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  • Tuesday 31 October – Winscombe Leader: Sue Watson Tuesday October 31st, 2023

    Despite heavy rain being forecast for the walk when crossing both the fields and up Sandford Hill, we were very lucky to have sunshine until returning back to our cars, when the rain started. The largest number and variety of birds were in the woods on the hill, including Jay, Goldcrest, Long-tailed Tits, all other ‘makes’ of Tit, Treecreeper and Robin. There were views of nearby terrain, the Mendips and down to Bridgwater Bay. Then as we descended in the open, there were also a couple of Ravens and Buzzards.
    The walk was slightly shortened due to some time being lost, which had resulted in two people returning to the start. Therefore, 17 people set off and 15 finished. It was enjoyed by all with 27 species seen. (Thanks to Sue for leading). Sue Watson

  • Saturday 28 October – Frampton Pools, Gloucestershire Leader: Peter Bryant Saturday October 28th, 2023

    A total of 52 species of bird were seen, testimony to the fact that Frampton Pools has a good range of habitats. Starting at Court Lake, eleven members quickly spotted a Great White Egret across the water. Ducks were relatively thin on the ground but Wigeon and Gadwall were seen as well as Tufted Duck and a single Greylag Goose. Two small birds flitting over the surface attracted our attention, the first being an unexpected Swallow. The second was a small gull, initially some distance away but after a while it conveniently performed a flight over the group who were able to confirm this was a first winter Little Gull. A Grey Wagtail, Grey Heron and Little Egret were also seen at Court Lake. At the Sailing Lake there was not much on the water, just a couple of Great Crested Grebes. The platform held several gulls and, after scoping these for a while, we confirmed they were Black-Headed Gulls, three Common Gulls and a Yellow-Legged Gull that was initially sitting down (which made positive identification challenging) but later stood up to show its bright yellow legs. A Sparrowhawk, two Buzzards, a Kestrel and three Ravens were also seen. There were a few Goldcrests in the trees between the lakes. (Thanks to Peter for leading) Peter Bryant

  • Tuesday 24 October – Wick-Golden Valley Leaders: Geoff and Gill Hardman Tuesday October 24th, 2023

    A car park filling 27 walkers basked in the autumnal warmth with the calls of Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, and Rook nearly making chatting difficult! A flock of Fieldfares, a Moorhen and a Grey Heron were startled from their foraging as we headed up the valley. No Dipper could be found, but up the path, above the ochre quarry, Goldcrest, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Nuthatch and Treecreeper played hide and seek in the thickets and taller trees. Above the quarry a Peregrine flew and three Little Grebes, various gulls – including five Common plus seven Cormorants made good use of the abundant water. Our second Green Woodpecker was yaffling above us as we ate and supped our coffee. Swinging right at the road, we spotted both Grey and Pied Wagtail on the barns and Kestrel and Mistle Thrush on the power cables, with a lone Redwing in the adjacent field. Straight up the slope, with Blue and Great Tit in the hedges and a solitary Skylark calling as it passed over. Garden feeders at the corner house were well stocked and used by Nuthatch, Coal Tit, Greenfinch and the two Rhea in their garden compound on Bury Lane stood and stared back at us. Our final species count was 45, which included a Red Kite, skirting the hillside above the big house in the valley as we approached the pub. (Thanks to Geoff and Gill for leading.) Nick Hawkridge

  • Tuesday 17 October – Pucklechurch Leader: Graham Blacker Tuesday October 17th, 2023

    18 members met outside HMP Ashfield for this new BOC walk around the lovely fields of Pucklechurch. As we entered the first of many fields we spotted lots of crows as we overlooked the amazing vista towards Lansdown. Proceeding onwards, Goldfinch were recorded along with Greenfinch surveying the scene from atop the trees. Leaving the first couple of fields we then walked a lovely quiet lane before once again finding a well-hidden footpath leading alongside a private property, the fields of which housed numerous very cute Alpacas who were only too pleased to greet us. We paused for coffee soon after this still enjoying the lovely views whilst three Buzzard gently hovered overhead. We plodded onward through a fairly muddy patch just before Blue Lodge – the house where Black Beauty was written. After a little more lane walking and into the final fields it was nice to see the top of Abson Church above the treetops. We spotted 29 species in all, the highlights being a Red Kite, Coal Tit, Goldcrest, Skylark, Mistle Thrush, Nuthatch, Green Woodpecker, Stock Dove and how lovely it was to see the return of eight Redwings and around 60 Fieldfares. A lovely day was had by all (Thanks to Graham for leading). Graham Blacker

  • Sunday 15 October – Cheddar Reservoir Leader: Nick Hawkridge Sunday October 15th, 2023

    I arrived early to check that the Drove was indeed under water, so our party of six had to head round the tank! Some Coot were noted, which we later estimated at 600-700 after they’d been pushed together at the western edge by the yacht club safety boats. A solitary Shoveler was found; the other 28 having been flushed off by a hot air balloon that came over Fry’s Hill early on. A party of Cormorants were hanging out to dry; including some white breasted juveniles, with a flock of Canada Geese cruising about close by. No waders were seen as the popularity of the site “forced” some visitors down to the water’s edge so their precious dogs could drink and play. The regular Red-crested Pochard was found in among some Mallards and Teal but no sign of the Pintail reported earlier. A couple of Grey Wagtails were seen early but cousin Pied were very numerous, as indeed were Meadow Pipit. A single Little Egret was spotted in the farmland to the west of the tank and a Grey Heron to the south. A Raven flew from its roost over to the south west accompanied by a ‘persecution’ of Corvids. A total of 34 species were seen or heard. Thanks to Alan for the bird list (and to Nick for leading). Nick Hawkridge

  • Tuesday 10 October – Tickenham Leaders: Jan Pridie and Lois Pryce Tuesday October 10th, 2023

    18 members met in mild conditions, but misty to properly foggy. The birds at Tickenham village and moors were: Kestrel sleeping in church tower window, Cormorants including a juvenile sitting on one of the new style electricity pylons, a distant Peregrine sitting on another new pylon – confirmed from a photo after the meeting, Little Egret, Grey Heron including a confiding juvenile with smart black head, a Chiffchaff and a big group of Rooks swirling over the village. At the Golf course and paths in and out of woods: a Sparrowhawk, Pied Wagtail, a third year Herring Gull paddling for worms, a mixed tit flock of 16 or more, a flock of Long-tailed Tits, a small group of Goldcrests, a Bullfinch and Goldfinches, Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers, Buzzard, and a Jay. At Cadbury Camp were a Mistle Thrush in a distant tree soon to be rendered invisible by thickening mist, Meadow Pipit, Skylark, and an unidentified finch and warbler flock on a Hawthorn tree. Total 29 species (Thanks to Jan and Lois for leading). Jan Pridie and Lois Pryce

  • Saturday 07 October – Clevedon Leader: Jane Cumming Saturday October 07th, 2023

    Five members met in Old Church Road and set off for the harbour, a sixth joining us later. The weather was dry and mild (16-18C) but the westerly wind had a chill. In the harbour we saw the usual gulls and Mallard, plus Grey Heron, Little Egret, Oystercatcher, Cormorant and Curlew. There were a pair of Stonechats, a Common Sandpiper, a Meadow Pipit and a Wheatear in the harbour as we walked on toward the Blind Yeo outlet. Moorhen were on the Blind Yeo and a single Cetti’s Warbler singing. We carried on past the golf course, seeing a family group of Greenfinches and several Skylarks, the latter to be present for the rest of the walk. A single Great Black-backed Gull was spotted when looking back toward the harbour. A Peregrine was seen on one of the radio masts with prey, also a Kestrel. As we carried on past Dowlais, there was another pair of Stonechats, a 
    Wheatear, flocks of Goldfinches and Linnet, more Meadow Pipits and Skylarks. At the farthest reach of the walk (Kingston Pill) there was a flock of 300+ Shelducks, one Wigeon, a few Teal, and Curlews, Oystercatcher, Redshank, Grey Heron and a Common Sandpiper. Out on the mud we managed a Bar-tailed Godwit and six
    Dunlins. We returned, some by the same route, the rest taking a shortcut by car. Total 39 species. Thanks to Jane for leading. Alan Daniells

  • Tuesday 03 October – Portbury Wharf Leader: Roger Hawley Tuesday October 03rd, 2023

    Twenty two birders gathered and after an early shower the clouds dispersed and sunny skies were a pleasure. The rail bridge made a good viewpoint over the Gordano Valley and yielded Robin, Great Tit and Chaffinch. At Wharf Lane both Chiffchaff and Collard Dove were seen, and from the first hide a Stonechat, Swallows, Gadwall and Skylark. Further on a Little Egret got up from one of the ditches and in the distance a Buzzard turned lazily. Goldfinches were busy on the Teasels and there was a loud protest from a Cetti’s Warbler. The tower hide gave
    us good views over the salt marsh with Canada Geese, Black-headed Gull, Teal, Shelduck and Lesser Black-backed Gull showing well. In the fields, on the return leg of the walk, more Little Egret, a Jay and a flyover Raven – calling as it went. Our final species was Kestrel, one hovering and another perched on its nest box platform giving great views and a final and very satisfactory total of 47 species (Thanks to Roger for leading).

  • Saturday 30 September – Steart WWT Leader: Richard Belson Saturday September 30th, 2023

    Eight members assembled at the WWT car park. We quickly made our way over to the River Parrett and en route heard Water Rail and Cetti’s Warblers, and enjoyed views of Reed Bunting and Stonechat plus a perched Kestrel. Waders on the edges of the river were in relatively low numbers and distant but Black-tailed Godwit and Curlew were seen as well as a perched Marsh Harrier and a pair of ‘formation hovering’ Kestrels. Next stop was the Quantocks Hide with its view over several shallow pools. In between searching for waders, we identified Meadow Pipits (in their buff autumnal plumage) and Pied Wagtails with a few White Wagtails amongst them. Four Wheatears were seen in the grass edges to the pools with Linnets and Goldfinches adding colour to the scene. As the waders were quite distant, it took some time to identify them with confidence – 30+ lapwings, four Ruff, a Green Sandpiper, single Ringed and Golden Plovers and a long-necked, heavily streaked wader delicately poking its long bill into the mud which another birder later suggested was a juvenile Greenshank. Teal and Gadwall were amongst the Mallards. Two distant white blobs were identified as (very sleepy) Spoonbills. The breach, at the end of the peninsula, was relatively quiet although Little Egrets were numerous here. Birds seen included a fly-over Spoonbill, two Ravens, a Kestrel, two Marsh Harriers and a Sparrowhawk plus our first geese (Canada and Greylag). 47 species seen during the day. (Thanks to Richard for leading and to Alan Daniells for compiling the bird list) Peter Bryant

  • Tuesday 26 September – Stanton Drew Leader: Alan Craddock Tuesday September 26th, 2023

    25 members set off from the car park of the Druids Inn and headed swiftly down the road to assemble on the farm track. A good variety of birds immediately made themselves known including Dunnocks, two Collared Doves, a Wren and a Chiffchaff. Moving on, a young Buzzard was calling insistently from its perch on a hedge on the skyline. Nearing our coffee stop at Bye Mills, we came across a mixed flock of Long Tailed, Blue and Great Tits and a panicked Moorhen made a desperate dash for the reeds and safety. Whilst we were having coffee a pair of Grey Wagtails put on a lively show whizzing back and forth below the sluice gates and two Kestrels made an appearance. We then came across a very industrious group of biscuit powered young folk on a day out from work who were planting a new hedge for Bristol Avon Rivers Trust. Good habitat for the future! Pensford came and went with no Dippers seen along with a report that they had been driven off by Mink activity. On the hill out, we heard a Green Woodpecker and saw a Great Spotted Woodpecker as we passed a gate into an open field. Approaching Upper Stanton Drew, we sighted four Jays and a Magpie flying across our path. On the way back we spotted Meadow Pipits on the ground and Goldfinches feeding on thistles. 34 species in total. (Thanks to Alan for leading). Alan Craddock

  • Tuesday 19 September – Hawkesbury Upton Leaders: The Committee Tuesday September 19th, 2023

    After a lively discussion on who was taking the walk in the place of our absent leader and where exactly the walk went, seven members set out into the constant wind and lightly drizzling rain. After exiting the outskirts of Hawkesbury, we spotted a couple of Pied Wagtails and a solitary Magpie amongst the Carrion Crows at a field boundary, and a telephone line full of Starlings. Further on, a field ahead of us provided around 50 Common Gulls along with a couple of Lesser Black-backed Gulls. Following the Marshfield Path uphill, we spotted a couple of Stonechats. We then pressed on across a newly ploughed field to our coffee stop in the thankfully windless shelter of Bodkin Hazel Wood. Two House Martins made a distant appearance and a Wren gave us a quick burst of song for entertainment. Back into the wind and a long slog down a track between cornfields seemed birdless but we found a Robin and a Chiffchaff for solace. Crossing Highfield Lane gave us the shelter of the woods above Horton Court and at last some birdlife in variety. Blue Tit, Chaffinch, Blackbird, Robin and a pair of Ravens were seen and a Treecreeper and a Marsh Tit heard. The weather was starting to close in so we beat a hasty retreat back. 28 species in total. (Thanks to the “committee” for leading.) Alan Craddock

  • Tuesday 12 September – Cheddar Reservoir and Yeo Leader: Mark Watson Tuesday September 12th, 2023

    The sky was overcast as 16 of us assembled on the reservoir bank to start our walk. On the water were large numbers of Coot, along with Canada Geese, Mallard, Teal, Shoveler, Tufted Duck and Great Crested Grebe. Gulls seen were Black-headed, Herring, and Lesser Black-backed. As we walked along the bank skeins of Canada Geese flew in to join those already on the water. The forecast rain came down quite heavily for about 30 minutes as we left the reservoir and went down the bank to the drove leading us to the Axe. On the way we saw or heard Blue Tit, House Sparrow, Chiffchaff, Magpie and at the Axe a Buzzard in a distant hedgerow tree. On the way back to Axbridge a Sparrowhawk was being chased by a Raven and two Carrion Crows. Suddenly the Sparrowhawk stooped spectacularly into some Swallows below, leaving the Raven and Crow high above. On this occasion the Sparrowhawk did not get its target. Both Great Spotted and Green Woodpecker were seen as well as Linnets, Goldfinch and a Treecreeper. Back on the Reservoir a few Cormorant perched on buoys and numerous Pied Wagtail foraged on the slope down to the water. We saw 36 species (thanks to Alan Daniells for keeping a list) and arrived back at the car park more or less dry. (Thanks to Mark for leading). Mark Watson

  • Saturday 09 September – Chipping Sodbury Common Leader: Mike Jackson Saturday September 09th, 2023

    Eleven of us met for a morning walk of the common, but before we got there we spied three warblers feeding on sweet peas in an allotment. Two Chiffchaffs and a Willow Warbler we decided, although it could have gone the other way such are the similarities of this tricky duo! Birds were notably absent as we followed the fruit laden hedgerow onto the common but a Chaffinch showed, and a Kestrel perched atop a distant bush, while Sparrowhawk and Buzzard soared above us. Eventually we caught up with some target species; at least two Spotted Flycatchers hunted from some dead branches above Blackcap, Lesser Whitethroat and Redstart which remained much more skulking. It was easy to locate a couple of flyover Skylarks, and a Raven honked unseen. The temperature was now uncomfortably hot, and with no shade or breeze two or three members decided to leave. Two Whitethroats arrived at another hedgerow at our walk mid-point but from now on only Redstarts seemed to have the energy to show themselves as we walked on in a temperature of 28°C. We recorded at least eight Redstarts and probably heard a couple more, definitely the star bird of the day. Thanks go to Alan for keeping the score (he had seen a Whinchat on his way to meet us pre-walk start time) and thanks to the group for being so patient. (Thanks to Mike for leading.) Mike Jackson

  • Tuesday 05 Sept – Puxton Leader: Colin Hawkins Tuesday September 05th, 2023

    15 members met at Puxton Church of the Holy Saviour on a glorious sunny day. We wandered through the grounds of the 13th century church where one Goldfinch was spotted. We proceeded through to Puxton Lane and across Puxton Moor Nature Reserve. En route we saw two Collared Doves, over 30 Starlings perched on the telegraph wires, about nine Swallows in different places, one Long-tailed Tit, one Swan and one Cormorant flew overhead, and one Robin(heard, not spotted), as well as many Magpies and Crows in the fields. Some of the group saw two Stonechats. Goldfinches, approximately 50, were feeding on the thistle seed in the fields too. Further on we heard a very loud Cetti’s Warbler, two Buzzards were spotted in the distance, and a Green Woodpecker in the lanes. Later we heard and saw two Buzzards fly overhead. We headed down along Oldbridge River where we encountered at least five Mute Swans, including a family with one adolescent cygnet. On the way back at least five Long-tailed Tits flew across our path into the nearby trees and there were two Herons, two Kestrel (not together), one Lesser Black-backed Gull, a Coot and two Moorhens, one Great Tit, two Mallards, House Sparrows, House Martins and Jackdaws. Dragonflies accompanied us throughout our walk. Thanks to Colin for leading us in this very interesting and enjoyable walk. Alison Hooper

  • Saturday 02 September – Goldcliff Pools, Gwent Leader: Peter Bryant Saturday September 02nd, 2023

