views of a female Peregrine Falcon perched towards the top of the spire. As we descended to the River Frome, Blue, Great and Long-tailed Tits were heard and seen as well as a couple of Goldcrests. On the river there were two Grey Wagtails and some saw two Jays and two Stock Doves before we returned to the car park. Bristol is lucky to have such wonderful open spaces near the centre of the city and thanks go to Rich Scantlebury, who knows the area like the back of his hand, for leading an interesting walk. Mark Watson

  • Tuesday 25 October – Barrow Gurney.

    No food at the Inn – what a disappointment for the lunchers – the normally reliable Princes Motto was in the throes of changing landlords. However 11 set off for a misty perambulate around the lanes and fields of Barrow. Up the path and birds started falling to my pencil – Redwing, Blackbird, Collared Dove and Carrion Crow. After counting flocks of Black-headed Gulls, a stream of Wood Pigeons, and listening to the chucking of Magpie, we came upon our first Yellowhammer and what a brilliant coloured bird he was among 7 others. We negotiated the A38, where a line of Starlings obligingly sat and was duly counted, and then went on towards Tank 1 which had some floating Tufted Ducks, Great Crested Grebe, and a Cormorant sitting on each buoy. Here we departed from our usual route, attracted by a bright new gate, and had unrestricted access to the fields above Tank 2 which contained more Tufted Ducks, many Coots and some Mallards. The new gates – replacing some of the area’s worst stiles – continued all the way to the usual coffee stop (the barns), where Raven was heard and Grey Wagtail seen. Up the lane and the first flock of Goldfinches was found, alas none magically turned into Siskin: the expected Bullfinch put in an appearance and as we climbed the track towards the A38 a flight of Stock Doves passed swiftly west. Our first Buzzard of the day called from a tree top but as we approached it took flight. Now close to the A38 by the kennels, an overstocked bird feeder gave us all the usual tit species, and also a vole feasting on the discarded seeds. Another dash across the busy main road and just a flock of five Yellowhammers, 34 migrating Skylarks and three Kestrels added to our total of 38 species. Thanks to Geoff for leading us on this splendid and varied walk. Nick Hawkridge

  • Tuesday 18 October – Saltford

    On a sunny but cool morning 27 members met by the canal at Saltford. As we started, Common, Lesser Black-backed and Black-headed Gulls were seen along with a Mistle Thrush and several noisy Robins. Goldfinch, Blue and Great Tits flitted in the hedges and a Goldcrest was heard. Later in the walk half a dozen Long-tailed Tits were added to the list. Numerous Blackbirds were around and a few Dunnock in the hedge bottoms. A Green Woodpecker was heard but not seen and likewise a Chiffchaff. A Buzzard appeared briefly. As we continued on our way a solitary Redwing was seen and as we paused at Swineford Lock, a Kingfisher flashed past which some were lucky enough to see. A Grey Heron sat in rushes at the edge of the water, a Mute Swan appeared and a Moorhen was spotted. As we returned to the cars, a Kestrel was seen by some of the group, a flock of 16 Linnet, and a single Herring Gull, and lastly a male Bullfinch, first heard then seen. Thanks to Robert Hargreaves for leading a good walk with a total of 36 species.

  • Sunday 16 October – Migration watch

    Very poor weather conditions for the migration watch this year, resulting in few numbers being recorded. Almost 100% cloud cover with very heavy rain and strong SE or SW winds. Fewer species and even fewer birds recorded compared with previous years.

    Coastal Migration Watch 16th October 2016
      New Passage Portishead Clevedon Sand Point
    Mute Swan   1    
    Woodpigeon     5  
    Short-eared Owl     1  
    Raven 1      
    Skylark 8 1 2  
    Swallow   1   5
    House Martin       3
    Chiffchaff   1 2  
    Blackbird     3  
    Redwing 1   1  
    Mistle Thrush     1  
    House Sparrow   12    
    Pied Wagtail   moving 7  
    Meadow Pipit 6   3 17
    Chaffinch 30 2 22 32
    Greenfinch     3  
    Redpoll     1  
    Goldfinch   42 10  
    Siskin       2

    Many thanks to watch leaders Brian Lancastle, Robin Prytherch, James Payne, Paul Gregory

  • Tuesday 11 October -Badminton

    Fog and traffic contributed to a rather late start for 21 walkers, but at least by then it was into bright sunshine and a light wind. The Jackdaws eponymous call was around us for most of the walk but along Roach’s Lane there was no sign of any winter thrushes. The calls of Nuthatch, Long-tailed Tit, and the flight call of Greenfinch were heard, also many Skylark travelled overhead for most of the walk. Although a beautiful sunny day, it was chilly when shaded, so we had coffee on the East side of Seven Mile Plantations and stuck to the path outside the wood to keep warm. Many Skylark could be seen either going over eastward or playing chase along the hedgerows, when someone called ‘Swallow – just flew across my bins’. One of the species much in evidence was Blackbird. Every bush, hedge and tree seemed to contain 2 or 3 feeding on nature’s supplies. We debated the route by the grass airstrip, ending up along its edge and were rewarded with the sight of a bright yellow male Yellowhammer. Not much further on, a Red Kite was spotted over the trees. It came closer and closer eventually passing right over our heads and a fine photo was taken. A Buzzard flew close to the Kite and both were harassed by corvids. We moved on past flocks of Meadow Pipit and Linnet but, alas, the Little Owl, who so often frequents the estate gatehouse area, was missing. Our first Redwing of the day was seen and at the pond, a lone Shelduck, some Canada Geese and Cormorant completed the count of 32. (Thanks for leading, Nick)
    Nick Hawkridge

  • Tuesday 04 October – Upton Cheyney

    Twenty seven people met at the Upton Inn on a mild but overcast morning. Four new members joined us for the walk across fields through Bitton along part of the cycle track, along the banks of the River Avon before going up the hill to the Upton Inn for lunch. Soon after setting off we all had good views of some early winter thrushes, mostly Redwing, and then a pair of Raven were spotted on a nearby tree. Jays were busy collecting acorns, the usual Long-tailed, Blue and Great Tits, also Chaffinch were seen and then Goldcrest in Bitton Church yard. A large flock of Goldfinches was seen in the field approaching the cycle track where coffee and biscuits were consumed. When we came off the track where it meets the river everyone had good views of a Kestrel hovering and some were lucky enough to see Kingfishers along the river. In all 38 species were found. (Thanks to David for leading).
    David Body

  • Sunday 02 October – Portland

    WRYNECK! Sorry, had to get that out! It was an early and chilly start from Bristol producing beautiful misty vistas in the Gordano Valley and across the Somerset levels. The trip was a week earlier than originally intended so the tide was still up when the six of us met at Ferrybridge. We saw Wheatear, Meadow Pipit, Skylark, Pied Wagtail and five types of gull, including 3 Meds. We decided to cut our losses and head for the Bill and the Wryneck reported to be in the Observatory quarry. The approach looked promising; a long line of birders ringing the edge of the quarry and peering into the scrub. “Any sign of the Wryneck?” “It was seen early this morning but not since.” Ever heard that before? A couple of passing Germans were mildly amused at all these eccentric Brits staring at grass and found it worthy of a photo. A passing Peregrine provided some distraction. Hope it wasn’t feasting on Wryneck. Suddenly someone was on it, provoking a polite stampede to his position. The Wryneck made a couple of fleeting appearances, obscured by bramble and then, there it was, on the grassy bank, in full sun, picking off insects. The resident Little Owl also made an appearance before scuttling back into its cave.There was not a vast amount around the Observatory or the huts. Buzzards, a Raven, and a Sparrowhawk soaring above. Kestrel flying over the fields. A large flock of Linnets, a Stonechat and many Swallows.We went down to the coast for a bit of sea watching. We had Meadow Pipit, Rock Pipit, Pied Wagtail, Wheatear and a Turnstone along the rocky shore and a Grey Seal in one of the coves. Out to sea, a passing Cormorant, 2 Shags and a couple of distant Gannet and basically nothing else. A lovely, sunny day with a light off-shore breeze is less than ideal for sea watching. We needed a South Westerly gale! We stopped at Southwell quarry on the way back to Ferrybridge, again not much about. We saw a distant flock of Starling flying over Weston where there is reported to be one juv. Rosy Starling. It was low tide at Ferrybridge. We now had waders but miles away! However, with a bit of patience we saw Bar-tailed Godwit, Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover, Little Egret, Gulls, and Dunlin, including some delightful synchronised flying displays with the odd Godwit joining in. Radipole was the final stop. More Gulls, including Meds, a siege (that’s their collective name apparently) of 14 Herons, Teal, Shoveler, Gadwall, squealing Water Rail. We saw Bar-tailed and Black-tailed Godwit together which always helps with ID. Calling Cettis always just out of view. Bearded Tits were reported so we had a careful look for them, weather just about ideal but no signs. On one of the board walks, suddenly two small birds diving into reeds. And then, out they came for a brief, but unmistakable sighting of Bearded Tits by Judy and Ann. Finally, back at the RSPB centre, half a dozen Snipe were out on the mud in the later afternoon. Total species count 50. Also seen: Clouded Yellow, Painted Lady, Speckled Wood and Red Admiral. Thanks to Cecile, Colin, Robert and Ann for coming and Judy for the lift. (Many thanks for stepping in to lead, Alastair) Alastair Fraser

  • Tuesday 27 September – Frampton Cotterell

    A cloudy but warm morning saw 14 members meet for a walk north of Frampton Cotterell. On our way to the River Frome Jackdaws and Carrion Crows were on the church tower and adjacent buildings and Wood Pigeons, Blue Tits and a few Goldfinch were in the hedgerows aloud with some Long-tailed Tits. A solitary Grey Wagtail flew along the river for those of us at the back of the party. Herring and Black-headed Gulls flew over and a Buzzard briefly came in to view as we had coffee. As we continued Chiffchaff were heard, a Mistle Thrush seen, several Goldcrest flitted about in a yew tree in Iron Acton churchyard and a single Greenfinch perched at the top of an Ash tree. We crossed the Frome again and went along a rather squelchy path where a Raven was heard but invisible in the distance but loud Robins called in the adjacent woodland. A distant Great Spotted Woodpecker sat at the top of a dead tree and as we returned to the start a Green Woodpecker, Stonechat, Collared Dove and Jay were added to the list to give a total of 32 species. Thanks to David Body for leading in place of Peter Holbrook who met us at the start to organise lunch and to Nick Hawkridge for the definitive list. Mark Watson

  • Tuesday 20 September – Little Sodbury

    How nice to start a walk with an old favourite – Raven, a pair cavorting in the wind over the church. Sad however to see a line full of House Martins, chitter chattering, shooting away, and then back, almost saying ‘are we going yet’? Eighteen walkers headed just a little east of north into the countryside. The lake we passed was, as usual, home only to Coot, Moorhen and Mallard and the trees contained a few Chiffchaff and one bright Willow Warbler. A Green Woodpecker graced the horse paddocks. We climbed up towards the fine looking house where, at the top, we found the Millennium Tower, funded by The Owl and Swallow Trust, but apparently empty. Here we stopped for coffee and a Nuthatch – calling from and flying between patches of woods. Not until we had traversed the asphalt of New Tynings Lane did we get back to any other birds beside Woodpigeon. Some Chaffinch called from the hedge and the first of three Buzzards turned lazily. After saying goodbye to the non-picnickers a Jay was about all that was new as we headed towards lunch at Old Sodbury Church, after which a Mistle Thrush and a flock of 30 Goldfinch were spotted heading east. The walk back gave us only one extra species (of the 32 we saw) and they were Long-tailed Tits. The greyness of the day denied us the views westward towards the Severn and the hills of Wales but this beautiful walk always provides us with an enjoyable day.. (thanks to Nick for leading)  Nick Hawkridge

  • Sunday 18 September – New Passage

    16 people gathered on a beautiful still morning for a walk along New Passage and the Pilning Wetlands. Many came early to catch the extra-high tide covering pill and salt marsh right up to the embankment. As the walk proper started the river had dropped to expose the edge of the marsh, now full of Linnets, Meadow Pipits and Pied Wagtails as well as Ringed Plover, Wheatear, Skylarks and a Whinchat. Inland pools included Mute Swans, Grey Heron, Little Egret, Little Grebe and Gadwall, and the sea bank of the marsh showed flocks of Curlew, Godwits, Oystercatcher, Wigeon, Teal, Canada Geese, Pintail, and a Grey Plover. Numbers of hirundines hunted with a Buzzard above, though the hedgerows were oddly empty apart from the ubiquitous Robins. The group pushed on to the scrape past the second sentry box, where 100 plus Dunlin edged the water, and keen eyes found a single Golden Plover and a Little Stint amongst them. We turned down the side lane to see the far pools where sadly that morning’s Wood Sandpiper had just flown away, but saw Shoveler, Tufted Duck and Lapwing. Returning to the shore, the falling tide had now left mud for a lovely array of waders stretching into the distance, including Godwits, Redshank, Dunlin, Turnstones, a few Knot and a Curlew Sandpiper. A total of 54 species seen. (Thank you, Lois, for leading) Lois Pryce

  • Tuesday 13 September – Portbury Wharf

    It was a very warm humid morning for the 24 of us, with a very distant rumble of thunder being heard as we left Portbury village for our walk around the Warth area. In the distance a Buzzard soared over the Gordano valley, with Chiffchaff and Greenfinch seen. A number of Mistle Thrush played high in the trees and close at hand a Great Spotted Woodpecker “chipped”. As we headed along Wharf Lane towards the reserve the thunder became louder with very dark clouds over South Wales. At the first hide the scrapes were almost dry, so few birds were seen. At the second hide volunteers were working on the island so there were fewer birds than normal but Little Grebe, Mallard, Shoveler and Gadwall were present. Along the path to the sea bank Cetti’s Warbler shouted from the bushes and 30 plus Linnet bounced over the marsh. Along the shore line were Redshank and Black-headed Gulls, a single Curlew and a small flock of Dunlin. A large black-backed gull flew by, ‘It is ugly’ was one comment so it must be a Great! Three Yellow Wagtails appeared by the track, along with the ever present Reed Bunting and a hovering Kestrel. Approaching the creek quietly at the end of the marsh there were the usual Teal and in the willows many Long-tailed Tits, Blue tits and a Blackcap. On the way back to the cars the thunder became ouder and the rain started, lightly at first but most of us were back in time to avoid a soaking and finished with a total of 48 species. (Many thanks to Roger for leading.) Roger and Lana Hawley

  • Sunday 11 September – Aylesbeare & Axe Estuary

    Having met up at the car park at Aylesbeare we had a walk around this unique pebble bed heathland reserve managed by the RSPB for its special wildlife. We made our way around the various footpaths on the heath in search for Dartford Warbler, which had proved elusive for me throughout the summer, Stonechats could be seen on many parts of the heath, looking as if they have had a good breeding season, Siskin were seen and heard as were singing Chiffchaff, Long- Tailed Tits, Coal Tits, Green Woodpeckers, Meadow Pipits, Kestrel and Buzzards. On our way back to the cars we found a Dartford Warbler in the gorse, but although it kept very low and elusive at times most of the group did pick up on the bird. I had noticed through the summer the large number of Stonechat around the heath and I wonder if the Dartford Warbler here is finding it difficult to compete, time will tell. We then moved down to the Axe Estuary and visited Black Hole Marsh, one of the local reserves managed by the East Devon Council. We made our way down to the Tower Hide overlooking the river Axe and looking back towards the reserve pool, and here we picked out waders such as Redshank, Black and Bar-tailed Godwit, Knot, Common and Green Sandpiper, Ringed Plover and Oystercatcher. On the river we could see and hear Curlew, various wintering duck and gulls that had just arrived, including Wigeon and Teal. A Kingfisher flew in and sat by the hide giving everyone a view of this colourful bird and Water Rail was heard calling in the nearby reeds. We then moved on to the island hide situated near to the middle of the pool, which gives you chance to get close to the birds. Here we saw more Common Sandpipers, Dunlin, Ringed Plover, Ruff, Black-tailed Godwits and even a Wheatear that was sitting on one of the islands, presumably taking a break from its travels. We could not, however, find the reported Little Stint that had been present earlier even though we spent a lot of time looking. We then walked to Colyford Common and visited the hides there but this was quiet, although we had good views of a juvenile Peregrine hunting and sitting in the nearby field and a Cetti’s Warbler singing nearby. We did manage to get a total of 55 species and my thanks to those of you who joined me on the day. (Thank you to Gordon for leading.) Gordon Youdale

  • Tuesday 06 September – Tickenham

    20 people walked through Tickenham levels, along the Land Yeo and up woods and meadows on a warm humid day, where birds often seemed thin on the ground except for the ubiquitous Robins singing and ticking – but still we ended up with 33 species. In the woods one group of trees had Coal, Blue, Great and Long-tailed Tits together, a feeder attracted Nuthatches, and Chiffchaffs called. On Cadbury Camp (guarded by a bull and cows) were Wheatear and a Meadow Pipit in a tree, a Raven doing aerobatics, a lurking Jay, and a large group of Mute Swans visible on distant lowland. On the levels Buzzards perched on hay bales and Grey Herons were silhouetted, with Swans, Little Egret, Green Woodpeckers, Kestrel and Rooks busy on and above the meadows. Starlings perched on a power line with two Mistle Thrush, and a Hobby flew through. We also saw Common Darter and Emperor Dragonflies, Small Tortoiseshell and Peacock Butterflies, and Bellflowers edging the Cadbury Camp embankments. (Many thanks to Jan Pridie and Lois Pryce for leading.) Lois Pryce

  • Saturday 03 September – Slimbridge

    Five members attended this meeting on an initially dry and pleasant day, however heavy rain was forecast for later in the morning. In the car park we had flyovers of both Greylag and Canada Geese, many Swallows and a group of Sand Martins. We set off for the summer walkway but saw little other than a single Wheatear, a few Cormorants and fair numbers of Swallows and House Martins. We retreated to the Holden tower as the rain approached and had good views of a variety of birds including Barnacle Geese, Avocets, Ruff, and Black-tailed Godwits. We proceeded to the Zeiss hide to obtain closer views of the waders. At the Kingfisher hide despite the downpour we had excellent view of a number of Whitethroats and Blackcap. We were lucky enough to see a Kingfisher which streaked in front of the hide and then obligingly perched on a log. We then went on to the South Lake hide where we saw four Cranes, Great Crested Grebes and Little Grebe amongst others. We finished at the Rushy Hide with lovely views of a Snipe. Throughout the morning we heard Cetti’s Warblers, although none were seen. Overall the weather although wet it did not significantly spoil the meeting with over 50 species listed. (thanks to Sue for leading)
    Sue Kempson

  • Tuesday 30 August – Stanton Drew

    A group of 19 set out from the Druids Arms on a beautiful summer’s morning. As we left the car park we started our list with Wood Pigeon, Magpie, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow and Collared Dove. We also spotted groups of House Martins and Swallows. As expected for this time of the year the count for these two species was high with 50 plus House Martins and 45 Swallows (mostly on wires) for the whole walk. We passed the Stanton Drew stone circle. Those of us at the back of the group were treated to the sight of a Sparrowhawk circling overhead among a number of House Martins. It was thought that this was a male as a few minutes later a second Sparrowhawk was seen by everyone. This appeared to be a larger bird so it is likely that they were a pair, with this one being a female. It was also circling and being harried by a Carrion Crow. The light was excellent and we had a good view of the bird’s beautiful plumage. This was the highlight of the walk. Two Buzzards were then seen. We added twelve Goldfinches as well as four Rooks, 40 Starlings, 30 plus House Sparrows and two Chiffchaffs. A Greater Spotted Woodpecker was seen briefly and a Linnet was also spotted. A party of Long-tailed Tits was first heard and then about six seen. One member of the group saw a Wheatear and when we arrived at a small clump of conifers we looked for Coal Tits and Goldcrests but saw neither. However, those who are able to detect the higher frequencies heard three Goldcrests. We had a total of 25 species with many thanks to Mark Watson for keeping an excellent record of species seen. It was an extremely enjoyable morning and we were very grateful to Maureen and Bill Dobie for leading the walk.

    Mike Landen

  • Tuesday 23 August – Hawkesbury Upton

    Hints of autumn may have been noticed during the last few days but the forecast for this walk was definitely a summer one and some of us were glad of the unexpected breeze as we set out with the promise of a flat walk with no stiles from our leader. Initially it did seem to be rush hour on a narrow Cotswold lane with cars, vans and a very large lorry all pushing us to the verges but there were Swallows and House Martins in the air and soon a large group of gulls at rest in a nearby field was the centre of attention – about 375 Common Gulls. A Raven was heard and then seen and, at the other end of the size scale, a Wren. The treat of the day came next with first a dozen and then more and more Ravens perched on bales and lifting out of trees and eventually all 29 were in the air – a wonderful sight with the sun on the golden fields and maize rustling at our backs. More large, and more distant, flocks of gulls were seen behind a tractor – other notables were Yellowhammers, Stock Dove, Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler, four Buzzards and a Kestrel. Near the end of the walk our party of 24 split and some saw a few Speckled Wood butterflies and a Brimstone on the way back. Total bird species tally was 30 – many thanks to Peter Holbrook for leading.

    Nancy Barrett

  • Friday 29 July – Acres Down, New Forest

    With the weather maps showing bands of rain sweeping across the New Forest on Thursday, I postponed this “Margaret Walk” until the next day which, unfortunately, meant that only three people could attend. The open heath held families of Mistle Thrush and Stonechat as we walked out to the raptor watch-point, and Redstarts seemed to be popping up everywhere. The squally skies and fresh wind didn’t bode well for soaring raptors and the watch only produced Buzzard and Hobby. However, the deep summer woods were full of families of young birds. It was hard work finding them with nothing singing and all that foliage but a slow, quiet wander produced a flock of yellow Willow Warbler juveniles; two newly-fledged and genuinely spotted Spotted Flycatchers side by side on a branch, waiting for mum to bring home lunch; a pine tree full of Coal Tits; young brown Robins; and best of all, a family of Firecrests with at least one pale grey youngster begging from its parents. We watched several Marsh Tits foraging, and had glimpses of Song Thrush, Nuthatch and Blackcap. Deer slipped quietly away into cover without giving us the chance to check which species they were. Only a couple of Wrens managed a snatch or two of song. Finally, a Siskin flew over the car park. It was a very pleasant walk that produced 27 species – not so bad for late July. (thnks to Jane for leading) Jane Cumming

  • Tuesday 16 August – Hinton Blewett and Litton Reservoirs

    On a warm sunny morning 16 walkers met in Hinton Blewett to walk along country lanes to the two reservoirs at Litton and back across the fields with cattle, harvested crops and pasture. We saw, or heard 40 species of birds, which included seven Common Buzzards, a Little Egret, a Grey Heron, eight Cormorants, Little Grebes and an adult Great Crested Grebe with two chicks. There were 36 Swallows, 21 House Martins and several families of Grey and Pied Wagtails. There was plenty to listen out for as Blue, Great, Long-tailed and Coal Tits were active. A Whitethroat hid from us but it did a short rattle several times. At least eight Robins sang or scolded and a Pheasant and Green Woodpecker were heard. Some of the party were fortunate to see a Kingfisher and a Treecreeper. Goldfinches were feeding on thistle seeds as four Lapwings flew over and a Raven croaked in the distance. A few butterflies were seen: Gatekeepers, Whites and Speckled Woods along with a Hawker Dragonfly. (Thanks to John and Sue Prince for leading a very pleasant and varied walk)

    Sue Prince

  • Saturday 13th August – Chew Valley Lake

    Five members met for this morning only walk around the various sites. At Herriotts Pool we observed two Yellow-legged Gulls along with two Black-tailed Godwits, numerous Gadwall, Shoveler and Teal and a single Little Egret. Sharp-eyed Rod located two Goldeneye which ended the time there. We moved to Stratford Hide and numerous Great Crested Grebe, a couple of Little Grebe along with a Grey Heron were observed. The ducks included Pochard, Tufted Duck and Teal. We then walked from Stratford to Moreton Hide. Along the way we saw Chiffchaff, Goldcrest and heard a Green Woodpecker. In a flooded field by a cattle drinking trough we observed six Green Sandpiper. In the Moreton Hide we had a quick view of a Reed Warbler and just before leaving observed a Hobby fly over the trees but we failed to re-locate it after leaving the hide. The small group then moved onto Herons Green where the morning only meeting ended. A total of 24 species were recorded. (Our thanks to Charles for leading this enjoyable walk

    Charles Stapleton

  • Tuesday 09 August – Priddy

    A group of 23 set out from the Queen Victoria on a very pleasant summer’s morning. There were a number of birds seen around the village including House Sparrow, Goldfinch, Greenfinch and Chaffinch. Approximately 50 Swallows were seen moving through and four active House Martins’ nests were noted. The walk along the old track involved carefully negotiating rather a lot of water and mud but we did hear Nuthatch, Chiffchaff and Bullfinch as well as seeing a few more common species including Blue Tit, Great Tit and Dunnock. Some of the group spotted a Kestrel in the distance and three more were seen later on. A total of three Buzzards were spotted and a mixed group of corvids in the fields contained an estimated 30 Jackdaws and 20 Rooks. After we had descended from the highest point of the walk, a couple of young coots were seen with an adult on the pond. As usual there were a lot of Meadow Brown butterflies and we also saw Gatekeeper, Marbled Whites, a Small Copper and a Large Skipper. We saw three Wheatears that appeared to be a family party, and a Reed Warbler was heard. It was a very enjoyable morning’s walk and we managed a total of 27 species. Thanks to Nick for keeping a record of species seen and thank you to Maureen and Bill Dobie for leading.

