Bristol Ornithological Club
Sep 18 2018

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

Sep 16 2018

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

Sep 11 2018

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

Sep 04 2018

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

Sep 02 2018

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

Aug 28 2018

Tuesday 28 August – Old Down Leader: Sue Black

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

Aug 21 2018

Tuesday 21 August – Failand Leader: Gareth Roberts

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

Aug 14 2018

Tuesday 14 August – Burrington Ham Leader: Clive Burton

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

Aug 11 2018

Saturday 11 August – Chew Valley Lake Leader: Robert Hargreaves

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

Aug 07 2018

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

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