    The weather seemed fair and the walk started with a perched Kestrel and fly-past Marsh Harrier. Three Stonechats were perched on a gate and a pair of Chiffchaffs were flitting in the nearby hedgerow. For most of the morning, there were over a hundred hirundines in flight, mostly House Martins but with a few Swallow. At Curlew Hide, overlooking Monks Lagoon, we initially only saw a half dozen Greylag Geese. but soon we were picking out waders, including Ringed Plovers by the dozen and four smart Ruff. The Lagoon held seven Little Egrets. As we were past high tide, we decided to head round to the Avocet Hide which had a view of both Priors Lagoon and Becs Lagoon. Highlights here included four Snipe, several Redshank, ten each of Knot and Black-tailed Godwit, a Curlew Sandpiper, a Greenshank, an Avocet and a Great White Egret. Six Little Grebe were on Priors Lagoon. The ducks included Shoveler, Wigeon, Tufted Duck, Gadwall and Teal. As we were preparing to leave the hide, a Kestrel flew across joined by a Sparrowhawk – a good chance to see the different flight patterns of these birds of prey side by side. The beach, viewed from the seawall, eventually produced 180 Curlew and an Oystercatcher. From the Lapwing viewing platform, we had a good view out to the recently cut hay fields and some birds sitting on the hay bales attracted our attention. A few were Meadow Pipits but most were Yellow Wagtails, over twenty in all. 62 species seen with a good variety of waders and other passage migrants. (Thanks to Peter for leading.) Peter Bryant

  • Tuesday 29 August – Hambrook. Leaders: Joyce Donkor and Kate Cashmore Tuesday August 29th, 2023

    On a cool, overcast day, with some very light misty showers, 26 birders started on the Frome Valley Walkway from the White Horse Inn, after a look from the stone bridge where a Grey Wagtail was seen in the river. At Moorend, 16 Mallards and a Moorhen were swimming in the river. The garden feeders there attracted Blue Tits and a Chaffinch. Soon Great Tits, Coal Tits and a Long-tailed Tit were added. A Swallow and 33 House Martins flew above the houses. The walk along the lane and up through the woods produced two calling Stock Doves, two Jays, a Bullfinch, four Goldfinches, three Goldcrests, and two Treecreepers. A Chiffchaff was also seen and heard. Some lucky people saw a Kingfisher flash past at the coffee stop by Damsons Bridge. Despite careful looking from all the bridges, no Dippers were seen this time, but a Grey Heron was striding through a field. The final fields were mostly quiet except for Robin, Wren and Woodpigeon. The only bird of prey for the day was a Buzzard. 28 species were seen. (Thanks to Kate and Joyce for leading). Kate Cashmore

  • Tuesday 22 August – East Harptree Woods. Leader: Geoff Harris Tuesday August 22nd, 2023

    19 members joined Geoff in the East Harptree car park, not realising what was in store for them. Our route took us past Smithams Chimney, then downhill across fields. It took some time to safely cross the cattle field but the reward was Spotted Flycatchers. We then went down Harptree Coombe which was difficult going with many fallen trees and a lot of mud. Then across to Morgan’s Cottage and eventually back to the car park, a distance of just over three miles. In total the group identified 27 species including Red Kite and Sparrowhawk. There were great views of Swallows and House Martins feeding on the wing and among the other birds were Great Spotted Woodpecker and Blackcap. One member of the party was particularly pleased to see a Nuthatch as this was a lifer for them. Many thanks to Geoff for leading the walk on a lovely sunny morning and to Alan for his bird list. Beth Yates

  • Sunday 20 August – Blagdon Lake. Leader: Robert Hargreaves Sunday August 20th, 2023

    Nine people met at The Lodge at 10.00 on a pleasant, sunny morning. A few early birders had already had a look at the dam and found two Common Sandpiper. We were greeted by Nigel Milbourne, who took us down to the water’s edge to scan around the lake. Sand and House Martins were flying around and we could see other birds on the dam including three Egyptian Geese and two Pied Wagtail. We set off around the lake finding many small birds in the trees and bushes including Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Goldcrest, Nuthatch, and Treecreeper. 

  • Tuesday 15 August – Sandford Wood. Leader: Graham Blacker Tuesday August 15th, 2023

    Despite August being a slow month for birds and Graham warning of steep and possibly muddy paths, 20 members met in the car park of the Railway Inn. Our route took us up into Sandford Wood, then Lyncombe Wood and through the grounds of the Ski Centre (Mendip Activity Centre) where elevenses were enjoyed. Then along tracks to Pylewell and back via Sandford Batch. Birds were hard to find but we were compensated by many lovely flowers and butterflies. Eventually the group recorded 32 species, of which my highlight was a flock of Swallows stocking up on food for their migration flight. The group also located Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, and Peregrine as well as Great Spotted and Green Woodpeckers. Of the smaller birds, the group’s list included Blackcap, Nuthatch, Bullfinch and Spotted Flycatcher. Many thanks to our leader Graham for a lovely rain-free morning and to Alan for his bird list. Beth Yates

  • Tuesday 08 August – Arlingham. Leader: Alastair Fraser Tuesday August 08th, 2023

    Our optimistic band of twelve set out in the drizzle, beginning our walk beside drainage ditches at the village edge. Apart from Woodpigeons, not much to see, even on the bird feeders in the gardens. More luck later with a variety of woodland and farmland birds: eight Long-tailed tits, Blue tit, Great tit, Chiffchaff, Wren, Blackbird, Robin, Feral Pigeon, Stock Dove, Collared Dove, Greenfinch, Linnet and 33 House Martins. Just past the farm buildings the hedgerow was alive with c100 House Sparrows which flew off as we approached, and over the wheat fields we saw Skylarks and Swallows. The low tide exposed extensive sand banks, and from the sea wall, thanks to Alan’s scope, we saw 26 Ringed Plovers, also Black-headed Gull, Herring Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Little Egret, Mallard and Grey Heron. There was a good view of a Whinchat, and over 50 Goldfinches moved to and fro between the trees and the thistle seeds near the river and flew off en masse, perhaps due to the Sparrowhawk that came over soon afterwards. As we passed the slurry pit a Green Sandpiper and a Hobby went over and Reed Warbler was heard in the reeds nearby. Other birds spotted were Buzzard, Magpie, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Willow Warbler, Swift, Pheasant, Pied Wagtail, Moorhen and Dunnock. The intermittent drizzle did not spoil the walk, and we were rewarded with a very pleasing count of 40 species. Thanks to Alan for the tally and Alastair for leading. Carol Clark

  • Sunday 06 August – Clevedon Pill. Leader: Jane Cumming Sunday August 06th, 2023

    There were 15 in the group that gathered on a warm but windy Sunday for this popular walk. We were fortunate that the tide was coming in, bringing the birds into closer view. Common Sandpipers were resting on the lowest edge of the cliff, Oystercatchers were on the shore line and Whinchat and Meadow Pipit on the near shore among the rocks. Walking on, we saw Swifts, soon to leave us for another year. Rock Pipits were flitting along the rocky shore, and a solitary Skylark soared. A flock of Linnets flew past, and more were seen as we walked. At the far end where the path ends, we could see many Curlews among the gulls, with Redshank, Turnstone, Dunlin and many Black-headed Gulls with a few Lesser Black-backed gulls among them. The sun was rapidly disappearing behind ominous clouds and rain threatened but held off as we made our way back. An Egret landed in the reeds, more Linnets seen and a Heron flew over. The tide was by now very high and the waves were coming over the path forcing us to dodge the spray. Hastily leaving for higher ground we were soon retracing our steps back to the Blind Yeo, where there were a few Moorhens to be seen. At the Pill the tide was now well in and on the lower cliffs were many Oystercatchers sheltering with the gulls. 43 species recorded. Thanks to Jane for leading. DI Bunniss

  • Tuesday, 01 August – Prior’s Wood, Portbury. Leader: Judy Copeland Tuesday August 01st, 2023

    Sunshine and warmth – No rain! And 26 people. Jackdaws foraged on the Green, a Collared Dove on a roof and a Herring Gull above. In the wood we heard Great Tit, Wren, Coal Tit, Chiffchaff, Blue Tit, Robin and Chaffinch. A Goldcrest was quite close on a hanging conifer branch and our first Nuthatch was calling loudly. Several more heard and seen during the walk, Treecreepers too. At the coffee break by the gate to Charlton Farm, an Avon Wildlife Trust van arrived with helmeted staff and chain saws – fallen trees. On the path down to the stream were more helmeted people cutting bracken – hard work! We heard a Buzzard and saw a Great Spotted Woodpecker on a high branch. The odd Swallow and Swift flew over. Among the fungi we encountered, Jean identified Black Bulgar which grows only on dead oak branches. A really good sighting was a Spotted Flycatcher, very white at the top of a Silver Birch, then flying. We climbed to the field above the wood, then crossed into a field bordering the drive to the Downs School. A Kestrel on a wire flew up causing 50 plus Jackdaws to lift off and circle over. Out in the open, after returning through the wood, were several hawker dragonflies flying over the path. Butterflies included Green-veined White, other Whites, Speckled Wood, Comma and Gatekeeper. We heard Greenfinch back in Portbury with House Martins flying over. Total species 32. (Thanks to Judy for leading). Judy Copeland

  • Saturday 29 July – Chew Valley Lake – Leader: Nick Page Saturday July 29th, 2023

    Twelve of us met at Herriotts Bridge to look at a very full pool, which is not currently as good for waders as it used to be. There were many Teal and a Little Grebe family among the usual suspects. After a while we managed to pick out the Spotted Redshank that we hoped for and a Great White Egret was splendid in flight. As we started to move to Herons Green, some of the party picked up Green and Common Sandpiper before they left. At Herons Green there was a Common Sandpiper, and a juvenile Little Ringed Plover was well found. A pale Buzzard, many Pied Wagtail and a Great Crested Grebe with a young chick were the other highlights of this stop. We then walked to the Villice Bay hide and most of the way around Nunnery Point. The day was a warm one without much rain, and butterflies, damselflies and dragonflies were out in force in the un-mown meadows, testing our knowledge and ID skills. There were many nice conversations and I really enjoyed ‘leading’ my first BOC walk; thanks to everyone for making it an enjoyable morning (Thanks to Nick for leading). Nick Page

  • Tuesday 25 July – Woodchester – Leader: Di Bunniss Tuesday July 25th, 2023

    We gathered in the car park and set off along the downhill path towards the mansion. The woodland was quiet but the display of butterflies was a source of great interest, with the Silver-Washed Fritillary being the star. A Treecreeper was seen, House Martins were circling high above, and Chiffchaff called. Our designated Coffee break at the Boat House was enhanced by a National Trust volunteer who gave an informative talk on the history of the valley and the work being done in the surrounding woods and fields. From the Boat House to the lunch spot was but a short stroll along a board walk fringing the lake and through a field, where we heard the call of the Bullfinch to add to the bird list. More butterflies and flowers were identified and admired. Once at the lunch spot, some sought the shelter of the old Dog Kennels (a large barn with picnic tables) while the others rested at the lakeside. On the lake were two Mandarin ducks in the rather drabber eclipse plumage, and a small family of Blackcaps feeding close by. On the return path we had more Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs with Buzzards circling overhead. By the mansion a Raven was calling close by. Another long rest here was required before we tackled the gentle uphill path back to the car park. 29 bird species recorded and eight species of butterfly. (Thanks to Di for leading and organising the NT talk.) Di Bunniss

  • Sunday 23 July – Oldbury Power Station – Leader: Di Bunniss Sunday July 23rd, 2023

    Eight of us met to walk around the lake, lagoons and riverside. The weather was cool and very windy so it was a challenge to find many birds. Two Mute Swans and a few Mallards and Moorhens were on the lake, and Chiffchaff were calling from the trees. Goldfinches were busy feeding in the shrubs by the edge of the lake. The path to the river was quiet but there were plenty of butterflies on the bramble flowers which we were able to identify. Walking towards the Power station we watched three Kestrels in flight, hovering in the strong wind, and Swallows circled above. Reaching the Power station itself, Pied Wagtails were on the footpath and concrete areas and a small flock of Linnets flew past. By a smaller pond we watched a Reed Warbler dart back and forth between the reeds and the bushes behind us, obviously collecting insects to feed young. A Whitethroat was heard using its rather harsh contact call. For a very windy and cool day in mid July, we still enjoyed the walk and identified plenty of plants, butterflies and dragonflies as well as the occasional bird. 24 species recorded.
    (Many thanks to Di for leading.) Di Bunniss

  • Tuesday 18 July – Bridgeyate – Leader: Geoff Hardman Tuesday July 18th, 2023

    19 members met in the Griffin pub car park. A possible Red Kite sighting was discounted as it was before 10:00, also a pair of Ravens. When we got underway we started off with a large and noisy flock of Starlings on the edge of the ‘Vicars’ housing estate. This was followed by some Swifts flying over. We then joined the Dramway, which at this point is a ‘holloway’; various birds were heard but not seen! We crossed into Warmley Forest Park where coffee was had by the lake. Disappointingly the last walk’s count of 18 Moorhens was not realised, coming in at two adults and two chicks. From there we crossed fields to Goose Green seeing flocks of various tits, and along to the Forest of Avon with a flock of 35 Goldfinches. This took us back through forest tracks to the Griffin, observing 37 species avian and uncounted lepidopteran on the way. The weather was kind but increasingly humid as the day progressed. (Thanks to Geoff for leading.) Geoff Hardman

  • Saturday 15 July – Forest of Dean – Leader: Robert Hargreaves Saturday July 15th, 2023

    Arriving at Nagshead around 15:30, eleven of us braved the adverse conditions. We spotted House Martin, two Crows, a Chiffchaff and a dung/dor beetle and heard a Song Thrush. It was very wet, but though uncomfortable it did brighten the green of the forest. A brief patch of sun brought out a Chaffinch, Blackcap, Swallows and Goldfinch. At the second hide we saw a Robin, Mandarin Duck, Long-tailed and Great Tits, whilst learning how many species of insect oaks support and how hospitable marble galls are. Carrying on back through the woods we saw a number of Swallows overhead. Wood Pigeon flew across a pond as well as Wren and Grey Wagtail distinguished by the yellow underside. Beside Cannop Pond were Ringlet and Gatekeeper butterflies. The stoneworks car park seemed an unlikely place for sightings; however we saw Grey Wagtail, Siskin, Blue Tit, Great Tit and Nuthatch. On the Pond were Mandarins, a Mute Swan with two cygnets, Canada Geese, Greylag Geese, Little Grebe, five ducklings and many Moorhen and Coot, with Swifts and House Martins overhead. A Dipper was next to the stream, then we saw a family of Treecreepers chasing each other around a tree trunk. Back in the woods, we heard two Great Spotted Woodpeckers, Song Thrush, Jay and Dunnock.
    Starting about 20:30 we walked from Speech House car park up to Crabtree Hill and saw two Buzzard, one Tree Pipit and heard a Green Woodpecker. At dusk we heard a Nightjar. As we set off back to the car park we saw two birds chasing each other. By the squeaky calls, we determined these must be Woodcock. A bat detector yielded a recording of a Common Pipistrelle. We arrived back at the car park around 23:00. Many thanks to Robert for leading in such difficult conditions! Emily Fitzgerald

  • Tuesday 11 July – Little Sodbury (Picnic Walk) – Leader: Graham Blacker Tuesday July 11th, 2023

    The threat of rain led to only 15 of us turning up, but, hey, the rain held off all morning for our lovely walk through some wonderful countryside. We sat enthralled at the first Old Fort high point with its 180 degree crisp clear view across the Severn Vale for our coffee stop and three Raven flew past. Birds noted up till then were House Martin, Swallow, Swift, c150 Rooks, Greenfinch, Buzzard, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Linnet, Blackcap, Long-tailed Tit, Green Woodpecker, Stock Dove, Treecreeper, Skylark, Kestrel, Pheasant, Jay and Yellowhammer amongst others. There was also a lovely showing of butterflies. As we walked towards the second Old Fort there were further extensive views of the Vale as well as the rolling hills of Wiltshire. When we ascended a tree-lined path many walkers broke off, leaving six of us to continue towards Old Sodbury Church where we ate our packed lunch with fantastic views towards Yate, the Severn and the Welsh Mountains. Refreshed we proceeded with the long walk back to our finishing point, spotting Chaffinch, Coal Tit and Goldfinch. 32 species were noted in total. (Thanks to Graham for leading this walk in place of Nick.) Graham Blacker

  • Tuesday 04 July – Stockhill Woods Leader: Graham Blacker Tuesday July 04th, 2023

    Despite the threatening weather 18 optimistic members arrived at Stockhill Woods. Before leaving the car park some eagle-eyed birders had spotted a small flock which included Goldcrest. We then set off over the Mineries in search of Tree Pipit which disappointingly never materialised. We passed two caving clubs (Shepton Mallet CC and the Bristol Exploration Club) and then headed slowly back passing Fair Lady Well. Slowly the bird count increased, a highlight being a parent Reed Warbler feeding its young. It was also great to see a family of Stonechats as well as Nuthatch and Siskin. We arrived back at the car park a little after noon and therefore spent some time in the woods. A total of 32 species were seen or heard including Sparrowhawk, Red Kite and a wonderful flypast by a Barn Owl. We are also able to identify a number of butterflies and moths. Thank you to Graham for a great morning without any noticeable rain. Beth Yates

  • Tuesday 27 June – Newport Wetlands and Goldcliff Leader: John Skinner Tuesday June 27th, 2023