    Mike Landen

  • Tuesday 02 August – Newton St Loe

    Ten people gathered on a drizzly morning for a walk around the University’s grounds. Swallow were flying around and as we walked down the wooded path towards the University Robins, Wood Pigeons, various corvids and tits were seen and heard. Near the lower end of the lakes a Grey Wagtail ran across the path behind us and on the lower lake we saw our first Mallards, both female. Passing though the small woodland on the way to the second lake Goldcrests were seen and heard along with a couple more Grey Wagtails. A Mute Swan and seven goslings were beside the lake with a large number of young Mallards. The other adult Mute Swan was having a quiet moment at the far end. A Grey Heron sat in the trees on the far side and two Moorhens cruised along the shore. The weather was drying a little as we moved through woodland where Robins and Wrens were noisily announcing their presence, and on to the playing fields where a dozen or so Pied Wagtails were on the mown grass, 50 plus Swallows swooped around with occasional rests on the goal cross bars and a flock of Goldfinches moved along the scrub. Returning to Newton St Loe through the university we saw Swifts, our usual Tuesday Buzzard and a flock of five Mistle Thrushes flying from tree to tree near the old mansion. On a drier walk than might have been expected we saw 35 species. Thanks to Robert Hargreaves for leading and finding a good tally of birds.
    Mark Watson

  • Tuesday 26 July – Steart

    The weather was warm and cloudy as 24 members met at the WWT car park at Steart Marshes. From the car park we saw a female Marsh Harrier and had a fleeting glimpse of our first Little Egret of the day. On the way there and back we heard a Reed Warbler and saw Reed Buntings, a Yellow Wagtail flying past and Goldfinch in the scrub. A couple of Barn Swallows and House Martins caught our eye with their acrobatics, and a Kestrel was also spotted. The tide was not yet up to the pool so after a short stay we moved on to the Steart village car park and walked to the breach in the Parrett bank. On the way we saw Linnet, Goldfinch, Chaffinch and Reed Bunting. When the breach and pools came into view we were rewarded with 22 Avocet (including two largish chicks) most of which obliging flew to give excellent views of this iconic bird. About 35 Black-tailed Godwit, ten Redshank, 50 plus Dunlin and a lone Curlew Sandpiper were clearly in view. A couple of Grey Heron were in the distance, and nearer were four Knot, ten Redshank and a few Shelduck. A lone Great White Egret flew by. We ate our picnic in the grassy Natural England car park and then went out to the Tower and poolside hides towards Steart Point. The sun was more in evidence now and Gatekeepers, Commas and Common Blues fluttered past us. At the Tower Hide we saw hundreds of Shelduck on the mudflats of the Parrett and equally large numbers of Black-headed Gulls on the Bristol Channel mudflats and more of the waders seen earlier. On our return to the cars a Whitethroat was heard and a couple of Great Black-backed Gulls passed overhead. Rain threatened as we returned but happily did not fall before we arrived back at the cars after a fruitful visit with a total of 43 species.
    Mark Watson

  • Sunday 24 July – Newport Wetlands and Goldcliff

    As the skies darkened on our arrival it began to rain but not incessantly so the birding wasn’t spoilt completely. No feed had been put out at the RSPB shop so few species seen there, although a nice Little Grebe bobbed up occasionally on the pond. Finches were on the refilled feeders by the play equipment, with ample evidence of breeding success in the area. Not a squeak from the reed beds as we headed towards the estuary edge of the River Severn. A few ducks on the lagoons included a distant Gadwall dozing on the water. Whimbrel and Curlew were spotted moving up and then down the river. We scrutinised the Black-headed Gulls for strangers, without luck, although it was nice to see the striking markings on the juveniles. It won’t be long before their calls will become ‘strident calls’. A Peregrine came through at low level as we made our way towards the Uskmouth end, kept company by a group of Swallows and (we think) Linnets. The top of the tide had pushed an Oystercatcher onto the inlet before the turn to the bird hide but nothing onto the pool in front. Not a Tufted Duck in sight, just Old Nog, a couple of Teal and many Mallard – all these in heavy moult. That was about it for the Wetlands except for a singing Cetti’s Warbler on the track back.
    At Goldcliff the weather was a little kinder, and the pools so much richer in waders. Two Greenshank flew in at the first hide to accompany the Lapwing, Redshank, Oystercatcher, Grey Heron, and the first Dunlin. A small flight of Canada Geese came in to join the party on the shore-side meadow. Further round at the next hide there were much better views of the Dunlin and a couple of Shoveler were found. Further round again – in fact all the way round, more Dunlin and the first juvenile Little Ringed Plover were seen. Through a gap in the reeds a tantalising view of ‘something else’ with the Black-tailed Godwit, still sporting summer plumage and more black-bellied Dunlin. The flocks went up a couple of times and we worked hard at finding the scattered birds but, alas, no Little Stint. On the walk back the ‘cronk’ of a Raven was heard but we couldn’t find it – until it appeared in the distance having been below the bank of the now nearly empty river. To get a better view of the ‘something else’ we stopped at one of the ‘blinds’ and found Yellow Wagtail (juvenile), Ringed Plover, Little Ringed Plover, a Ruff, and two red-chested Curlew Sandpipers – a splendid finish (16:30) to a good days birding for the eleven members present. Special thanks to Jane for her consummate identification skills. Nick Hawkridge

  • Tuesday 19 July – Velvet Bottom

    It was a fine hot day with a nice breeze and welcome shade. 19 birders had a lovely walk with plenty to see; fast-flying butterflies, large dragonflies and some brilliant birds. Although the first 20 minutes was nearly devoid of the latter – with a Raven, 50 Jackdaw (in one party) and a family of Bullfinches – Skippers, Ringlets, and Marbled Whites were everywhere. Further on, the call of a Spotted Flycatcher was heard and the bird found at the back of some hawthorn. The Redstart we have come to expect in this location finally made an appearance. A fine male in bright colours was seen in full view, obviously keeping an eye on us as we passed through his territory. His mate and family were much harder to spot, only a quick flash of red tail. A family party of six Mistle Thrush flew across the path and the hawthorns were bisected by a swirl of Swallows and a few House Martin. After a shady coffee stop we passed into Long Wood where the calls of Nuthatch, Marsh Tit, Coal Tit and Great Spotted Woodpecker were heard, with some even being seen. A family party of Spotted Flycatcher was heard and then seen flitting among the branches. Along this path we also encountered some Silver Washed Fritillaries, skilfully identified by our visitor from the Bath RSPB, Lucy Delve. She also spotted a juvenile Hobby scooting over the hedges at the top of the fields, and kept us entertained with identifications of just about everything, including many Dragonflies – Emperor and Broad-bodied Chaser included. Thanks go to Geoff for leading us round and Lucy for her support. Nick Hawkridge

  • Saturday 16 July – Forest of Dean

    On a warm, calm summer evening 16 members and one German guest met at New Fancy view in the Forest of Dean. We climbed to the viewpoint where the view is beginning to disappear behind the rapidly growing surrounding trees. All was very quiet on the bird front. There were no raptors and only the occasional small bird flying past. We then moved on to Cannop ponds for a more productive walk along the bank. A family of Grey Wagtails was seen near the waterfall. On the lake were Mallards, Tufted and Mandarin ducks. There were a large number of young Mandarins. Swallows were feeding over the water and occasionally dipping in. A party of Swifts were seen overhead. Good views were had of a Kingfisher and a lucky few saw it catch a fish and spend some time trying to swallow it. A Marsh Tit was heard but not seen. Leaving the ponds we moved on to near Speech House and walked from there in the fading light up Crabtree Hill. A very distant Siskin was seen. On reaching the clearing there was a lot of commotion from a gathering of Blackbirds but no evidence of what was alarming them was seen. We didn’t have to wait very long before churring of the Nightjars was heard and two flew very close overhead. We then had a wonderful display of three, four or even five birds hunting. They were also spotted on perches as the light was quite good. We returned to the cars in the dark after a very rewarding evening. The number of species seen was 33. Thank you to Mike for leading again. Margaret Gorely

  • Tuesday 12 July – Dolebury Warren

    Sixteen members set off from the Crown Inn, Churchill on a warm, sunny day for a walk around the National Trust land at Dolebury Warren. As we left the car park Carrion Crows and Barn Swallows were overhead and as we descended though woodland to the A38 we heard Blue Tits and a Blackcap, as Dunnock and Robins flitted amongst the understorey. Climbing up to Dolebury Warren a Nuthatch and a Great Spotted Woodpecker were heard and Coal Tits were feeding in a garden. As we walked along the edge of the hill fort a Buzzard passed by, and as we moved through some scrub a Whitethroat on top of a hawthorn gave us excellent views and Chiffchaff called along with a Green Woodpecker. Marbled White, Ringlet and Meadow Brown butterflies passed by. In a small belt of coniferous woodland several Goldcrests were heard, and an exceptionally loud Song Thrush was heard and then seen about ten yards away in adjacent broadleaved woodland. As we returned to the cars four Herring Gulls drifted by, a Bullfinch was heard, House Martins performed acrobatics high overhead and House Sparrows were busy in Rowberrow Bottom. Finally a Kestrel and a Sparrowhawk appeared overhead as we re-crossed the A38. The total tally was 31 species (Thanks for leading Mark) . Mark Watson

  • Tuesday 05 July – Avon Gorge nature reserves and Peregrines

    This was an unusual “walk”. 20 people met at Sea Walls on the Downs, instead of at the Peregrine Watch as a children’s event had been scheduled there at the same time. We shared cars and drove (!) to Bramble Lane, Stoke Bishop, in order to access the three Nature Reserves – Bishops Knoll (Woodland Trust), Bennett’s Patch (AWT) and Old Sneyd Park. Chiffchaff was soon heard, followed by Great Tit, Nuthatch, Carrion Crow and many Blackcaps, and there was a young Robin was on the path as we walked down through the woodland and over the railway bridge to Bennett’s Patch. Here we spent half an hour looking at the Bristol Whales, flowers, butterflies, and having coffee. Two Buzzards were heard and seen over Leigh Woods, then a very fine male Greenfinch was seen calling ‘zee zee’, with glimpses of two others in the bush. Some people visited the dipping pool with its many water snails, a couple of water boatman, three beautiful broad-bodied chaser dragonflies and some blue damselflies. Back in the woods we made our way to Old Sneyd Park reserve with its lovely meadow, to the accompaniment of two Song Thrushes and more Blackcaps singing, and a Jay was seen. We visited the small lake with its family of Mallard (11 including one duckling) and a Moorhen on the viewing platform. Back to the cars and the Peregrine Watch where a Kestrel was seen hovering and two Peregrines spotted, one on a distant rock, another on a tree. A little later we had stunning views of the two young Peregrines chasing one another flying close to the Watch point. Nick pointed out the white tail feathers of the juveniles and the larger size of the female bird. 27 bird species was Nick’s total. (Thanks to Judy for leading.) Judy Copeland

  • Thursday 30 June – Wareham Forest

    forecast was poor but we were very lucky as it stayed dry all day and we even saw some sunshine. We did three walks during the day – the first from Sherford Bridge gave us good views of Jays, Tree Pipits, Linnets, Dartford Warblers, including a youngster, several families of Stonechats and three Hobbies. We heard Green Woodpeckers, Siskins, Yellowhammers, Goldcrests, Skylarks and a Song Thrush. Lunch was taken at Lawson’s Clump picnic site and here we saw Common Buzzards and Siskins. We walked to the top of the hill where you get wonderful views across the forest to Poole Harbour. Finally we drove to Culpepper’s Dish car park, south of Briantspuddle, where we did a walk which added Great Spotted Woodpecker and fine views of two Yellowhammers and Long-tailed Tits. In all we saw or heard 34 species for the day. Eight of us walked and enjoyed marvellous scenery, blue butterflies, yellow wax cap and earth ball fungi and a four-spotted footman moth. Bell and cross-leaved heather were in flower as well as bog asphodel and cotton grass. Many thanks to Jane Cumming for leading us on an enjoyable outing. Sue Prince

  • Tuesday 28 June – Clevedon/Walton Common

    16 of us met in Clevedon in warm sunshine, and walked up the track beside the golf course. A Wren was heard singing and two Coal Tits, a family of three Magpies, a male Bullfinch and a Squirrel were seen, with House Martins flying overhead. Also, a Silver-washed Fritillary butterfly, recently emerged, was found on the undergrowth. There was a Herring Gull on the roof of a house, with a Chaffinch calling on another house and Swallows on an aerial and flying above us. We walked along the long, hedged path beside the Channel – three Blackbirds on the path here, Blackcap and Chiffchaff singing – then across the field at Walton, where Jean was delighted with the large patches of pink Bog Pimpernel. We continued on to the cliff path, with the high tide lapping beside us and around twelve Mallard bobbing along towards Portishead. A Whitethroat was heard and three Wood Pigeons and a Jackdaw were on the rocks. Next we walked towards Walton Common where we heard a Blackbird and a Song Thrush singing. Rain had been forecast for 1300 hrs, so with the sky darkening we ate our lunch on the Common just before the rain arrived ten minutes later than forecast. We managed to see a Marbled White butterfly before we trudged through the rain back to the golf course. 30 species was the total bird count, Ringlet and Meadow Brown butterflies were also seen. (thanks to Judy for leading)                         Judy Copeland

  • Tuesday 21 June – Compton Dando

    A group of 17 set off from The Compton Inn at Compton Dando on an overcast but pleasant summer’s morning. There were a good number of common birds around the village including House Sparrows, House Martins, Swallows, Greenfinch and Song Thrush. After a very short walk to the bridge over the River Chew we saw a Dipper, and although not easy to see, the entire group did get a view of this rather special bird. We then walked through some pasture land bordered with woodland where we added Woodpigeon, Wren and a Buzzard was seen. The next part of the walk took us up a quite steep path through the woods where a Blackcap and a Goldcrest were heard. We crossed a beautiful meadow where we saw Meadow Brown butterflies and one or two Marbled Whites. About twelve Swifts gave us a nice display and we also saw 19 Goldfinches, including a family group of seven. As we came towards the end of the meadow a Kestrel gave us an excellent view and a Skylark was heard. We reached Woollard for another view of the River Chew from the road bridge where we saw Mallard with a number of chicks. A Grey Wagtail on the telegraph wire gave us a good view and we added Collared Dove, Long- tailed Tit and Pied Wagtail (including 1 juvenile being fed on a power line). We had planned to walk towards the church at Publow but there was quite a large flock of sheep that were being separated out by the farmer, so we turned round to head back to Compton Dando, this time on the south side of the river. Green Woodpecker, Moorhen, Grey Heron, three Jays and a family party of six Raven were seen. As we continued alongside the river some at the rear of the group had a fleeting view of a Kingfisher. It was a very pleasant morning’s walk and a total of 38 species were seen. Thanks to Nick for keeping his usual accurate bird list. (thnks to Mike and Elaine for leading)    Mike Landen

  • Tuesday 14 June – Sand Point

    Wind at force 4/5 from the West at the end of Sand Point; keep a sharp eye on the sea. What did we get? Nothing! Until, that was, we were hunting for the Stonechat that was scolding us. “Manx Shearwaters” was the cry and, lifting our bins barely an inch, there they were, the first of 80 or so we saw during the morning. Our cast of eleven had met at 1000 hrs (welcome, new walker David) and gathered Blackbird, Wren, Collared Dove, Robin (including young) Blackcap, Chiffchaff (also including young), Skylark and Song Thrush before the above excitement kicked off. The estuary side of the point was almost sheltered as we made our way along to the coffee stop. The Whitethroat and Linnet were most obliging, posing on occasions for all to see, but the Sparrowhawk was on a mission and whizzed through in the blink of an eye. Our first Swallows and House Martins showed soon after we restarted the walk. At lunch we were serenaded (if you can call it that!) by Greenfinch with Linnet and Whitethroat completing the chorus. Our walk back, in the now increasing sun and slackening wind, was reward with more Greenfinch and a Kestrel who was effortlessly riding the wind. Only one Great Tit and one Blue Tit seen all day but they made the total of 33 seem reasonable for this time of year. The Shearwaters were a real treat. (thanks to Nick for leading) Nick Hawkridge

  • Tuesday, 07 June – Pill Longshore

    Swifts were seen over the Memorial Club car park before 21 of us, set off to look at a house nearby where they nest every year. Nothing there at the moment, but we examined possible entrances to the eaves and marvelled at the number of House Sparrows that live in Pill. We then walked past the harbour and along the marina beside a very high tide in the Avon, which meant that no waders were about, only a couple of Mallard sitting on a mooring drum in the river. House Martins were beginning to make their nests on the pub and the old Custom House and there were Herring Gulls floating nearby. We made our way on to the marsh, walking beside the thick hedges, which produced Blackcap, Wren and Dunnock singing and a pair of Crows in a tree nearby plucking at nest material. High over the M5 bridge were a Buzzard and loads of House Martins. We walked under the bridge, and two Peregrines (not feral pigeons?) were pointed out, one high up above a pillar and the other on a distant pylon across the river. We continued across the marsh to the path leading through hedges beside the river, and heard Reed Bunting, Whitethroat, Linnet and many Goldfinches, saw a Greenfinch on a fence, then picked up several loud and close Reed Warblers, some people getting occasional glimpses of one as it moved through the reeds. Sue found a Large Skipper butterfly, a Cormorant flew past and three Shelduck were seen sitting on a jetty across the river, waiting for some mud to appear. Others were seen on the distant mud in the estuary from the seat at the end of the path (another good information board). The pink flowers on tall grass stems were identified by Jean as Grass Vetchling. Back on the track under the M5 (Song Thrush song echoing here) we continued under the dock railway on our way to the cycle path back to Pill and heard Chiffchaff, saw Jay and another Buzzard and some lucky people had three Bullfinches, bringing the total species to 37. (thanks to Judy for leading) Judy Copeland

  • Sunday 05 June – Coach trip to Durlston and the Purbeck Hills, Dorset

    44 members and guests set off just after 0800 hrs for Worth Matravers. At Yeovil, Alastair Fraser gave a humorous geological introduction to Purbeck, remembered from his school journals: Jurassic, Cretaceous, Ammonites. Arriving under a baking sky to meadows of Yellow Rattle, we headed for the Jurassic coast. By the time we reached Seacombe Bottom, we had heard or seen Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat, Goldfinch, Linnet, Wren, Skylark, Yellowhammer, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff and Greenfinch, Collared Dove, Windhover (Kestrel), Buzzard, Roe Deer and the first of 20 Stonechat. Below pink Thrift-covered cliffs near Dancing Ledge flew Guillemot. Two dots on the sea became Puffins Cormorant, Shag and Commic Tern wandered past. We lunched among the Bee Orchids, Early Gentian and Milkwort, thriving in the short limestone turf. A family of Black Redstart popped up along the fence, to our delight. Under the now burning sun we trudged on through the bright blue spikes of Vipers Bugloss and the maroon-flowered Hound’s Tongue. Although devoid of birds, a few Adonis and Small Heath butterflies and the dead wings of a Cream-spot Tiger were seen and underfoot the hairy caterpillars of the Brown-tail moth. A heavy sea mist descended and a Peregrine flashed by. In the gloom Lesser Whitethroat was heard again. As we searched for it, a Dartford Warbler perched in full view. As the mist lifting we saw Razorbill swimming amongst some Guillemot (including Bridled) below Durlston’s cliffs. A Fulmar swung out in the sun, with another Sandwich Tern, and a pair of Kestrels were seen feeding chicks below the rocks. A day of great twists and turns. Thank you Alastair for your research and an entertaining first lead. Robert Hargreaves

  • Tuesday 31 May – Winscombe

    A breezy, sunny morning saw 13 of us head out across fields where Swallows swooped and Magpies upset the hedge occupants and a Song Thrush quickly hid from us. Along the lane a female Bullfinch dived into the hedge beside a field with neat green lines of maize appearing and numerous Herring and Lesser Black-backed Gulls brightly reflected the sun off their white backs. We passed the donkeys and loud Robins on Sandford Hill, and enjoyed butterflies before the trees where we encountered more Chaffinch, Greenfinch and a Goldfinch, Blue, Great and Long-tailed Tits with a special treat of a family of Marsh Tits,( a parent and four fledglings) and a Treecreeper. Above the canopy a young raptor, possibly a Peregrine, begged for food and a Roe Deer kept stock still amongst the nearby saplings. It was camouflaged by the strong dappled sun giving its back a striped appearance. Emerging from the trees we had wide views of the Mendip Hills ahead of us and beyond Crook Peak, down to Bridgwater Bay and the distant Quantocks. We heard a faraway Cuckoo and as we descended the grassy slope, disturbed four Mistle Thrush and spied a Raven and Buzzard before crossing the yellow seas of buttercup meadows. We also came across a Green Woodpecker and three Great Spotted Woodpeckers, and then back near the car park found the Pied Wagtails (resident there), making a tally of 35. (Thank you for leading,Sue.) Sue Watson

  • Tuesday 24 May –Newport Wetlands

    A beautiful sunny day attracted 36 walkers and we hoped it would produce plenty of birds. From the car park, Whitethroat and Lesser Whitethroat were in full song. The pond had Little Grebe, Coot and Moorhen. As yet, no Sand Martins are making use of the artificial nest site. The walk across the reed beds gave us Reed Bunting. The Reed Warblers and Sedge Warblers were remarkably quiet but did start up later. The hoped for Bearded Tits were only spotted by a lucky few, as the rest were chasing the Cuckoo and were rewarded by seeing two birds perched together. Summer visitors included Swift, Swallow, House Martin, Blackcaps, Garden Warbler, Chiffchaff and a very obliging Cetti’s Warbler who sat sunning itself in full view. After our picnic lunch we went to Goldcliff where we added both Avocets and Redshanks with chicks. The Marsh Harrier put in an appearance as did a Raven. Both were seen off by the adult birds. Ringed Plover and Greenshank were also in the pools and one keen spotter added a Little Ringed Plover. The few ducks around were Tufted, Gadwall, Mallard and Shoveler. In all we had 58 species between the two sites and a lovely warm Spring day as a bonus. (Thanks to Margaret and Ray for leading the walk) Margaret and Ray Bulmer

  • Sunday 22 May – Ham Wall RSPB, Somerset Levels

    Cetti's Warbler  Mike Landen

    15 members met at the new RSPB car park at Ham Wall on a rather changeable day, when it was difficult to judge what to wear. It was warm in the sun, but cool when the sun went behind the clouds. For those of you who did not attend – you missed a treat! Before we left the car park we had already listed a good ten species including a Cuckoo (heard) and Hobby. Once on the main track there was a chorus of birdsong allowing plenty of practice in identifying calls and songs – Blackcap, Garden Warbler, Willow Warbler, Blackbird, Whitethroat, Wren, Reed Warbler, Goldcrest amongst others. We saw a variety of ducks as we progressed to the first viewing platform, where we immediately had excellent views of two Bitterns, one chasing the other. It was assumed a male chasing a female and we were able to watch them for over ten minutes as they circled above , the ?female giving a croaking call. We then crossed to the hide and had excellent views of a male Reed Bunting singing, Hobby and Lapwing (only one or two). Overhead were many Swifts (very few House Martins & Swallows) and we had multiple sightings of Great White Egrets. We then proceeded to the new Avalon Hide seeing Great Spotted Woodpecker, Glossy Ibis and Bittern on the way. In the hide we watched a Great Spotted Woodpecker entering and emerging from the reed bed, unusual behaviour. A distant Marsh Harrier was seen. Returning to the track we saw a Cuckoo, a single Garganey, another Bittern, Marsh Harrier and a rather shivery looking Whimbrel. We stopped at the second viewing point and then proceeded back along the main track to the car park with further views of Hobby. Five members continued onto Shapwick Heath where we admired the new hide which gave good views over the scrape with nine Black- tailed Godwits and another Garganey.
    Total species count was 57. Bird of the day had to be the Bittern with 13 sightings during the day, certainly a record for me! Many thanks to Mike Johnson for leading this very enjoyable walk. Sue Kempson
    NB There are now onsite toilets available (open 10 am to 4pm) in the new Ham Wall car park

  • Tuesday 17 May – Stoke Park Estate

    We set off from Snuff Mills Car Park under a broken sky which gradually became more cloudy as the morning progressed. Initially there was little to get excited about, Blackcap and Goldcrest could be heard, the River Frome hosted a solitary Heron and Mallard and a squirrel breakfasted on a bird table in an adjacent garden, oblivious to his audience. After passing through Stapleton Village and over the M32 a steep climb brought us to Purdown where we were treated to a hovering Kestrel, Swallows and a significant number of darting Swifts, not to mention stunning views over the city. After the coffee break we crossed fields containing lots of Corvids and dog walkers and on into a wood which proved to be the most productive area of the walk. A Greater Spotted Woodpecker flew across as we approached the trees. In the wood a Song Thrush sang, Coal Tit called, Greenfinches and a family of Long-tailed Tits shared the same tree and we all had a great view of a pair of Nuthatches repeated delivering food into a nesting hole (Nick pointed out that mud was clearly visible around the entrance, introduced to narrow the size). On leaving the wood a Chiffchaff showed well for some of the group. Our return to the car park took us past Duchess Pond where we added Whitethroat, Moorhen, Coot and Canada Geese. Nineteen of us were on parade and 36 species were recorded. Thanks to Rich Scantlebury for leading and for imparting his local knowledge. John Lees

  • Sunday 15 May – Quantocks

    The glorious sunny weather may have had something to do with the excellent turn-out of more than 20 members for this woodland and heathland walk. We set off through idyllic sunlit glades following a stream in Hodder’s Combe, picking out warbler song and watching Grey Wagtails on the water’s edge. Having separated Blackcap and Garden Warbler, we started hearing Wood Warblers as well as the ubiquitous Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers. Goldcrest, Redstart and both flycatchers soon followed, and we could hear a Cuckoo for most of the morning. A large herd of Red Deer were following a skyline trail along the top of the combe. We emerged from the trees right beside song-flighting Tree Pipits, and watched Stonechats on the open gorse moorland as we tucked into our picnic lunches. Sadly, it seems that Whinchats no longer breed in the Quantocks, and Jeff had heard no recent news of Dartford Warbler or Lesser Spotted Woodpecker there either. Many thanks as always to Jeff Holmes for kindly leading the walk and for sharing with us his extensive knowledge of the birds of these hills.
    Jane Cumming

  • Tuesday 10 May – Shapwick Heath/Ham Wall

    Ten members gathered at the RSPB Ham Wall car park on an overcast morning that threatened rain. We ventured on to Shapwick first to see the new hide – an unusual design which gives good views over reed beds and lagoon. On the way along the old railway we saw and heard numerous birds in the trees and scrub including Chiffchaff, Garden Warbler, Willow Warbler, Cetti’s warbler and Blackcap. Two Bittern were heard booming and one seen over the reed beds. From the hide we saw two Marsh Harriers carrying nesting material, a Kingfisher, Reed Warbler and Reed Bunting. Greylag and Canada Geese were on the lagoon along with Pochard, Gadwall, Tufted Duck, Coot and Little Grebe. We moved on to Noah’s Hide where 37 Common Terns were over the far left of the lagoon. On the way back to the car park both Little and Great White Egret were seen over Meare Heath. After a picnic lunch eight of us set off on Ham Wall only to be greeted by increasingly heavy rain. We sheltered in the hides to the right of the track where we saw Cormorant, Great Crested Grebe with chicks and a variety of duck though no new species to add to our list of 58. The rain showed no sign of stopping so the decision was made to return to the cars to go home and dry out. Thanks to Peter Holbrook for leading us on a productive visit.
    Mark Watson

