Bristol Ornithological Club
Dec 25 2018

Tuesday 25 December – Snuff Mills Leader: Nick Hawkridge

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

Dec 18 2018

Tuesday 18 December – Bridgeyate Leader: Dave Body

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

Dec 16 2018

Sunday 16 December – Torbay Leader: Jane Cumming

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

Dec 11 2018

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

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

Dec 08 2018

Saturday 08 December – Cheddar

Cancelled courtesy of storm ‘Deirdre’.

Dec 04 2018

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

Nov 27 2018

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

Nov 25 2018

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

Nov 20 2018

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

Nov 13 2018

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