    After the excessive heat of mid-June, a good turn-out of 27 found the Wetlands car park a bit cloudy, cool and draughty, but this did not deter the inevitable Chiffchaff from serenading us. A Green Woodpecker was spotted as we headed from the picnic area towards the estuary, rapidly followed by a Whitethroat singing from an exposed perch. Cetti’s Warbler shouted at us, and Reed Bunting was seen and heard from a lowish perch – we learnt that their call can be described as “pink-pink-fizz”! As we approached the lighthouse, a Kestrel hovered, and we laughed at the tatty Mallards in their early eclipse plumage. Strangely (?) no Bearded Tit was seen, but after coffee we headed east above the salt-marsh where a Great White Egret flew overhead, and a young family of perhaps ten Pheasants ducked in and out of the scrub below. On the way back we were fascinated by a beautiful Vapourer Moth caterpillar. After a picnic at the visitor centre, many of us headed to Goldcliff and to the last hide where, among many waders, the star species was a Spotted Redshank in summer plumage. Back towards the road, another hide showed no fewer than 35 Little Egrets, and the best telescopes revealed both Little and Common Ringed Plovers. Just as we reached the cars, a Kingfisher flashed away, giving a total species count of 62 for the day (36 Wetlands, 49 Goldcliff). A great day enjoyed by all. Thanks to John Skinner on his excellent leadership. John Skinner

  • Tuesday 20 June – Portishead Leader: Geoff Harris Tuesday June 20th, 2023

    27 people met on a hot morning, After great debate over the sighting of a possible Whimbrel on the foreshore, it was finally decided it was an immature Curlew. Also along the shoreline were Black headed Gulls, Herring Gulls, two Lesser Black Backed Gulls with Shelducks and Crows all around. On the Lake were many Mallards, approximately 100 Canada Geese and a few Tufted Ducks. Above, giving good displays, were Swifts and House Martins. We pressed on to Battery Point to see Goldfinch, Robin, Blackbird on the down and Rock Pipit on the rocky shore. We then walked through East Wood for Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Long Tailed Tit, Chaffinch, Wren and Nuthatch. As we left the wood, a family of Blackcaps were seen, two juveniles and both parents. Unfortunately, nothing was to be seen on the mud at the Harbour entrance. Further on, a Pied Wagtail and Rock Pipits were seen on one of the boats in the harbour. Near the finish of the walk we had the excellent sight of five Swifts flying in and out of their nests in the eaves of one of the houses. Also seen Speckled Wood, Comma and Small White Butterflies. A total of 35 birds seen or heard. (Thanks to Geoff for leading). Geoff Harris

  • Tuesday 13 June 2023 – Wapley Bushes Leader: Alan Daniells Tuesday June 13th, 2023

    Fourteen members met at the Shire Way entrance. It was sunny and dry, 21-25?C, with a light NE breeze. We crossed the railway bridge and walked through the orchard area, seeing many Meadow Brown butterflies and a Red Admiral. We crossed the main recreational area (Wapley Common) and through the uniformed groups area. In the Western Wood we heard Goldcrest amongst a group of conifers and a Song Thrush. We had coffee in the Upper Meadow where Bee Orchids were found amongst the Common Spotted. We walked through the semi-natural ancient woodland in a loop down and back up. A pair of Bullfinches were spotted in the woods, Treecreeper song heard, also Great Spotted Woodpecker heard drumming. Many Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs were heard. A young Jay perched conveniently on a branch. Back in the Upper Meadow, we spotted some House Martins over distant trees. Two Ravens flew over. We crossed a wooden bridge into the Lower Meadow and walked diagonally down to the lower path where a Marbled White flew past. We spent some time enjoying the sight of a large dragonfly hunting flies. We then walked clockwise around the edge of the Lower Meadow, seeing a Small Copper and stopped for a picnic at the top. After lunch we walked back down by the woods past a large number of Common Spotted Orchids. We returned over the railway bridge and said our goodbyes. 30 bird species in total. (Thanks to Alan for leading). Alan Daniells

  • Tuesday 06 June – Dolebury Warren Leader – Mark Watson Tuesday June 06th, 2023

    Twenty one members met outside the Crown, Churchill, on a fine, sunny morning with a bit of a breeze. As we set off a Greenfinch was heard. On our way to crossing the A38 the path descended through a wood we saw and heard Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Long-tailed Tit and Goldcrest. A short walk uphill to the Iron Age hillfort yielded a Spotted Flycatcher, Nuthatch, Treecreeper and Willow Warbler. We took the southern route along the hillfort bank where a Raven flew overhead along with a Herring Gull and Lesser Black-backed Gull. In the scrub to our left numerous Whitethroats could be heard. We had extensive views over the Mendip to Blackdown and the Bristol Channel. After a brief stop for refreshment we passed through woodland and scrub where both Great Spotted and Green Woodpecker were seen. A male and female Stonechat obliged by sitting on top of a bush and also on the nearby fence as well as a Linnet nearby. Passing through a small conifer plantation we heard more Goldcrests and some saw a Treecreeper. Another Raven flew over as the path took us through thick scrub and emerged on to a grass track back to the hillfort dyke and the customary ‘Tuesday’ Buzzard appeared. On the descent back through Dolebury Bottom we saw House Martin and a Swift busy feeding as well as more Chaffinches, Blue Tit, Great Tit and Goldfinch on our way back to the cars. Thanks to Nick for compiling the bird list of 40 species. (Thanks to Mark for leading). Mark Watson

  • Friday 02 June 2023 – Frampton Pools Leader: Nick Hawkridge Friday June 02nd, 2023

    Three members met at the Frampton on Severn car park. Luckily the warm sun was keeping the chill of the NE wind at bay. We walked to Court Lake first, seeing Greylag and Barnacle geese in the meadow. On the lake there were Great Crested Grebe, Tufted Duck, Mute Swan with four cygnets, Greylag with a gosling, Coot and Moorhen. Two Common Terns, a Buzzard, a few Swallows and a Kingfisher flew over the lake. A Cormorant was perching. Another member joined us and local birder Nick Goatman let us know about some Spotted Flycatchers, so we carried on clockwise around the lake and into the woods where we caught up with three Spotted Flycatchers amongst the Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Cetti’s Warbler and Goldcrest also present. As we carried on toward the Sailing Lake, we saw increasing numbers of Swifts and at least ten Long-tailed Tits. By the Sailing Lake itself, Swift numbers increased to 25+, with a few Swallows and House Martins amongst them. There were dense clouds of midges but, luckily, not the biting kind. There were six Common Terns nesting on a platform in the lake. A Cuckoo sang, then flew by, then we started to see Hobby over the lake, one at first, then increasing finally to six. One of them perched and gave us a good view. A group of ten Little Egrets also flew by. 49 species in all. Thanks to Nick for leading the walk. Alan Daniells

  • Tuesday 30 May 2023 – Felton Common Leader: Melanie Patch Tuesday May 30th, 2023

    A chilly start in the breeze, as we gathered in the parking area alongside St. Katherine’s Church..Eighteen of us set off under the guidance of Melanie, who as you would expect certainly knew her ‘patch’. Despite the Common being a popular dog walking spot, Skylarks were in abundance, ascending and descending, often to an accompaniment of jet engines, singing their trademark song. Raptors in the form of Buzzards, usually being mobbed by a variety of Crows and even a Kestrel, provided a good show and for good measure a brief appearance was made by a Red Kite. Linnets showed well for most. However, only a select four people at the back of the pack saw a pair of Cranes flying high and heading north, maybe to Slimbridge. House Martins entertained before and during the picnic lunch with Swifts and Swallows also present. Knowledge happily shared throughout the morning and the light was good enough for the photographers to get a few snaps. Another enjoyable and informative walk and thanks again to Melanie. 36 species in all. Paul Tompkins

  • Tuesday 23 May – Wavering Down – Leader: Nick Hawkridge Tuesday May 23rd, 2023

    The start up through the woods held Song Thrush, Willow Warbler, Chaffinch, with a shout from a few Chiffchaff and the call of Stock Dove, but the prize was a Treecreeper working hard for its family. The path was steep with well-worn and thus slippery stone, until we finally emerged from the trees to see Meadow Pipit, a splendid Linnet and a handful of Swifts slicing across the sky. The first of the Stonechats was seen as we continued towards the trig point, with more Meadow Pipits and one of the few Skylarks was heard. It took a while for all 22 of us to congregate at coffee time, each ascending the slope in their own good time, but ‘Old Nog’ flapped effortlessly west. Whitethroat were calling, offering splendid views and being very mindful of their territorial boundaries. We dropped onto the south slope of the down to head back where some Stonechats rattled at us for getting too close. The early finishers left us at Bourton Coombe, while the rest of us plunged down the path to the farm, with Blackcap, Chiffchaff and Whitethroat providing the music. The way back; past the quarry, along the easterly flank of King’s Wood, provided counts of the usual species, the yaffle of a Green Woodpecker and the ‘chip chip’ of a Great Spotted. A total of 31 species were seen or heard by all, on this particularly splendid day.
    PS. Thanks for the flapjacks. Luke. (Thanks to Nick for leading) Nick Hawkridge

  • Friday 19 May – Highnam Wood Leader: Lewis Thomson (RSPB) Friday May 19th, 2023

    18 of us waited in the RSPB car park for the rain to stop. Fifteen minutes after our start time our leader, Lewis, was able to address us in drier conditions. We set out along various paths that showed us the product of the careful management that this reserve benefits from. The principal practice is coppicing and is done in a cycle that has shown to best suit breeding Nightingales. The birds move in when the coppice is in its third year but then avoid coppice that is over nine years old. Different management strategies have been tried recently, one forced by Covid when a coppiced area could not be enclosed from browsing deer in time before a forced lockdown. This actually yielded a more varied, natural plot where the coppice stools were exposed to browsing while Blackthorn and Hawthorn were able to dominate. This suited one Nightingale that soon moved in and was singing for us in its second year running. This has encouraged similar management across the reserve and we were even able to detect a Willow Warbler holding territory in new growth scrub – not an expected species we were told by Lewis. Another unexpected species that has found favour at Highnam is Woodcock which regularly rodes over the woodland. Overall, two Nightingales sang, at least one of which was apparently paired. The dominant species, though was Song Thrush, their song constant and non-stop throughout our visit until the end when in the fading light a Nightingale took centre stage sending us all home very satisfied. (Thanks to Lewis for a very interesting evening) Mike Jackson

  • Tuesday 16 May – Sand Point – Leader: Nick Hawkridge Tuesday May 16th, 2023

    Two Whitethroats sang as we climbed the steps, a nearby Blackcap chimed in, as did a distant Chiffchaff. The top was not cold, the wind merely adding a refreshing zephyr to a warm day. Some Shelduck peppered the mud flats, a team of Herring and Lesser Black-backed Gull washed at the point, a couple of Swallow rowed past, with another Whitethroat flitting in the brush. As we walked the north facing path below Swallow Cliff, we were entertained by a pair of Stonechats, some Linnets and a Dunnock singing his tinkling song from a bramble stem. Post coffee, we ambled up the gentle slope, stopping to count the Linnets, Skylarks and an unseen Lesser Whitethroat. At Middle Hope beach the pair of Peregrines we had seen wheeling over the car park, made an attack, with the female making off with Woodpigeon. A few people bade farewell at the break out point, as we moseyed on to see a dozen Jackdaws, hear another Whitethroat and our first Greenfinch. At lunch we saw a couple of dozen Oystercatchers at the mouth of the River Banwell and a nesting pair of Shelducks. Alas as we climbed up past the MOD site, the hoped for Spotted Flycatcher failed to show, but pairs of courting Greenfinches did. The slow wander back to the cars with a final bird total of 32 seen or heard by most of the squad of 17 walkers. (Thanks to Nick for leading) Nick Hawkridge

  • Pembrokeshire, 17 – 21 April. Leader: Colin Hunt Monday May 15th, 2023

    Eleven car sharing members were based in Freshwater East west of Tenby, weather often chilly but dry.
    First stop on our way was Llanelli Wetlands Centre, Slimbridge-inspired with large areas of pool, reed and scrub close to the coast. Sightings (excluding the many foreign water fowl!) included 300 plus Black-tailed Godwits, 30 plus Knot, Lapwings, Greenshank, a juvenile? Long-tailed Duck in intermediate plumage and without the long tail feathers, juvenile Spoonbill, Pochard, a group of eight Mediterranean Gulls amidst Black-headed (including one Black-headed with a striking pink front – an oddity possibly indicating a Swedish-based shrimp diet…) Whitethroat, Blackcaps, Chiffchaffs, Willow Warblers, many Cetti’s, Meadow Pipits, Reed Bunting. Lots of mating pairs, a Great Crested Grebe pair on a nest and Mallards with five chicks.
    The following day we had the tricky drive to Martin’s Haven on Wales’ south-west tip, for the ferry to Skomer Island. Waiting watchers saw/heard Swallows, Blackcaps, Whitethroat, Skylarks, Raven – and Ring Ouzels; then a short boat ride (including views of Common Dolphin? and Harbour Porpoise) and a hard trudge up took us onto this almost treeless island less than three kilometres square raised 60 metres above the Atlantic, with much of its surface punctured with Puffin and Manx Shearwater burrows like a mini WW1 battlefield. The harbour waters were full of Guillemot and Puffins (the latter not yet on their nests), and a small flock of Kittiwake. We scattered in different directions to see and hear Willow Warblers, Blackcaps, Wheatears galore, a single House Martin, five Whimbrel put up by a Peregrine, Choughs, Buzzards, and Fulmars and Gannets down precipitous cliffs. A small inland pool housed a surprise pair of Shovelers, and a few people had great close-ups of a female Ring Ouzel with subtle pale brown throat crescent and silvery feather patterns distinct in the sunshine. Sadly, the paths were also littered with the bones and feathers of Manx Shearwaters who had already fallen prey to hungry predators. An information board showed the huge numbers of these (350,000) and other breeding pair species that have been logged on the island in previous years. The third day started at Bosherton Lily Ponds (part of the Stackpole Estate west of Freshwater East), with long valley lakes (home to Otters, one of which we briefly glimpsed), running through woodland before emerging onto Broad Haven beach. Plenty more warblers – Willow, Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Whitethroat – Song Thrush, Bullfinch, Moorhen and Mallard, Grey Heron and Swan, our first Red Kites, and a surprise Gannet diving almost at the shoreline on the beach.
    We continued west along the coast to Freshwater West, a long isolated surfing beach and dunes guarded by military areas, to see a scattering of Gannets and Curlews; then inland to the tiny village of Angle on a muddy gravelly creek and cove overlooking Milford Haven. Here some dedicated wader watching found Curlews, Whimbrels with their proportionately shorter bills and striped heads, Oystercatchers, Dunlins, and possibly a Little Ringed Plover (we think we saw pale legs…).
    We ended back on the dramatic vertical cliffs at St Govan’s Head just west of Stackpole with lovely close views of Choughs on the grass, Kestrel above, and Guillemots, Razorbills and Manx Shearwaters on the sea 60 metres below with Common Dolphins sporting amongst them. Next day we explored locally, starting at Freshwater East beach, then the wetland reserve of reed and wet woodland that ran up the valley behind, and adjacent reserve through dunes and meadows behind the beach. The wetlands had most of the warblers we had already heard plus a Reed Warbler (song indentified after some intense listening); adjacent areas included Bullfinches, Grey Heron, Buzzard and Kestrel; and sea watches found two Red-throated Divers in the surf – pretty pale grey plumage and obvious upturned bills – Guillemot, a Bar-tailed Godwit in breeding plumage, two Whimbrels, and two fine Sandwich Terns.
    Finally some of the group explored an adjacent deep valley woodland reserve memorably called Scraggy Bottom, finding Nuthatch, Pheasant, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Raven and Sparrowhawk.
    We spent our last morning on a cliff walk round St Govan’s Head, watching small groups of Razorbills on the sea, Shags on rocks displaying their fine breeding crests, Great Black-backed Gulls, Fulmars, a flying winter plumage Bar-tailed Godwit, a hunting Peregrine, a close-up Kestrel perched on the cliff face – and above and in the gorse-rich heathland – Swallows, House Martins, Wheatears, loudly-singing Whitethroat, Skylark, Linnets, Meadow Pipits, Raven and some slightly surprising Dunnocks.
    Many thanks to Colin for organising and leading us on this new trip in an area he knows well: and to Judy Copeland for all her associated help. Total species: 100. Lois Pryce

  • Tintern 18 April – Angidy Trail Leader Graham Blacker Monday May 15th, 2023

    The weather forecast was wrong, who knew? An icy wind blew as 18 swiftly bundled up members assembled for a walk around the Angidy Trail. Nuthatches galore called and seemingly invisible Blackcaps sang as we headed out from the cars and started the climb up the hill. The first of many Buzzards was seen. Goldcrests made a brief appearance before we were dazed and confused again by Alan and his analemmatic sundials at Church Grove Cottage. Three Swallows whizzed past over the trees. Moving on, a Marsh Tit was heard but sadly not pinned down and Song Thrushes and a Green Woodpecker also told us they were there. At the ironworks, Grey and Pied Wagtails were present and as a surprise, two Red Kites wheeling away across the forest. Blue, Great and Coal Tits, Chaffinches and even a Blackcap were seen along the way. Coffee at the first pond gave us a pair of Mallards and a swift fly-by of a Dipper as we left. Further on, a Sparrowhawk was spotted and a variety of early Spring butterflies, Brimstone, Peacock, Holly Blue and Orange Tip. Lunch was held again in Sue’s lovely riverside garden, a resplendent male Chaffinch kept us company. Heading back we were treated to a display flight by Buzzards high above the valley. Thanks to Graham for leading and Sue for the kind use of her garden. 33 species in all. Alan Craddock