  • Sunday 08 May – Wick

    Seven members met at the Village Hall on a sunny morning. We left the hall to walk along the back lanes of Wick and within minutes had Blackcap singing followed by Blue Tit and Great Tit. Further along, a Buzzard was sitting on a fence post looking for a meal. Moving on we could hear distant Song Thrush singing. Upon entering the reserve we had more Blackcaps and an obliging Nuthatch. A pair of Mistle Thrushes were seen harassing a Coal Tit which was amusing to observe. Along the river we had good views of a pair of Grey Wagtails and one person had a brief glimpse of a Dipper. A Treecreeper also made a short appearance. Leaving the river heading for Ravens Rock,a Peregrine was seen. At the quarry a Cuckoo could be heard calling, along with Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff. Three Buzzards also gave a display, coming quite low at times. Leaving the quarry we decided to skirt round to take the bridle path branching off Quarry road and this produced Swallows, Whitethroat and Ravens. On the footpath towards the reserve entrance more Swallows and House Martins were seen. A pleasant walk with 36 species in total. (Thanks for leading, Chris)                                             Chris Perry

  • Wednesday 04 May – Portland Bill and Weymouth

    Being in the right place at the right time is the essence of seeing rare birds, and it wasn’t enough to be somewhere in the locality when a Red-rumped Swallow flew over Portland or when Great and Pomarine Skuas put in brief appearances along Chesil Bank. The Portland sightings report looked great that day, but the nine of us who turned up for this mid-week walk weren’t lucky enough to catch up with any of the above. Nonetheless, it was good to see the Chesil Beach colony of breeding Little Terns in full swing and my first Swift of the year coming in off the sea. There seemed to be very few migrants on the land, probably because the unsuitably blue sky and gentle south-east wind gave them no reason to pause on their migration. At sea there was a steady passage of Gannets, a few Manx Shearwaters, one flock of nine Common Scoters, and much to-ing and fro-ing from the local Kittiwakes, Guillemots and Razorbills. A bonus was the Little Owl that lives in the quarry but doesn’t always show, on view today and blinking in the sunshine. Finally, a couple of lucky people had views of the Bearded Tits that we were searching for at Radipole, where Cetti’s Warblers were shouting their heads off and showing unusually well – pressure of numbers causing the birds to pop out of the bushes more often. Worth the visit, shame we missed the rarities. (thanks for leading Jane)

    Jane Cumming

  • Tuesday 03 May – Woodchester Park

    At last, a dry, sunny and warmer day than of late forecast for our picnic walk – and a correct one too. Eleven members gathered in the National Trust carpark among many cowslips and accompanied by singing Skylarks,Song Thrushes and Blackbirds with hang gliders soaring nearby over the Cotswold edge. Making our way down into the valley between vast banks of wild garlic, we were soon treated to more singing and calling of Bullfinch and Mistle Thrush and very good views of Blackcaps and a pair of Marsh Tits – these latter uncharacteristically silent. Following the “Playtrail” with its tempting (for some) climbing logs, swings and zipwire, we saw some of our first butterflies of the day, Brimstone, Orange Tip and a pair of Red Admirals. The fresh green of the beech leaves and dark blue of patches of bluebells were looking great in the sunshine. As yours truly is a member, we were able to have a coffee break just outside the park boundary on the gliding club caravan park where a very vocal Green Woodpecker was added to our list, plus Great Spotted Woodpecker, Nuthatch and Greenfinches, all on feeders, and an obligingly close Tree Creeper, repeatedly posing for all to see.(Well spotted, Alastair) Descending again to the valley floor, we made our way east past some of the lakes where Coot, Moorhen, Mallard, Little Grebe and Tufted Duck were seen. Among many others, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff and Garden Warbler were also observed and/or heard and there were more House Martins and Swallows.
    With the sun still shining, we picnicked at the Kennels. Grey Wagtails were nesting there as on our last visit. The National Trust Ranger, Max Dancer, joined us and gave us a very informative chat on the history of the Park and Mansion, plus what the Trust has already done there in twenty years and its future plans. We had been hearing and seeing Ravens all day, sometimes in conflict with the local Buzzards and our return route, past Woodchester Mansion, took us past the cedar where they are nesting. 41 species in all were noted. (Many thanks for leading, Nancy.) Nancy Barrett

  • Tuesday 26 April – Ashton Court

    Cheered by the singing of Skylarks, we huddled together at the golf course café trying to keep out of the bitter wind while waiting for all 25 walkers to arrive. We then set off at a brisk pace for Leigh Woods and some shelter. Robin, Chiffchaff, Nuthatch, Blackbird and Blackcap sang as we walked among the Bluebells, and Jay, Great, Coal and Blue Tits put in an appearance. There were plenty of corvids about as we made our way to the coffee stop – there’s obviously a rookery nearby. A Greenfinch called, two Ravens flew over, and a pair of Buzzards turned up. On to Abbot’s Pool, passing a well-stocked birdfeeder busy with tits and Nuthatch. At the Pool everyone saw the Moorhen and Mallard but, sadly, only the very keen-eyed spotted a Pied Flycatcher fly over the water. Back to Ashton Court and a short walk back to the warmth of the cars through grassland dotted with Green-veined Orchids. A delightful ending to a walk filled with blossom, Bluebells and birdsong – Skylarks still filling the air with their song – and a total of 30 species. (Many thanks to Brenda for leading this walk.)

    Brenda Page

  • Tuesday 19 April – Castle Combe

    Nineteen of us set off on a bright yet mainly overcast morning, leaving the car park meeting point to the sound of both Blackbird and Song Thrush. The road down towards the village gave us good views of Long-tailed Tits, a male Blackcap and an obliging Nuthatch that was feeding along the top of a horizontal bough. A House Martin passed overhead. On the steep climb through the woods we heard Nuthatch, a sound that continued to accompany us throughout the morning. We emerged in Upper Castle Combe where two rookeries (or one split rookery) hosted some 16 active nests. We then walked through quiet lanes where we saw three Buzzards soaring, Pied Wagtail, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, both male and female Blackcaps (three in one tree) and the first Swallow of the morning. In the middle of an adjacent field five roe deer relaxed, eyeing us warily. Some of the group diverted to a newly created pond, which held a Little Grebe as well as Mallard, Canada Geese and a Moorhen. Skylarks were heard and subsequently spotted. After the coffee break we made the long descent towards the village though the valley with its varying landscape. On this stretch we added Mistle Thrush, both Green and Greater Spotted Woodpecker, Chiffchaff, Yellowhammer and Kestrel; a Cuckoo and Raven were heard. Back in Castle Combe village a Goldcrest showed well as did a calling Coal Tit. There was lots of vibrant Bluebells along the way but not enough sun to encourage the butterflies. Back in the car park a Song Thrush foraged on the grass verge, exactly where it had been when we left three hours earlier. In total some 45 species were recorded. Thanks to Dave for leading this very pleasant and always rewarding walk. John Lees

  • Tuesday 12 April – Eastville Park

    In the car park a Goldfinch was “wall-creeping” under a window ledge, picking off the spider webs for nest making, with Greenfinch and Robin about. The walk started on the south side and wound round the park clockwise. We began by walking down to the junction of the motorway and river. In the playing fields 40-odd corvids rummaged with three Starlings, a Stock Dove flew over and the first of ten Great Tits was heard and seen. Up above circled 33 Lesser Black-backed Gulls and two Herring Gulls. An unseen Green Woodpecker teased us with its ‘yaffling’ somewhere on the woody hillside, with Blackbird, Magpie, Mistle Thrush, a Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, singing spring Wrens, Long-tailed Tit and Coal Tit. In the tall trees at the bottom, a Great Spotted Woodpecker was seen by all. The allotments across the river gave Blue Tit, Chaffinch and Song Thrush. Near the lake a Goldcrest’s song caught our attention swiftly followed by two Stock Doves hiding in the branches – a treat to see them so close. On the lake a Grey Heron fished among the urban waterfowl, with a couple of Muscovy Ducks. Two Collared Doves cooed and a Kingfisher flashed by, too fast for many. At this point a group photo was taken, now posted on the BOC’s Facebook. In the dried rushes was a Comma butterfly, with Peacock, Brimstone and Orange Tip all about. The return walk brought two more Great Spotted Woodpeckers, a Jay and a couple of House Sparrows. It was a glorious sunny day, and very enjoyable. Thanks to Richard Scantlebury for leading, and Nick Hawkridge for the count. Robert Hargreaves

  • Sunday 10 April – Cleeve Hill

    Nine members met on a sunny but gusty morning for a walk around the high downland in a quest for Ring Ouzel. In the absence of a designated leader, Annie, the only person who had visited the area previously, led the walk. We were slow setting off from the car park with golfers teeing off over the car park entrance and in the direction of our path. Almost immediately we were lucky enough to see a Red Kite being mobbed by a crow. As we walked down an enclosed path bordered by hedge and small trees we saw a variety of birds including Robin, Long-tailed Tit, Blue Tit, Dunnock, Chiffchaff, Wren, Goldfinch, Blackbird and two Swallows. As we proceeded we had splendid views of Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Rook and a Raven. Once we reached the Washpool Valley we scanned carefully for possible Ring Ouzel or indeed any other spring migrants – but without success. However we did see Meadow Pipit, Sparrowhawk and a Buzzard. We also heard a Willow Warbler and Goldcrest. As it was such a lovely day the whole area was busy with families walking and lots of dog walkers and this probably didn’t help our search. It was a very windy walk over the higher downland back to the car park. Thank you to Annie for stepping up to lead the group. Sue Kempson


  • Tuesday 05 April –Elm Farm, Burnett

    On a beautiful sunny, warm morning 26 members set off for a walk around Elm Farm where the land is managed under the Defra Environmental Stewardship Scheme. Recent changes to the scheme have seen the sowing of more wildflower meadows to enhance the insect populations for birds and also to provide seed later in the year. As we set off we saw Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Blue, Great and Long-tailed Tits and a Pied Wagtail around the farm buildings. As walked across the fields we saw two Buzzards in the distance, a Kestrel, a solitary House Martin passed by and a Green Woodpecker was heard. The farm always has a good crop of Yellowhammers and this year was no exception and we had excellent views of 19 taking advantage of feed on a farm track accompanied by 25 Linnets and a single Brambling. As we skirted woodland a Nuthatch sang in the distance along with competing Blackcap. As we started back to the farm on the quiet lane a Jay was spotted and we had fine views of three Willow Warblers in the hedgerow. The walk ended with a Barn Swallow swerving between houses in the village as we approached the farmyard. Thanks to Roger Palmer for leading, Philippa Paget for explaining the management of the land and for arranging a lift for those who wanted to avoid the walk up the hill to Burnett. In all we saw 38 species on an enjoyable walk. Mark Watson

  • Saturday 02 April – Sand Point

    Fourteen members met in the National Trust car park on a rather windy and cloudy start to the day. Early arrivals were rewarded with views of Raven, Kestrel, Swallows and the first of many sightings of Chiffchaff. Skylarks were singing in the adjacent fields. As we started our walk to Middle Hope we sighted a group of 14 Wheatears. On the rather exposed ground we saw a variety of birds including Meadow Pipit, many Blackbirds (sadly no Ring Ouzels amongst them), Pied Wagtail, Blue Tit, Stonechat and Chaffinch. As we continued our walk overlooking the sloping coastal edge we had excellent views of a pair of Blackcaps and many sightings of both Sand Martin and Swallow. Once we descended to the more sheltered coastal paths we spent some time observing a number of very active Chiffchaffs and Jane was able to identify a Willow Warbler. By now the sun was appearing and the light was vastly improved. We saw Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Linnet, Long-tailed Tit, more Blackcaps, Treecreeper, Goldcrest and a Cormorant. One keen-eyed member spotted a House Martin amongst more Swallows and Sand Martins. Half the group went on to walk out to Sand Point and saw a pair of Oystercatchers, a Curlew, Mallard, a male Bullfinch, Rock Pipit, Buzzard and a male Redstart. The earlier returnees had to content themselves with a Jay. Overall, a lovely walk with excellent scenic views in pleasant company and with good birding, 36 species in all. Many thanks to Jane for leading.

    Sue Kempson

  • Tuesday 29 March – Uphill

    Ten members gathered at the Uphill Boatyard, on what turned out to be a bright sunny morning – despite the earlier rain and the forecast of more wet. We set off along a new tarmac path towards and past the lake where we saw a couple of Mallard. Lesser Black-backed and Herring gulls were overhead along with some noisy Jackdaws. A Sparrowhawk was seen flying overhead by some and Blue Tit, Great Tit and Chaffinch flitted about in the scrub that has been somewhat reduced in extent by the resurfaced path. A Greenfinch was heard but not seen whilst a Little Egret flew across the marsh. From the hill overlooking the marsh numerous Mute Swans and Shelducks were on the fields across the Axe, along with Teal and Gadwall. It was around high water when a flock of Redshank moved along the edge of the river and a solitary Oystercatcher foraged along the river edge. We were treated to an excellent view of a Stonechat perched on a fence post and the sound and sight of Skylarks high above and an obliging individual that lingered on a tussock. On the Bleadon Marsh we had clear views of two smart male Reed Buntings, one close by on the reeds. A Kestrel flew overhead in the distance and a Buzzard was mobbed by two Carrion Crows. As we returned to the car park a flock of about 50 Linnet flew by. The rain held off and the sun shone for most of the walk and we had a total of 33 species. Thanks to Jane for leading and organising the weather!

    Mark Watson

  • Tuesday 22 March – Lansdown, Bath.

    Thirty Three people gathered by Lansdown Racecourse above Bath on a still chilly day, to walk the high flat top and wooded escarpment sides of this Cotswold upland, with leader Jane Cumming hoping for late Golden Plovers and early Wheatears. As we set off, Skylarks and a Kestrel flew above the racecourse turf and a Mistle Thrush sat quietly on a roadside post. A large ploughed field hid a flock of 60 or more Chaffinches (mostly female) quietly feeding with a few Linnets. Adjacent woods held 20 plus Fieldfare, three or four Nuthatches (heard tapping), Goldcrest, Jay, Song Thrush and at the very far corner a Treecreeper. We entered Pipley Wood, a muddy tangled woodland on the hill slope with fallen trees left untouched. We saw three Siskins in low trees, more Nuthatches, and Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers. The wood opened to a magnificent view northwest across Bristol to the Severn. Buzzards patrolled the valley below, and hearing a Raven we saw two black birds on the flat top of majestic cedar that we thought might be Ravens nesting. We climbed out of the wood to meadows running south along the escarpment edge with views down to the Avon and Keynsham, Buzzards and Green Woodpeckers calling and flocks of wheeling Jackdaws. Back on top, with Kelston Tump and Beckford’s Tower in view, the large ploughed fields still didn’t reveal Golden Plover nor did their drystone boundary walls show any Wheatear. But Skylarks and their song surrounded us as we walked back across the racecourse, with the cawing of Rooks, all busy excavating the fields and reminding us it is spring. A total of 35 species, and thanks to Jane for leading.

    Lois Pryce

  • Tuesday 15 March –Wick

    Frequent springtime birdsong was a delightful feature of this absorbing walk. Led by Dave Body, 26 of us set off in hazy sunshine from the Rose and Crown and entered the invitingly-named Golden Valley Nature Reserve. The musical programme began with the joyous song of a Robin as we walked beside the River Boyd. That stretch of the river, with its fast-flowing water and mid-stream rocks, is popular with Dippers but none was seen there this time. However, there was plenty of interest: a Jay fluttering about in an ivy-clad tree, then Blue Tit, Great Tit, Coal Tit, Dunnock and Nuthatch. At the bridge over the river, there was still no sign of Dipper but a Mistle Thrush was heard and a singing Goldcrest was rushing about atop an Ash tree. We stopped for coffee at the viewpoint overlooking the massive quarry, hoping to spot Peregrine but we were out of luck. A pair of Ravens were seen, and Coot and Little Grebe were on the smaller lake. Later, on the lane overlooking Dyrham and Doynton, we saw the first Buzzard. Then, as we re-joined the river, just three of us were lucky enough to see a Dipper on a rock before it flew upstream. Skirting around the quarry, we saw Meadow Pipit and Skylark. Back in Wick, a pair of Sparrowhawk, one trailing nest material, flew overhead and a Green Woodpecker was calling. Nick’s total was 35 species. Thank you, Dave, for a rewarding walk.

    John Beaven

  • Sunday 13 March – Forest of Dean

    16 people met at New Fancy View on a beautiful sunny spring-like day. However, our arrival followed that of a large birding group from Gloucestershire. We amicably decided that the viewpoint was not big enough for both groups and so we left them to it and proceeded to Speech House. Walking to Crabtree Hill we were serenaded by Siskin, Dunnock, Nuthatch and a variety of tits, Coal being the most common. We had good views of all – as well as a Buzzard perched low in the trees. Arriving at Crabtree Hill we had excellent views of the Great Grey Shrike perched right on top of a tree and good views of a group of Stonechats. We continued on, in search of the Lesser Spotted Woodpecker but without success, sighting a single Great Spotted Woodpecker. On our return walk we had further views of the shrike and Ravens. We did meet the Gloucestershire bird group who gleefully described their wonderful views of Goshawk display when they arrived at the viewpoint. Lunch at Cannop Pond added Mandarin Duck, Coot, Moorhen, Little Grebe, Gadwall, Mute Swan, Tufted Duck, and Grey Wagtail to our list. Marsh Tits were seen on the feeders. We proceeded to the stone quarry in a further attempt to find Lesser Spotted Woodpecker but with no joy, but had lots of woodland bird activity. At 1500 hrs we were back at New Fancy where we had more lizard than bird activity and no sign of Goshawk – apparently all the activity had been mid-morning. Some members finished the day at Parkend and had perfect views of a Hawfinch. Despite the absence of Goshawk and Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, this was a very enjoyable day. Thanks to Jane for leading.

    Sue Kempson

  • Saturday 05 March – Wareham Forest

    On a dry and sunny but cool, breezy morning, twelve people made the journey to Wareham Forest and met our leader for the walk – Ian Alexander of Natural England who knows the forest area well. Once assembled we saw Siskin, Stonechat and Mistle Thrush in the trees near Sherford Bridge and as we moved on towards a more open area of heath we passed Redwing, Goldfinch and Green Woodpecker among the trees. As we emerged onto the heath above Morden Bog, Moorhen and Mallard were on The Old Decoy Pond and we heard and saw four Curlews. As we walked slowly on, Dartford Warblers were heard and eventually we got good views of four or five birds on the gorse. Ian told us that earlier in the week he’d seen Woodlarks here but alas we did not hear or see them – the wind was cold and quite strong which probably kept them silent and down. We moved on into a delightful area of mature deciduous trees where a house once stood. Here we heard and saw more Goldcrest, numerous Blue and Long-tailed Tits, a Peregrine overhead and a passing Great Spotted Woodpecker. As we moved on, a Crossbill sat for some time on the top of a conifer giving good views; it eventually moved and, though we could hear it, we did not see it again. We continued our quest across open heath for more Dartford Warblers which we heard but the hoped for Woodlark was absent. On our return to the cars we saw Buzzard, several Greenfinch, Meadow Pipits, both Mistle and Song Thrush and heard a Raven. We decided to move on to Oakhill for lunch and then to see if the Great Grey Shrike reported there was about. Once again we were out of luck but did find a Grey Heron and a Treecreeper. After our return to the cars, Ian left with our thanks for an interesting morning enhanced by his local knowledge. Some of the party then moved onto Middlebere Farm and were rewarded with some excellent views of a Marsh Harrier, a Kestrel and a large flock of Brent Geese (800 plus) grazing a field on the way to the hide. Four Spoonbills were feeding along with Little Egret, Redshank, Curlew, a solitary Dunlin, and a likewise lonely Grey Plover. On the walk back to the car a Stonechat appeared along with more Dartford Warblers. An enjoyable day out, with 52 species noted. Mark Watson

  • Tuesday 01 March – Forest of Dean

    The arrangement to start at Parkend at 1000 hrs was all rather last minute; however, it was rewarded with sightings of a couple of Hawfinch, which was brilliant. Finally getting to New Fancy View, a little after our time, we made the party up to a dozen. As we walked onto the viewing platform, the sun emerged, which prompted the Goshawk to fly; this was very gratifying, it being so early in their courting season. Ravens appeared, a couple of Buzzards circled, Song and Mistle Thrush sang, some Coal Tits called and a Great Spotted Woodpecker gave a couple of ‘chip chips’. We drove to Speech House, parked, and wandered down to the Beechenhurst picnic site where we had some nice views of Nuthatch on the way and most had views of Treecreeper. We flushed some Redwing, and as we walked back, a couple of Jays cackled. A pleasant lunch in the sun at Cannop Pond allowed us to study Marsh Tit and one Mandarin Duck. It was a pleasure to walk round all the ponds, with possibly an extra 20 odd Mandarin of both sexes, Greylag Goose, Tufted Duck, and some gorgeously coloured Little Grebe. At the end of the ponds the feeders were well stocked and had a couple of Siskin a-dangle, along with many of the usual tit species. At the run-off sluice, a pair of Grey Wagtails was in their usual place (must be a nest site), and at the finish more sightings of the Marsh Tit. We did try again for better views of the Hawfinch at Parkend at the end of day, but nothing doing. A total count of 39 was a good tally for the day. (Very many thanks Nick).

    Nick Hawkridge

  • 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


  • 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.


  • 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

  • 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


  • 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



  • Sunday 07 February –West Sedgemoor

    Dewlands Farm was our gathering point for this visit to RSPB West Sedgemoor and as the cars arrived our numbers gradually swelled to 14. Local volunteer, Nigel Smith, led us out in cold, damp conditions and gave us a brief summary of the background to the reserve. By the time we approached the viewing barn the weather was beginning to improve and we had seen and heard a good variety of passerines in the hedgerows. The flooded fields in front of the barn were packed with wildfowl and telescopes were soon picking out Wigeon, Pintail, Shoveler,Gadwall and Teal. Nigel’s more experienced eyes located two distant Cranes which everyone was able to see in his scope, and later an equally distant Peregrine. Large flocks of birds were also criss-crossing in the sky at regular intervals and we were ableto pick out Golden Plover as well as Lapwing and Starlings, stirred up by a passing Marsh Harrier. One small group of Pintails gave particularly frequent fly-bys, giving good views of their distinctive angular silhouette. Sharp eyes in the group also picked out a Stonechat, which proved difficult to spot as it flicked from one perch to another, but a Kingfisher was much more obliging, remaining for an extended time on the railings by a sluice. By this time the light was excellent and its colours showed well in the sunshine. Both Whooper and Bewick’s Swans had been reported that week near Burrow Mump, so we moved on to the car-park there to see if we could find them. Plenty of Mute Swans were visible and very distantly near Pathe were some swans with definite yellow rather than orange bills. They were too far away to be sure of identification, so we moved to Aller Drove in the hope of closer views, but unfortunately they were hidden by hedges from this angle. A lone Kestrel took our total species list for theday over the 40 mark and the group then split, with some moving on to Greylake and the rest returning to Bristol. All in all this was a splendid morning’s birding, with an impressive panorama of wildfowl on display. Many thanks to Nigel for hosting us at West Sedgemoor. Giles Morris


  • Tuesday 02 February – Coalpit Heath

    Wrens and Robins trilling, Daffodils and Primroses flowering, green shoots in hedgerows… Spring must be on the way, we thought optimistically. Certainly the sun shone all morning -albeit the wind was chilly -and birdlife was abundant. Before our 21-strong group left the Kendleshire Golf Course, led by Duncan and Pat Gill, we noted a Redwing in a hedge, three Bullfinches atop an Ash tree, five Black-headed Gulls, Robin, Blackbird, Coot, Mallard, Greenfinch (heard), a flock of Long-tailed Tits, Treecreeper and Goldcrest. Then came a Herring Gull “paddling” (Nick’s description) on the mown grass, apparently seeking worms. A Buzzard flew from a green (no golfers present to admire it), then leaving the golf course we saw a Mistle Thrush and Sparrowhawk while we walked down the lane. A flock of 30 Redwings with a few Fieldfares were gorging themselves on windfall apples, and a Jay flew past. After our coffee stop, things were quiet as we walked along the Dramway, but we did see two Buzzards. Then came the highlight as we stopped for a while to watch activity in a hedge which was alive with up to a dozen Yellowhammers, large flocks of Chaffinches and two Goldfinches. It was a delight to see the colour of the Yellowhammers glowing in the sunshine like a beacon. There was constant movement in the hedge as the birds made frequent forays to feed in the stubble field where there were also 200-plus Rooks.In all, 36 species (thanks for the count, Nick). John Beaven


  • Tuesday 26 January – Failand

    Nine hardy people turned up on this very wet and windy day. The terrain was boggy in places but the aspects were nice and in more clement weather would be excellent. We had a sheltered coffee stop in a convenient open-sided barn. Just after this, along and to the left of the path, was a large meadow/field, whose top edge held a flock of 40 Fieldfare and twelve Starling, feeding using the jump over method – as your neighbour walks forward feeding you fly over him to start your feeding, repeat. Most of the birds we saw were either flushed by our passing (Redwing, Blackbird, Dunnock) or were on feeders (Coal, Great and Blue Tit). The Buzzard and the Jackdaw we saw, seemed to be rather enjoying the wind – shooting upward, pausing in the updraft, and then ‘close wing’ descents, it looked exhilarating. Twenty one species noted, the nine of us feeling “refreshed” from our airy walk. Very many thanks to Bill and Maureen for leading (and managing a smile when we turned up)! Nick Hawkridge

  • Saturday 23 January – Marshfield

    Eighteen people met on a mild dry day to walk past Castle Farm on a circuit of small back roads. We managed to see many of the classic Cotswolds uplands winter birds one might hope for: scattered Yellowhammers, up to fifty Corn Buntings, sixteen Golden Plover, two Lapwing, a handful of Red-legged Partridges, and a few Skylarks singing. In the rather poor light, Jane helped us recognize Golden Plover in flight by their close formation wheeling together, their sharply pointed wings and their pale undersides. Of note we also saw Redwing, Fieldfare, Mistle and Song Thrush, four Stonechats, large flocks of Jackdaws constantly passing overhead, five Buzzards and one Kestrel. As usual we looked for Little Owls and didn’t find them – we each seem to know one tumbledown building in this area where someone USED to see them! A total of 34 species. Thanks to Jane Cumming for leading.
    Lois Pryce

  • Tuesday 19 January – Bridgeyate

    It was a beautiful winter’s morning as 16 members set out from Bridgeyate. Although cold it was pleasant in the sunshine so we were all looking forward to a good morning’s birding. In the car park and on the first part of the walk through a modern housing estate we started our list with a number of common species which included Starling, Jackdaw, Herring Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull and Pied Wagtail. As we left the houses a Jay gave us a fleeting, but nice view and approaching a brook some of the group saw a Grey Wagtail. We also saw a small party of Long-tailed Tits with a total of 17 for this species by the end of the walk. We crossed the A420 and walked along the Warmley Forest Trail. Not far along the trail we had ten to fifteen minutes of excellent birding. Firstly, we found a group of Siskin feeding at the top of a couple of Alders and then a little further on a second group, making a total of about 20. We met up with a member who was birding on his own who mentioned that there were Lesser Redpolls around and sure enough within a couple of minutes we had good views of a pair. We also saw three Bullfinches with the two males looking particularly striking in the sunlight. At one point there appeared to be Bullfinches everywhere and we had a total of twelve. To finish off this brilliant period we saw two Goldcrests one of which gave a very good close up view. Later on we saw a single Redwing, two Great Spotted Woodpeckers, a Buzzard and a very nice view of a Sparrowhawk which flew fairly low, directly over our heads. To complete the morning’s birding we added Black-headed Gull, Pheasant, Mistle Thrush, Raven and some of us heard a Green Woodpecker. This was a very enjoyable walk which had some real highlights and it was certainly worth negotiating some quite heavy mud, as well as a couple of tricky stiles. We had a final total of 34 species. Thanks to Nick for keeping the list and to David Body for leading such a successful walk. Mike Landen


  • Tuesday 12 January – Between Chew and Blagdon Lakes

    On a fine but very cold and blustery morning 29 walkers met at Heron’s Green on the west side of CVL. The lake held Mute Swan, Coot, Tufted Duck, Pochard, Great Crested Grebe and a male Goldeneye. Crossing the road we found a small party of Long-tailed Tits in the rough vegetation by Heron’s Green pool. We walked up the lanes past the farms to Breach Hill where we had marvellous views of Blagdon Lake. The highlights were at least four sightings of Bullfinches. There were also Wren, Robin, Blackbird, Blue and Great Tit. Five swans flying towards Blagdon Lake were identified as Bewick’s Swans. We stopped at the entrance to Blagdon Lake where Teal called in the flooded areas. There were peanuts hung up at the Ubley Hatchery where we enjoyed a Nuthatch and two Coal Tits feeding alongside the Blue and Great Tits. On the way back to CVL along two miles of lane we saw Redwing, Fieldfare and nine Little Egrets in a field. A Goldcrest gave us really close views in the hedge. Our final species total was 42. This included a Buzzard, a possible Peregrine and a Cetti’s Warbler was heard.