  • Sunday 14 May – RSPB Ham Wall – Leader: Giles Morris Sunday May 14th, 2023

    There was a healthy turnout of BOC members and birds on today’s walk. On first entering, seven Gadwall swooped in front of us. We unusually saw a Cetti’s Warbler perched out in the open on a pile of twigs. Bitterns boomed five times, three times, twice and flew across the landscape. Hobbies were aplenty flying high with Marsh Harriers, it was a great day for spotting them. The visiting Great Reed Warbler piped up, shortly after a Reed Warbler, a fascinating comparison. We had ten Swifts flying overhead, Cuckoos sounding at different areas across the site and an abundance of warblers, as mentioned plus Garden and Willow. Notably the Sedge Warbler performed for at least 30 minutes. Newly hatched damselflies were floating around, so young we couldn’t distinguish their colour yet. Also Orange- tipped and Brimstone butterflies. Chicks of Moorhen, Great Crested Grebe, and Coot, were an endearing sight. Other highlights included sightings of a Black-tailed Godwit and a Whitethroat. A plentiful and abundant morning with 50 species sighted. (Thank you to Giles for leading.) Emily Fitzgerald

  • Saturday 13 May – Quantocks, Holford – Leaders: Brian Gibbs and Dave Dawe Saturday May 13th, 2023

    We met with the Somerset Ornithological Society at the unearthly hour of 08.15, some of our group were up at 05.00 to arrive in time. There were about five of us from the BOC, and twenty from SOS. The leaders were the excellent Brian Gibbs and David Dawe. The walk was up Hodder’s Combe, Somerton Combe, and up Stert Combe on the east side of the stream, coming out on the heathland, and retuning north, just to the west of Higher Hare Knap, we came down the ridge into the car park. Unfortunately, we were a bit early to hear or see Wood Warbler, but we did find Dipper, Pied Flycatcher, Redstart, Garden Warbler, Grey Wagtail, and coming out of the wood to the heath heard a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker. The heath gave us a Cuckoo to see also Dartford Warbler, Stonechat, Tree Pipit, Redpoll and Yellowhammer. (Thanks to Brian and Dave.) Rob Hargreaves

  • Saturday 27 May – Angidy Trail, Tintern – Leader: Graham Blacker Friday May 12th, 2023

    Fourteen members turned out for this popular walk on a lovely spring day. We spent some time walking up through the woods until we came to the quaint house of Alan Parker who once again explained to us the workings of the sun dials he expertly made and quite amazing they were. We heard Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, Great Spotted Woodpecker and plenty of Song Thrushes singing throughout the walk along with Robin and Buzzard. Stopping briefly by the first pond we spotted a very smart black duck with a green head! Not knowing what this could be we carried on to the waterfall where we spotted a lone Dipper under the bridge, just a little further on we saw Pied and Grey Wagtails at the Old Forge. Continuing past the second pond we eventually came to Sue’s garden where we had a short coffee break. As she was away we had a great chat with her husband who happened to ask if we’d seen a black duck with a green head, he was surprised when we said we had as this was an escapee from his land the previous week! Strolling onward we encountered Blackcap, Great Tit, Coal Tit, Stock Dove, a Red Kite flying alongside a Buzzard and lastly a Heron. A fantastic walk once again which seems to be becoming a favourite with lots of members. In total 32 Species were spotted. Thanks once again for Sue’s generosity in allowing us the use of her lovely garden. (Thanks to Graham for leading) Graham Blacker

  • Tuesday 09 May – Wains Hill and Clevedon Pill – Leader: Jane Cumming Tuesday May 09th, 2023

    Twenty or so people walked up over Wains Hill and along Poets’ Walk, stopping to examine the historic “Sugar lookout” and admire the bird’s-eye views south along the Clevedon coast. We noted a selection of standard woodland species, singing and displaying Whitethroats where the terrain opened out to grassland and scrub, and hirundines passing NE along the cliffs. The sluice produced Moorhens, a singing Cetti’s Warbler and good views of a Grey Wagtail. Walking on through the golf course to Dowlais pool we added two Canada Geese, two Mute Swans and a lingering Black-headed Gull. The shoreline held Shelducks, Oystercatchers, a Whimbrel and plenty of the larger gulls. Two more Whimbrels flew low along the coast, and later two Curlews – larger with longer bills, flying higher though rather distant. At the turnaround point there were at least five Swifts feeding over the Dowlais meadows. Also reported: Cormorant, Sparrowhawk, Peregrine, both woodpeckers, singing Skylarks, Reed Warblers, Blackcaps, Rock Pipits and Reed Buntings. The morning’s total was 51 species. (Thanks to Jane for leading) Jane Cumming

  • Sunday 07 May – Portland and Weymouth Leader: Jane Cumming Sunday May 07th, 2023

    This visit to Portland was designed to coincide with peak Skua passage, but on a fine sunny day the only evidence of migration off the Bill was two Sandwich Terns flying east a long way out and a trickle of Swallows coming in off the sea. However, the more local seabirds put on a fine show with Gannets, Fulmars and Shags passing to-and-fro, Guillemots and Razorbills that could easily be separated by their colour in the bright sunshine, and a few Kittiwakes. The Observatory Quarry held the hoped-for Little Owl, Whitethroats were in good voice, and a couple of members who wandered further up to Culverwell found one of the singing Cirl Buntings that have recently been gracing Portland with their presence.
    The top fields at Southwell are useless these days, with extensive stables and a big camp site taking over the area where we used to find migrants moving up from the Bill. At Ferrybridge we found three Dunlins with a dozen Ringed Plovers, and at least 40 Little Terns resting on mud banks, a good indicator that the nesting colony on the beach must be doing well. Lodmoor produced a fine haul of new species for the day, including Reed Warbler, Cetti’s, Chiffchaffs and Lesser Whitethroats in song. Three Godwits were expected to be Black-tails at this freshwater site but after a bit of puzzling they proved to be Bar-tails, and another migrant was a Grey Plover in prime summer plumage. At least 15 Common Terns seemed to be struggling to find nesting room amongst the numerous and noisy Black-headed Gulls. We added Grey Heron, Little Egret and various waterbirds to our lists, and a search through the loafing gulls produced first-summer Mediterranean and Common Gulls. Five observers had an enjoyable day at the seaside and a total of 69 species. (Thanks to Jane for leading) Jane Cumming

  • Club Holiday to North-east Poland 3 – 11 May – Leader William Earp Wednesday May 03rd, 2023

    A comprehensive 44 page report can be found at – Full Trip Report

    This much postponed trip, originally scheduled for 2020, finally took place this year. Seven Club members, plus a welcome addition from the North-east Norfolk Bird Club, were met by eminent Polish naturalist and conservationist Marek Borkowski at Warsaw Chopin Airport, and immediately taken to a park close by where the first birds seen were a pair of Syrian Woodpeckers, followed by a Short-toed Treecreeper as we were enjoying a reviving picnic.
    From the town of Rajgrod, our base for the first five nights, we were taken to various sites in the Biebrza Marshes, starting with Marek’s ‘garden’. Readers might remember Marek describing its special delights when he gave a talk to the Club in 2017. Highlights of this part of the trip included White-backed and Grey-headed Woodpeckers, Great Reed and Savi’s Warblers, a pair of Little Crakes, Pygmy and Tengmalm’s Owls. Thrush Nightingales were everywhere though hard to see. Hawfinch and Red Squirrel were regular visitors to Marek’s bird table. A pretty village held a pair of singing Wryneck with Ortolan Bunting on telegraph wires not far away. Raptors included White-tailed and Lesser Spotted Eagles – oh, and a Greater Spotted Eagle as bonus. Stretches of marshes and waterlogged meadows were patrolled by Whiskered, White-winged Black and Black Terns while on the ground were large, loose flocks of Wood Sandpiper and Ruff, the jousting males in their full breeding finery looking just like the illustration in the Collins Field Guide. We spent some time trying, and eventually succeeding, to get to see the super-rare Aquatic Warbler which breeds in boggy meadows in this part of the world – it is Europe’s most rapidly declining warbler. It also sings mainly in the evening. Best of all, we felt, was a night-time excursion to view the other regional speciality, Great Snipe, at its lek. We were privileged to get extended views by torchlight of this remarkable performance as we played a version of ‘Grandmother’s Footsteps’, creeping up to get ever closer to the birds.
    In the Bialowieza Forest we stayed in a memorable place, a railway station built originally for the Tsar of Russia and now lovingly restored and converted into a bijou hotel. It’s as close as you can get to the border with Belarus. Hard to convey what it is like: the nearest local equivalent, perhaps, might be the SS Great Britain. The surrounding trees had Golden Oriole and Scarlet Rosefinch. In the Forest we managed Middle Spotted and Three-toed Woodpeckers and a singing Barred Warbler. Collared Flycatchers were quite frequent. We tried to entice some of the Corncrakes which we were hearing to come out and show themselves: Marek’s party trick is Corncrake-wrangling, but on this occasion though one came right up to the roadside verge within a few metres of us it did not emerge for us to actually see it. Bialowieza is celebrated for its mammals, and we were lucky to have an extended close view of two young male Bison. We also had a superb night-time cruise on the Narew River for Beavers feeding on the banks at a few metres range; it was enchanting to see a kit dragging a leafy branch away from its long-suffering mother. Marek’s is very much a family enterprise: his son Andrzej acted as a driver for the first part of the trip, while his partner Hania is the lynch-pin of the team – in addition to supplying picnics for the whole party and hosting us for several meals, she lugged the scope around and regularly demonstrated that she has the sharpest eyes and ears. Her final tour-de-force was to find our last good bird, a male Red-breasted Flycatcher which had frustrated us for a considerable period on our concluding morning. Marek had already set out to return to the vehicle when she located it singing on top of a spruce in full sunlight, and it stayed there to allow everyone to soak it up through the scopes.
    A full account of the trip, 05.00 starts and all, accompanied by photos, will appear as an attachment to the digital version of Bird News, hopefully next month. Anyone wishing to get further information about the tours run by Marek is welcome to contact me. He also has a regular stand at the Global Birdfair (in July). William Earp ()

  • Tuesday 02 May – Oldbury Power Station – Leader Di Bunniss Tuesday May 02nd, 2023

    On a dry and mild morning 25 members gathered in the car park where one early arrival had spotted a Grey Partridge. We set off through the meadow, to the first lake. There we stopped to watch the Mute Swans, Tufted Ducks and a Little Grebe. A great splashing in the shallow water was later confirmed as a large pike! A male Bullfinch watched from a high tree, Grey Herons flew over, Chiffchaffs called from the bushes and Linnets were spotted on the far bank. Moving on, we walked to the reed beds where Reed Warblers were vocal, Linnets, Whitethroats and Blackcaps were also heard. Skylarks and Lesser Whitethroats were heard calling further along and a Garden Warbler, which was very exciting. At this point many of the group then stopped, determined to pinpoint the Garden Warbler, and a few managed to spot it though a Chiffchaff was trying to be heard louder. Walking on along the coastal path we went by the Power Station and turned inland passing more reed beds and scrub. Cetti’s Warblers were heard, with more Whitethroats, Goldfinches and Willow Warblers. Two Swallows flew over. We ended the walk at the orchard, where the feeders didn’t seem to have any takers this time. The many bird boxes in the orchard were commented on and hopefully some will be used this year. 50 species were recorded. (Thanks to Di for leading) Di Bunniss

  • Tuesday 25 April – Bleadon Levels Leader Jane Cumming Tuesday April 25th, 2023

    This short walk became longer than planned when we found the road closed by BT at the railway bridge. Some people drove the long way round to access the entrance to Weston STW but most parked on the closed road and hiked through, adding a couple of kilometres to the walk. All 31 of us met up near the car park to compare notes so far. The advance party heard a Cuckoo but only six laggards reached the top of the dyke at the right moment to see two Redshanks and a Short-eared Owl. Bird song filled the air with Chiffchaffs, Blackcaps, Cetti’s Warblers, thrushes and finches competing to make the most noise, but the star was a Sedge Warbler which eventually gave great views as it sang from reeds and bushes; we heard Reed Warbler and Whitethroat as well. Long-tailed Tits and a pair of Bullfinches showed in the hedgerow, Reed Bunting around the marsh and Skylarks overhead. At the river we logged Mute Swan, Mallard, Moorhen, Little Grebes, a lone Lesser Blacked-Back Gull and two Grey Wagtails. On the return journey we watched Swallows drifting northwards, together with a House and three Sand Martins. The official total on this lovely spring morning was 44 species. (Thanks to Jane for leading)

  • Sunday 23rd April – New Forest Leader Jane Cumming Sunday April 23rd, 2023

    Six members gathered at the entrance to Ashley Walk in the New Forest for this all day walk on a somewhat cloudy morning. A distant cuckoo set us off to a good start while others subsequently notified us of their presence by ‘cuckooing’ and occasionally showing well. Linnets, Goldfinch and several Blackcaps treated us to song while further down the valley Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers competed. A couple of Green Woodpeckers gave off powerful yaffles while towards the end a Great Spotted Woodpecker flew across our path. Redstarts betrayed occasional presence with song and fleeting glimpses. Other songsters included Wren and Song Thrush, the latter sometimes sounding Nuthatch-like. Lunchtime was probably our peak moment. Sitting on a ridge overlooking extensive gorse bushes, we hoped to see one of our key species – Dartford Warbler. Sure enough one suddenly popped up giving us a brief display, unfortunately missed by one member. But alas, our other key species, Woodlark, failed to show any sign of its presence despite thoroughly searching the forest lawns.
    We walked along mostly gravel tracks, steep in places, down to the valley bottom where a quick splash saw us across the small burn, amidst greening trees. Ponies were all around but gave us no trouble. Alas, no adders on show today but a spectacular Brimstone butterfly did a fly past across a sunny glade. Then, just as we reached our cars, the first raindrops fell – we were very lucky for this lovely walk, sadly not enjoyed by more members. 37 species in total. (thanks to Jane for leading). Wendy Dickson

  • Tuesday 11 April – Leap Valley Leaders: Joyce Donkor and Kate Cashmore Tuesday April 11th, 2023

    Lots of heavy showers and strong winds had been forecast to begin at various times from eleven o’clock onwards on this bright spring morning, but, undaunted, 25 members turned up. And the reward was lots of spring sunshine, many flowers in bloom including bluebells, plenty of birdsong and a total of 31 species seen, though not all by the whole group. This was a walk of mixed habitats – grassy areas, woods, streams, some quiet roads and bridges to lean over, even a motorway bridge! Chiffchaffs seemed to be everywhere, both seen and heard but only one Willow Warbler was recorded. Four Great Spotted Woodpecker and three Green Woodpecker were seen or heard, as well as plenty of Goldfinch and Coal, Blue, Great and Long-tailed Tits. The crow family was well represented with Jay, Magpie, Jackdaw and Carrion Crow. Three Sparrowhawks and three Buzzards were also noted on parts of the walk where we were out of the woods. Much peering over a bridge failed to come up with a Kingfisher but a Grey Wagtail and five Mallards were spotted. The group who were last to return to the cars also saw a Grey Heron and two Swallows. Many thanks to our leaders – for leading and making some adjustments to avoid the worst of the mud! Nancy Barrett

  • Tuesday 04 April – Hanham Leaders : Karen Birmingham, Jean Oliver, Jenny Weeks Tuesday April 04th, 2023

    In glorious sunshine, two Roe Deer were spotted from the carpark before 29 of us set off through Bickley Wood with its fabulous display of Wood Anemones, Lesser Celandine and the first Bluebells. We soon had good sightings of Blackcap, Nuthatch, Treecreepers and Goldcrest. The trees, still in bud, allowed further good views of Coal Tits, Great Spotted Woodpeckers and on emerging from the woods, Bullfinch. On the further bank of the River Avon, the heronry displayed at least 24 Herons with ten active nests, some containing chicks. Thirty-six bird species were seen in total, as well as five species of butterfly brought out by the warm sunshine. Thanks to Luke for the delicious flapjacks. (Thanks also to Karen, Jean and Jenny for leading) Karen Birmingham

  • Sunday 02 April – Inglestone Common Leader: Mike Jackson Sunday April 02nd, 2023

    This new walk around Inglestone Common yielded 37 species which given the subdued weather and in-between season, was a fair count. 13 of us set off from Lower Woods car park to make our way to the Common amid the continuous song of endless Chiffchaff. In the woodland Pied Wagtail, Nuthatch, Song Thrush and Treecreeper all made their presence known. The wooded edge of the common produced Long-tailed Tit, Bullfinch and a singing Blackcap. A Buzzard soared, five Skylarks interacted together, and a loose group of Greenfinches were either singing or feeding in the scrub. 21 Starlings were very active at the cottage gardens where House Sparrows were also noted. The original Buzzard, noted to have missing wing and tail feathers, joined three others to soar over Lance Coppice before one of them proceeded to display, climbing high before stooping, only to repeat this roller-coaster ride several times over – perhaps a young male demonstrating his intent for next Spring? At the cottage bird feeder two Coal Tits showed well before a Marsh Tit was betrayed by its call at the edge of Lower Woods. Walking back to the cars one of our group caught a brief sight of two Siskins moving through the tree tops. Thanks to Alan for keeping the species list, to all for being such good company, and to Mike for leading.
    Mike Jackson

  • Tuesday 28 March – Brean Down Leader: Graham Blacker Tuesday March 28th, 2023

    In gale force winds nine sturdy members met at the Brean cafe. Before setting off up the steep steps we managed to pick out a couple of gull species along with a noisy Cetti’s Warbler then, making our way along the road past the bird gardens ignoring their exotic calls, we stopped frequently to identify various birds calling from the brambles. We eventually made it to the top, where we noted Mallard, plus c.50 Meadow Pipits along with a couple of Stonechat. We were told Chough had been seen the previous week but we were unable to locate any. As the wind picked up even more we headed on up the steep slope. Once atop the Down a few more Meadow Pipit flew past. We admired the 360 degree view in what visibility we had, picking out Weston-super-Mare, Uphill, Cardiff, Hinckley Point and the Quantocks, and of course Steepholm and Flatholm. We soon reached the end of the Down where the fort was built in the 1870s to protect the area from a perceived attack from the French Navy. We sat for our elevenses and soaked up the lovely view of the sea still seeing plenty of birds fly past. A quick look around the fort was undertaken before heading back along the north path and back down the old military road spotting Wheatear (our first this year) Raven, Chaffinch, Kestrel, Shelduck and a Little Egret. Back at the cars we agreed what a lovely day we’d had despite the weather, with good company and good scenery, and a total of 26 species seen. (Thanks to Graham for leading) Graham Blacker

  • Tuesday 21 March – Eastville Park Leader: Rich Scantlebury Tuesday March 21st, 2023

    22 members set off along a footpath past the allotments to enter a wide field. On the distant church spire was a Peregrine Falcon, difficult to pick out with binoculars but clearly seen through Alan’s scope. A Green Woodpecker called and Dunnock, Wren, Goldfinch and Jay were heard or seen. The path led through woodland where Nuthatch and Coal Tit were added to the list. In the next field were Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Long-tailed Tits, and Jay with Chiffchaff singing loudly. At the lake area were Cormorants perched high in the trees above, and on the lake were Mallards, Canada Geese, Coot, Moorhen and Mute Swans which were nesting on the island. A Redwing was seen among the ivy on a tree, feasting on the berries. Our coffee break at this point was interrupted by a sudden and heavy downpour, so the few with full waterproofs had made the right choice! Once the downpour had ceased we walked along the main path hoping to see the Dipper without any luck, though Grey Wagtails were seen. At Stoke Park were more Chiffchaff and a Little Grebe was heard calling. From the trees came the wheezing call of Greenfinch and the more melodious sound of the Song Thrush. A Buzzard soared overhead. 39 species were counted. Thanks to Alan for keeping the bird list and Richard Scantlebury for leading us. Di Bunnis

  • Tuesday 14 March – Old Down Cricket Club Leader: Sue Black Tuesday March 14th, 2023

    The forecast encouraged 20 of us to sally forth and we were not disappointed. The morning was sunnier than predicted and almost warm! Starting across the cricket pitch we spotted Goldfinch and Chaffinch, a Raven called and was later seen. A Bullfinch and several wheezing Greenfinch added to the score. Robins were regaling us everywhere. Walking along past Tockington Manor School a Mistle Thrush perched obligingly in mistletoe. About 20 Fieldfares were spotted huddled against the wind in a tall oak. Numerous Stock Doves flew and called, as did Corvids on the fields. Skylarks called and fluttered above, heralding summer. Buzzards soared lazily overhead, and at coffee time in the sunshine we had a flypast by a red-tailed bumblebee. Challenged to detect birds in the ancient woodland of Sheepcombe Brake, sharp eyes and ears detected Blue Tits, Great Tits, Robins, Nuthatch, Blackbird, both Great Spotted and Green Woodpeckers, and finally Treecreeper. Also seen were Hairy Curtain Crust and Velvet Shanks fungi (thank you Jean!). 29 species of birds. (Thanks to Sue for leading) Sue Black

  • Sunday 12 March – Forest of Dean, Nags Head Leader: Robert Hargreaves Sunday March 12th, 2023

    A group of eleven set out from the RSPB Nagshead visitor centre to Cannop Ponds and back, a five mile circuit. We walked through mixed terrain of new and old woodland, quarries, brooks and ponds, using a range of techniques to traverse fallen trees and muddy banks. The weather was kind to us, with plenty of sunshine; the predicted late afternoon rain held off. As we climbed through the woods on the Nagshead section of the walk we saw Goldcrest and a Firecrest, as well as Nuthatch, and a Treecreeper. Looking out across the valley a Buzzard soared and then perched on a tree in plain view. We descended to Cannop Ponds where we ate lunch watching the abundance of waterfowl and at least three previously elusive Siskin which descended on the feeding stations giving close up views. We saw Goosander, Wigeon, Mandarin, Tufted Duck, and Little Grebe. An elusive Dipper popped in and out of view in the stream between the ponds. A Sparrowhawk soared overhead and in the far distance we caught sight of another bird of prey – was it the Goshawk we’d been hoping to spot all day? A hastily convened panel of experts agreed it was. In all, we saw 41 species. A huge thanks to Jane Cumming for a full list of sightings and to Robert Hargreaves for leading. David Gunnell

  • Tuesday 07 March – Elm Farm, Burnett Leader: Philippa Paget Tuesday March 07th, 2023

    22 people assembled at the farmyard on a surprisingly clement day given the doom laden forecast. A Great Spotted Woodpecker and a Coal Tit visited the nearby feeders whilst Philippa gave a short talk on the set up and ethos of the farm. Then we set off into the fields where Chaffinch, Greenfinch and eventually Yellowhammers were spotted amongst the tops of the trees along the field boundaries. Moving further on we were advised to keep to the edges of the track as Philippa had spread seed along the middle for the birds, and Chaffinch (c150), Redwing, Linnet, Goldfinch and a Robin were taking advantage. As we carried on, a pair of Red Kite flew over us and circled off. Whilst we were having coffee, a Green Woodpecker was heard and a Kestrel and a Grey Heron put in appearances in the trees by the Chew. Shortly after a Buzzard replaced the Heron at the top of a dead tree and sat there with wings outstretched, presumably drying them – an amazing sight. We then headed down the hill and along the road to Compton Dando sewage works where two Goldcrest, two Dunnock, a Chiffchaff, a Robin and a Wren were in attendance but only the first arrivers saw the Hume’s Leaf Warbler which then went to ground in the large bramble bush. Finally we plodded back up the hill on the road to the farm. Thanks to Philippa for leading. 38 species seen in total. Alan Craddock

  • Sunday 05 March – Portbury Wharf Leader: Giles Morris Sunday March 05th, 2023

    Six members gathered on Sheepway for this morning walk, with another joining us part way around. A Song Thrush was singing as we assembled and was soon joined by both Goldfinch and Greenfinch. As we set off down Sheepway Lane a pair of Bullfinches moved through the hedges ahead of us, though only the female showed clearly. An owl box in a neighbouring field attracted attention, not least for the pair of Stock Doves that were checking it out as a potential nest site. A tree full of Woodpigeons behind the box gave a good size and plumage comparison. Further down the track a Jay moved through the woods next to the dock car pound and then a Great Spotted Woodpecker gave excellent views in the dead elms. The fields at the end of the lane contained a flock of Pied Wagtails and panicky Field (?) Vole which was scuttling around in the open. An obliging Stonechat also gave good views before we moved on through to the seawall. The salt marsh contained a number of Canada Geese, with Shelduck and Curlew visible on the mud beyond. As we approached the reserve a small pair of geese passed rapidly overhead flying north, their big white wing panels identifying them as Egyptian Geese. From the hides we were able to see a good selection of wildfowl with Wigeon in the greatest numbers. A Cetti’s Warbler was heard singing and a very close Chiffchaff was foraging in the bramble by the hide. Having seen two Kestrels on the old pylons, there was some discussion about the suitability of the new cylindrical pylons for perching raptors. The question was answered minutes later when one of the birds moved to a new pylon, finding a small peg protruding from the crossbar on which to settle. An enjoyable morning in pleasant company with 46 species seen. (Thanks to Giles for leading) Giles Morris

  • Tuesday 28 February – Forest of Dean Leader: Graham Blacker Tuesday February 28th, 2023

    30 birders (including five new members) met at New Fancy View on a drizzly morning, where we hoped to see Goshawk and/or Crossbill, unfortunately, neither were seen. We did see a couple of Bullfinch and Song Thrush before we split into two groups, one of which visited RSPB Nags Head the other continuing with the original itinerary. Stopping at Speech House for our coffee break we managed to see numerous Blue and Great Tits on a feeder along with a couple of Nuthatch and Song Thrush. Moving on to Cannop Ponds, we were treated to a large group of c20 Chaffinch, seven Nuthatch, lots of Robin and three Grey Wagtails feeding on mealworm which a kindly lady had dropped for them. Continuing onto the top pond we saw four Long-tailed Tits at very close range, bathing and making a huge fuss in a small stream. Carrying on we were greeted by 25 Mandarin Duck in the company of c50 Mallard, seven Tufted Duck, four Coot, two Canada Geese, four Greylag Geese, six Goosander and two Little Grebes along with the usual suspects. (The breakaway group also saw three Hawfinches, Greenfinch, Jay, Treecreeper and Siskin. Five Wild Boar were also spotted with a scope along with at least five stripey piglets) All in all, both groups spotted a total of 35 species in what turned out to be a wonderful day. (Thanks to Graham for leading). Graham Blacker

  • 24 to 27 February – North Norfolk Leader: Jane Cumming Friday February 24th, 2023

    A group of 18 with some outliers were based in Hunstanton through four days of penetrating north-easterly cold but mostly dry weather. Our hotel was close to the shore and we could sea watch from some bedrooms. Early morning visits saw Fulmars cruising and roosting along the cliffs, Oystercatchers, Turnstones, a Sanderling and Knot on the shore, and Brent Geese, Eiders, Scoters, Red-breasted Mergansers and divers at sea. Surrounding countryside was generally full of Lapwing, geese, Stock Dove, hares; and skies of Red Kite, Kestrel and Buzzard.
    Our first stop was Welney Fenland WWT. Tree Sparrows were showing their surprisingly brightly patterned heads at a feeder; a Short-eared Owl beyond, and hundreds of Pochard, a score of Whooper Swans, and Pintail on the viewing lake across the river. The first of many Barn Owls appeared, and Goosanders on a drainage river.
    Next was Roydon Common. As dusk drew on, eight Red Kites came from nearby woodland on one side to fly low before roosting, and then a magic display of two Marsh and at least five Hen Harriers appeared, almost skimming the ground through low shrubs with the Hens showing ghostly pale. Next day started at coastal Thornham Marshes with creeks, salt marsh and dunes, where we saw great skeins of Brent Geese, Ringed and Grey Plover, both godwit species, Red Kites, Merlin, Buzzard and Marsh Harrier. For the only time on the trip, a sharp hail squall briefly drove us to shelter. Moving on, we had a wonderful view of a Barn Owl lifting up and down amongst orchard trees.
    Down the coast at Holkham Fresh Marsh we looked across lakes in front of pine-wooded dunes, where around 100 flying Egyptian Geese showed sharply black and white wings with similar numbers of White-fronted Geese. Round the lake were Greylags and Great White Egret, and three large white gracefully flying birds could only have been Spoonbill!
    In fields at adjacent Lady Anne’s Drive we had close views of four dainty Pink-footed Geese showing their neat dark heads, stubby pink-streaked bills and pink legs. Down the coast at the Norfolk Wildlife Centre at Cley, we saw Black-tailed Godwit, Avocet, Shoveler and Pintail. A sea watch at shingled Coastguards produced distant auks, but the walk to the coast at adjacent Cley East Bank through reed lakes and salt marsh produced Little Grebe, Teal, Wigeon, Gadwall, Shoveller, Grey Plover, a flock of Golden Plovers incorporating some fine Ruffs, Redshank, Water Rail and Marsh Harriers. Final stop was the high grassy cliffs at Weybourne by Holt, to look for Lapland Buntings in adjacent turf and arable fields. These yielded Yellowhammers, Meadow Pipits, Grey and Red-legged Partridge, Pied Wagtail and Reed Bunting. The beach below stretched endlessly with rough grey and white seas laying a veil of fine salt mist across the dunes; in a flock of Gulls immediately below, we could pick Common Gulls from Black-headed by their gently streaked heads – as elsewhere we had been able to see their lovely ‘mirror’ wing markings revealed in low flight.
    Next day we visited Titchwell Reserve. The feeding area in woodland by the reception buildings showed a few decorative Bramblings, Greenfinch, Chaffinch, Siskin, a Water Rail in the nearby ditch, and a Song Thrush singing. Another long walk out to the sea went past a series of salt marsh lakes, extensive reed beds and the large viewing building, where we saw/heard assorted geese, Wigeon, Teal, Tufted Duck, Greenshank, Ruff, Black-tailed Godwit, Ringed Plover, Snipe, Cetti’s Warblers and Linnets. A sea watch produced mostly very distant scoters, Cormorants, Red-throated Diver and Great Crested Grebe, with Sanderlings along the beach. Then to Holkham Gap Reserve to find Shore Larks. In fields beside the access drive were hundreds of Wigeon and geese; a Mistle Thrush in the same field spot where one had been seen last year – as were two confiding Grey Partridge in their field within spitting distance of the road, very well camouflaged till spotted when their superb lush plumage and male dark belly crescent could easily be seen; accompanied by an equally relaxed Snipe. We walked through the pine woods to the huge extent of open beach, dune and salt marsh beyond, where a fair trudge east brought us to a fenced off area of scrubby grass. Here it was easy to spot a little flock of ten Shore Lark busily scuttling along as they fed, with charming yellow and black patterned heads, and bodies more like a rounded bunting than a rangy lark! A Sparrowhawk flew through the pines on return – our only one.
    Driving back as the sun lowered, we stopped at Choseley Barns, a relatively high area of arable fields rich with hares, deer, Yellowhammers, Red-legged Partridge. Here we saw many more Barn Owls drifting across or along the roads home.
    On our last day we decided to swap Lynford Arboretum (for Hawfinch) for the chance of Long-eared Owls at Deeping Reserve in Lincolnshire. A quiet place of lakes and woodland by the River Welland, we saw our first Green Woodpeckers as we approached the current Long-eared Owl viewing spot, on a lake edge facing a thickly-vegetated island. A kind birder showed us where two owls were sitting lightly screened by trees there – incredible views of this most nocturnal bird so rarely seen, showing plumage of royal richness, soft cat’s ears erect, and deep gold eyes briefly glimpsed as they dozed through the day.
    Total bird species: 116. Huge thanks to Jane for successfully leading us to so many rare species, and to Alastair and new driver Ian for the long drives. Lois Pryce

  • Tuesday 21 February – Chipping Sodbury Common Leader: Alan Daniells Tuesday February 21st, 2023

    22 members met in Hatters Lane on a damp, overcast morning with very little wind. In the trees along the road and footpath, before we crossed St Johns Way, we were treated to a mixed flock of tits and finches including Greenfinch, along with several Dunnocks. In Trinity Lane we saw more small birds including Chaffinch and House Sparrow and the first of many Redwings. Approaching The Windmill, there were seven Meadow Pipit and two Reed Bunting on wires. A large flock of c100 Redwing was flying between trees and the ground with a few Goldfinch and Fieldfare amongst them. Unusually, this turned out to be the busiest section of the walk. We continued on down into the main scrub area which was generally quiet, although we did manage to see a Kestrel and some more Goldfinch. After coffee we carried on toward the Little Owl tree (who was not at home), on the way spying a pair of Bullfinch flying past. They settled in a Hawthorn and fed on the buds. We watched them for some time, probably the highlight of the walk. Around 50 Herring Gull were circling overhead. We started our return, crossing the high open area toward Horton Road where Skylarks were seen fighting and displaying. Many of the same birds as before were seen along Trinity Lane and Hatters Lane, adding Long-tailed Tit and Song Thrush. 29 species seen or heard altogether. (Thanks to Alan for leading). Alan Daniells

  • Tuesday 14 February – Ashton Court Leader: Graham Blacker Tuesday February 14th, 2023

    On a dry bright day 30 members met in the car park near the golf course and were greeted by the lovely sound of singing Skylarks. (The parking charge is now £4 for 5 hours.) We took a circular four mile clockwise route through the Red Deer Park down to the Lodge and over to Clarken Coombe Lodge and Woods. Then back past Barn Wood and the edge of the golf course to the Miniature Railway and on to the car park. A total of 31 species were detected, some by sound only such as Blackcap, Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush, Greenfinch and Yellowhammer. There were however wonderful views of a Buzzard soaring above us. There were also sightings of Sparrowhawk, Kestrel and Raven. Of the smaller birds the most numerous was 19 Blue Tits but we also saw Great, Coal and Long-tailed Tits. Some had sightings of Bullfinch, Goldfinch and Goldcrest as well as Nuthatch and Treecreeper. Many thanks to Graham Blacker for leading a delightful morning enhanced by the flowering daffodils and crocus. Beth Yates

  • Sunday 12 February – Exe Estuary coach trip Leader: Jane Cumming Sunday February 12th, 2023