    The weather was kind and it did not start to rain until we were nearly back at the cars. (Thanks to John and Sue Prince for leading.) Sue Prince

  • Tuesday 05 January – Pensford

    Twelve members met on a dry overcast morning. From the car park on the adjoining field were some Common and Herring Gulls accompanied by two Mistle Thrushes. A Song Thrush was calling nearby with Blue, Great Tits and a Cormorant flew overhead. As we made our way through the village it was very satisfying to find a great number of House Sparrows. Into our first field it became very evident that the ground would be very muddy and so it proved – all the way round. A Goldcrest was seen by a number of people, and then a single Redwing on a bush was seen by most people – eventually. Goldfinch, Greenfinch and Coal Tit were noted in an isolated tree, and later a Buzzard sitting in another tree giving everyone good views, with, close by, a flock of Fieldfares behind, on other trees. At our coffee stop a flight of 40/50 Lapwings was seen at a distance. At Nutgrove Farm a lone Pied Wagtail was spied on an old field roller, and a Jay, a Nuthatch, and two Raven were seen at Compton Common. The River Chew only gave us Moorhen and Mallard and at Publow Church a flock of Long-tailed Tits flitting around the trees, where finally a lone Treecreeper was noted making its way from tree to tree by the river. We also saw Robins and Blackbirds all the way round. A total of 35 species seen and heard. (Thanks for leading Geoff). Geoff Harris

  • Friday 01 January – Slimbridge

    We had a lucky break in the weather which was generally fine until the end, when rain arrived. Allowing for early arrivals and late-comers 30 members gathered for the walk. We trooped off to the Holden Tower and hides adjacent to the Tack piece to enjoy the ‘feast’ of birds before us. A large flock of Lapwings and Golden Plover were frequently ‘spooked’ and, sure enough, a Peregrine was soon seen out on the edge of the Dumbles. It must have been responsible for the flights. Other waders included Black-tailed Godwits, Curlew, Redshank and Dunlin. A few Ruff were present too, but more difficult to pin down. A small flock of White-fronted Geese were spread out beyond the waders and ducks (see below) and we managed to sort out the few Greenland race amongst them. There was also a scattering of Canada, Greylag and Barnacle Geese as well as Bewick’s Swans. Ducks included Mallard, Teal, Wigeon, Shoveler, Pintail, Gadwall, Tufted Duck, Pochard and we also found the three Scaup outside Peter Scott’s House! Before that a lovely Sparrowhawk gave prolonged views as it sat on a fence post just below the tower. It was, no doubt, looking for lesser fry and we did encounter a number of passerines – Blue and Great Tits, Robin, Wren, Pied and Grey Wagtail, Dunnock, Starling, Goldfinch and Chaffinch. Other notables included Little and Great Crested Grebe, Little Egret and Grey Heron, Water Rail, Cetti’s Warbler and Great Spotted Woodpecker. Oh, and I almost forgot – Buzzard! I’ve mentioned only about two-thirds of the 60 species noted. A splendid start to the year! Thanks to Judy Copeland for organising the lunch and I usually get thanked for leading, although I am often the one who is led! Robin Prytherch

  • Tuesday 29 December – Severn Beach

    For the last Tuesday walk of the year a group of 31 set off from Severn Beach on a bright December morning. The good weather forecast and the opportunity of some exercise after the Christmas festivities ensured a high turnout! The estuary was at the top of the tide as we set off so we concentrated on the bushes and trees at the opposite side of the path to the estuary. We started with a flock of about 30 House Sparrows in one bush and quickly added Collared Dove, Carrion Crow, Robin and Magpie as well as a Blue Tit, Great Tit, Wood Pigeon and Stock Dove. There were flocks of Starlings of about 22 and 11 and 25 birds and we also saw Dunnock and Wren. Keeping an eye on the estuary gave us good numbers of Black-headed Gull and a couple of Curlews flying south west. We passed under the ‘new’ Severn Bridge and as we reached more open ground we saw eight Goldfinches) and 15 Meadow Pipits. Approaching Northwick Warth we had the nice sight of a flock of about 120 Lapwings (we saw another flock of about 240 birds later). We spent some time at the Warth as there was the usual variety of wetland birds and, of course, it gave us the chance to take our 11 am stop for a drink. There were very good numbers of birds around that included 59 Oystercatcher, 500 Widgeon, 28 Redshank, 24 Shelduck, 170 Dunlin, 155 Teal, 60 Shoveler and seven Gadwall. We also saw Mute Swan, Grey Heron and two Dark-bellied Brent Geese. At this point some of the group returned to Severn Beach. Those of us who carried on saw a Grey Wagtail and had excellent views of a Stonechat. Further sightings included Pochard, Pied Wagtail, Common Gull, Little Egret, Grey Heron, Little Grebe and some of the group saw a Reed Bunting. Thank you to David Body for agreeing to lead ‘at the last minute’ and to Nick Hawkridge for keeping his usual accurate bird list and we finished with a nice round total of 50 species. Mike Landen



  • Tuesday 22 December – Snuff Mills.

    Overcast, but still shirtsleeves weather (for some!) on this solstice day with a temperature very close to that of the summer solstice! We 30 gathered to pay homage to the bird population of the River Frome and Vassall’s Park. Moorhen was the first species – two bobbing in the strong current and perilously close to the weir. In the trees on the south side of the river the first Goldcrest were sighted; never still, needle-beaked, miniature dynamos. Not much further into the wood a straggling party of Long-tailed Tit moved about with Blue and Great Tits. A brilliant Jay was admired by us but was not on too friendly terms with the cackling Magpie who were seen over every leg of our walk. A Peregrine was heard and then seen by some of those lurking at the back of the string of walkers, and another spied a Redwing disappearing into a holly bush – never to emerge while watched. Our coffee stop produced a flash of yellow which turned out to be a Green Woodpecker, who gave most of the diners a good display. Through the park and down towards Frenchay bridge where the treetops were simply alive with little birds: Goldcrest, Blue, Great, Coal and Long-tailed Tit – at least seven of each species all feeding wildly. A Nuthatch close by showed how tiny the others were. A quick look upstream over the bridge for a Kingfisher, but nothing – ah, but there was! Sharp eyes found one low down with his belly facing to show creamy pink. It flew most obligingly downstream affording most of us a good lens full. A dog flushed a female Grey Wagtail when we continued downriver, where a Grey Heron got up and demonstrated its flying skills, threading those vast wings through the brush and trees. Our final close encounter with a male Kingfisher was on crossing the footbridge, where it perched within a few feet of us – stunning. Some of the party enjoyed a Sparrowhawk at close range, but everyone stopped to watch a diaphanously-branched Alder, top heavy with more Goldcrest. The final total of 33 was pretty good for this mid-winter day. (Many thanks for leading Nick.) Nick Hawkridge

  • Tuesday 15 December – Newton St Loe

    It was mild and murky as 33 of us set off, the poor light not aiding identification. This was a shorter than usual walk – a prelude to the Christmas lunch – but it proved very productive. Led jointly by Peter Holbrook and Duncan and Pat Gill, we heard Raven and in a Lime tree saw a mixed flock of Goldfinches, Chaffinches and Greenfinches. Assorted gulls were in the fields, including 150 Common Gulls. Then came the only Buzzard of the day, plus 50 Starlings, followed by large numbers of Corvids, including Jackdaw “grooming” sheep. On the first lake were ten Goosanders – equal numbers of male and female – and a Grey Heron was perched attentively in a tree above the water. Most of us had good views of two Kingfishers at the second lake, where fisheries staff were hauling in a huge net to remove thousands of tiny fish from the over-populated lake (presumably something not appreciated by the Kingfishers!).A flock of 40 Linnet was seen, then a Treecreeper, Grey Wagtail, Long-tailed Tits, a pair of Great Spotted Woodpeckers, Dunnock and Goldcrest. A total of 43 species, the count being taken by Nick Hawkridge. 47 of us later attended the festive lunch at the Riverside Inn, Saltford, where Mark Watson thanked Peter for organising the event and told us that, in 2015, 23 leaders (including David Tombs, who had led 163 walks since 1994) led 52 walks. Mark, who appealed for more members to volunteer to lead walks in 2016, was presented with a birding book by Nick as a thank you for organising the Tuesday walks. John Beaven

  • Sunday 13 December – Portland & Lodmoor

    Ferrybridge immediately rewarded us with 30 plus Brent Geese and 20 plus Mediterranean Gulls. A Skylark dropped over and the first of many Turnstones flew round the shop. In the Harbour there were long discussions over a diver, Black-throated or Great Northern, and an auk. Just as we got them in the scope they’d dive again. We finally decided on Great Northern and Razorbill. There were also about 30 Mergansers. At the end of the day they were by the shore at Fleet. At Portland Castle the Black Redstart eluded us, but another Razorbill, and Great Northern Diver were close in, with Shags sitting among the Cormorants, and Rock Pipits flitting about. As we left, a Chiffchaff popped out of a hedge. A Portland Bill sea watch gave Gannets, Kittiwake, Fulmar, endless Guillemot and Razorbills and seven Scoter. As usual the Little Owl was perched under the rock in the quarry, and three Buzzards sat in line. As at Battery Point, the Purple Sandpipers were nowhere to be seen. Calling in at Lodmoor on the way home there were three Black-tailed Godwits, Lapwing and Dunlin. There were eight species of ducks, the Teal only 20 feet away. The Lapwing flew up and a Marsh Harrier dropped into the reeds, and then flying across the reeds was a Merlin. Altogether 60 species were seen. Thanks to Sue and John Prince for leading. Robert Hargreaves


  • Tuesday 08 December – Portishead

    42 people met, with the weather warm and bright to start. The sea front was alive with activity, seeing Meadow Pipits, Pied Wagtail, a tree full of Starlings, Goldfinch, three Reed Buntings, a Curlew, two Ringed Plovers, and Common Gull. On the lake were seen swimming Greylag Goose, Mallard, Moorhen, Coot, Mute Swan and many Black-headed Gulls. We then made our way to Battery Point and as the tide was out the Purple Sandpipers were not seen but three Rock Pipits were. We made our way through East Wood seeing Blue, Great and Coal Tits and, also seen by some, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Treecreeper and Nuthatch. Once we got to the pier we found two Great Black-backed Gulls, Grey Heron, Redshank and approx 800/1000 Dunlins feeding on the mud across from the dock. About this time the heavens opened with a very heavy downpour and at the end of the dock was a lone Cormorant and 20 odd Canada Geese. A total of 39 species seen, so not quite our target of one bird species each. (Thanks Geoff.) Geoff Harris

  • Tuesday 01 December – Shapwick Heath/Ham Wall

    On a dry and mild afternoon 21 members gathered at Shapwick Heath/Ham Wall to see what was around and hopefully catch the Starlings coming in to roost. Bob Buck had kindly agreed to lead as Mike Johnson was unable to make it and Bob was ably assisted by John Crispin. The Starlings were roosting on the Ham Wall side so we set off in that direction. Initially Goldfinch, Tits, House Sparrows and Collared Doves flew by and on the first water a Great White Egret was standing away in the distance. Lesser Black-backed and Herring Gulls passed over and a Cetti’s Warbler and Water Rail were heard. A collection of ducks including Mallard, Shoveler, Wigeon, Gadwall and Tufted Duck were on the pools along with Canada and Greylag Geese as we visited the new Avalon hide. A fleeting glance of a Kingfisher was seen by some, along with a Reed Bunting and Stonechat. In the far distance a Buzzard passed by and two Marsh Harriers flew over the reed beds. The Starlings started to arrive as dusk crept up and we were treated to huge numbers crossing overhead and falling to their roost away across the reed beds. Some groups swirled impressively before landing. This went on for 20 minutes or so – a marvellous sight. Thanks to Bob and John who volunteer for RSPB on Ham Wall for their time and knowledge. In total we saw 45 species. Mark Watson

  • Tuesday 24 November – Cheddar Reservoir

    It was grey and windy with such choppy water, how were we to see the waterfowl? A good crowd (22) of dedicated watchers saw most of the birds on offer. As rain had fallen, the way across the moor was bound to be wet – twelve chose this way with me and the others stayed on the reservoir rim with Sue & John and Jane. We got onto Middle Moor Lane and then Stubbingham Drove where the call of Fieldfare was heard, the ‘caw’ of Rooks, and the ‘crackle’ of Pheasant. A mystery call was heard and a large winged bird disappeared into the trees- alas, the one that got away. A Great Spotted Woodpecker flashed from tree to tree and a Green Woodpecker disappeared into the scrub before reappearing again in a field where the boundary hedges were thick with Starlings, Fieldfare, and a few Redwing. We proceeded along the Cheddar Yeo where a couple of Little Grebes dived and swam, and back up Ellenge Stream (a previously seen Otter didn’t reappear!) and into Axbridge. Plenty of local songsters on offer in the village, a Grey Wagtail just by Walnut Farm, and Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Chaffinch and Bullfinch recorded , plus a small party of Long-tailed Tits – so plenty to watch. We went back onto the tank rim to view the ducks. A dozen Gadwalls, many ‘Heinz 57′ Mallards, Tufted, a few Wigeon, a good few Pochards and many, many Coot, but alas the Red-crested Pochard were not in our sight. How fortunate that the rim walkers recorded 36 species including three we had not seen- Red-crested Pochard, Meadow Pipit, and Song Thrush, bringing the total up to a credible 51. (Thanks to Sue & John and Jane for leading the tank rim party and to Nick for being in charge overall.) Nick Hawkridge


  • Saturday 21 November – Steart Marshes

    17 Members gathered in the new WWT Steart Marshes car park on a crisp, clear, sunny but extremely cold and very windy Saturday morning. We were met by two friendly assistant WWT wardens, Joe and Chloe, who gave us a brief but very informative overview of the 500 hectare site with its myriad salt and freshwater lagoons and its ever changing tidal coastal marsh at the frontier of Bridgwater Bay. We set off along the wetland walkway on our way to the very spacious Mendip hide, spotting a Stonechat on a fence post en route. Numerous small groups of thrushes flew over, mainly Fieldfares. The windows in the new hide were very swish, stiff to open but held up by hydraulic rams. There were some good screens outside which allowed clear views across the lagoons. Some of the many wintering Shelduck were feeding on the exposed mud and there was a lone Little Egret on the far bank and a Curlew plodded across the mud. There were lots of Lapwing and we had the first of many sightings of flocks of Dunlin dazzling us with their fluttering semaphore flight, wheeling around showing dark then snow white plumage sparkling in the sunshine, enough to confuse any marauding raptor. Our group then split into two, some walking out to the coast to see the breach site and the rest going to the other adjacent hide overlooking small lagoons, hosting more Lapwing, Black-tailed Godwit and lots of duck including Shoveler, Teal, Wigeon and Mallard. There was also a good view of a solitary Snipe. Not too many birds were seen out on the edge of the saltmarsh and estuary, more Dunlin, a Redshank and overflying Shelduck. A flyover Stock Dove and lots of Meadow Pipits, a Skylark, two Pied Wagtails and a Grey Heron showed well on the walk back to the hide where the two groups came back together. A Kestrel sheltered on the far bank from the stiff breeze.

    After lunch we drove to the Natural England car-park in Steart village for the second part of the visit. In the car park numerous House Sparrows and a few Blue and Great Tits showed well. From here Brian Gibbs and Brian Hill from the Somerset Ornithological Society led us on the northern path overlooking the marshes and the breach area. Unfortunately, it was a neap tide so at high water there was more mud than water and therefore not many waders had been driven off the estuary. There were still lots of good birds to see including Ruff and Redshank with a single Spotted Redshank amongst them, but these were distant birds and a scope was essential. This was a wonderful day out at this exciting new WWT site, which will adapt and change greatly over the next few years as the habitat responds to its new tidal life, slowly being colonised by salt tolerant plants. Thanks to Joe and Chloe and the two Brians for showing us around and to Nick Hawkridge for keeping the list which consisted of 48 species seen or heard. Rob Miles

  • Tuesday 17 November – Uphill and Bleadon Levels

    With storm Barney predicted to drown us or blow us off a cliff, I rather hoped that no-one would turn up. In the event four mad people were waiting at my parking place – and six more at the official meeting place which I’d failed to notice in Club News! They were right to give it a go; apart from a couple of sharp showers, the worst weather came through only after lunch. It was mild and overcast, but mainly dry, as we walked past the cliff by the sailing club (noting two Dabchicks on the lake) and slowly on through a line of bushes heaving with thrushes and finches. The numbers flitting about and feeding on the blackberries suggested that many of them could be recent winter visitors from the continent, perhaps travelling ahead of the threatening storm. A flock of 250 Woodpigeons were also likely to be visitors passing through. From the hillside overlooking the salt marshes we counted a flock of 100 plus Lapwings and were delighted to see a late (or wintering) Common Sandpiper flitting down the pill and landing on a mud bank to provide a better view. Mute Swans and a few Redshanks moved about as the tide rose but astonishingly we failed to find a single Little Egret all morning! 15Teal sat quietly along the pill with a few Mallard. Black-headed Gull numbers were pushing a hundred but we saw only a handful of Herring and Lesser Blacked-backed Gulls. Passerines included Fieldfares and Redwings, Stonechats, at least ten Skylarks, a large flock of Linnets and some Reed Buntings. A Cetti’s Warbler sang explosively and so close to us that it made me jump. We watched a Kestrel and a Sparrowhawk and some noticed a Buzzard being harassed by a Raven. Back at our starting point, we walked down to the main beach to add to our list Grey Heron, the expected Shelducks, and waders including Oystercatchers, Curlews, Dunlins and Ringed Plovers. In total, eleven walkers saw 49 species and had a better morning than we expected. (Jane, thanks for leading) Jane Cumming


  • Tuesday 10 November – East Harptree

    This was a circular walk of about four miles, for which seven hardy souls made an appearance, even though rain was forecast for all day; in fact we had no rain whatsoever! At the start a Buzzard was heard mewing and we had good sightings of Coal Tit, Goldcrest, Blue Tit, and Wren, with three or four calling Nuthatches. Further on at the entrance to a field, a flock of at least 30 Chaffinches were spread across in front of us, along with Goldfinch feeding off the thistles, and a good sprinkling of Blackbirds – all male. During the walk three or four flocks of 15-20 Redwings were seen and at our coffee stop a small group of Long-tailed Tits flitted by; we also saw a Kestrel and some Starlings. To our surprise we saw both a Red Admiral and a Gatekeeper butterfly. Towards the end of the walk a Buzzard put in an appearance and a Raven was heard calling, and right at the end we were treated to a Treecreeper. Other species seen included Dunnock, House Sparrow, Herring and Lesser Black-blacked Gulls. A total of 25 species were seen or heard. (Thanks go to Geoff for leading). Geoff Harris

  • Sunday 08 November – Blagdon Lake

    I had a fun visit with eleven BOC members, during which we saw some nice birds with a total of over 50 species. Sheila Ablitt spotted an adult drake Red-crested Pochard close to the boat quay by the Lodge, and we saw the adult female, found the day before, off the east end of Green Lawn as well. As we headed along the south side of the lake we spotted a Black-necked Grebe off Rugmoor Point, a group of Common Goldeneye between Rainbow and Rugmoor Points and a juvenile Greater Scaup in Wood Bay, where there was also an adult drake Ferruginous x Common Pochard hybrid. At Top End we found two Dunlin, four plus Little Egrets, two Great White Egrets and ten Bewick’s Swans. I noted that one of the adults had a darvic ring ‘white BCL’, and looking through my database, found out it was a cob named ‘Winkey’. He has been coming to the lake since 2003, first with partner ‘Tinkie’ and latterly with new mate ‘Winker’. Those were the highlights, but there were something like 5000 water birds on the lake which made for a great day’s birding. During the walk we spotted a late Migrant Hawker still on the wing; my latest record at the lake in the past is 12 November 2011. (Many thanks for leading, Nigel.) Nigel Milbourne


  • Tuesday 03 November – Portbury

    A very dull day greeted the 21 participants for the annual hike around Portbury reserve. The future of the reserve was in people’s minds as it ceases to be managed by AWT and passes to North Somerset council. However, back to the birds. Sadly, the Little Owls are no longer in the ruined barn at the top of Wharf Lane. From the track that leads to the first hide a fox was sighted and from the hide Gadwall and Coot were on the scrapes. The second hide always provides the best viewing. Wigeon were plentiful along with Teal, Little Grebe and Shoveler, and on the island Lapwing, Cormorant and a lone Snipe (very hard to see as it was having a nap, head under its wing). In the track side bushes were flocks of Long-tailed Tits, Redwing and Goldfinch and from the Tower hide Dunlin, Redshank and Curlew were along the shore line. It was from the Tower hide that one of our keen eyed observers got a brief glimpse of a Yellow-browed Warbler. Definitely the star tick of the day. Skylark were seen from the sea bank and a Treecreeper in some willow trees, and in the field hedgerows Bullfinch and Goldcrest brought a good morning’s birding to an end with an excellent total of 50 species. (Thanks for leading, Roger.)  Roger Hawley

  • Saturday 31 October – Oldbury Power Station

    About 25 members gathered at the car park. After early mist it became a beautiful autumn day with scenery to match, the colours of autumn giving a backdrop to our circuit of the grounds. We saw just over 50 different species during the four hours. Some of the highlights among the trees and hedgerows were Bullfinches (seven in total with one flight of four) and good views of a Green Woodpecker. Redwings and Fieldfares flew over and Skylarks were seen over the dried up lagoon (two of them were having a quarrel and gave us a good display). There were also Stonechats. In the surrounding fields were a number of Carrion Crows and Ravens were seen and heard. Although the tide was high and there was not much mud bank showing, we saw a number of waders at a distance. These included flocks of Dunlin, Curlew and Redshank giving us displays with the two Severn bridges as a back ground along with a large flock of Lapwing. On the river there were also Teal, Wigeon and Mallard and on a distant buoy a party of Turnstones were waiting for the tide to recede. As we walked through the woods, we had a close up of a soaring Buzzard over the tree tops. Other birds of prey were a Peregrine and a juvenile Kestrel. Towards the end of the walk we added Little Egret, Little Grebe, Mute Swan, Tufted Duck, Coot and Moorhen at the open pond. Just beyond we finally caught up with a Reed Bunting. It was good to visit a place with such a variety of habitat – and therefore a variety of species. Thank you, Andy Middleton, for leading the group and everyone for joining in bird spotting and identification. The visit was much appreciated.
    Philippa Boyland

  • Tuesday 27 October – Dolebury Warren.

    Fourteen members set off from Churchill with a wary eye on the overcast weather for a walk around Dolebury Warren. As we walked up the lane and down through a wood to cross the A38 we saw and heard House Sparrow, Wood Pigeon and Great Tit. On the way uphill to Dolebury Warren there were more tits including Blue Tit and Long-tailed Tit along with Chaffinch on feeders and flitting in the woodland. Several Wrens were also heard and numerous Robin singing loudly. Towards the end of the woodland two Jay were seen and heard and a Treecreeper was on the Ash trees. Out on the Iron Age hill fort Carrion Crow and Magpies flew by and as we climbed towards the highest part of the fort two Raven appeared. Goldfinch was in the trees and scrub and numerous Jackdaw were on the Limestone grassland. As we turned to return to Churchill a flock of Meadow Pipit flew nearby and shortly after Redwing and Fieldfare were seen. A Kestrel briefly passed by and a lone Stonechat was spotted on a Blackthorn bush. A few Herring Gull flew overhead just before we walked downhill back to the A38. The rain largely held off bar a couple of showers and a total of 24 species were seen. Mark Watson

  • Tuesday 20 October – Clevedon

    An impressive 33 walkers turned up at the Salthouse Inn to start our walk over Wains Hill, down the coast, around the golf course past Dowlais Farm, and back along the Pill. We began by admiring the historic look-out point half way up the hill, then checked a sheltered copse beside the church, one of the better areas for passerine migrants – no luck. On to the beach to count four Ringed Plovers, 14 Oystercatchers and 17 Curlews, along with Shelducks, Mallard and a single Redshank. Some very distant ducks on the sea were probably just Wigeon after all! But the most impressive find was a Common Seal, by no means so common in the estuary. Strolling on, we watched a Stonechat, a Grey Heron and a couple of Little Egrets. The single Wheatear on the sea wall was a very tardy migrant. On the inland leg, a Kingfisher was seen by the fastest walkers, a Buzzard and a Peregrine by the slowest, lagging some 15 minutes behind them. But we all made it back eventually with a total of 46 species on this fine sunny morning. (Thanks to Jane for leading.) Jane Cumming

  • Sunday 18 October – Migration watch

    There were good conditions for the migration watch as it was overcast but dry with light winds. The chart and descriptions below show the impressive numbers and variety of birds recorded this year. The chart is interesting in that it shows the typical distribution of birds through the morning, quickly rising to a peak before falling away between 10 – 11am. Many thanks to all the leaders and members who supported the watches.