    The annual coach trip to the Exe Estuary arrived at Dawlish Warren just after 10:00. After a pleasant close-up encounter with six Turnstones, a scan of the bay produced little with around twelve Great Crested Grebes and two Eider being the highlights. Walking the dunes alongside the golf course a small group of Skylarks fed on the ground next to 14 Oystercatchers. A Chiffchaff fed in the birch scrub surrounding a pool that supported four Shovelers, Teal and Water Rail. Three of our group managed a sighting of the reported Cirl Buntings while two others glimpsed a Dartford Warbler, naturally in Gorse scrub. Two Stonechats gave us good views as we returned to the coach. After clinching Kestrel and Treecreeper at Powderham, all 32 of us embarked upon a walk to Exminster Marshes taking in many wildfowl and waders as we went. Black-tailed Godwit, Curlew, Redshank and Dunlin were numerous on the mud while Brent Goose and Lapwing spread themselves over the fields. At the canal lock a Ruff and a Greenshank were many people’s ‘bird of the day’ as were the eight Red-breasted Merganser on the receding tide. Here, from the Turf Hotel, Grey and Golden Plover, and Avocet made use of the expanding mud. The marshes were a bit quieter but c. 400 Brent Goose was a spectacle as a Marsh Harrier kept the ducks, which included Pintail, Shelduck and Wigeon, forever wary. In total we listed 73 species seen or heard. Thanks to Judy for organising and to Jane for leading. Mike Jackson

  • Tuesday 07 February – Winterbourne Leader: Mike Jackson Tuesday February 07th, 2023

    22 of us set off in glorious sunshine to walk the fields and brookside woodlands of Winterbourne’s western edge. The obliging Redwing seeing us off would be the first of more than 50 that we would eventually see. As Goldcrest, House Sparrow and Robin made themselves known we entered the first frosty field to see a small group of Meadow Pipit. With Herring Gull on the ground and a Lesser Black-backed Gull cruising by, we headed to St. Michaels Church, adding Fieldfare, Jay, Dunnock and two singing Skylark as we went. Coffee was taken at Monk’s Pool LNR under the gaze of a pylon-perched male Peregrine. A Kestrel then checked us out prior to gliding east, before the female Peregrine briefly alighted on the pylon before heading north. The male stayed to watch us on our way which led us to plenty of activity from enthusiastic Great Spotted Woodpeckers, two or three at a time drumming and calling. The adjacent Bradley Brook LNR gave us Long-tailed Tits, more woodpeckers, and another Goldcrest. We ticked Buzzard, Pied Wagtail, more winter thrush, and a Song Thrush. As we walked the last few fields we passed a large loose flock of Fieldfare, their plumage so well defined as if immaculately prepared for the oncoming breeding season. Thanks go to the group for providing such good company, to Alan for keeping the list of 34 species (and to Mike for leading). Mike Jackson

  • Sunday 05 February – Chew Valley Lake Leader: Alan Daniells Sunday February 05th, 2023

    Six members met at Herriott’s Bridge on a dry, sunny, but chilly morning. The water was very high which seemed to have put off all the waders. At Herriott’s we saw Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Shelduck, Gadwall, Mallard, Teal, Tufted Duck, Scaup, Goldeneye, Coot, Great Crested Grebe, Black-headed Gull, Common Gull, Herring Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Cormorant, Jackdaw, a Grey Heron, and a Grey Wagtail. One possible first year Mediterranean Gull was spotted on the pool. At Stratford Hide, we were surprised to see the area either side of the boardwalk completely flooded and the islands in front of the hide under water. From the hide we added Pochard to the list, heard a Cetti’s Warbler and possibly glimpsed it in the reeds. Great Spotted and Green Woodpecker were both heard. Moving onto the Moreton Hide we saw a Jay along the lane and around 100 Redwing in the fields. At the lake, we saw a Kingfisher. Raven were calling. A female Sparrowhawk was flying between trees and perching when we exited the hide. At Herons Green we spotted a female Smew and a Great Black-backed Gull as well as a Great White Egret, and a Little Egret on the pool. Some of us moved on to Villice Hide where we completed the list with Wigeon, a female Shoveler and a Goldcrest. 36 species in total (thanks to Alan for leading). Alan Daniells

  • Tuesday 31 January 31- Watercress Farm, Wraxall Leader: Alastair Fraser Tuesday January 31st, 2023

    39 members turned out for this new walk and were not disappointed! Starting at the farmhouse with an introduction about the site from Alastair, we first went to Watercress Wood where three Great Spotted Woodpeckers put on quite a display for us and loud drumming was heard too. On the bank of the nearby stream a Kingfisher nest hole was pointed out – a first for many of us. The early grey, drizzly morning turned into one of warm sunshine which helped identification for those of us who needed it. Along the hedgerows of the rough pasture fields were Stonechat and Yellowhammer, a distant Sparrowhawk and the first of many Skylark were heard and then seen. Moving up on the bridleway towards the railway, Fieldfare and Redwing were spotted in nearby pasture. As we continued around the site, we spent some time looking at a re-wilded field and its borders with an astounding estimate of 1000 Chaffinches plus Linnet and Yellowhammer and more Skylarks above. A large flock of Stock Doves were observed and a hunting Kestrel and then, at a field uncultivated for at least three years, more Stonechats, Song Thrush and a Buzzard. Near our finish there was still more to come with parties of Siskin and Long-tailed Tits feeding close by and a Kingfisher bringing the total of species seen to 32.
    Many thanks to Alastair for a superb morning and introducing us to a wonderful place. Nancy Barrett

  • Saturday 28 January 2023 – Marshfield Leader: Sue and Nigel Kempson Saturday January 28th, 2023

    Shortly after leaving Tanners Lane, our attention was drawn to a string of birds on telegraph wires. Scope views confirmed them as a mix of Starlings and Corn Buntings. A small flock of Common Gulls flew past, and a Stonechat was found perched on a stone wall. The horses’ field held a good number of Fieldfare (we counted over 125 during the course of our walk). A pair of Yellowhammers and several more Corn Buntings were found in the hedgerows and some Skylark flew overhead. Looking across the valley over Rushmead Lane, two perched raptors were seen simultaneously. The first was a female Kestrel on a wire (rather distant), the second was a splendid Red Kite sitting on a post. A flock of 250 Lapwings was also seen flying over the fields.Rushmead Lane was initially disappointing although a pair of Red-legged Partridge was spotted at the far side of the field. Walking to the end of the road, we identified a Stock Dove and a flock of finches (probably Linnets) together with more Yellowhammers. The walk back along the road was relatively uneventful although we enjoyed the sight of four Roe Deer across the valley and three Buzzards wheeling overhead. 34 species seen. Thanks to Sue and Nigel for leading Peter Bryant

  • Tuesday 24 January – Gordano Valley Leader: Geoff Harris Tuesday January 24th, 2023

    28 people met on a below freezing bright day. We started with Magpie, many Carrion Crow, Wood Pigeon and two Buzzards at a distance, one being very pale. Along Clevedon Lane Chaffinch, many Blue and Great Tits, Blackbirds, Long-tailed Tits were seen with Ravens overhead. Heading across the valley Bullfinch were noted, then just before coffee two to three pairs of Stonechat and a Fieldfare. A Mute Swan flew over, and then we were treated to a flight of Lapwings approximately 20, plus three Curlews and four Snipe erupting from the ground. A large mixed flock of Crows, Jackdaws and a lone Rook were seen. Finally, Goldfinch, Pied Wagtails and House Sparrows. A total of 25 species seen or heard. (Thanks to Geoff for leading) Geoff Harris

  • Tuesday 17 January – Shapwick Heath/Ham Wall Leader: Mark Watson Tuesday January 17th, 2023

    A very cold but bright sunny day gave us so much birdlife with clear views starting on the Shapwick reserve before crossing to the RSPB Ham Wall reserve. On Shapwick there were many duck including numerous Shoveler, Gadwall, Mallard, Teal, Pochard, some Tufted Duck, Coot and more! Of particular note was the male American Wigeon, showing its eye-catching green “cheek” and continuing to reside with the many other smaller Eurasian Wigeon viewed from the Tower Hide area. Our first Marsh Harrier flew low, its cream head catching the sun as it quartered the reed beds, with its distinctive profile and large slow wing beats. We heard Cetti’s Warbler in both areas and on walking to Ham Wall we saw a darting Kingfisher and heard a squealing Water Rail in contrast to the hollow whistle of a Bullfinch. There was also a Reed Bunting and Lesser Redpoll, several Snipe and a pair of Stonechats. It was interesting to compare the size of a little Egret almost alongside a Great White Egret and a nearby Grey Heron. Also seen were Canada Geese and Mute Swan. A large flock of Lapwings rose to the sky in response to another Marsh Harrier approaching. The trees and shrubs housed a wide variety of smaller birds including a large number of Long-tailed Tits, Goldfinches and a single Siskin. A flying Bittern was a treat for some, before the spectacle of an excellent murmuration of Starlings displaying against a beautiful orange sunset. A large number “swished” back and forth before dropping down to chatter and find their “pecking order” in the reeds for the night. There were 36 species and 28 walkers. Several members only joined us later, in time
    to enjoy the theatre of the Starlings. Thanks to Mark for leading. Sue Watson

  • Sunday 15 January – Clevedon Leader: Jason Williams Sunday January 15th, 2023

    We started the walk from Wains Hill and headed towards The Pill where scoping produced a Curlew, two Common Gulls and an Oystercatcher. Three Rock Pipits and a Stonechat were seen well. We continued to the Blind Yeo and walked up to Lower Strode Road adding a Little Egret and a few common passerines on the way. Two Goosander were seen briefly before they disappeared around the corner. Shelter was in short supply as a squall hit us with torrential rain for a short period as we headed to a very flooded Dowlais. Here there were small groups of Shelduck and Lapwing but the highlight was two Peregrines stood in the middle of a flooded field (this increased to three Peregrines on the way back!). The Peregrines appeared to be an adult male and female along with a juvenile bird so perhaps one of last year’s young still hanging around. At the Kenn there were around 80 Redshank along with 35 Curlew and some Wigeon and Teal. Heading back to Clevedon there were half a dozen Turnstone on Blackstone rocks and twelve Goosander had appeared in the Pill which were enjoyed by all. Thanks to the twelve members who joined me. (Thanks to Jason for leading) Jason Williams

  • Tuesday 10 January – Easter Compton Leader: Graham Blacker Tuesday January 10th, 2023

    Mud, glorious mud! We saw quite a bit of it and some areas were a challenge to negotiate. The walk started from the Fox Inn, leading past the church and across fields and areas of uncultivated rough pasture. Plenty of bird life was visible including Redwing, Fieldfare, flocks of Goldfinches and Blue Tit. We squelched along to reach a wooded area for our coffee break. Passing Berwick Lodge three Shovelers took flight from the pond area and Teal were heard calling. We then crossed the M5 via a small footbridge. Along the route we saw Goldcrest, Redwing, Fieldfare, and heard a Green Woodpecker call. At one point, nearing Hallen, Marsh Tit were heard calling but we couldn’t see them among the trees. We followed the Spanorium Skyway route which led under the M5, then back over to rejoin the route at Berwick Lodge and thus back to the start. Thanks to Graham for leading. Di Bunniss

  • Sunday 08 January – Westhay Moor NNR Leader: Jenny Vickers Sunday January 08th, 2023

    The forecast was for sunshine and showers throughout the day. Not ideal, but certainly good enough weather for a visit to the fabulous Westhay. So, eleven people met in the car park and ventured into the reserve. At the first hide, we had bright sunshine with dramatic grey clouds giving a beautiful light. This nicely showed the plumages of the Teal, Wigeon, Gadwall and Shoveler. The trees by the paths yielded Tits and Goldcrest, with Cetti’s Warblers and Water Rail calling from deep cover. We reached the Tower Hide just in time to shelter from a downpour. A solitary Snipe zig-zagged away, a male Marsh Harrier flew across the reeds, a couple of distant Mute Swans impersonated Egrets, an actual Great White Egret made a brief appearance, and we had a fleeting glimpse of a Water Rail darting across a gap in the reeds. Many of the birds seemed to be sheltering out of sight, but we were able to practise the useful skill of identifying ducks in flight. The rain eased and we headed off to the further areas of the reserve. The large lagoons held good numbers of ducks, Canada Geese and a couple of Greylags, plus stunning male and female Goosander. In total, 33 species were seen on the walk. Thanks to Jenny for leading the walk, to Alan for recording the bird count, and to all present for their great company in rather damp conditions. Tim Fell

  • Tuesday 03 January – Newton St Loe Leader: Robert Hargreaves Tuesday January 03rd, 2023

    Eight intrepid walkers, appropriately suited and booted for the foul weather, met at the church. Our route down to Ripple Effect (formerly Send-a-Cow) was quiet for birds except for a fine flock of Goldfinch; similarly quiet along the wooded lane and the more open track to the waterfall. Maybe the persistent rain had something to do with it. The waterfall was gushing down with no sign of the usual Grey Wagtail. The first up to the lake had the only glimpse of a Kingfisher, and another the only Grey Heron. Top Lake gave us more water birds. Sheltering in the pavilion we had a chance to admire the Teal, tinkling away noisily, a Tufted Duck, two Little Grebe, and spot the four nests of last year’s heronry. Back into the wet, over the bridge and up through the woods we were pleased to spot Nuthatch, lots of Tits, hear a Chiffchaff and get a count of 100 Mallard. We retraced our steps to the lake to give more shelter then turned up into the university. Coming out of the wooded area a Green Woodpecker flew across the lake while a few of us at the rear were excited to find a group of Siskins high in the treetops. Our return via the university drive and muddy fields took us to the far end of the village where we had Chaffinches and Tits attracted to garden feeders, an obliging Kestrel, a Buzzard, and a Stonechat fleetingly perched in the horse fields. Grateful for the road underfoot we walked back to the church. In spite of the poor weather it had been an enjoyable walk with 38 species altogether. Thanks to Robert for leading. Anne Crowe

  • Sunday 01 January – Slimbridge Leader: Di Bunniss Sunday January 01st, 2023

    A group of approximately 25 met in the carpark for the traditional New Year visit to Slimbridge. We were fortunate with the weather, which stayed dry for the main part of the day. As we met up we were already seeing large flocks of Lapwing circling overhead, with their particular ‘floppy wing’ style, and flocks of Greylag Geese and Golden Plovers flying past heading for the lakes. Once on site most of the group headed for the northern hides, starting with the Peng Hide, where a Scaup was rumoured to be lurking among the Tufted Ducks. Here were many Bewick swans, some in family groups. After discussions about identifying Scaup we wandered between the hides, having terrific views over the lakes and marshes, where distant cranes were feeding. Golden Plovers and Lapwings were seen in their hundreds, Snipe hiding among the reeds and Ruff feeding along the water edges, among the Redshank, Godwits, Dunlin, Wigeon and Teal. From the Estuary Tower were excellent views of the Barnacle Geese, one Ross’s Goose and one Snow Goose. A distant Peregrine was settled on a tree stump. Each hide was sure to have a few club members inside, so always someone to share information, sightings and a chance to peer through a ‘scope. Hours later, the Scaup was still a subject of much debate and interest. Over 50 species were recorded. Thanks to everyone who made it such an enjoyable visit. Di Bunniss

  • Tuesday 27 Dec – Portbury Wharf Leader: Roger Hawley Tuesday December 27th, 2022

    Fourteen members wishing to undo the effects of too much Christmas food set out for Portbury Wharf on a dull and mild day. The railway bridge is a good viewing point and we had distant views of Great Spotted Woodpecker and Redwings. In Wharf Lane Goldcrest, Chaffinch and Goldfinch were seen, as were the new pylons being erected. From the first hide a pair of Gadwall showed. As usual the second hide provided the best views, with Cormorant, Shelduck, Widgeon, Stonechat, Lapwing, Redshank and Teal. The Tower hide overlooking the Wharf was closed for structural reasons so the embankment was the place to set up the scopes and survey the salt marsh with Canada Geese, Curlew, Linnet and one of our sharp eyed observers saw a long distant view of Common Sandpipers at Portishead Pill. At the end of the embankment is a new well constructed timber bridge that makes it much easier to cross the ditch. The long drove gave us Green Woodpecker, Chiffchaff and Jay to make a total of 49. The walk finished just before the rain started. (Thanks to Roger for leading) Roger Hawley

  • Tuesday 20 Dec – Snuff Mills Leader: Nick Hawkridge Tuesday December 20th, 2022

    What a lovely day for the last walk before Christmas. We trod the usual path up the south side of the River Frome. The first stretch of woodland was nearly silent but with plenty of tits and Goldcrest to be seen. The rear half of the 15 walkers managed to see Treecreeper and Great Spotted Woodpecker and caught up the front half who were onto a couple of Nuthatch and a flighty Jay. Two treats at the coffee stop. Firstly thanks for the lovely mince pies and secondly thanks to the Jay for dive bombing a Sparrowhawk causing it to flee from its conifer right over our heads. It did however perch nearby so its pictures could be taken. Down again to the river at Frenchay Bridge where, upriver, we saw a Kingfisher, flitting from one low slung perch to another, hunting for its lunch. Heading back past the oxbow, a few Mallard and Moorhen braved the torrent and another Kingfisher was particularly obliging by coming over to our side of the river to show off her finery – much to the delight of the family who had stopped to watch. What special sight these birds must have to see into such turgid depths. Back to the cars with 30 species seen and a three quid’s worth of parking well spent. (Thanks to Nick for leading) Nick Hawkridge

  • Saturday 17 December – Oldbury Power Station Leader: Pete Hazelwood Saturday December 17th, 2022

    An exceptionally rich walk round a still but very cold Oldbury Power Station ended with 60 bird species seen. 14 people met at 08.30 – early enough for the sun to be rising as we travelled there; and many eyes found many birds, including Shelduck, Teal, Wigeon, Tufted Duck, Gadwall and a handsome male Pintail (the latter ducks presumably driven from their usual currently frozen lakes).There was also Lapwing, Curlew, Grey Plover, a single Bar-tailed and Black-tailed Godwit, Turnstone, over 1000 Dunlin, Redshank, Snipe, a Woodcock flushed from a grassy bank in Lagoon 2, Common Gull, Cormorant, Heron, a single Cattle Egret flying over, and extraordinarily – two Mute Swans who had made and maintained a circular ice free area in the frozen lake. Raptors and corvids included a Buzzard, two Kestrel, two Sparrowhawk, two Peregrine, two Raven and five Rook. Smaller birds seen included Skylark, Long-tailed Tit, Starling flocks, a Mistle Thrush, ten Song Thrush (eight on the salt marsh along the shore – looking desperate our leader thought!), Redwing and Fieldfare, Meadow Pipit, Linnet flocks, Chaffinch, Bullfinch, Reed Bunting – and for those who love Yellowhammers, a flock of at least 17 in the salt marsh and adjacent hedgerow by Thornbury Sailing Club south of the power station. We also saw two Hares tucked in like small boulders on open meadow, a Fox snoozing into a south facing bank just above the lake, and most amazingly – at least three Common Dolphins hunting up the Severn with gulls circling above. Thanks to Pete for leading. Lois Pryce

  • Tuesday 13 December – Pensford Leaders : Mike Landon and Alan Craddock Tuesday December 13th, 2022

    Ten intrepid and initially very cold members set off from the village hall car park. A quick trip across the main road for a peek over the bridges proved fruitless, unfortunately, so we pressed on to the Common where we saw floppy flights of Lapwings heading west. A Green Woodpecker gave us an undulating fly-past followed by the first Sparrowhawk of the day. Plenty of Redwings about and a Goldcrest gave us a brief show as we passed through a copse. Shortly after this a second Sparrowhawk was seen which was being pursued by a Carrion Crow. A flock of Chaffinches were raiding a field of stubble along the hedgerow ahead of us. On to Lords Wood for a coffee break where a Nuthatch was heard but not seen. Approaching Nutgrove Farm, we were lucky enough to see a large flock of Fieldfares in the field sloping away to our left and ahead of us many Goldfinches, Chaffinches and Redwings whizzed between the trees and the ground. Two Yellowhammers made a brief appearance in the hedge behind us. As we passed the farm we disturbed a couple of Ravens who were taking a not disinterested view of some chicken coops. Meadow Pipits and Pied Wagtails rounded off our trip along with the languid flight of a Little Egret. 42 species in total. Thanks to Mike for co-leading, Alan C for leading and Alan Daniells for the records. Alan Craddock

  • Tuesday 06 December – Saltford Leader: Robert Hargreaves Tuesday December 06th, 2022

    On a dull day 36 walkers set off from The Riverside, where the BOC Christmas lunch was to be held. Shortly after starting a Great Spotted Woodpecker was seen, a Mistle Thrush called to show itself, a Grey Heron looked attentive on the river bank and a Sparrowhawk swished by. A Cormorant perched high on a tree. Another birder told us the Little Owl was showing on the cliff facing the river, so on we raced, with Fieldfare and Redwing flying around. A Stonechat was spotted with another Heron and lots of Common Gulls but no Little Owl! Disappointing, as for some it would have been a first for the year, but our leader promised another look on the way back. We turned back and took the road up to Avon Farm, avoiding the muddy tracks. This gave us Collared Dove, more Great Spotted Woodpeckers, a Raven, Long-tailed Tit, Goldcrest and a field with over fifty winter thrushes. A brief coffee stop at Avon Farm gave us a Pied Wagtail. Needing to be back by 12.15 we retraced our steps and looked for the Little Owl but again we were disappointed. A short diversion up onto the cycle track for another look along the river, then a hurry back to The Riverside. Our short walk had brought us water birds including seven Mute Swans and two Moorhen, and the usual small birds with a notable Chiffchaff; 37 species altogether. Then, with a few non-walkers joining us, we sat down to an excellent Christmas lunch. It was quite special to be reviving the Tuesday Group Christmas walk and lunch tradition. Thanks to Mike Landen for organising it so efficiently. We left some of the group still looking for the Little Owl. Thanks to Robert for leading. Anne Crowe

  • Saturday 03 December – Eastville Park and Stoke Park Leader: Richard Scantlebury Saturday December 03rd, 2022

    On a cold but dry day ten of us walked down from Thingwall Park into the Frome Valley, spotting Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Great Tit and a total of twelve Redwings in the woodland. Above the river, we had good views of a male Kingfisher, and on the first weir there was a Heron and a Grey Wagtail. Four Stock Doves showed and two Jays. At Stoke Park a Nuthatch was heard and then seen, and also flocks of Blue and Great Tits, Goldfinches and 14 Long-tailed Tits. Eleven Cormorants flew over. A Buzzard was being chased off by a Magpie, and several more Goldfinches were feeding on the thistles on which a pair of Stonechats briefly perched. Two Goldcrests and two Dunnock were also spotted. The ponds had attracted many birds – Mute Swans, Black-headed gulls, Mallard (and a white duck), Moorhens and Coots. As we circled the larger pond a Water Rail suddenly broke cover from the rushes, flying up right behind the leader’s back. Returning via Stapleton Church there was no Peregrine today. A total of 34 species were seen. Thanks to Richard for leading. Kate Cashmore
    Postscript to Eastville Park walk; Alan Jefferies and I carried on towards the weir after the walk. I noticed something in the river just upstream from where Fishponds Brook joins the river. It was an otter, probably a female. We watched for a short time until the otter disappeared. By then we had very close views of a Kingfisher, taking advantage of the otter to fish, and nearby a Treecreeper. Richard Scantlebury

  • Tuesday 29 November – South Stoke Leader: Graham Blacker Tuesday November 29th, 2022

    Seven intrepid walkers met in the village of South Stoke just south of Bath on a very foggy morning. Setting off along Packhorse Lane we stopped to look across the valley at the fantastic views – apparently you should see Westbury White Horse from here, but we could hardly see the hedgerow. We turned into a field hoping to see maybe Pied Wagtail but not today. Continuing down the valley we came to a stream, and looking into the high trees we saw Goldcrest, Great Tit, Blue Tit and heard Nuthatch. Moving on we stopped for a well deserved coffee break at the reservoir under the old railway viaduct. Then we ascended 92 steps to the old S and D railway path and continued to the Midford station where we spotted plenty of Long-tailed Tit. We carried on along the Cam brook/Somerset coal canal seeing Buzzard and Sparrowhawk along the way, then leaving the path we joined the long incline back to our cars. Not a lot of bird life but a lovely walk nevertheless with 33 species in total. (Thanks to Graham for leading.) Graham Blacker

  • Tuesday 22 November – Chew Valley and Lake Leader: Mike Landen Tuesday November 22nd, 2022

    It was a lovely November day with sunshine and rather warmer than expected as 28 of us set off from the main car park at the lake towards the dam wall. On the way we saw a couple of Long-tailed Tits. We then managed to see a number of species that included Canada Goose (two), Mallard, Goldeneye (two), Great Crested Grebe (twelve plus), Pochard (twelve plus), Tufted Duck, Black-headed Gull, Herring Gull and Cormorant. As we walked back towards the entrance, we had fairly distant views of two Red Kites flying at the opposite end of the Lake. We then walked through fields on the north of the lake and added a number of common species to our list. These included Blue Tit, Great Tit, Chaffinch, Goldcrest, Chiffchaff, Blackbird and Wren. We took a short detour from the main path in order to walk along the river bank and almost immediately some of us had a fine view of a Kingfisher perched on a branch quite close. It flew up river but then landed about 20 metres away and so enabled others to see it. Although we see Kingfisher reasonably regularly, it is one bird that always causes a buzz of excitement. A little further on we disturbed a Buzzard on the ground and it flew to a nearby branch still well in sight. We added Song Thrush, Redwing and Goldfinch to our list. After coffee break, we walked along Dumpers Lane adding Dunnock, Collared Dove and House Sparrow. A Great Spotted Woodpecker was seen in flight and as we walked back along the lake between the two car parks, we saw another pair of Goldeneye a bit closer this time. We also added Stonechat and, in the distance, a large raft of Cormorant. Among other species seen or heard were Kestrel, Jay, Meadow Pipit, Greenfinch and Bullfinch. It was a very pleasant walk with a respectable total of 42 species. Thanks to Alan for keeping a record of birds seen (and to Mike for leading). Mike Landen

  • Sunday 20 November – Somerset Levels Leader: Charles Martin Sunday November 20th, 2022

    On a bright morning of sunshine and showers nine of us set off on a meandering visit to Ham Wall, pausing at the first viewpoint and boardwalk en route for the Avalon Hide on the far side of the reserve. During our wanderings we saw and/or heard 40 species ranging from smaller birds such as Bullfinch, Goldfinch, Reed Bunting and Stonechat to a “giant” such as a Great White Egret looking elegant with its bright yellow winter beak. In common with other reserves in the area, winter migrants have been slow to return this year. At Ham Wall and nearby Shapwick Heath, however, duck numbers have begun to increase during the past couple of weeks and we were delighted to see flocks of brightly coloured Wigeon with, here and there among them, the subtle tweed plumage of smaller groups of Gadwall. From the boardwalk near the first viewpoint we spent some time trying to count the line-up of some ten Snipe (there might have been many more there), superbly camouflaged and almost invisible as they roosted among the clumps of dead reeds on the fringe of a small island. Throughout our wanderings we had frequent views of circling Marsh Harriers, the creamy markings on the heads of the females showing up clearly in the bright sunlight. On one occasion their predatory silhouettes alerted a large flotilla of floating Wigeon, sending them wheezing and whistling in alarm as they dashed for cover to the nearby reed bed. This had been a morning full of the interest and variety so typical of Ham Wall Reserve. And I haven’t even mentioned the starlings! (Thanks to Charles for leading.) Charles Martin

  • Tuesday 15 November – Blaise Estate Leader: Di Bunniss Tuesday November 15th, 2022

    Despite a dire weather forecast, predicting heavy and continuous rain, an optimistic group of 14 gathered in Blaise car park. As we grappled with the complexities of the ticket machine, the rain eased and by 10:00 we set off in the dry and thankfully it stayed that way. The first birds to be seen were Magpies, gathering near the cafe. The Mansion area had Jackdaws, Robins and possible Goldcrest in the conifers. A Goldcrest was then spotted in the Churchyard yew, with a Mistle Thrush perched high above in a tall tree. The Royals, a wide grassed area with an interesting history, had Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Jay, Mistle Thrush and flocks of Redwings flying over and occasionally settling among the trees. Two Buzzards flew up from their perch, more Goldcrest seen and various small birds darted about the trees. We climbed to the Castle for our coffee break where more Redwings came over and a Raven gave his harsh cry. Little was to be seen on the Beech Avenue, and the brook was full after the recent rain, rushing too fast for any Grey Wagtails. At the far end of the path a Sparrowhawk was spotted perched up high in the distance checking the area. Despite the forecast we had a dry walk with 29 species counted. Thanks to Nick for keeping a record (and to Di for leading). Di Bunniss

  • Sunday 13 November – RSPB Newport Wetlands and Goldcliff Leader: Peter Bryant Sunday November 13th, 2022

    The sun was shining as eleven of us including one guest arrived in the Gwent Levels. As we walked to the RSPB stall to peruse the sightings board we passed a set of bird feeders, enabling us to claim a variety of tits and finches as well as a female Pheasant that had established itself below the feeders. Some of us spotted a Sparrowhawk flashing behind the feeders. Full of expectation (RSPB staff had told us of recent sightings of both otters and Bitterns), we headed towards the East Usk lighthouse. Along the way we heard our first Cetti’s warblers and had sightings of Reed Buntings and Skylark. A Cormorant was perched high up on a pylon to our right. We paused at the lighthouse to scan the estuary. There were Shelducks and Curlews roosting on the grass (the tide was high); Wigeon and a few Teal swam in the channel. As we proceeded along the path, a Little Egret flew to the shoreline and some of us heard the squealing of a Water Rail deep in the reeds. We paused to admire some dragonflies and a Red Admiral butterfly. Reaching the Uskmouth hide, we learned that we had just missed a Bittern that had flown across the channel. A pair of Little Grebes was poor compensation. Resuming the trail, we soon reached the picnic area as there was almost nothing to be seen along the path that passed some inviting looking shrubs with berries although we did find a Goldcrest in the woods. During our picnic lunch, first a Heron and then a pair of Buzzards flew over.
    Half the group decided to move on to Goldcliff wetlands. Some winter thrushes were seen (including good views of Fieldfare, the first of the winter for some). A Stonechat and a hovering Kestrel appeared before we reached the first hide. The deeper lagoons hosted several dozen Teal and Lapwings wheeled overhead. Suddenly there was pandemonium as a medium-sized raptor raced over the reeds – Peregrine! As we were watching this impressive bird, a female Marsh Harrier appeared (also hunting) which gave good views. We stopped at the largest hide; initially only a few Shoveler were seen but a pair of geese soon took our attention. These were probably Greylags but possibly hybrids, as they had orange bills, a hint of white around the bill base but dark- coloured backs. A walk along the seawall added Oystercatcher to our list but we were tipped off about an interesting bird that had just been seen. We eventually caught up with this – Black Redstart. A great ending to a lovely trip, good company and wonderful weather for the time of year. 52 species of bird seen. (Many thanks to Peter for offering to lead.) Peter Bryant

  • Tuesday 08 November – Bristol City Docks Leader Alan Craddock Tuesday November 08th, 2022

    And the Lord said unto Noah.… “ 26 birdwatchers shall thy take and shelter from the driving rains beneath the canopy of We the Curious for oh, 20 minutes or so, before they shall venture forth around the dockside of olde Bristol towne”. And lo, the rain did abate and we set off bravely. We were accompanied by Amanda Tuke of Birdwatching magazine who had recently done a piece on birding in Southend-on-Sea and was looking to do something similar on the Bristol scene. Given the weather and time of year it was fairly quiet, mostly Feral Pigeons and Herring gulls in the basin, though we did spot a couple of Collared Doves. A Mute Swan, Mallards, Moorhens and Cormorants made up the naval contingent as we wandered on. Due to the late start, the coffee stop was delayed, causing great consternation until we finally came to rest at the old tobacco-bonded warehouses by the New Cut. A Grey Wagtail and numerous Black-headed Gulls were spotted on the River Avon as we made our turn for home. The stars of the day were a couple of Peregrines who made a brief fly-by over the Cumberland Basin and then headed off into the distance towards Clifton and the Gorge. Nick kindly led a break-off group up Brandon Hill, where all the smaller birds were hiding, Blue Tit, Goldcrest, Wren, Starling, Blackbird, Robin, Goldfinch and Dunnock making up the numbers, whilst the rest of us headed home. 24 species in total.
    (Thanks to Alan for leading.) Alan Craddock

  • Saturday 05 November – Frampton on Severn Leader: Mike Jackson Saturday November 05th, 2022

    On our way to Court Lake we checked out the gull flock in front of Frampton Court house. Black-headed dominated, with the exception of a single Common Gull, a Herring Gull, plus a lone Greylag Goose. Court Lake was busy with many Mute Swan, Wigeon, Gadwall, Shoveler and Coot, but much fewer Mallard and Moorhen. Six Little Grebe dived together, several Cormorant resting in the trees and a Little Egret stalked the bank. In between the lakes, Chiffchaffs became a feature with foraging birds, calling birds and even a singing bird giving an unexpected total of eight on the day. The crop fields produced winter thrushes, a pair of Stonechat, Skylark and our first and only Chaffinch sighting. At the sailing lake a smart adult Yellow-legged Gull presented itself on the floating platform for us all to take in the field marks. More than a dozen Great Crested Grebe, more Coots and a handful of Tufted Ducks completed our water bird tally, before three Greenfinch and a single Great Tit became the last birds on our list of 47 species. Thanks to our group of six for making such a pleasant trip (and thanks to Mike for leading). Mike Jackson

  • Tuesday 01 November – Bleadon Levels Leader: Jane Cumming Tuesday November 01st, 2022

    A stormy night left behind a dramatic cloudscape, with the sun breaking through to create vibrant colour-saturated views over this beautiful stretch of fields, levels and river south of Weston STW. Flyover Black-headed Gulls shone white against dark cumulus clouds, Grey Heron and Mallard gleamed against the grey water, and 250 Lapwings flashed black and white underwings as they rose from the riverside. We stopped at the sluice for coffee and to admire Crook Peak to the east, Brean Down to the west and Brent Knoll to the south over still green trees and hedgerows. Along the River Axe we logged a few Cormorants, Mute Swan, one Wigeon, ten Teal, Moorhens, 17 Redshanks, three Snipe and a pair of Stonechats. Some migration was evident in small numbers of Skylarks, Meadow Pipits and Chaffinches passing south but we didn’t find the winter thrushes we expected. Walking to the river and back we noted 25 flyover Canada Geese, Stock Doves and a huge corvid flock feeding on maize, a Buzzard, an unidentified falcon (the one that got away), a tit flock with the usual accompanying Chiffchaff, telephone lines covered in Starlings, and three calling Cetti’s Warblers. The 17 members then split up, one group checking the poolside blind to find a Reed Bunting, while the others found nothing at all in the bushes along the cycle track. Back at the cars at 12:30 just as it started to rain, we agreed that it was a lovely walk with the scenery making up for the lack of migrant thrushes. (Thanks to Jane for leading.)
    (Note that the gate and car park at Weston STW are closed at weekends.) Jane Cumming