    Severn Bridge service station – 07.30 to 09.00

    The conditions were cool, with a light NE breeze, and low cloud. The Baltic area was already cold, but the viewing conditions meant that the small groups appeared out of the murk briefly when almost above us, and vanished almost as fast. Identification was largely based on shape and size, as very few identifiable flight calls were heard, though this in part was influenced by the age of the leader. Between 7.45 and 9.00 we observed 47 parties with an average of 12 birds, of which almost all were finches, almost certainly Chaffinches, and almost all were flying north into the wind. The overall rate was 450/hour, with a maximum of 744/hr between 8.30 and 9.00. This is much the largest passage that we have observed in the last five years. The only other birds observed were a small group of Starlings and another that were thought to be Redwings. There were also two Peregrines on the bridge buttress- one of which brought in and ate a kill. Richard Bland


  • Sunday 11 October – Portland

    Eleven club members met at Ferrybridge in a cool breeze to study the birds on the end of The Fleet. The highlights for me were the 25 Mediterranean Gulls having only seen them in ones and twos before. Also in attendance were 500 Black-bellied Brent Geese, four Red-breasted Merganser (the first report of the autumn on this site) and some waders – Sanderling, Dunlin, Oystercatcher, Turnstone and Ringed Plover. There followed a drive to the Lighthouse on Portland for a sea watch (quiet – just Gannet, Shag and Rock Pipit) before a walk round to the Bird Observatory via the quarry. Two Wheatears were seen near the chalets and one lucky member had a good view of the resident Little Owl which unfortunately popped back between the stones before the rest of the group arrived. The Observatory gardens provided Stonechat, Goldcrest and other common warblers before we went to the usual lunch spot at the Southwell Industrial Estate. Here the same (not so) lucky member managed to lock the car keys in the boot so had to wait for the AA while the rest of the party went to search a bush for a Yellow-browed Warbler with limited success. A further two sites were visited with failed searches for Wryneck and Ring Ouzel before the day ended with two juvenile Swallows. Overall 41 species were seen. Thanks to Jane for leading. Keith Williams

  • Tuesday 06 October – Upton Cheney/Swineford

    A group of 13 ‘hardy souls’ set out from Upton Cheyney in pouring rain. It did not look very promising for birding but we soon got our morning’s list started with Blue and Great Tits on a garden feeder and a Starling and Chaffinches were seen in the same area. A Thrush was seen flying and quickly identified as a Redwing which was the first of this autumn for the Tuesday walk. By this time the weather was improving and we soon had a nice rainbow to lift our spirits and, apart from a few very light showers, the rest of the morning was very pleasant and decidedly warm in the October sunshine. We soon added Long-tailed Tit (approximately 25 were seen during the walk), Wood Pigeon, Carrion Crow, Robin and Buzzard with a large number of Jackdaws seen over and around the church tower. We saw Collared Dove and Blackbird and some had a good view of the first of three or four Jays with one having an acorn in its bill. A small flock of about 40 Black-headed Gulls flew over and two Goldcrests were heard and then seen. After walking along the Bristol to Bath cycle path we took a footpath along the River Avon. Two or three of our group were fortunate to see a Kingfisher and we also added Kestrel, Yellowhammer and Skylark. A Green Woodpecker was heard and a Great Spotted Woodpecker was seen briefly. Towards the end of the walk a Chiffchaff was heard and Thrushes were spotted in a dead tree; three were identified as Mistle Thrush and one as a Song Thrush. There were also two Greenfinches in the same tree. It was a much more enjoyable morning’s walk then we envisaged when we set off and we managed a total of 28 species. Thanks to Nick Hawkridge for keeping a record of species seen and to David Body for leading.

    Mike Landen


  • Tuesday 29 September – Hawkesbury Upton

    This is one of our most popular Cotswold walks so, on a perfect Autumn day, it was no surprise it attracted a big turn-out – 28 members. We set off from the Beaufort Arms car park in warm sunshine, soon noting Collared Dove on a rooftop, Jackdaw, Blackbird, House Sparrows and a flock of 30 Starling. As we walked past fields of stubble we saw a Kestrel flying from bush to bush – the first of three Kestrels seen – then a solitary Yellowhammer on a telegraph wire, its colours showing well in the sunshine. A pair of Pied Wagtail and a Meadow Pipit in a field were followed by a Buzzard atop a post, seemingly trying to disguise itself as part of the post. Three Skylark were singing lustily as they rose from the stubble and some of us saw a Hare jumping over a bale of straw. Half a dozen migratory Swallows were heading south. After coffee stop, the list grew steadily as we noted female Chaffinch, a singing Wren, Great Tit and Chiffchaff. A Comma butterfly was sun-bathing on a bush and a Robin sang its wistful autumn tune. Other notable sightings were a fly-over by four Greenfinch, a Goldcrest in an Ash tree, and a flock of Linnet. Total species, 30. Thank you, Peter, for leading and Nick for taking the count. John Beaven


  • Sunday 27 September – Clevedon to Kingston Pill

    Eight members assembled outside Clevedon Cemetery on a beautiful “blue-sky” morning, ready for a walk along the coast to Kingston Pill as the tide started to recede. Our leader, Jason Williams, quickly spotted a Nuthatch in the cemetery closely followed by very good views of a Goldcrest, a flock of mixed tits, a Chiffchaff and Swallow; and all before we had reached Clevedon Pill. A large roost of Black-headed Gulls and a few Shelduck were noted but the sight of a Kingfisher in flight and a flock of 25 Cormorants overhead were highlights. A very obliging Rock Pipit, several Reed Buntings and more Swallows were seen as we approached the sluice gates at Blind Yeo where a Grey Wagtail was spotted. From here on there were many Meadow Pipits, small flocks of Linnets and Goldfinches, some Skylarks but only one Wheatear. A lone Buzzard and a variety of corvids, including a Raven, were observed. A Sparrowhawk flew along the hedge causing mayhem by setting up the smaller birds and four Lapwings. Along the coast, small flocks of Turnstones, Dunlin and Oystercatchers rose and settled frequently in the company of Curlew, two Black-tailed Godwits and a Common Sandpiper. Redshanks and Little Egrets busied themselves in the steadily emerging creeks and gullies, mixing with gulls and a Grey Heron. With a species count of 45 this was a good morning’s bird watching. Thanks to Jason for leading such an enjoyable walk. Ken Carruthers


  • Tuesday 22 September – Barrow Gurney

    Fifteen people met to start the walk. From the car park Chiffchaff and Robin were heard and as we made our way up Hobbs Lane we saw Blue Tit, with Swallows and House Martins flying overhead, and some people seeing a Kestrel and a Jay. At the tanks, Cormorant, G C Grebe, Coot, Tufted Duck, Grey Heron, Mallard and 28 Canada Geese were seen. During the walk we counted four to five Buzzards and a party of seven or eight Long-tailed Tits, Goldfinch and lastly two Ravens. We also saw Specked Wood and Red Admiral butterflies. A total of 31 bird species seen or heard. Geoff Harris

  • Tuesday 15 September – Tickenham

    Eleven people met by the church on Tickenham moor, on a fine day after the previous one’s torrential rain. Numbers of Mistle Thrushes undulated across the fields with a couple perching on the church weather vane, and Crows flew past with nuts pulled from an adjacent walnut tree. More Crows, Rooks and Jackdaws fed amongst the sheep and cattle with a Buzzard above. Swallows flying low almost brushed our bodies as we crossed the levels towards the Land Yeo, and a Kestrel hunted nearby. We had nice groupings of small birds clustered in trees up to Tickenham Ridge – Wren, Robin, Dunnock, Chaffinch, Blue Tits and Chiffchaff, with a Nuthatch calling in adjacent woodland. In the fields past Cadbury Camp, keen-eyed Jan spotted small birds flitting up and down on the woodland margin – a Spotted Flycatcher group of one adult and two young. Green Woodpeckers perched on apple trees in an adjacent orchard. More small birds clustered in the small sunny quarry at the base of the descent, including Chiffchaffs and Goldfinch, with House Sparrows and House Martins towards the moor. As we returned along the Land Yeo we saw a Hobby, five Herons, a Kingfisher, Mute Swans, and two Kestrels hunting in a field newly cut for hay.Oddly we saw not a single Starling, but the total species count was a respectable 34.Also of interest: Wild Basil, a Yellow Waxcap mushroom, and Migrant Hawker and Common Darter dragonflies. (Thanks to Lois and Jan for leading)
    Lois Pryce

  • Sunday 13 September – New Passage & Pilning Wetlands

    Six of us met at New Passage on a beautiful sunny Sunday morning, later joined by a seventh. We started watching on the Severn Estuary at high tide, soon seeing Herons, Turnstone and many Curlew, Godwits, Black-headed Gulls, Dunlin, Redshank and Oystercatchers, though they were mostly some way off. Along the pill and saltmarsh we saw flocks of Linnets and Starlings with lots of Goldfinches, Meadow Pipits, Pied Wagtails and one Grey Wagtail bobbing on the short grass. All around our heads were Swallows and House Martins (we looked for Sand Martins which have been migrating over, but found none), and from the embankment we saw a Kestrel and Little Egrets, and pools full of Canada Geese. We were encouraged to find one of the Yellow Wagtails seen here recently, by the promise of a bottle of wine to the first to spot one, and we did! – at some distance, but eventually we were confident it wasn’t a Grey but a bona fide Yellow busy following a cow munching its way across the marsh. At the end of the side lane we saw one fine Ruff close up in the shallow pools, and more Ruff and Snipe on the edge of the water further off, the latter showing their stripes well. On the return leg we saw and heard Chiffchaff, and had a wonderful sight in one small area of the embankment hedgerow of Stonechats, Wheatears, Whitethroats and Robin perching and flying within a few inches of each other. Back at the Estuary the tide had fallen, and we saw Wigeon, Teal, and many Redshank scurrying along the water’s edge, one or two Ringed Plover and more Turnstone hidden in the seaweed. We saw a total of 45 species, which didn’t even include common species such as Blackbird, Tits or Dunnock! Many thanks to Lois for leading this very enjoyable saunter along the coastline and to the knowledgeable birders who kindly shared their knowledge with us less-experienced folk!
    Alison Pilling.

  • Tuesday 08 September – Newton St Loe

    A cloudy and chilly start as 23 of us set off through the church yard towards Newton Park. As we approached the lower lake a Kingfisher flew across the far side. In case anyone had missed it another did a flyby and so did another for good luck. A Grey Wagtail was on the far side and then we had good views of an adult and juvenile Grey Heron in the field opposite. A family of Mute Swans added grace to the upper lake whilst the Mallard, Coot and Moorhen provided the sound effects. A little further on those towards the rear were rewarded with views of a Little Owl and Green Woodpecker. Throughout the walk there were Goldfinch, Great and Blue Tits, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Wren, Robin, Gulls, Nuthatch and flocks of Linnet, Jackdaw and Crow. The expected Swallows, House Martins and Sparrows were at Stanton Prior and we were all rewarded with a view of another Little Owl at New Barn on our way back. Many thanks to Nick for meticulously recording 34 species and to Rod for leading.
    Rod Vowles


  • Tuesday 01 September – Winscombe.

    Twenty members met at Winscombe on a fine, sunny morning for a four mile walk on Mendip. A Lesser Black-backed Gull watched us depart the car park from a nearby rooftop. As we left the village we saw Jackdaw, Swallow and House Martin and three Blackcaps flitting along a hedgerow, and a Buzzard was seen high over Sandford Hill. A flock of Linnets about 28 strong appeared and as we climbed through the woods up Sandford Hill two Jays were seen, Green & Great Spotted Woodpecker were heard, along with Goldcrest, a Bullfinch, a couple of Nuthatches and a Treecreeper. Blue, Great and Long-tailed Tits showed and on the way back towards Sidcot a Kestrel passed by. A highlight was a Spotted Flycatcher which obligingly made feeding flights from the top of a not too distant tree giving everyone an excellent view. The walk ended as it had started with a Gull – this time a Herring – as we were almost back at the car park. We saw 34 species overall and also had some great views across the Severn Estuary to Wales and the Quantocks in the clear air. Thanks to Sue Watson for leading.
    Mark Watson


  • Tuesday 25 August – Old Down, Tockington

    Nine brave members gathered at the car park adjacent to the football field in Tockington where dark clouds lingered ominously. We set off through fields of lush green grass where three juvenile Green Woodpeckers were seen hopping around within the short vegetation. We then wandered onwards through the small winding roads of Tockington where Robins, Goldfinches and a few Swallows were seen. In the fields beyond, a rock resembling a dead Barn Owl elicited much interest until closer inspection revealed its true identity. Before descending into the woods a pair of Meadow Pipits were flushed from the undergrowth and five Buzzards were observed soaring gracefully over the fields. The woods presented a welcome shelter from the light drizzling rain which became heavier as we made our way back through the lanes and recently harvested fields of Tockington. A garden feeder had attracted some frantically feeding Blue Tits and a Chaffinch, and a total of 56 Wood Pigeons were spotted grazing on the left-over grain in a nearby field. We wandered back to the car park through the woods where we paused to sample some juicy blackberries. Many thanks to David Tombs for leading this scenic walk. Hannah Meinertzhagen


  • Tuesday 18 August – Hillesley

    26 walkers set off accompanied by one wolf look-a-like puppy(belonging to the Fleece, a friendly community owned pub with great food). The puppy seemed keen to stick with us, so soon had to be taken back home – thanks, Sue! Walking through the village, House Martins, Collared Dove and Starlings were soon noted. It being mid- August there was a lack of birdsong and contact calls heard were sometimes hard to identify in the still thick foliage, though Goldfinch were in evidence. Two Whitethroat were seen by some. Soon after turning off the road there were Swallows hawking over a nearby field, while five young Pheasant were pottering by the hedge – and another dozen of the same by the hedge in the next field! One of the highlights was then spotted by some – a Red Kite. This was followed by very good views of another Red Kite sitting in a dead tree, while the first one flew around. Everybody saw at least one of these. A climb up a track littered with hazelnut shells brought us up to the top of the Cotswolds. Here Nuthatch was added to the list and some time was spent watching a family group of six Spotted Flycatchers doing their fly-catching from a wire fence – another highlight of this very beautiful walk. 27 species were seen in all with another couple heard. Many thanks to Peter for leading. Nancy Barratt

  • Sunday 16 August – WWT Steart Marshes and NNR Bridgwater Bay

    Eight members gathered at the Steart Marshes car park on a chilly (but dry) Sunday morning. This new reserve is a work in progress with the old sea wall having been breached in September 2014 to create new areas of saltmarsh with ever-changing creeks and channels providing food and refuge for wildlife. From the Mendip hide there were good views of the lagoons but the birds were distant – Shovelers, Little Egrets, Canada Geese and a few Avocets. The walk out to the River Parrett allowed us to appreciate the amount and quality of landscaping undertaken by the WWT, and enjoy the Goldfinches, Linnets and Greenfinches. From the river viewpoint there were better views of Avocets but few other waders – only a distant Redshank. Returning to the Polden hide we passed flower and butterfly-rich grassland, with many Small Tortoiseshells and at least two Clouded Yellows, along with a Buzzard and various finches. From the Polden hide we added Pied Wagtail and a very pale Buzzard to the list. During lunch at the car park, Starlings, House Sparrows and a Pheasant were noted. After lunch we drove to Natural England’s car park at Dowell’s Farm and walked out to Steart Flats where views of Curlews, Shelduck and distant gulls were obscured by a heat haze. From the Tower hide we observed two Little Grebes, Redshank, juvenile Peregrine and Common Sandpiper; the views of Whinchats and Stonechats together were instructive. In the fields around the hide were Dunnocks, Linnets, Chaffinches and a Kestrel. The walk along the road to the car park brought the day’s species total to 33. This was a very enjoyable visit to the Steart area and, as the new WWT reserve “matures”, one that is sure to continue to attract visitors. Very many thanks to Richard for leading. Ken Carruthers

  • Tuesday 11 August – Hinton Blewitt

    21 birders met in the village on an overcast but windless day. We took a new route up past the church and through lanes to come out at the far end of the houses. We soon saw both Green and Great Spotted 11 Woodpeckers and in Coley we watched House Martins visiting nests on one of the older houses. Some of the youngsters had already fledged as the sky nearby was full of birds. Litton reservoirs provided plenty of variety, with at least twelve Grey Wagtails, a Kingfisher, ten or so Little Grebes, six Cormorants, two Grey Herons along with Tufted Duck, Mallard, Coot and Moorhen. We took a new route over Shortwood Common adding two Common Buzzards, Yellowhammer and a Pheasant. Chiffchaffs and Blackcap were heard and seen during the walk with all the usual pigeons, finches and corvids including two Ravens. We had a total of 39 species on a varied and enjoyable four mile walk. (Thanks to John and Sue Prince for leading.) Sue Prince

  • Saturday 08 August – Chew Valley Lake

    Twelve members met at Herriott’s Bridge on a fairly warm and sunny morning. There were a number of Black-tailed Godwit and Lapwing in the Pool on the opposite side to the main lake along with Gadwall, Teal, and a small number of Shoveler. A female Goldeneye was spotted by Louise,-well done, and later we all had close views of the male. A Kingfisher darted across the pool to end the stop and then we moved on to Stratford Hide. Whilst there we had Great Crested Grebe, Shelduck, Tufted Duck and Pochard all feeding nearby. In the reeds we had a Reed Bunting and also a Reed Warbler was noted. Just before we left the hide we observed a single Greenshank and a small number of Green Sandpiper. We then moved off on foot to the Moreton Hide and on the way had Goldcrest, Chiffchaff, and a Common Whitethroat. A Sparrowhawk made a slow pass over the trees as well as a distant soaring Buzzard and a croaking Raven was noted. In the hide our leader located a small number of Black Tern as well as two Common Tern, all observed dipping in the lake opposite the hide. We then walked back to our cars at Stratford and drove to Heron’s Green. In the bay we had Little Grebe, Green Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Grey Heron and numerous Pied Wagtails. This was a morning only meeting and as the time had moved past 13:00 hrs the members started to disperse. It was nice to see a number of new members present who told the leader that they looked forward to going out with the Club again. The total number of species seen during this meet was 42. (Our thanks to Charles for leading this most enjoyable morning’s birding.) Charles Stapleton.

  • Tuesday 04 August – Priddy

    A group of 18 set out from the Queen Victoria on a dull and overcast morning. There were 24 plus House Martins flying around the village and a little further on 90 plus Jackdaws which is evidently called a ‘clattering’ or ‘train’ of Jackdaws. A Raven was heard ‘honking’ and then seen and a few common bird species were noted including Swallow, Lesser black-Backed Gull and Long-tailed Tit. The walk along the old track involved carefully negotiating rather a lot of water and mud, so the birding was of secondary importance for this part! As we got to the highest point of the walk, Priddy Nine Barrows, we heard a Skylark singing and eventually it was spotted. After we had descended, a couple of young Coots were seen on a nice looking pond. As usual there were a lot of Meadow Brown butterflies and we also saw a few Marbled Whites and a Ringlet. Towards the end of the walk some of the group had superb views of a splendid low flying Buzzard. No binoculars were needed to appreciate how beautiful this bird of prey is. In spite of the weather not being ideal for birding, it was an enjoyable morning’s walk and we managed a total of 24 species. Thanks to Geoff Harris for keeping a record of species seen and thank you to Maureen and Bill Dobie for leading. Mike Landen


  • Tuesday 28 July – Bridgeyate

    On a bright breezy sunny day 18 walkers set out from the Griffin to see what we could find in the birding doldrums of late July. As expected, the total of 30 species was not high but we enjoyed watching the commoner species going about their business, albeit more quietly then usual – we coaxed the occasional song out of a Robin or Wren but generally the woods were silent. We argued over the identification of a young Linnet feeding in and out of the gutter on a farm roof, and noted several Swifts which will soon be on their way back to Africa. Swallows and House Martins were hawking for insects overhead or low over a mown field. One Blackcap showed briefly but made no sound. We glimpsed a Buzzard and had a better view of a Kestrel, but only the lucky front-runner saw the Kingfisher. Nevertheless, I was amazed to find out how much open hillside and varied woodland habitat there is north of Warmley, loads of space to wander around and so close to Bristol. (Many thanks to David for leading the walk and showing us an area that was new to most.)

    David Body


  • Tuesday 23 June – Blaise Castle

    19 walkers assembled in the Blaise car park on a warm morning after overnight rain. The conditions had encouraged the ant colonies to multiply and Swifts and gulls were massed taking advantage of the flying meal. 90 Lesser Black- backed Gull, 40 Herring Gull and 35 Swift were counted – but the aerial acrobatics made it hard to be sure of the numbers. Carrion Crow and Chaffinches were seen on the way to the churchyard and eleven Jackdaws were counted around the church tower where several of them had nests. Down at the Hazel Brook a rat was swimming in the water, then up in the meadow we were treated to a reprise of the gulls and Swifts spectacle, joined this time by a Common Gull. In the woods were Woodpigeon, Blackcap, Wren, Dunnock, Robin and on the meadows Magpie and Rook. Two Ravens were spotted and three Buzzards at different times, twice so close that their different markings could be clearly seen. We had our coffee break at the castle where two weeks previously a Red Kite paid a visit – unfortunately, this was not repeated – but we went on to hear Stock Dove, and see Grey Wagtail, Coal Tit, Great Tit, Nuthatch, Jay, Chiffchaff and a solitary Long-tailed Tit. Seven Goldfinches congregated in trees near the old water mill. Altogether 27 species were recorded, not a huge count, but for a site in the city with many dogs and families enjoying themselves, it was a rewarding morning. (Thanks for leading, Ruth and Glyn.) Ruth Stanton


  • Tuesday 21 July – Steart

    Twenty seven members gathered at the Natural England car park in Steart village on a good day for a picnic walk. Reports of Avocet chicks and a solitary Spoonbill raised our hopes for a successful day. Swallows flew overhead, a Pied Wagtail was on a nearby roof and a Greenfinch was calling as we set off towards Bridgwater Bay. Many Linnet were seen along the coast and several hundred Shelduck bobbed on the estuary with more on the mud. Reed Bunting, Meadow Pipit and Sedge Warbler were spotted or heard on the reeds and in the adjacent meadows. We arrived at the Tower Hide and as we were a large group spilt up to visit this hide and the three hides beyond. The pools yielded Little Egret, Redshank, Greenshank, Common Sandpiper, Dunlin, Oystercatcher, Cormorant, a single Curlew Sandpiper, a Kestrel and a few gulls. On the way back to the car park for lunch Great Tit, Blue Tit, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Green Woodpecker, Goldcrest and Goldfinch were added to the list amongst others. After lunch we walked out to the breach in the River Parrett sea wall which was constructed by The Environment Agency as a managed retreat to help protect upstream areas from flooding and also to improve flood protection for Steart and other nearby villages. The breach feeds the newly created (2014) Steart Marshes wetland managed for the Environment Agency by WWT. It transpired that the Spoonbill had left for Slimbridge and the Avocets were not around but we did see 86 Black-tailed Godwits feeding. The walk ended back at the car park, though a few of us went to have a look at the area opposite the new WWT car park but the water had drained by then so nothing new turned up. Overall tally of 48 species made for a good days’ birding. (Our thanks to Mark for leading.) Mark Watson


  • Saturday 18 July – Capel-y-ffin

    Ten people turned up at Capel, having negotiated the long narrow road on a morning with some dark clouds, but after a few spots of rain we had glorious sunshine most of the time. Early arrivals spotted one Red Kite in addition to the first of many Buzzards. House Martins were whizzing round and a Nuthatch was calling as we set off up the road towards the pony trekking centre. We soon found Redstarts flitting across between the trees and a big bright orange fritillary butterfly, probably Silver-washed. Beyond the woods we heard several Blackcaps tinkling and Swallows were flying low over the fields, then a ‘wheet’ call in a tree above us was identified by sight as a Willow Warbler. The scenery up the valley was spectacular throughout the walk, while we had fantastic views of three Ravens interacting, then three Buzzards and many Crows wheeling in the air above the mountain. Stonechats were quite numerous (six plus) and gave super views perching on bush and bracken with food in their beaks, and we saw several Wheatears, including one juvenile on a fence, followed by good views of single birds then two on a rock on the escarpment later. Someone then spotted a very smart Whinchat, who performed well with close views. Meadow Pipits were everywhere, alerting us with their ‘clink’ call and showing their white outer tail feathers (one member was checking her id details). We also found a good number of Small Heath butterflies, very small but noticeably bright flying among the bracken. The stream Nant Bwch was below us all the way and there was a small waterfall at one point, but there were no Dippers and only one Grey Wagtail.

    During lunch on a grassy patch beside the track a raptor flew up the valley and back, causing some panic as bins were not at the ready, and was finally pronounced to be a Hobby. We continued to the top of the escarpment near Lord Hereford’s Knob, where the 180 degree view looking north towards Hay on Wye is wonderful at any time and particularly on such a clear day. The group then split up, with most returning the same four kilometres down the valley, some directly to the cars and others of us meandering along enjoying more butterflies – Small Tortoiseshell, Speckled Wood and Ringlet – and moths and plants including one patch of butterwort – no doubt Jean could supply a list of the others! Final bird list was 30 species, including 15 Linnets, and a Green and two Great spotted Woodpeckers and a Jay, which called from the trees. Many thanks to Richard Brown for leading us.

    Judy Copeland


  • Tuesday 14 July Little Sodbury

    Only six braves turned out on what was a very dull morning with rain forecast for later in the day. The rain, or rather fine drizzle, came on a little after we had passed Old Sodbury Church and spoiled what is normally a splendid view towards Chipping Sodbury and beyond. Despite the poor visibility up till then we had counted 13 bird species, including a mass of Lesser Black-blacked Gulls and Herring Gulls riding a thermal at the foot of the hill. Swallows and House Martins were abundant, a Kestrel, a Raven and a Green Woodpecker also ‘played’ the fine drizzle. However, after we had had a refreshment break under the cover of the trees on the climb up to Old Sodbury Fort, things improved; the drizzle stopped and there was brightness all about. We decided not to do the full walk, with picnic on the high view-point above Horton, because of the likelihood of further rain but, while on the short cut, we were rewarded with sightings of Red Kite, Meadow Pipit, Greenfinch, Swift, Yellowhammer, Whitethroat, and Blackcap. At the ‘pond’ we saw Moorhens, Little Grebes, and Mallards then, as we returned to the footpath, a Grey Herron rose up above the trees, bitterly complaining at something. Our total species count was 38. Thanks to the ‘brave six’ for coming, for despite the weather, we had a good walk (Thanks David for leading). David Tombs.

  • Tuesday 07 July – The Downs

    The Tuesday walkers who joined our annual visit to the Avon Gorge to see the Peregrines were well rewarded. Two juveniles were sitting on a bare tree stump when we arrived. When the brief shower of rain passed they took off, joined their sibling and the three of them presented us with a beautiful aerial display. They practised their passing techniques, before one of them broke away to chase a Carrion Crow, which appeared most surprised to be the pursued rather than the attacker. After watching the Peregrines, we walked past the wildflower meadow, with its Common Spotted Orchids, and on to Sea Walls. A family of Kestrels entertained us here, flying on to a ledge in the cliff face and into a garden, where one of them sat in the bird bath for quite a while before deciding he had better make the most of the opportunity to have a wash. Since we had spent so long enjoying the raptors, we decided not to go on to the Nature Reserve but instead visited the Gully where six feral Kashmiri goats from the Great Orme have been introduced to manage the scrub, allowing us to enjoy the rare limestone-loving plants. As we left the Gully, a Buzzard put in an appearance, bringing the total number of birds seen and heard to sixteen – Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Cormorant, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Herring Gull, Jackdaw, Lesser Black- backed Gull, Magpie, Nuthatch, Wood Pigeon and Wren. Brenda Page


  • Saturday 04 July – Forest of Dean

    Eight members and one guest from Costa Rica, who had decided that the delights of an evening’s birding in the Forest of Dean was sufficient to attract him away from his ornithological paradise, met at New Fancy View on a warm early evening. From the viewing point we observed two Goshawks circling over the distant trees but a good enough view to note the slower and more powerful wingbeat than its Sparrowhawk relative. Song in early summer is beginning to die back but Song Thrush, Blackcap and Chiffchaff were prominent. We moved on to Cannop Ponds where Swallows, House and Sand Martins swooped low over the water feasting on the abundant supply of flying insects. A family party of Grey Wagtail worked along the shoreline and four Common Sandpiper rested on a stump protruding from the water before giving us a flyby display. A Kingfisher flashed by and a Siskin was an unexpected bonus on a nearby feeder. Several juvenile Mandarin Duck loafed on the water. We then moved on to Crabtree Hill to station ourselves for the possibility of Nightjar. A Garden Warbler started up its prolonged babbling and Stonechat and Linnet were present on the heathland. We waited patiently until 9.50 and then a “churring” was heard. What followed was a magical display of several Nightjars, some flying overhead, with just sufficient light to observe the white wing and tail patches. At one point there were three in the air together. A real bonus was the flight of a Woodcock calling with its shrill flight note. 44 species had been recorded and we felt our way in the twilight back to our cars contented. (Thanks to Mike for leading.)

    Mike Johnson


  • Tuesday 30 June – Compton Dando

    A group of 23 set off from The Compton Inn at Compton Dando on a beautiful summer’s morning. This was a new walk, although parts of it are shared with other walks that we do in this area. There were a good number of common birds around the village including House Sparrows, House Martins and Swallows with a Blackcap heard. After a very short walk to the bridge over the River Chew we were rewarded with a good view of a Dipper feeding in the fast flowing water giving ideal conditions for this rather special bird. It was a very nice start to the walk. We then walked through some pasture land bordered with woodland where a Buzzard was seen. The next part of the walk took us away from the river up a quite steep path through the woods where we added Great Spotted Woodpecker, Treecreeper, Song Thrush, and Nuthatch. We crossed a beautiful meadow where we saw a large number of Meadow Brown butterflies and a quite a lot of Marbled Whites. We reached Woollard and made a very slight diversion for another view of the River Chew from the road bridge. We had good views of an adult and juvenile Grey Wagtail and a pair of Bullfinches flew over, heading for a cherry tree. We followed the river upstream and saw a Mistle Thrush, a Grey Heron and an adult Moorhen with three juveniles. We had time to walk towards the church at Publow and at the third bridge over the Chew some saw a second Dipper and we all had good views of four or five Grey Wagtails. We turned round to head back, this time on the south side of the river and some had views of a Kestrel. Those at the front of the group had fleeting views of a Kingfisher and those at the rear also saw a Kingfisher. Those of us in the middle saw neither! Our final species of the day was a Redstart. Thanks to Nick for keeping his usual accurate bird list and we finished with a total of 41 species. (Thanks to Mike for leading) Mike Landen

  • Saturday 20 June – Ham Wall

    This was a joint meeting with Bristol Naturalists’ Society and eight of us met in the new RSPB carpark at Ham Wall on a bright warm morning. The air was full of the song of Blackcap, Blackbird, Wren, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Chaffinch, Chiffchaff and Song Thrush. We walked down to the first viewing platform and viewing screens and amongst the usual variety of ducks saw a Pochard with a young brood, not a common sight in this area. Cetti’s Warblers were very vocal with their explosive song and some were lucky to see a Kingfisher flash by. On to the new Tor Hide where we were treated to a prolonged view of a Bittern in flight. Somerset is now the leading County for breeding Bitterns which is quite a success story for the various conservation organisations, their staff and particularly all their volunteers who have worked so hard in creating and managing suitable habitat for this species and many others requiring large mosaics of wetland. To prove the point we had wonderful views of both male and female Marsh Harriers drifting low over the reeds and a number of Hobby feeding on the plentiful supply of dragonflies. Both Great White and Little Egrets flapped over Walton’s reedbeds giving a continental flavour to the morning. We recorded 54 species during the morning including Common Tern which is another fairly new breeding species for the Avalon Marshes. (thanks to Mike for leading)      Mike Johnson


  • Tuesday 09 June – South Stoke

     This walk was almost our nearest to midsummer, though with a chilly north easterly wind, it didn’t quite feel like flaming June. However, with the bright sunshine and sparkling visibility, the countryside couldn’t have looked better as 18 of us set off from the lovely village of South Stoke. The first stretch of road walking with superb views to the south gave us whirling House Martins and Swallows and there was much colour from garden plants and shrubs and the ubiquitous Valerian, both pink and red, popping out of every crevice. We turned off the road and onto a footpath in a wonderful meadow, though the low temperature didn’t seem to be tempting any butterflies or indeed many insects. We started the downhill bit of the walk soon adding many common species to our list. Up to four Buzzards were circling and calling and one of them was carrying a large item of prey, probably a rat. Following a steep narrow path further down into the valley Swift and Jackdaw were seen and in the field at the bottom, a Green Woodpecker. Our route then took us into woods with Magpie, Chiffchaff, Great and Blue Tits and Dunnock seen or heard. Still descending we arrived at Tucking Mill, where a Grey Wagtail obligingly perched for all to see. The walk was mainly uphill from then on! We climbed up to the top of the viaduct and joined the former railway track and en-route to our coffee stop at old Midford Station saw a Roe Deer and a Pheasant. Back across the road again we started to follow the old coal canal route and a pair of Marsh Tits were seen and heard. On this stretch we added Great Spotted Woodpecker, Goldfinch and Greenfinch and a Raven. The final species tally was 33. Many thanks to Dave Body for leading this popular and rewarding walk. Nancy Barrett


  • Tuesday 02 June – Sand Bay

    Not for the faint-hearted! Lashing rain driven by howling winds, and all togged-up to survive, we eight made the trig point without mishap, collecting Chiffchaff and Whitethroat. One of the circling Herring Gulls appeared overhead before being whipped away to the north east. Wales and Flat Holm had been stolen by the sheeting rain so our going out to the point didn’t seem like a good idea! Down in the relative lee of the land we found more Whitethroats and the first Greenfinch; a Rock Pipit scolded us from the waterside rocks and three Feral Pigeons – two of which looked like the true Rock Dove, defied the wind to tryst among the Sea Pinks. A flight of Linnet (three) came twittering over just as we arrived at our coffee stop, where we also saw a further Rock Pipit foraging and carrying food to some secret crevice in the rocks beyond our sight. The rain did let up for half an hour as we reached our turning point (no picnic lunch today as the wind was forecast to strengthen). Skylark appeared and the special tune of the Song Thrush came to us on the wind. Our tally of 24 was a reflection of the conditions but still the urge to breed kept the Blackcap singing as we descended to – disappointment – no ice cream van! (Many thanks to Nick for leading these hardy walkers.) Nick Hawkridge


  • Sunday 31 May – Otmoor

     It all started in Beckley just a short stone’s throw from the Otmoor RSPB reserve with a pair of squabbling Jackdaws on an overcast morning. Four members met in the car park to the accompaniment of Lesser Whitethroat and Garden Warbler song while overhead a Red Kite gave a virtuoso flying display thus setting a benchmark for the day. On leaving the car park after reading the sightings board, two of the group expressed a desire to see and hear Turtle Dove. Within a few minutes a gentle purring was heard and a Turtle Dove was sighted on overhead cables so obviously a purrrrrrrrrfect day! Heading towards the hide and scrapes even more Lesser Whitethroats and Garden Warblers were encountered although they were outnumbered by the sights and sounds of Reed Warblers. Added to this cacophony of sound were Chaffinch, Whitethroat, Reed Bunting and the screaming of Swifts overhead. Looking out over the pastures and scrapes, families of Mallard, Greylag and Canada Geese were seen in the company of Little Egrets, Herons, Lapwings, Redshanks and Ringed Plovers. Lunch was taken in the reserve’s posh hide where we witnessed the aerial displays of House Martins with a supporting cast of finches (Greenfinch, Chaffinch and Linnet), and Redshank. Three Common Terns were discovered at the viewing screen and lagoon at the furthest point from the car park, and on the return journey to the car Sedge Warbler and Kestrel were added to the day’s list bringing the total for the day to over 50. Many thanks to Keith Williams for leading our field trip. Richard Scantlebury


  • Friday 29 May – Frampton on Severn

    After a day of heavy rain showers the skies cleared on Friday evening in time for a visit to Frampton on Severn. Seven members attended and had a pleasant walk with lots of birds. The highlights of the evening were the low aerial displays over the lake of hundreds of Swifts and Martins, and the evening chorus of Song Thrushes and Blackcaps. There were a couple of Common Terns on the lake, and a Cuckoo calling. Altogether 32 of the commoner species were seen.    Sheila Ablitt


  • Tuesday 26 May – Clevedon / Walton Common & Coast Path

     17 people gathered in Clevedon as the cool windy conditions turned into a warm sunny morning. Two Herring Gulls were sitting on different roofs close by. We had to wait for golfers on the path up over the golf course and meanwhile notched up Robin, Goldfinch, Swallow, House Martin, Wren, Blackcap and Pheasant. At the edge of the wood we found two families of Long-tailed Tits, one containing 11/12 youngsters, and a Song Thrush was singing. Inside the wood we had three Treecreepers (one carrying food), Great Spotted and Green Woodpecker calling, a Chiffchaff, and a Goldcrest which not everyone could hear! There was also an unidentified “seep” call. On Walton Common we had coffee by the butterfly slope and were well rewarded with a view of two “Goshawks” high above. There was much discussion on whether we could claim them but the final verdict was that the size and behaviour pointed that way. (Jane has submitted the description to the experts.) One was chased by a Mistle Thrush and two Swifts were spotted very high up. Lunch was taken in a field overlooking the calm sea. From the coast path, where we enjoyed the lapping and gurgling of the waves, we saw a Pied Wagtail silhouetted on a rock, a pair of Mallards and two Shelduck flying. Whitethroat, Linnet and Greenfinch were heard and three Mistle Thrushes were on the field leading back towards Walton-in-Gordano. On the path back to the golf club we added Bullfinch and a juvenile Robin. By the end of this picnic walk, half our number had either gone back or walked speedily onwards to Clevedon to fulfil their commitments. My species list was 38. (Once again, many thanks to Judy for leading this walk.) Judy Copeland


  • Wednesday 20 May – New Forest

     A total of seven people congregated in the Ashley Walk car park ready to explore a small corner of the New Forest and, hopefully, catch up with some of the speciality birds to be found there. Our walk took us through a variety of habitats – woodland, heathland, river valley and forest ‘lawns’ – giving us every chance of finding some of them. Indeed, we hadn’t been going long before we encountered the first of many Stonechats and Linnets – they are clearly doing very well here! A little further and Jane alerted us to a Redstart singing nearby. This smart individual gave us all wonderful views – eventually! By now we were up on an area of open heathland and our only Lark of the day gave us distant views. However, the rather long tail ruled out the Woodlark we had hoped to find – so we made do with Skylark. Continuing along the path we entered a wooded area where many of the common woodland species were showing including Treecreeper, Stock Dove, Goldcrest, various finches and, high up on one of the trees, a Spotted Flycatcher – a rare treat. Heading on towards our lunch spot a Tree Pipit gave good views. Lunch was taken in an area that ‘looked good’ for Dartford Warbler, but with the exception of more Stonechats, Linnets and a fly by Cuckoo there appeared to be no sign of them. However, as we were finishing lunch one of these gorgeous birds popped up onto some gorse at a bit of a distance. At this stage not everyone had seen it, so we headed towards the area where it had last been seen and were lucky enough to find a couple of them reasonably close giving sensational views. Having looked at them, we moved swiftly on to ensure we didn’t disturb them as it looked like they were a breeding pair. Although we may not have seen everything we might have hoped for, everyone was well pleased with a great days birding. Many thanks to Jane Cumming for her excellent leadership and ID skills!  Dave Horlick

  • Tuesday 19 May – RSPB Newport Wetlands

    The prospect of hail and blustery wet conditions did not deter the group of 23 hardy members. The birds were in full voice in the bushes and hedgerows all around the reserve including Robin, Whitethroat, Blackcap, Wren, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Blue Tit, Song Thrush and Blackbird, with a Cetti’s Warbler and Lesser Whitethroat seen by a few. At the centre, Greenfinch, Sparrow and Goldfinch were added. The pond had Coot with young, and a Little Grebe showed on the return. At the start of the walk towards the lighthouse the Bearded Tits were flying to and fro across the reeds. A few members saw a Reed Bunting but Reed Warblers were keeping low although noisy enough. A Sedge Warbler sitting in a small tree gave everyone a good view. We were listening to a Cuckoo in the distance when one and then two flew around the reeds giving wonderful views. A perching individual allowed some telescope views. Later a third cuckoo joined the pair before it went off in a different direction. The tide was going out at the estuary but Shelduck, Curlew, and a Brent Goose were seen. Swallow, Sand Martin, House Martin and Swifts were swooping over the reed beds. The RSPB have built an artificial Sand Martin nest by the centre but it has not attracted any to nest as yet. After lunch the weather began to change but we headed to Goldcliff and shelter in the hides when a sudden hailstorm had us closing the windows to avoid a battering. The Avocets did not appear to have young but a few birds were sitting in the grass. We added Lapwing, Black-tailed Godwit, Redshank, Little Ringed Plover, Little Egret, Gadwall, Shoveller and Tufted Duck to the list. The Canada Geese had a few goslings but the Redshank chicks located the previous week were not seen. A Skylark was heard and a Buzzard was the only raptor of the day. A small group was keen to go onto Magor Marsh Nature Reserve to see the Water Voles. The Gwent Wildlife Trust have released over 200 Water Voles and have set up floating platforms loaded with an apple. The voles climb onto the platform and are unperturbed at being watched. This turned out to be a very successful day and gave us 47 species with some firsts for the group. (Thank you to Ray and Margaret for leading). Margaret Bulmer

  • Sunday 17 May – Exmoor

    Exmoor National Park holds important species of breeding birds that have declined nationally in the UK. Recent Moorland surveys have found good numbers of Whinchat – 300+ males, Stonechat – 450+ males, Grasshopper Warbler – 300+ males, Skylark – 2500+ males, and Cuckoo – 60-100 males. So, on an overcast, dry morning twelve members walked off from Webber’s Post down into the oak woodland of East Water hoping to see some of these species. Good numbers of warblers were in song – Chiffchaffs, Blackcap, Willow, Wood and Garden Warblers. As we walked down the road three Cuckoos flew around together chasing and calling. Lesser Redpolls and Siskin were seen and heard flying over but no close views unfortunately. A distant Buzzard was hovering near a group of Red Deer on the hillside. As we dropped down into the woodland a Wood Warbler was in full song and we eventually all had good views of it along with a female Redstart and an obliging pair of Pied Flycatchers that were active around a natural hole. Other species seen included a pair of Treecreepers, Goldcrest, Great Spotted Woodpecker and Song Thrush, with a Mistle Thrush singing in the distance. Down on the stream in East Water a juvenile Dipper was seen well by some of the group. We then walked up out of the woodland onto some moorland edge. A pair of Stonechats was perched on the gorse and several Meadow Pipits flew around, but unfortunately no Tree Pipits were seen. On the opposite hillside two Cuckoos were calling and one was ‘scoped’ perched on a tree with a small bird mobbing it. On the walk back to East Water we saw more woodland species that had already been spotted along with a Green Woodpecker calling. It was pleasing to find such good numbers of Pied Flycatchers, Redstarts and Wood Warblers.         Jeff Holmes – am report                      After lunch it was a short drive to Ember Coombe and a not very promising walk down to Chetsford Water, exposed to the cold wind. After a false start, where I unsuccessfully tried to turn Sue’s Reed Bunting into a Whinchat (my excuse is based on the total absence of reeds), we soon had excellent views of a breeding pair of Whinchats, a singing Whitethroat, Meadow Pipits and a Blue Tit. We then drove round to another part of Chetsford Water. I called a Kestrel (it was a Cuckoo), a Wheatear (which was a Redstart) and was left wondering where on earth the Little Grebe was (the Cuckoo was a female and had started calling). However, everyone else seemed to be having a successful afternoon’s birding and I enjoyed the cream tea, so many thanks to Jane for leading. Nigel Kempson – pm report


  • Tuesday 12 May – Shapwick Heath and Ham Wall

     On a dry but overcast morning 26 members assembled in Natural England’s car park for a day’s birding on the Somerset Levels. We were not disappointed; whilst waiting for the group to assemble we were entertained by Song Thrush, Greenfinch, Cetti’s and Garden Warbler, and Blackcap singing. On the way to the first main pool Swifts were overhead, with Whitethroat and more Cetti’s Warblers in the undergrowth. Our first major bird was a male Marsh Harrier displaying over the reed bed giving good views to all watchers. At the pool the water level was higher than normal with only a single Little Egret to be seen. Although ‘Big John’ advised that more waders were under the bank, at last they moved producing a small flock of Black-tailed Godwits, a Ruff and a Curlew Sandpiper – our second major bird. It was then on to the hide at Noah’s Lake where again the water level was high. In the distance were ‘comic’ terns, and Hobbies catching prey and eating on the wing. It was almost lunchtime so it was back to the cars with another stop at the wader pool to see a small flock of Whimbrel which had flown in to join the Godwits. After our picnic lunch the party crossed over the road into the RSPB Ham Wall reserve but we soon split up into small groups to explore. From the Tor View hide in the middle of the reed bed Great White Egrets and Bitterns were the highlights. This was a brilliant day producing 49 species seen or heard with at least four major birds. Regretfully, Otters were absent again this year.(Thank you for leading this walk Peter)  Peter Holbrook


  • Saturday 09 May – Dyrham Park

     Three National Trust members, including Dyrham Park’s well-informed head gardener Dale Dennehy, joined six from the BOC for this walk through the parkland of Dyrham Park, north of Bath. Dale made this a most interesting walk as he identified various plants and trees and told us about the NT’s ongoing plans for the park and gardens. The house is currently under wraps while its roof is being replaced and there is a lot of work going on around the chapel walks to clear shrubbery and open up new paths. With the disturbance by workmen, birds were hard to find in this area but there will be a nice section of open woodland habitat when they have finished. The terrain is hilly, well wooded, grazed by cattle and the NT’s herd of Fallow Deer. On a rather windier morning than I would have chosen, some expected species such as Stock Dove (several pairs normally breeding) could not be either seen or heard, but we did manage to find woodland birds like Great Spotted Woodpecker, Nuthatch, Treecreeper and Coal Tit although we weren’t able to see them all. Swallows were zooming in and out of the barns on a hilltop, probably nest-building, and songsters included three Chiffchaffs, a Blackcap and a Goldcrest. The rookery is doing fine though the original large colony seems to have sub-divided into several smaller ones. Finally some of us located the usual Raven’s nest in a vast Cedar tree by the main drive, where they have been nesting for some years. Thanks so much to Dale for his very informative contributions which really made walking the park worth the chilly wind! Jane Cumming

  • Tuesday 05 May – Prior’s Wood, Portbury

    Rain and strong winds abated to allow eleven of us to set out into the green world of Prior’s Wood. However, Nick pointed out that there were white horses on the distant Severn and the sound of the wind and the motorway made it hard to hear any song. We had already notched up nesting Starlings in the village, Jackdaw and House Sparrow, and eventually we heard Wren song, followed by Chiffchaff, and a Herring Gull flew overhead. The sun came out and we managed to hear Marsh Tit, Robin, Goldcrest, Blackbird, Blackcap and Nuthatch, but sightings were few and far between. We found an ideal place for coffee in the sun by some felled tree trunks, surrounded by bluebells which gave off some scent when the sun reached them. Great Tit, Chaffinch and a Great Spotted Woodpecker called, a Song Thrush flew across our path, a Mistle Thrush sang and some lucky people spotted a Fox trotting past beyond the bridge over the stream – a Weasel was seen a bit later. Much clearance has been done by Avon Wildlife Trust, removing the rhododendron, replanting many trees and creating two ponds, but there was no activity here. A single Whitethroat was heard outside the wood, and after a brief shower on our way back we finally found House Martin in the village. Nick counted 30 species. (Thank you for leading this walk Judy). Judy Copeland


  • Tuesday 28 April – Stoke Park Estate

     A group of about 20 members gathered at the Snuff Mills car park to be welcomed by the spring sunshine and a cool breeze. We set off towards Eastville Park then crossed over the motorway bridge where a Greenfinch was heard and a perched Buzzard was spotted. From here we made the climb up to the BT Tower which was rewarded by the sighting of a Sparrowhawk, fields of dandelions and lovely views over Bristol. We walked through the fields towards a wooded area. Between the gaps in the canopy a soaring Buzzard could be seen and among the trees Blackcaps, Nuthatches, Chiffchaffs and Long-tailed Tits were heard and a Great Spotted Woodpecker was seen. We left the warm shelter of the woods and headed over the fields, where a Mistle Thrush was spotted. A fishing pond supporting a Moorhen, two Canada Geese, some Coots and Mallards. A couple of agile Swallows could be seen speeding through the sky and a singing Whitethroat was observed emerging from a thick tangle of brambles. Many thanks to Rich Scantlebury for leading this enjoyable walk. Hannah Meinertzhagen


  • Saturday 25 April – Kilcott, Gloucestershire

     Five members gathered on a rather chilly morning, but the sun and walking soon warmed us – not to mention the bird song! A very loud Song Thrush started us off and soon we added Dunnock, Great Tit, Blackcap, Robin and Chiffchaff as we headed off down the valley. The fields and borders were magnificent with a brilliant display of primroses, cowslips, bluebells and much more. We soon added Blackbird, Chaffinch, Green Woodpecker and Buzzard to the list, the latter trying to kid us with its Kestrel-like hovering. Great Spotted Woodpecker eventually showed itself well, but calling Stock Doves were elusive. There was the usual – ‘is it a Mistle or Song Thrush’ moment – both were seen and heard! Jay was heard as was Goldcrest, the latter always difficult to see. When we got to the mill pond we added Swallow, Bullfinch, Greenfinch, Long-tailed Tit, Coal Tit, Moorhen and Tufted Duck. As we walked through the village more Buzzards were overhead and two Sparrowhawks were seen in brief display as well as Raven. House Martins appeared as well as more Swallows. Then the long climb up to Hawkesbury. Near the top we added Treecreeper and Marsh Tit. Then, as we emerged above the woodland, Whitethroat was heard and Yellowhammer sang and showed itself, if rather distant. Linnet and House Sparrow ended the list which totalled 40 species. A good tally! Robin Prytherch


  • Tuesday 24 April – Castle Combe

     We set off from the car park on the edge of Castle Combe under a cloudless sky, albeit a bit chilly to start with. We had some early sightings in the adjacent field including a Pied Wagtail, Stock Dove, numerous Corvids, and a Great Spotted Woodpecker. The initial part of the walk took us up a steepish hill through a copse to some quiet country lanes to the north of the village. A Nuthatch called long and loud en route but avoided visual detection. Birds that were less shy however included a Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Swallows, House Martins, Coal Tit and the first Buzzard of the day. After the coffee break (where some had an excellent view of a Goldcrest) we gradually descended through a long valley back towards the village. White tree blossom and wild flowers were abundant and at one point we passed alongside a small wood full of freshly bloomed bluebells. The warming sunshine also seemed to encourage the butterflies to emerge with Brimstone, Large and Small White, Peacock and Orange Tip amongst those recognised. Birdsong was noticeable all morning and sightings on this leg included Bullfinch, Chiffchaff, Nuthatch, and several Wrens. In the village itself a Grey Wagtail was spotted as was a Mistle Thrush on the walk back up the hill to the car park. Also during the morning two active Rookeries were seen. Warm sun continued to shine on 33 of the righteous (I can’t really vouch for the other 32) throughout the morning and a total of 40 species was recorded. Thanks to Dave for leading a very enjoyable walk on a very pleasant morning. John Lees

  • Sunday 15 March – Forest of Dean

     It was at nine o’clock when a baker’s dozen of members embarked on a circumnavigation of Woorgreens Lake, led by Keith Williams, serenaded by Nuthatches, Wrens and Great Tits. Thoughts of Asterix the Gaul came to mind as we spied a large wild boar that appeared to be shadowing our party! Arriving at the lake we encountered what appeared to be a battle royal between various factions of Canada Geese with a score of Goosanders spectating. Climbing gradually up to Crabtree Hill, where we met a party from the Dursley Birdwatching Society who appeared to be on Shrike duty, we too loitered to gaze and admire the Great Grey Shrike before returning to the start of our walk. The next port of call was New Fancy View, the Raptor view point, where our planned stay was curtailed by drizzle and poor visibility, but a number of Ravens, Siskins and a pair of displaying Buzzards were duly observed. As usual there was a large number of the brightly- plumaged Mandarin Ducks on Cannop Pond, while Goldcrest, Grey Wagtail, Nuthatch, Treecreeper and a Kingfisher were discovered on the edges of the pond. In all over forty species were seen, noted, recorded and photographed on this trip. Many thanks to Keith for leading the trip.  Richard Belson


  • Tuesday 14 April – Easton-in-Gordano

     Outside the pub at the end of the walk, as the stragglers rolled in, I met Nick who asked if I’d seen anything else in the Skylark field (at least three were singing). I said no, we were hurrying as late for lunch. But he and Annie had seen seven Wheatears! Anyway, apart from that major lapse on my part, it was a lovely springtime walk on a gorgeous morning, once the sun gradually emerged, with a beautiful display of flowers – kingcups (marsh marigold) beside Glebe Pond, and a mass of primroses and celandines in the lanes. Some of us had our first glimpses of House Martin and Swallow as they swooped across the first field, and Chiffchaffs sang everywhere, with almost as many Blackcaps tinkling away and Nuthatches calling. We had Buzzard and Sparrowhawk, the usual Green Woodpecker on the apple trees by the track near Failand House Farm, which then flew to a telegraph pole, and we heard a Great Spotted Woodpecker call. A couple of Song Thrushes sang, also one or two Willow Warblers, our most recent arrivals and a Bullfinch called though was not seen. Stock Dove was noted, flying faster than the many Woodpigeons, and two Coal Tits were seen on a feeder. Nick’s count was 39 species – and there were 28 of us walking. Judy Copeland


  • Sunday 12 April – Uphill

     It was a bright, sunny morning with a fresh south-westerly breeze and a rising tide as Paul Gregory led a group of five out past the cliffs of Uphill onto the Bleadon Levels. The many singing hedgerow birds included plenty of Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs, probably newly arrived. Out on the marsh, Shelduck and Redshanks were the most numerous species. We noted some Little Egrets (at least five at high tide) and compared leg colour and mantle differences on the larger gulls. As we strolled on to the Weston Sewage Works area we started collecting in the freshwater birds – a Dabchick here, Coots there, and in the end five more ducks including a smart male Shoveler and some lingering Tufted Ducks. Shorebirds were harder to come by, just a couple of Oystercatchers but no sign of the smaller waders we expected. We did have a fly-by Peregrine and a Kestrel, nice views of singing Willow Warblers, Reed Buntings, and a Green Woodpecker flying off. Skylarks added their voices to the chorus, and we were pleased to see a few Swallows which only started arriving in numbers this week. The geography is very interesting around here with Crook Peak behind us and Brean Down in front. We could also see Brent Knoll to the south and the Brecon Beacons stretching away in the distance in glorious sunshine. Thanks very much to Paul for his leadership and a total of 42 species on my list – and I probably missed a couple. This is an area well worth further visits. Jane Cumming


  • Tuesday 07 April – Eastville Park / Fishponds

     The morning started misty but by the time we were leaving the car park – in a part of Eastville Park unfamiliar to many, the sky was beginning to break up. Almost immediately we spotted an occupied Carrion Crow nest which, as it turned out, was the first of several. We headed down through the park towards the River Frome accompanied by the sound of a Chiffchaff and a Song Thrush melodiously serenading from the top of a tree. The river brought us a Grey Wagtail and a group of Long-tailed Tits together with the expected river birds. The lake was relatively quiet although a Mute Swan and a Canada Goose were observed on nests on the island. The highlight of the morning, however, came shortly after the coffee break when a Kingfisher dived and caught a fish directly in front of the leading part of the group. It then conveniently flew a few yards to another twig level with the rear of the group where it proceeded to adjust the position of the fish ready for swallowing, The latter part of the walk took us out of the park along some scrub and woodland behind houses at the edge of Fishponds and by now we were bathed in sunshine. Other notable species seen included Blackcap, Goldfinch, Greater Spotted Woodpecker, Coal Tit and a group of five Jays all giving chase to one another. All in all 34 walkers saw some 33 species. The accompaniment of birdsong throughout the morning and the appearance of several butterflies suggested that spring had truly arrived. Thanks to Rich for leading, and especially for taking us to places many of us had never walked before.

    John Lees


  • Tuesday 31 March – Forest of Dean

     There were more Ravens than any other corvid during our walk today, with five seen at close range from our start point at New Fancy View. All the common tits called and displayed around us and our pulses quickened with distant views of raptors but most resolved into Buzzard. A Goshawk did appear after half an hour which was above my expectation given the brisk cold wind. A short drive to Speech House fields, parking beneath a fine stand of Oaks and finding that cameramen had laid bait on a fallen tree trunk to lure in birds – and thus offered us excellent views of Nuthatch, Blue, Great and Coal Tit. The fields – recently used as a marathon start point – were bare until a pair of Mistle Thrushes flew in; they stood immobile for many moments – that strong upright posture, the bold spotted breast, so characteristic of the species. A short walk down the woods looking for Hawfinch only gave us a further view of a dashing Goshawk and a single singing Chiffchaff. The roof of the Beechenhurst café supported two Pied Wagtails and we had our first sighting of Carrion Crow – patrolling the grounds looking for titbits. Back to the cars and on to Cannop Ponds for lunch, during which a pair of the local population of Mandarin Ducks paddled fairly close looking for handouts, the Coot displayed – their wings arched like the Sydney Opera house – and Mute Swan cleared up the leavings at the top of the spillway. As we walked around the ponds we added Grey Wagtail, Great Spotted Woodpecker, and Greylag Goose to the list and increased our count of Mandarin Duck to 12 (all in pairs). A modest bird list of 34 was seen by most of the 13 people who’d trusted the forecast, and included in that number two new walkers who were most warmly welcomed. (Thank you Nick for leading).  Nick Hawkridge


  • Saturday 28 March – Newport Wetlands

     A small but select group gathered in the car park of the RSPB Newport Wetlands reserve in the presence of singing Chiffchaff and Greenfinch. As we made our way to the reserve centre we had the strident anthem of multiple Wrens & Cetti’s Warblers. The forecast of wind and rain proved to be correct as our group headed to the foreshore and lighthouse. It appeared that most passerines were sheltering from the torrid elements while their braver compatriots Pochards, Coots, Tufted Ducks & Little Grebes could be seen riding out the rough waters of the pools. Amongst the Curlews on the shoreline a smaller curlew-like bird was discovered and identified as a Whimbrel. While we sheltered from the inclement weather Teal, Cormorant and Canadian Geese were seen from the hide as well as some unidentified passerines. There was a debate over the parentage of a possible hybrid duck. Was it a Scaup mixed with Tufted or Gadwall duck? We retreated to the visitor centre. On route we found a Goldcrest, Marsh Harrier and another Chiffchaff. Coffee and cakes were on the agenda as we watched small flocks of Greenfinch and Reed Bunting, a female Great Spotted Woodpecker and a Little Grebe demonstrating how small it was, almost under our feet. As the precipitation ceased and the outlook improved the group headed to Goldcliff. The stars of the afternoon were a Spotted Redshank, unfortunately not in summer plumage, and an elegant Greenshank. The supporting cast included Wigeon, Redshank, Oystercatchers, Lapwings, Shelduck, and Shovelers. The chorus lines of Avocets and Black-tailed Godwits were disturbed by a maundering Marsh Harrier, but practice was quickly resumed although the sound system seemed muffled probably due to the high winds. Thanks to Nick for leading this field trip in challenging conditions with nearly 50 species seen, identified & recorded.

    Rich Scantlebury


  • Tuesday 24 March – Doynton

     On a mild and sunny day, 25 walkers set out across the Doynton farmland to take a northern route into the Golden Valley. The youngest of us by far was a journalist-in-training from UWE, tasked with interviewing us about our choice of an official UK bird between the suggested options of Robin, Wren or Kingfisher. I hope he wasn’t too bored!

    Since I was last in this area, two of the quarries have filled up with water providing some interesting new habitat. It seems likely that breeding will be attempted by the pair of Greylags, two pairs of Dabchicks and two pairs of Coots that have taken up residence there – new birds for the site list, I’m sure. The older inhabitants, Raven and Peregrine, were both on station and showed nicely. If that Peregrine isn’t deaf it must have nerves of steel, as it completely ignored a large digger trundling around on the bank only about 20 yards above its perch. Familiarity breeds indifference?

    Other birds of interest included a pair of Mistle Thrushes, so large and grey compared with the Song Thrush; at least four singing Chiffchaffs which were probably new arrivals; a Blackcap in close proximity to a fat-ball feeder who had probably wintered there; also Buzzard, Jay, Goldcrest and Meadow Pipit to add to the usual field and woodland species. Sadly, any Dipper on the river must have fled long before we all tramped over its bridge. It was a lovely early-spring morning, and thanks to Margaret for showing us some new footpaths through a beautiful rural landscape.                  Jane Cumming


  • Tuesday 17 March – Marshfield.

     A new walk in warm spring sunshine, vocal lambs, Celandines and Primroses, plenty of bird-life – truly glorious! Led by David Tombs, 25 of us set off from opposite the Village Hall just as the sun was breaking through the mist. Our departure was marked by the busy, noisy occupants of the Rookery in the trees above. Some were still repairing their nests; others might already have been sitting on eggs. After crossing the playing field, we entered the wide valley of the Doncombe Brook, having already seen a flock of 150 Common Gulls wheeling high above, as well as Long-tailed Tit, a flock of Chaffinches in a ploughed field, one Buzzard sitting in a tree and another Buzzard calling above us. As we entered the edge of Cloud Wood we heard Skylark, then Nuthatch, and noted Goldcrest, Wren, Pheasant and Magpie. At coffee break, before we entered Marshfield Wood, we saw a Kestrel being mobbed by a Crow while a Buzzard circled nearby. In the wood, a pair of Ravens were calling, and Chaffinch, Coal Tit and Great Spotted Woodpecker were heard. Back near the village, Jackdaw, Bullfinch, Jay and Yellowhammer were seen. Then, in the churchyard, came what for some was the star sighting: a female Grey Wagtail seeking insects on the church roof. As it posed obligingly, revelling in the sunshine, we admired its bright yellow markings which showed so well against the roof tiles. Species recorded, 37. Thank you, David, for finding and leading the walk – we hope it will become a regular.  John Beaven


  • Tuesday 10 March – Stanton Drew

     A group of 25 set out from the Druids Arms on a beautiful morning. Beneath the hedgerows and along the banks the early flowers of spring, the celandines, daffodils and primroses, provided welcome splashes of colour and the Stanton Drew stone circle gave us an historical theme. We were quickly treated to the sounds of many birds including Robins, House Sparrows, Great Tits and Wrens. This continued throughout the morning. We passed a garden which had some bird feeders one of which looked rather strange as it consisted of a long string to which was attached a quarter of a red cabbage about 18 inches above the ground. Having failed to think of any birds that might feed on red cabbage we then saw the chickens! We heard a Great Spotted Woodpecker drumming and then spotted a flock of about 80 Starlings flying over. Later we saw another flock of about 30. Chiffchaff were either seen or heard and Coal Tit was added to our list. Small flocks of Common Gulls and Goldfinches of 19 and 35 respectively were also seen. A small number of Fieldfares and Redwings probably on their way north were in the nearby trees. We climbed Knowle Hill to gain a splendid view of Chew Valley Lake and on the way down we heard the sounds of a flock of birds in a large ash tree and were surprised to find there were over 60 Linnets. We saw a Kestrel mobbing a Buzzard and soon after some had a fleeting view of a Sparrowhawk. We passed some farm buildings and had nice views of four Yellowhammers on top of the barns. We had a total of 39 species and, thanks to Nick Hawkridge’s splendid record keeping, a total of almost 500 birds. It was an extremely enjoyable morning and many thanks to Maureen and Bill Dobie for leading the walk.          Mike Landen

  • Tuesday 03 March – Elm Farm, Burnett

     On a blustery morning 21 of us donned our waterproofs for a walk around Elm Farm where the land is managed under the Defra Environmental Stewardship Scheme. As we set off we saw Goldfinch, Blue and Great Tit and a Great Spotted Woodpecker. Not far down the track we saw our first Yellowhammer and a little further on a flock of 20 took off from a field margin planted for winter feed. As we walked downhill our first Buzzard was spotted against the blue sky, the threatening rain clouds having departed. We walked through a small wood in the hope of seeing Woodcock that are there but most were disappointed; a splinter group of four who walked the field adjacent to the wood were however rewarded with a sight of one flushed downhill by the rest of us. Fieldfares and Redwings were seen in small numbers on several occasions along with a few Skylarks and Meadow Pipits. We spotted a couple of hares in different parts of the walk – a bit early for a boxing display though – as well as Roe Deer. Several of the meadows we walked through have been sown with extensive wild flower mixes to provide food for insects and birds and will no doubt give an excellent visual display in a couple of months or so. Thanks to Roger Palmer for leading, Philippa Paget for explaining the management of the land and John Paget for providing a lift for those who wanted one up the hill. In all we saw 39 species.

    Mark Watson


  • Tuesday 24 February – Backwell Lake

    The cold east wind was barely offset by the warm sun; the track from The Sperrings to the lake thus offered a brief respite. Our walk began with a small party of House Sparrow on the roofs, with Goldfinch close by, but at the lake the sun threw such a dazzle on the water that those ducks and geese present were reduced to inky silhouettes. An obliging Redwing offered us clear views down to 10m, the eye stripe of this fine bird being particularly bright and the rufous under wing patches were simply bursting up the breast. The lake held plenty of Black-headed Gulls, some fine Mute Swans, Canada Goose, the usual duck population, a solitary Little Egret and just as we were moving from the water’s edge, a pair of Gadwalls churning across the billows. Before leaving the path a Mistle Thrush and two Song Thrushes had been seen, closely followed by more Redwings who lifted from the pasture at our approach and were kept company by several Chaffinches. A stray Grey Wagtail flew over as we made our way along the back lanes, with two Buzzards sitting atop posts and flying off as we mustered for coffee. Further along, one field held a creeping carpet of Meadow Pipits and the alders close by had Treecreeper, Long-tailed and Coal Tit. A field on the corner of the lane held two Stonechats and a different carpet, this time of feeding Black-headed Gulls who suddenly exploded into flight. A large, so probably female, Sparrowhawk circled and then flew quickly away. Following the top track back towards the Common, another field contained plenty of Redwings but we could only find two Fieldfares among them plus another good count of Chaffinches. Dropping down towards the cars a Bullfinch called from the hedge and Nuthatch from the top of the beech trees. In the hedge, try as we might, we could only locate five House Sparrows – the noise was that of 20. As we took our leave of the other 28 walkers the tally was 48 for the day. Our thanks to John for leading. Nick and Annie Hawkridge


  • Sunday 22 February – Barrow Tanks

    Four BOC members gathered with me in the car park at Barrow Gurney reservoirs for the planned visit here. There was a threat of strong winds and rain coming in later and it was quite cold, with a southerly breeze, but dry. We proceeded to Tank Number 3, where we were able to watch a Common Sandpiper through telescopes, feeding on the concrete apron. We also saw some Shoveler, Tufted Duck, Teal, and a superb male Goldeneye. There were several Cormorants in summer plumage with the white patch on their flanks and also white on the head and necks – they looked splendid. A pair of adult Great Black-backed Gulls, and a candidate for an Adult Yellow-legged gull, were also present, along with some Little Grebes and Coots. Deciding not to walk all the way round number 3, and bearing in mind the impending weather, we moved to number 2 tank. Here it was less sheltered, with the wind a little stronger. There were some more duck here, and Cormorants. Discussion then took place on the identification of the various gulls that were roosting on the causeway between number 1 and 2 tanks, where we noted the difference between Common, Black-headed, and Lesser Black-backed gulls, mostly in winter or first winter plumage, but with at least one Black-headed Gull in its summer finery. A Raven flew over, briefly calling. We opted to take a short walk around No 1 reservoir, returning along the causeway with time (and weather) pressing. Two members opted to end their visit part way around, but the remaining members decided to press on, where there were more views and discussion relating to the gulls, and more views of Shoveler, Tufted Duck and Teal. We saw various gulls trying to rob a Dabchick of its fish every time it surfaced. A Grey Wagtail flew over. Then with light rain now falling, along with the wind not subsiding, we decided to end the visit and return to the car park and call it a day. Most of the members had not been to this site before, and planned to visit again in more favourable conditions(Many thanks to Chris for leading.) Chris Stone


  • Tuesday 17 February – Gordano Valley

    Twenty people met on a bright cold morning with puddles frozen over and a brisk wind. First sighting were four/five Ravens flying over, with Pheasants dotted along the valley, and Mistle Thrush and Great and Blue Tit singing. Greenfinch and Robins were in the hedges and later Blackbirds, Chaffinch and Goldfinch were seen. Some at the back of the group had a very good view of a Sparrowhawk flying low over the fields. As we crossed the valley three Buzzards were seen and two Stonechats, followed by two Kestrels – one on a post plucking at some prey or other; a bird, a mouse? A Grey Heron also came by with its characteristic lazy flight wending its way across the valley floor. As we continued through Common Hill Wood first Goldcrest, then Coal Tit, Treecreeper, Bullfinch, Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers were seen or heard. On coming down off Walton Common we were delighted to find a Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly, a first for the year. Last, but by no mean least, House Sparrow were seen in the gardens just before the finish. A total of 39 species were seen or heard during this stimulating walk (Thanks to Geoff for leading). Geoff Harris.

  • Tuesday 10 February – Severn Beach

    It was a windless morning of light mistiness and thick cloud but there were 34 smiling faces to see John Prince present me with a delightful Owl trophy in commemoration of walk 1000 at Ashton Park, and of my starting the Tuesday Club way back in November 1994. Thank you, John and everyone. Today, walk number 1015, we headed to the south beach area noting a good gathering on the exposed mud of Shelduck, Redshank, Dunlin, and Ringed Plover, and then we walked along a small lane behind the village where there were Song Thrush, Wagtails, and Blue and Great Tits. After heading across some fields, to give some distance from the M4, we had a coffee break before taking the bridge over the motorway and onto the wonderful new Pilning Wetlands Nature Reserve, formally a military firing range. There, on the pools, we saw Black-tailed Godwit, Lapwing, more Dunlin, Shoveler, and one Little Egret before the small climb to the River Severn flood bank pathway. Between there and New Passage we saw a large flock of Teal resting on the pill and 150 Wigeon feeding on the grass. The river, an hour or so after high water, was so exceedingly calm it gave the appearance of being iced over and a passing Cormorant was mirrored as it flew under the M4 bridge. It was closely followed at a more leisurely pace by a Grey Heron. Thanks go to Nick Hawkridge for kindly noting the bird species totalling 51. (Thanks to David for leading) David Tombs

  • Saturday 07 February – Portbury Wharf

    Eleven members joined the leaders on a dull wintry day at Sheepway. The overnight frost kept the ground solid for most of the day and there was a distinct edge to the North Easterly wind. A number of species was logged before the start; along Sheepway were plenty of Goldfinches and Greenfinches, though the latter were easier to hear than see. Thrushes were easily found with five species being added. Fieldfares were not much in evidence but it was useful to find Mistle Thrush, Redwing and Song Thrush close enough for comparison. A number of us were interested to learn of the existence of Dark-throated Thrush – though a long study failed to turn a rather dark headed Song Thrush into a star find! Everyone got to check the Goldcrest and then the first of several rather elusive Bullfinches put in an appearance. There were plenty more seen later but some of us missed them completely. Out of the lane through the fields and onto the sea wall produced the usual suspects. The proximity of the docks provided a constant background of noise making hearing bird calls a challenge. Only the first couple of people onto the sea wall managed to see a reasonable flock of Wigeon before they disappeared. Highlights along the bank were several Reed Buntings and a Stonechat. Distant Curlew and Redshank were the only waders. The tower hide provided a bit of respite from the cutting wind, and added more duck – total eight species. It’s an advantage having an AWT volunteer as one of the leaders. Not only did Giles update us on work on the Reserve but took us into the Sanctuary – normally closed to the public. Giles explained the management of this area – leaving plenty of scrub for the Portbury Ringing Group to work in but opening up the grassland to create meadow for wildflowers and invertebrates. Interesting to see how close the reserve is to the built-up area. Roe Deer and Fox were seen, a welcome addition to the list. This continued to expand back along Wharf Lane to Sheepway but a number of hoped for specialties hadn’t heard that we expected to see them. Despite that a very healthy 53 were recorded. It seemed that everyone had an enjoyable morning. (Thanks to Bob Buck and Giles Morris for leading.)     Bob Buck


  • Tuesday 03 February – Bristol city centre

    Nineteen members met in Millennium Square on this very cold but sunny day. Our first birds. apart from the ever present gulls, were some Goldfinches and a Starling by the Arnolfini. The usual gang of Cormorants were by Prince Street Bridge. One was a juvenile with an almost white breast. Some were adults showing their breeding patches and one was a very smart male with continental type plumage. Beyond the M shed the bushes by the railway tracks were searched but there are signs that these bushes are all being cleared away so a lot of habitat for passerines is being destroyed. There is still a flock of House Sparrows. A break by the marina added Mallard and Mute Swan to the list. We then crossed to the New Cut and picked up a Common Sandpiper and Lesser Black-backed Gull. Approaching the tobacco bonds two Grey Wagtails flew overhead and some saw a Kestrel and a Peregrine. Some Redwings were feeding on berries under the flyover. A Buzzard was seen being chased by a Crow over the Ashton Court woodland. About 60 Black Headed Gulls were dancing over the river like butterflies – a very pretty sight. Both the lock gates of the entrance lock to the Cumberland Basin were open so we had the unusual sight of an empty Basin. Gulls were foraging in the seldom exposed mud. A Moorhen was seen on our walk back on the North side of the harbour then we climbed Brandon Hill to add a few more passerines. Wren, Goldcrest, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Coal Tit and Long-tailed Tit were seen and a Nuthatch heard. A few of the group had the energy to climb the tower. Thank you to Nick for his meticulous list of all the birds. Species total 33. Margaret Gorely


  • Sunday 01 Feb – Exe Estuary

    Twenty-seven members met at the Water Tower and travelled down to the Exe estuary. By the time we had got to Exeter the sun had come out. Almost as soon as we got off the coach and started to walk towards the Exminster Marshes area we all observed a Barn Owl which was sitting out in the open on a bough of a tree sunning itself. Along the lane we observed hundreds of Canada Geese and in the distance by the motorway flyover were a small flock of Brent Geese. Large numbers of Wigeon were feeding in the field either side of the lane and they were accompanied by a small groups of Shoveler, Teal and Shelduck. Two Grey Herons were flushed from a water filled dyke and there were numerous Mute Swans and Greylag Geese feeding close to the lane. Two Common Snipe were observed along with a large number of Curlew feeding in a distant field. As we arrived at the end of the lane near the RSPB car park a man with a large dog flushed a flock of approx. 400 Brent Geese from a field near the Canal Path. I had been told that a Black Brant had been seen in this flock but, unfortunately, that was the one that got away. Walking along the Canal Path towards the Turf Hotel we had both Pied and Grey Wagtail, as well as more flocks of Wigeon along with a small number of Tufted Ducks in the fields around. A pleasure ferry which was travelling from Topsham disturbed a flock of c500 Avocets. At the Turf Hotel viewpoint we had Dunlin, Redshank in good numbers, two Red-breasted Mergansers, numerous Cormorants and large flock of Black-tailed Godwits who were huddled together sheltering from the very cold breeze. A large flock of Oystercatcher was out on the large mud flats in front of us. Two Long-tailed Duck were observed flying up the estuary and a Common Buzzard was seen just as we moved off. Walking towards Powderham we saw Meadow Pipit and what was to be a lifer for a number of our group was a very obliging Snow Bunting which rounded off the walk before lunch. After rejoining the coach we travelled to Dawlish Warren where the tide was still way out of the Estuary so we concentrated on a short sea watch which produced a small number of Common Scoters, numerous Great Crested Grebes, some Razorbills and many Gannets could be seen feeding far out but viewable with a scope. By this time we were a bit fragmented as some members had gone off to the Dawlish Warren hide and a small number of us had decided to walk along the sea wall a bit further. We had Shag and a few Guillemots viewed close in and also a Lesser Redpoll on a Gorse Bush by the Golf Course. (Well spotted, Nick Hawkridge). By the time my small group had got down near the Hide the other breakaway group were on their way back. They said that the tide was just on its way in but the only birds they had seen were Sanderling, Turnstone, more Oystercatcher and a few said they had Knot as well. Just before finishing off a number of us did manage to observe the Bonaparte’s Gull which was flying along from the direction of Langstone Rock towards the beach area – another lifer for a few. All in all, not a bad days birding at all. Total number species seen was 47. (Many thanks to Charles who tried hard to keep the group together at times)        Charles Stapleton

  • Tuesday 27 January- Failand

    A group of 30 set out from the Failand Inn on an overcast, chilly, but dry day. A Mistle Thrush was prominent in a tree top at Failand Hill Farm and although water birds were not expected, a Cormorant was spotted in transit overhead. Woodpigeons, Carrion Crows, Linnets and Starlings appeared in flocks at various points and a group of 16 Blackbirds were feeding in close proximity. Nuthatches were heard in the woods above Portbury Lane, making chattering calls rather than the more usual whistles. There were also Bullfinch, Long-Tailed Tit and Goldcrest amongst the trees. A very large flock of Chaffinch were feeding on the ground near Limekiln Cottages and other large flocks were seen in flight. During our coffee stop, we saw a flock of Redwing with the occasional Fieldfare and then, a single Buzzard, not very high, probably due to a lack of thermals on that day. Three Ravens croaked loudly and flew around the treetops along Charlton Drive. Crossing the Clevedon Road to the Tyntesfield Estate, a dung heap yielded several Dunnock and a Pied Wagtail and a flock of Meadow Pipits was evident in the adjacent field. Jays could be heard in the woods towards the end of the estate walk. Lesser Black-Backed and Herring Gulls were identified overhead on several occasions. My thanks to Nick Hawkridge for giving me access to his very comprehensive bird list, which totalled 30, (one for each person!) and to Roger Hawley who helped to jog my memory on some sightings. Thanks also to Maureen who was really the leader, having led other groups on this walk on several occasions. Bill Dobie

  • Tuesday 20 January – Shapwick Heath/Ham Wall

    As seven of us set off from Ashcott car park on an overcast afternoon with rain threatening we saw a Great Spotted Woodpecker, Starling and Redwing. On Ham Wall Reserve, as we went to the first view point, Dunnock, Pied Wagtail, Redwing, a Mistle Thrush, Grey Heron and Chiffchaff were spotted. The pools yielded Moorhen, Coot, Gadwall, Great Crested Grebe, Tufted Duck, Shoveler, Cormorant and Mute Swan. Next we went to the new RSPB Tor hide in the hope of seeing Water Rail and were rewarded with excellent views of two feeding along the water’s edge. On our way to and from the second viewpoint we added Great White Egret, Teal, Wigeon, Marsh Harrier and Mallard. On our return to Shapwick Heath to see the Starling roost we had views of two male Bullfinches, Goldcrest, Goldfinch and a large flock of Long-tailed Tits. The overcast conditions meant that the Starlings arrived a little earlier than on the last few days. We had good views of several large murmurations which roosted some distance away from the track in a number of different areas rather than one. All in all an excellent visit with a total of 42 species and the rain held off until we left. Thanks to Mike Johnson for leading his second BOC group here in three days (with a third visit looking at plants planned for the following day). Mark Watson

  • Sunday 18 January – Shapwick Heath and Ham Wall

    Eighteen members met at the new RSPB car park at Ashcott Corner on a bright crisp afternoon. Bristol Naturalists’ were also meeting there that afternoon under the leadership of club member Giles Morris so we decided to combine and have a joint field meeting. We walked down the path being the former Somerset and Dorset Railway track from Burnham-on-Sea to Evercreech that divides the two sides of Ham Wall. The RSPB have created a number of new features at this reserve lately one being the new Tor Hide and boardwalk approach which takes you right into the heart of the reed bed. At the hide we had wonderfully close views of a Water Rail stealthily weaving between the vegetation seeking insect prey. A Kingfisher sped past in a turquoise-blue flash and a Cetti’s Warbler announced its presence with an explosive outburst of notes. From the viewing platforms we observed a good selection of water birds including Mallard, Gadwall, Wigeon, Tufted Duck, Pochard, Mute Swan, Grey Heron and Little Grebe. Waders were represented by Lapwing and Snipe. Incredibly, these days, you seem more likely to see a Great White Egret rather than its smaller cousin at this reserve and such was the case today. Some had brilliant views of a Goldcrest feeding in an alder with the sun lighting up its orange and yellow crown stripe. A Marsh Harrier drifted low over the reeds. We then walked through part of the Natural England Meare Heath reserve where we had heard that the Starlings had roosted the previous evening. We were not disappointed as just before dusk tens of thousands of the birds poured into the reed beds, swirling and twisting in their huge flocks. A captivating sight as usual(Thanks to Mike for leading) Mike Johnson

  • Tuesday 13 January – Between Chew Valley & Blagdon Lakes

    Thirteen members set off from Herons Green for a walk along quiet lanes between the Lakes. We got off to a good start with a Kestrel hovering over nearby fields and water birds on Chew Lake including Canada Goose, Coot, Little Egret, Great Crested Grebe, Tufted Duck and Goosander amongst others. The weather held for a while as we climbed with Chaffinch, Blue Tit, Long-tailed Tit, Robin and Dunnock flitting about the hedgerows. Excellent views were had of Great Spotted Woodpecker on a feeder along with Goldfinch. As the walk progressed spots of rain began to fall and then eased again as we had views of Jay, Redwing, Bullfinch, Song and Mistle Thrush, Blackcap and Wren. Just before the heavy rain started, which accompanied us nearly to the end, we saw Goldcrest, Grey Wagtail, our customary Buzzard and an obliging Nuthatch feeding on peanuts. We arrived damp at our cars after an excellent walk with a tally of 49 species. Sadly the Bittern at Heron’s Green did not show. Thanks to Nick Hawkridge who kept us on the right route and Sue and John Prince for planning the walk. It was good to see them at lunch and learn that Sue is recovering well from her operation. Mark Watson

  • Saturday 10 January – Blashford Lake

    There was some cause for concern en-route as the weather was less than promising, but, thankfully, it improved upon arrival. Nine members paraded, though initially going to the ‘wrong’ car park, one car load saw a Long- tailed Duck, which had disappeared by the time we all looked later. The feeder outside the visitor centre was busy with, amongst other species, Tits, Siskins, Chaffinches, and at least two Nuthatches. We walked to the Woodland Hide where the feeder was really busy, again mainly with four species of Tit (including a Long-tailed with a ring on its leg) and four species of Finches, though there was no sign of the hoped for Brambling or Redpolls. We moved on to South Hide at Ivy Lake where we saw a number of the more common water birds, including Shoveler, Wigeon, Gadwall and Great Crested Grebe, but our attention was then drawn to a fly-by Great White Egret. Our next stop was the north hide at the same lake, where a Chiffchaff was flitting around, and Teal was added to the list. The Great White Egret re-appeared and gave good views as it circled quite near to the hide, and landed just out of sight. After leaving the hide we walked up and down a path that had recently held a Firecrest, but had noluck with that and had to settle for a couple of Goldcrests. As we had been making our way around the hides and paths, a flock of about twenty five flighty and vocal Siskins flew into the trees over our heads a number of times, but despite close examination, we couldn’t pick out any Redpolls amongst them. We crossed the road to Ibsley Water, where a Ring-billed Gull had been reported, and a couple of gulls were picked out from the quite distant mass as being possibles. Discussion took place, but, none were definitely nailed as RBG. However, well worth seeing were singletons of Bewick’s Swan, Black-necked Grebe, Goldeneye, and a few each of Pintail and Goosander.
    Next, we drove the short distance to Milkham Inclosure where we hoped to find the Great Grey Shrike that had been seen recently. No sign of it, but, with the help of a local birder, there was compensation in the form of a Ring Tail Hen Harrier, which flew along a ridge in the middle distance. Also of note here were two Mistle Thrushes, Fieldfare, Redwing, Stonechat, Green Woodpecker and a Treecreeper, which was one of at least five seen during the day. Our last stop was at Blackwater Arboretum, where there is a small, but well established, Hawfinch roost site. Local birders also arrived to see them, but on this occasion it may be that the birds had got there first and were sitting tight in the fading light. Not all was lost here though, as we had seen a male Crossbill in the car park. Also present were two male Bullfinches. On the walk back to the car, we heard a Tawny Owl calling very clearly. A total of 59 species were noted.
    Thanks to the nine attendees for making it an enjoyable day, and especially to Louise for leading. Trevor Ford

  • Thursday 01 January – WWT Slimbridge

    Our usual leader was laid up with a bad cold but there were only twelve of us, all “old stagers”, so we took ourselves around and just about managed to stay together! Although there was no sun the light was good at the Martin Smith hide en route to the Holden Tower and the Pintail particularly were looking very spruce, also many Wigeon, Teal, Shelduck, Shoveler and Mallard and a few Pochard and Redshank. Behind them in the field were about 60 Bewick’s Swans and huge numbers of Lapwing and Golden Plover were wheeling around – they all went up at one point. Two Buzzards appeared and a Black-tailed Godwit flew in. We visited the Willow Hide next and admired the very tame Water Rail which was happy to walk around in full view for everyone to see. Also there was a female Reed Bunting and other small birds on the feeders. A brisk wind was blowing into the Holden Tower from the Severn in spite of the mild weather, but didn’t stop us seeing a Little Stint with a few Dunlin, good for size comparison. A Buzzard was in the field on his own and two Curlew were eventually picked up beyond the water. Many Canada Geese were present, as well as Greylags and Barnacles. On entering the Zeiss hide we were told that a Marsh Harrier was performing and soon we had very good views of it (a female) flying up and down the bank and then interacting with a Buzzard, again very good for comparison of wing shape. A Sparrowhawk was also seen and a huge flock of Golden Plover flew around in front of us. The Kingfisher hide provided Goldfinches on the feeders, attended by a family of Rats below, a Kestrel, some Gadwall and a Little Grebe, plus a Cormorant flying over. Our attention was drawn to a free-flying Ferruginous Duck which had appeared among the Collection, and we managed to see this on our way to the South Hide. Here we were shown a continental Cormorant with a white face, and three Black-tailed Godwits, one slightly coloured, just starting to go into summer plumage. 55 species in all. (Many thanks to Judy for standing in as leader.) Judy Copeland

  • Tuesday 30 December – Portishead

    With the period of unseasonal wintry sunny days continuing it allowed us to bask in the warm sunshine but be chilled by the frozen ground. Our group of 23 birders began by looking over the salt marsh towards the flock of Dunlins and Ringed Plovers feeding along the water’s edge. We also noticed a small group of Linnets bending the stems of the grasses while feeding on the seed heads, this very motion revealing their presence. Alas, Battery Point was awash with fishermen and not water – so no Purple Sandpiper but the headland made a splendid watch point to observe from.

    Up the hill and into East Wood where the common Tit species were all around us, two noisy Nuthatches called to one another and Great Spotted Woodpecker went ‘chip chip’ before flying off. Descending to the jetty and seeing the ongoing work on the new RNLI boat house, I had hoped that the Black Redstart might have put in an appearance but alas not. A further collection of Gulls was counted plus a small flock of Canada Geese waddling their way into the long grass to feed. What disturbed the 30 or so Dunlins was not evident but they showed a pretty turn of speed and agile flight as they flashed in the sunlight before disappearing towards Royal Portbury Dock. The walk along the marina beside the opulent water craft was sparse bird – but not humanity – wise although a further flock of Canada Geese were obviously very used to being fed as they hardly moved as we passed by. Our final birds of the day were; a Buzzard being seen off by Carrion Crows, a distant Song Thrush and a Grey Wagtail up over the roof tops. A total count of 42 species was a fitting end to 2014 for the Tuesday Group. Nick Hawkridge


  • Tuesday 23 December – Snuff Mills

    At the start of this festive week, there is nothing better than to disappear into the woodlands, try and forget the impending jollities and get a good dose of birding. All along the Frome valley we hoped for Siskin but alas none were seen. The Dipper and the Kingfisher were probably also finding their living elsewhere, as the river was so high. At the top of the valley we encountered many corvids; large numbers of raucous Jackdaw, a fair few aggressive Carrion Crows, many cackling Magpies and at least four Ravens. The Blue and Great Tits were starting to show signs of ‘getting friendly’ with some full song from each species, although the Long-tailed Tits were still in big mixed parties with Goldcrest and Blue Tit, – running from tree top to tree top. The playing fields were bare of their normal covering of gulls, in fact, only a few were seen on the wing throughout the whole walk, however we did have splendid views of two Mistle Thrushes on the fields, both standing bolt upright to keep an eye on the marauding dogs. The final section from Frenchay Bridge back to the car park went past a garden with a Jay burying his food stash, a couple of Moorhens fussing around the margins and a dozen hungry Mallards steaming to their feeding station. There was a sighting of a Grey Wagtail and a fine Sparrowhawk, only interested in quitting the area and the unwelcome attentions of Jackdaws. 26 species seen by most of the 20 walkers. Thanks to Dave Body for standing in as leader and for taking us round this lovely walk. Nick Hawkridge

  • Tuesday 16 December – Pucklechurch

    This year’s pre-Christmas Lunch walk was well supported with 37 members setting off from the Fleur de Lis at Pucklechurch. It was a lovely sunny morning with the church’s cockerel weather-vane shining golden and the light frost melting. Through the village various chattering House Sparrows, 15 tuneful Dunnocks, Robin, Blackbird, Blue Tit, and Magpie were busy foraging and there was debate about the identity of a beautiful, small tree absolutely covered in red berries. Before we reached the fields we had a Silver Birch dripping with a large flock of Redwing and Fieldfare plus some Blue Tits and a Raven surveyed the scene from the top of a fir tree. Crossing the fields was quite muddy underfoot but produced seven Meadow Pipits. A member hoped for some early spuds at the nursery we passed. He was disappointed but bulbs and beets were purchased by others, whilst a group of 26 Stock Doves swooped across, beyond the yard. Buzzards were only spotted towards the end of our walk, which was shortened a little to be back for our excellent lunch at the pub, joining those who had not perambulated. We saw 29 species. There were about 60 people who enjoyed the cheery atmosphere and a good meal, well organised again by Peter Holbrook. Mark Watson thanked Peter and the leaders of the 2014 walks. Ed Drewitt then thanked Mark for taking on the role of organiser and said his farewell as Chairman. Thanks to Pat and Duncan Gill for leading.

    Sue Watson


  • Tuesday 09 December – Portbury Wharf

     A grey but still day greeted 23 enthusiasts for a jaunt around Portbury Reserve. Numerous Redwings were feeding on the huge crops of berries in the lane. A Kestrel was perched in a nearby tree but became nervous of the watching throng and made an exit stage left. There were not many birds seen at the first hide as the scrapes were having a makeover. The second hide was much better but the height of the reeds was not easy to see over. (Since cleared) However, many Lapwings were on the island and Shoveler, Wigeon, Tufted Duck, Gadwall and Little Grebe graced the pools. At the third hide good views were had of the resident Reed Buntings. On the warth a flock of Linnets bounced into view and disappeared in the vegetation along with a lone Skylark. A walker’s dog put up a Snipe. Just as we thought we would be denied, a Buzzard too appeared at the end to make a total of 42 species. (Thanks for leading,Roger) Roger Hawley


  • Sunday 07 December – Blagdon Lake

    Seven members met Nigel Milbourne, a voluntary warden for Bristol Water, and our leader for the day. Early morning rain had given way to sunshine and we first spent some time at the fishing lodge looking out over the Lake and then walked down to the dam. The main highlight of the morning for some of group was the good views of Black-necked Grebe at Wood Bay. For me the morning was memorable for the number of species encountered, being sixty-one. Nothing rare, other than the Grebe, but a tribute to Bristol Water for their effective management of the various habitats verging the Lake. Indeed, if the water level had not been so high and we had had more exposed mud I dare say we would have added to the list with more waders. Only Snipe and Lapwing were seen on the day. Four Siskins feeding upside down with a flock of Goldfinches in alders at Hellfire Corner held our attention for a while. Stock Doves in flight were observed and the calls of both Woodpeckers, Water Rail and Bullfinch heard. The sun encouraged some insects to fly which were appreciated by a Chiffchaff darting for its prey. A very enjoyable morning greatly enhanced by Nigel’s considerable knowledge of all aspects of flora and fauna at the Lake. His website is well worth a visit. Mike Johnson


  • Tuesday 02 December – Slimbridge

     The Tuesday walkers started out as a group of 25 people but soon split into threes and fours as we worked our way around the site. There was plenty to see on the Tack Piece, including about 50 Bewick’s Swans although the main winter flock had clearly not yet arrived. Amongst plenty of Curlews and Redshanks, six very distant Ruffs could be discerned but I don’t think anyone located the 4 Little Stints that were also supposed to be present. Dabbling ducks were well represented in big numbers, but one of the best sightings was of three Cranes, clearly colour-ringed so returnees from the Somerset Levels introduction but still a beautiful sight. A Peregrine regularly stirred up the thousands of Lapwings, Dunlins and Golden Plovers. We looked through hundreds of feral Greylags and Barnacles to pick out about 47 White-fronted Geese – the genuine winter visitors. Sadly, a comprehensive search of the huge Teal flock from the Zeiss Hide failed to uncover the reported Green-winged Teal. Strolling on around the other hides, we noted 41 species in total including Skylark, Reed Bunting and Great Spotted Woodpecker, ending up with 90 Black-tailed Godwits on the South Lake. I suspect that Mark’s final list held a better species count than that. Many thanks to Mark Watson for leading a most enjoyable morning. Jane Cumming


  • Sunday 30 November – Steart

     The WWT reserve at Steart has been created as a result of the work by DEFRA to realign the sea wall and provide flood prevention measures in the area. The old sea wall was breached on the 6September 2014 allowing water to flow into the reserve to start the process to create an inter-tidal salt marsh. So the reserve is at an early stage of development and it will be interesting to see it mature over the next few years. The fog on the motorway gave way to brilliant sunshine by the time 28 members gathered in the WWT car park. The calm conditions and the sun made for a very pleasant day in this exposed landscape. The mature hedge by the entrance held Redwing and Fieldfare, a first sighting this winter for many of the group. The views from the Mendip hide over the lagoons required telescopes as the birds were mostly distant. Most notable were the flocks of Lapwing, Golden Plover and Shoveler. A sleeping Pintail was an ID challenge. Continuing to the river, the flocks of waders on the mud were distant but it is a long walk to the breach to get a closer view. Alas there were no Avocets in sight. We took the northerly path past the Polden hide to give views over an area of bog and rough grass. Meadow Pipits, Skylarks, Pied Wagtails and Goldfinches added to the variety.After a lunch break we drove round to the Natural England car park to walk out to Fenning Island. A search around the car park failed to find Little Owl which are resident here. We also missed out on Short-eared Owl this time. The flocks of waders were the main attraction. Persistence by one persondid find a Common Gull amongst the Herring Gulls and close scrutiny found a Spotted Redshank on one of the pools where there were a couple of Little Grebe. Stonechats and a Reed Bunting flitted around. Finally a couple of Avocets were seen heading up river.  By the time we gathered in the car park to depart, the group total was about 53 species seen. More impressive was the number of waders. We saw about 6-7,000 Dunlin, over 1,000 Lapwing, 200plusGolden Plover, about 120 Grey Plover and lower numbers of other waders. This new WWT reserve shows great promise and is well worth repeated visits. (Many thanks to Richard for leading.)   Richard Belson

  • Tuesday 25 November – Coalpit Heath

     Seventeen members arrived at the Kendleshire Golf Club car park on a dry but overcast morning. As we set off alongside the golf course, Dunnock and Robin flew about the hedgerow and on the course Moorhen and Black-headed Gulls were avoiding the golf balls along with a solitary Canada Goose.  A Carrion Crow passed overhead as well as our first Mistle Thrush -we saw another later. A flock of Long-tailed Tits moved between trees, a Kingfisher flashed in and out of view and a Goldcrest wasspotted. As we left the golf course, a Rook and two Song Thrushes were perched in a tree and a Grey Heron languidly flew across the adjacent field. Shortly afterwards Redwing made an appearance and just before coffee a male Bullfinch showed. As the walk progressed, the cloud lowered and light rain began to fall. We added Coal, Blue and Great Tit, Wren, Collared Dove and Pied Wagtail to our list and saw a fox hurrying along beside a hedge. The rain continued and towards the end of the walk a Buzzard appeared and a Carolina Wood Duck cruised in the distance on a fishing pond.Overall we saw 32 species. Thanks to Duncan Gill and Peter Holbrook for leading. Mark Watson.

  • Tuesday 18 November 2014 – Frampton Pools

     After a misty start to the day the sun broke through and the lakes and surrounding countryside looked very attractive with plenty of autumn colour still evident. 21 birders did the circular walk around the lakes and through woodland. A pheasant shoot was fortunately just finishing. We saw 46 species as a group total. On the water there were Swans and Canada Geese with a Greylag Goose in the fields where the winter wheat was already showing through. A Little Egret, Cormorants and several Great Crested Grebes gave good views. We had three sightings of Kingfisher. There were Mallard, Tufted Duck, Pochard, Wigeon and Gadwall as well as Coots and a Moorhen. The hedges and woodland provided two Goldcrests, Blue, Great and Long-tailed Tits. We had four Common Buzzards in total, three were with a Sparrowhawk, and a Kestrel. Some of the group were lucky enough to see a Green Woodpecker, two Great Spotted Woodpeckers and two Treecreepers. It made a very pleasant stroll on a lovely autumn morning. (Thanks to Sue and John Prince for leading.) Sue Prince


  • Sunday 16 November – Cheddar Reservoir

     Five members met at the Cheddar end of the reservoir on an overcast morning. The first notable sighting was the very large raft of Coot which must have numbered over a thousand birds. Why Cheddar should be such a draw for wintering Coot was debated without an obvious conclusion. There were also a large number of Great Crested Grebes spread over the Reservoir. Pied Wagtails and Meadow Pipits searched the water’s edge for food.  Tufted Duck, Pochard, Mallard, Teal and Shoveler were not far from the edge. Amongst the common passerines the highlight for some was their first Redwing of the autumn. Probably the best bird of the day was a male Goldeneye which apparently was the first wintering one to be reported at the reservoir this season. Thirty-nine species were recorded.   (Thanks for leading, Mike.)

  • Tuesday 04 November – Cheddar

     Twelve of us arrived in a deluge of rain with dark skies. Therefore,we decided just to go around the reservoir as the lower paths quickly become like paddy fields. A slightly delayed start gave us a sunny, dry amble with a large variety of both water and ‘field & hedge’ birds. There were very numerous Mute Swan, Tufted Duck, Pochard, Great Crested Grebe, hundreds of Coot and quite a number of other duck, the most notable being Red-crested Pochard (twomale & threefemale). It was good to see both Green and Great Spotted Woodpecker, Pied and Grey Wagtail, good views of a pair of Nuthatch and a mixed flock of finches, tits and a Robin!  Kestrel and Buzzard made an appearance and beyond the yacht club five Redwing feasted on berries.  Across the water, approximately 100 Canada Geese flew in from the southto make a total of 46 species. (Thanks for leading Sue.) Sue Watson

  • Saturday 01 November – River Avon boat trip

     A nearly full boatload of 37 members and guests were treated to fabulous weather and some great sights (birding and otherwise) on this trip. From the first Cormorant fishing in the harbour as we set sail from the ss ‘Great Britain’ ferry stop to the six Curlew on the sand bar opposite the tiny lighthouse at the entrance to the River Severn we were kept interested and sometimes entertained by the birds on view and also by Ed’s informative commentary. While we waited in the lock to leave the Floating Harbour we began to see the first of at least 20 Jays which seemed to be flying from Ashton Court to Clifton and back, presumably having found a food source to stock up their larders for winter. Both Pied and Grey Wagtails were seen, along with a full complement of the standard corvids of the area including a single Rook as we came back under the Suspension Bridge. A family group of five Ravens were soaring over the M5 bridge and another was seen harassing a Buzzard above Sea Walls. The main highlight was the wonderful display by a pair of Peregrines over Sea Walls, including a half-hearted attempt at chasing some pigeons before following us back towards the Suspension Bridge and giving us one final view while we returned through the lock to the harbour. This was nearly matched by the Grey Heron roost on the river bank at Horseshoe Bend (eleven including two perched in the trees). It was good to see the waders on the mud banks which are normally out of sight from the footpaths, ranging from a single Greenshank, through a handful of Common Sandpipers to one flock of about 120 Redshank on the return journey. The Lapwing also gave a colourful display with the sun showing off the iridescent colours of their plumage. A total of 30 species were seen.Thanks to Ed Drewitt for leading. Keith Williams

  • Tuesday 28 October – Ashton Court – 1000th Tuesday walk

    But first, the report of the very first BOC Tuesday walk in November 1994:

     Nine members met in the car park at Snuff Mills at 10 am on a cool and overcast morning. It was generally considered that the murky conditions would not lead to a dynamic morning of birding and that we should concentrate on the bonus of mid-week exercise and conversation … Suddenly, on the first bridge, the morning was transformed. A Grey Wagtail was seen foraging on the bank. In an adjacent tree, just about within touching distance a pair of Kingfishers sparkled in the dull light, close enough even to spot the female’s diagnostic orange base to the lower mandible. Almost directly underneath them a pair of Dippers bobbed and dived in the water. … It was a most enjoyable mid-week meeting and it is hoped that many more will be arranged. Our thanks go to David Tombs for his genial and informative leadership. “Mike Johnson”

    Now todays.

     The popularity of these Tuesday walks has grown and grown, as illustrated by the presence of 41 birders, plus three grandchildren, who met to enjoy the birds of Ashton Court and to celebrate the anniversary. Skylarks singing above the golf course car park was an auspicious start. Then came the call of Great Tits as we made our way, in glorious sunshine, down towards the Red Deer Park. Here even the song of the Wren was almost drowned out by the bellowing of one of the stags, although the hinds seemed distinctly disinterested in the autumn rut. The first of several Buzzards put in an appearance circling over the City ground, happily free of the attention of the many corvids that appeared to be everywhere. As we approached the formal gardens the swarms of ladybirds flying about were so numerous they were actually bumping into us. At Church Lodge car park we were greeted by the welcome sight of Peter Holbrook together with celebration cakes and drinks. Sadly, neither of the founders of these Tuesday walks could be present. Steve Kirk has recently passed on and David Tombs was away on holiday. But our appreciation goes out to them for starting this series of very enjoyable mid-week walks, with every opportunity for newcomers to learn from more experienced birders. Before we embarked on the return journey through Church Wood and the Fallow Deer Park, photographs were taken to record the occasion and provide publicity for the Club. The walkers outnumbered the species of bird seen and heard by 2:1 (a count of just 21), but there were enough individual birds (181, including 43 Woodpigeons) for everyone to get good views, whether of Gulls, Thrushes, Starlings and Long-tailed Tits flying overhead or the small woodland birds flitting about amongst the trees.

    Here’s to the 2000th walk in 2034! Many thanks to the bakers, Sue Watson and Peter Holbrook, and to the bartender, Mark Watson. Brenda Page

  • Sunday 25 October – WWT Slimbridge (extra to programme)

     On a mild sunny day we started our bird count working along to the Holden Tower just after high tide getting an impressive number of wild ducks. We then cut across to South Lake to add some waders and gulls to our list. Amongst the numerous Black-headed Gulls and Herring Gulls there were a few Common Gulls and one darker individual that was lighter than a Lesser Black-backed Gull – we later found out that this was a hybrid Lesser Black-backed and Herring Gull! We had lunch in the Peng hide adding Golden Plover and seeing a hybrid Cape-Ruddy Shelduck (apparently it was too dark for a Ruddy). In the afternoon we toured the collection birds and managed to identify all birds seen. A total of 147 species were seen despite the tropical house birds playing hard to get. (Thanks to Louise for organising this meeting) Louise Bailey

  • Tuesday 21 October – Hengrove Mounds / Manor Woods