  • Saturday 29 October – Uphill and Bleadon Levels Leader: Jane Cumming Saturday October 29th, 2022

    meeting combined a BOC outing with a belated WeBS count, so the group was subjected to a stationary hour on the beach surveying the high tide roosts. The counts of 180 Shelduck and 103 Oystercatcher were much as expected, but other numbers were low – just a few Mallard and Teal, two Wigeon, a handful of Curlews on the Brean shore and 20 Redshanks flying upriver as the tide began to drop. A hundred Lapwings rose in a tight flock over the distant levels. The most interesting item was the group of small waders that could be discerned out on Black Rock; we assumed they were Dunlin but when they flew over to the beach most proved to be Ringed Plovers. The saltmarsh held two Grey Herons, four Little Egrets and three Stonechats. Gull numbers were low with a few Great and Lesser Black-back Gulls amongst some 50 Black-headed Gulls.
    We moved up to the marina and walked over Walborough Hill for the second half of the visit, finding a lot more Teal in the small pools below the hill bringing the total to 69. No wintering Mute Swans yet but the count of 62 Canada Geese on the Brean fields was higher than usual. We picked out 170 Redshanks roosting along the muddy river edges. The walk finished with a flock of Blue, Great and Long-tailed Tits accompanied by a Chiffchaff. Buzzard, Kestrel, Skylarks and Meadow Pipits brought the total up to 43 species. (Thanks to Jane for leading) Jane Cumming

  • Tuesday 25 October – Upton Cheney/Swineford Leader: Geoff Hardman Tuesday October 25th, 2022

    21 of us met in the Upton Inn car park in the fine mild weather; it was good to welcome two who were new to the group. Coming off the rough track, starting the long downhill path through fields we had the unmistakeable flight of a Great Spotted Woodpecker, some fine views to the west and the sight of winter thrushes in the trees – mostly Redwing, Two Fieldfare and a few Mistle Thrush. Coming down into Bitton brought us to St Mary’s Church. The tower sported a Peregrine perched on a gargoyle, unfazed by the Jackdaws nearby and Ravens flying around ‘cronking’. Across more fields seeing two Green Woodpeckers and fast flying Jays, then up onto the cycle track for Buzzards and a fine Kestrel. Next along the River Avon, for a glimpse of the only bird on the water – a single Moorhen, though a Grey Heron and a Cormorant flew by. Although our last leg was a long, uphill stretch it had been a most enjoyable walk, seeing and hearing many other usual small birds giving us 39 species. Thanks to our leader Geoff. Anne Crowe

  • Tuesday 18 October – Litton Reservoirs/Hinton Blewitt Leaders: Sue and John Prince Tuesday October 18th, 2022

    A group of 15 birders met outside the ‘Ring of Bells’ on a misty autumn morning, the sun breaking through as we set off past the church. The first excitement came as we watched Long-tailed Tits in a holly tree and realised that the neighbouring tree held a lovely young male Sparrowhawk. As we walked down the road to Coley a Nuthatch was at the roadside and then a second was seen and heard. Goldcrests were in a conifer in the village. Our usual route along both the lakes was closed for clearing the boathouse burnt down by vandals. On the first lake there were plenty of dabchicks, Moorhens and Coot. At coffee we watched a family of Mute Swans, two Black-headed Gulls, Pied Wagtails and a Cormorant. In nearby fields we saw four Little Egrets and a Pheasant. The diversion took us up a hill through a field with cattle grazing and where a Green Woodpecker was heard. The return route of lanes and fields held Skylarks and Meadow Pipits. Alan saw a Red Kite, John a Buzzard, and those at the rear saw a possible Merlin. In all 35 species were seen. A very pleasant ramble in beautiful countryside. (Thanks to Sue and John for leading). Sue Prince

  • Monday 17 to Friday 21 October – Lulworth Cove Leader: Alastair Fraser Monday October 17th, 2022

    Day One: Our first day’s bird walk was to Morden Bog a NNR in Wareham forest, a remnant of Dorset’s once extensive heathland. We walked along a sunken footpath lined with oaks and pines, opening out into a heathland of birch, gorse, and sedge tussocks. Fungi were plentiful including Fleecy Milkcap, False Chanterelle, Russula brittle stem, Sulphur Tuft, Boletus, Amanita citrina, and Charcoal Burner. However, the birds we’d hoped to see (Lesser Spotted Woodpecker and Woodlark) eluded us, but we did see Stonechat, Long-tailed Tits, Coal Tit and a very poised male Chaffinch. After a cream tea at the hotel we had a short walk to Lulworth Cove to see gulls, Cormorants, Rock Pipit and a Kestrel.
    Day Two: We set out for the RSPB Arne Reserve on a beautiful, sunny morning. Arriving at the car park, several feeders were busy with the Blue Tits, Great Tits, etc. plus two Nuthatches. We took the Trail to Shipstall Point, stopping on the way for distant views of Dartford Warbler and Stonechat. On a spit opposite the Point were groups of Cormorants, Spoonbills and Oystercatchers. At a viewpoint nearby we had a close view of a Dartford Warbler. Returning to the café for lunch, we had an excellent view of a Great Spotted Woodpecker perched in the top of a tree. In the afternoon we headed out to Coombe Heath where we found a huge collection of ducks and waders on an estuary with a dropping tide. Among the species seen were Avocets, Godwits, Shelduck, Wigeon, Redshank and Spotted Redshank. We also had great views of a Marsh Harrier and Kestrel. Altogether, a very enjoyable and productive day.
    Day Three: On Wednesday we visited sites around Poole Harbour that were new to most of us. We began at Upton Country Park where the habitat includes a walled garden filled with flowers, pasture, woodlands, a boardwalk through a reed-bed and a hide overlooking the expanse of Holes Bay. The last of these was the most exciting with big numbers of Wigeon and Teal, and flocks of waders to search through. Checking the ducks revealed a dozen Shoveler and eight Pintail. Amongst hundreds of Dunlin and Black-tailed Godwit we found four Avocets, a Grey Plover, a Ruff, Redshanks and a few Bar-tailed Godwits. We counted 22 Little Egrets and heard a squealing Water Rail. After a pleasant picnic lunch in the gardens, we moved on to Lytchett Bay where a walk down a country lane following a flock of Long-tailed Tits led to extensive pasture and saltmarsh holding 400 Teal and a few Wigeon. We added Lapwing and Greenshank to our trip list as well as another Ruff, Redshanks and three Black-tailed Godwits. A Buzzard soared over, and we were pleased to find an adult Yellow-legged Gull for the trip list.
    Day Four: On a showery morning we headed to Poole. On the beach by the car park were Turnstones, Cormorants, Pied Wagtail and a Little Egret. We took the ferry to Brownsea Island, where a Great Spotted Woodpecker was soon seen. After a short, sharp shower, the weather brightened to a sunny afternoon. At the two hides overlooking the lagoon, there were good numbers of waders, notably 53 Spoonbills, and many ducks. The latter included 160 Teal, 40 Wigeon a few Shovellers, a Shelduck and a couple of Gadwall. Amongst the waders in the distance were two Sanderling, a Ruff, 28 Avocets, about 300 Dunlin and six Grey Plover. A feeding Greenshank and a Redshank crossed right in front of the hide allowing clear comparison. Two Water Rails were seen or heard. The woods yielded small passerines plus red squirrels, busy burying the glut of nuts. From the Reed-bed hide, some birders saw a Kingfisher and Sika Deer. From the ferry back, we saw a swooping Sandwich Tern. On the drive back to Lulworth, we called at Ham Common Nature Reserve, overlooking Poole Harbour and saw a Sparrowhawk fly over. A Dartford Warbler obligingly perched for several minutes in full view and three Stonechats sat up on the gorse. The total bird species for the day was 57. Many thanks to Alastair for organising and leading. Clive Burton, Kate Cashmore, Jane Cumming, Alison Griffies.

  • Tuesday 11 October – Priddy Leader: Graham Blacker Tuesday October 11th, 2022

    On a beautiful autumn morning 17 members assembled on Priddy Green. Graham led us up to the church and through the churchyard to Nine Barrow Lane. We then took a footpath over fields to East Water Lane. Here Nick organised a photograph of the group as one had been taken at the same spot some years earlier. The bird list was slowly rising although the most numerous were Rooks and Crows. At the lane we were treated to a sighting of a Clouded Yellow as we had our morning break. Then along the lane which was muddy in places and across fields south of the Priddy Nine Barrows. Here we got good sightings of Kestrel, Sparrowhawk, Skylark, Stonechat and Meadow Pipit. We passed The Mineries and headed back to the road where a couple of Mistle Thrushes were feeding in the field opposite. The last stretch was over fields back to Priddy Green one of which had a herd of cows. In total 33 species were recorded including Stock Dove, Great Spotted and Green Woodpecker, Raven, Nuthatch and Treecreeper. Many thanks to Graham for leading a lovely walk with many interesting stiles. Beth Yates

  • Tuesday 04 October – Badminton Leader: Nick Hawkridge Tuesday October 04th, 2022

    Any rain encountered en route to our start had ceased and a blowy, autumn morning saw 21 members (three of them still in shorts!) meet. The initial mile or so of this very pleasant walk through an English country estate didn’t turn up many easy to see birds and the paths through the woods were very quiet. However, this was soon forgotten with good sightings and our final total was 37 species. On several occasions and particularly during the coffee break, Swallows were seen hawking over the fields; a Red Kite, a Buzzard and later a Kestrel were also spotted – not a Sparrowhawk to join the list of birds of prey, though a pile of feathers did indicate we might have just missed one. As usual the super-knowledgeable among us helped with identification, including three Snipe flying right over our heads and the great counting skills of some added good numbers of Stock Doves, Jackdaws, Meadow Pipits and Pied Wagtails to our list. It was great to see and hear Skylark, a few House Martins and, for some, a Yellowhammer. Nearing the end of our walk a couple of Roe Deer crossed a nearby field twice and we were watched by the estate herd of Red Deer and also saw the Beaufort hounds out for a pre-lunch walk. (Many thanks to Nick for leading) Nancy Barrett

  • Saturday 02 October – Steart WWT Leader: Richard Belson Sunday October 02nd, 2022

    Seven intrepid birders met in the rain at the WWT Steart Reserve car park at 9.30 and were soon rewarded with a glorious sunny, mild and calm autumn day. Our first stop was the Polden screen. En route we saw a Sparrowhawk, Buzzard, male Blackcap, and several House Martins hawking for insects. Then on to the Quantock Hide where we saw a few Lapwings and ducks, Little Egrets, three Grey Herons, four Ruffs, a good view of a Marsh Harrier, a large flock of Canada Geese circling and landing, and many gulls in the distance; but few shore birds. We got to the River Parrett just after high water, and saw two Ravens nesting on a distant pylon, a Merlin on a concrete post, a Kestrel, many Black-tailed Godwits, a few Mute Swans and a large cloud of Dunlins showing black and white as they turned in the sun. On our walks to and from the car park we enjoyed a close view of a Sparrowhawk; we saw a female Stonechat and a juvenile Linnet; and we heard several Cetti’s Warblers (and had a brief glimpse of one). We were joined by two more birders and after a picnic lunch we drove north to the Natural England car park and then walked to the screen overlooking a pool near the Breach. There we saw a mixed flock of Dunlins and Black-tailed Godwits, with a few Golden Plovers and a possible Little Stint (the light was against us). This flock was spooked by a raptor and flew low over our heads – a fine sight. We also saw one Great and a few Little Egrets and a Spoonbill feeding in the pool. Later we were treated to a flypast by a female Marsh Harrier. A total of 50 species were seen. Many thanks to Richard for leading a very enjoyable day. David Gould

  • Tuesday 27 Sept – Wapley Bushes Leader: Alan Daniells Tuesday September 27th, 2022

    There was a real Autumnal chill to the air, and the sun remained hidden behind heavy clouds. Despite the unpromising conditions we had a turn-out of 24 members, two of them wearing shorts! Wapley Bushes is a small reserve owned by the local parish council and managed by volunteers, that provides a variety of valuable habitats for wildlife and green space for local people. It was interesting to see how one area had been transformed from allotments into established woodland over a matter of a few decades. It was a fairly quiet day for birds, and we certainly heard more birds than we saw. Several Goldcrests proved elusive, but we did see the distinctive flight of a Green Woodpecker, which conveniently landed in the upper branches of a bare tree. In the meadows, the botanists amongst us were able to identify several wildflowers, still present after mowing. The bird total was a modest 20 species, but the reserve is clearly a place worth another visit, perhaps earlier in the year. Thanks to Alan for leading the walk and recording the bird count, and to all present for their great company. Tim Fell

  • Tuesday 20 September – Tickenham Leaders: Jan Pridie and Lois Pryce Tuesday September 20th, 2022

    15 people met in still warm weather. Sparrowhawk, Kestrel and Buzzard were over the moors. Woodpigeon nestled in the Land Yeo meadow with a youngster without its adult-white neck patch. The usual Pied Wagtails on the golf course, one showing a strikingly white head but without the paler grey back of a proper Alba. Through the woods to Cadbury Camp – Chiffchaff, Goldfinch and Chaffinch, Green and Great Spotted Woodpeckers, Mistle Thrush, Raven and Buzzard, and a few migrating Swallows purposefully over, and a small flock of Long-tailed Tits. Back across the moors Collared and Stock Doves, and a Mute Swan almost hidden in the deep banks of the river. Grey Heron, Cormorant, Stonechat, and a striking display of aerobatics from a group of crows who must have been hunting insects. 33 species total (thanks to Jan and Lois for leading). Lois Pryce

  • Sunday 18 September – East Devon Leader: Jane Cumming Sunday September 18th, 2022

    Nine people met at Seaton Wetlands on a lovely late summer morning. The hides gave us close-up views of the Seaton trams passing by, as well as the waders, gulls and ducks (including a solitary Pintail) on the lagoon and estuary. The first two Kingfishers of the day were spotted, along with a Great Spotted and a Green Woodpecker, and a variety of tits and finches. Around lunchtime we headed off to Darts Farm. After a picnic lunch we walked to Bowling Green Marsh. The lagoons and reedbeds along the way were fairly dry, but once at the hide the waders and ducks tested our identification skills. In time we worked out that there were some Bar-tailed Godwit among the Black-tailed Godwit, along with a few Knot. Careful attention to the reeds gave us a typically partial sighting of a couple of Snipe. We moved on to the platform overlooking the Exe Estuary, where the more vigilant members saw an Osprey flying away with its fishy lunch. Several Sandwich Terns and a Common Tern swooped and dived in front of us. After much effort a Curlew Sandpiper was confirmed among a Dunlin flock. Heading back to Darts Farm a couple of members spotted a smart male Ruff, rounding off a fine day’s birding. 62 species in total. Thanks to Jane for leading and for helping us sort out those tricky waders and ducks in eclipse. Chris and Sarah Neale

  • Tuesday 13 September- Backwell Lake Leaders: Sue and John Prince Tuesday September 13th, 2022

    This walk was a new variation on our usual Backwell Lake walk. We first circuited the lake itself where we saw two dabchicks, two Cormorants, two Grey Herons, and two Little Egrets. A male Gadwall was with the Mallards, most of them in eclipse plumage. A Cetti’s Warbler sang briefly and a Great Spotted Woodpecker called. Across Station Road we found broken freshwater mussel shells (the work of an otter?) in the field. On the East side of Nailsea is a wide grassy area by the River Kenn. A Blackbird came near us on the path and a Green Woodpecker yaffled. Along the river we enjoyed views of Wraxall Church, Tyntesfield, and Watercress farm, but few birds! A group of 200 Starlings sat catering on wires at Backwell Common. Other birds seen included four Collared Doves, Woodpigeon, Goldfinch, a Greenfinch, and a flock of Linnet. A total of 28 species, the 19 walkers had enjoyed a pleasant walk despite some drizzle (thanks to Sue and John for leading). Sue Prince

  • Tuesday 06 September – Little Sodbury Leader: Alastair Fraser Tuesday September 06th, 2022

    After a night of intermittent heavy rain, eleven assembled at Little Sodbury and soon Blue Tit, Goldcrest and Long-tailed Tit were identified in the trees. Jackdaws were present in an adjacent field where the knowledgeable amongst us were able to identify the raised strips as pillow mounds raised for former rabbit warrens. Crossing fields to Horton, Great Spotted Woodpecker was seen and Green Woodpecker heard as well as Robin and Wren. At the fishing lake, Little Grebe and Moorhen were noted and then 85 Mallards at the next small pool. House Sparrows were seen around Horton gardens as well as Greenfinch and Goldfinch with House Martins and Swallows overhead. At Horton Camp possible Stonechats quickly became the Whinchat stars of the day with good sightings of two via scopes. A small party went on to Old Sodbury and were rewarded with a sighting of three Spotted Flycatchers. The other notable sighting for the first time in many weeks was, thanks to the overnight rain, mud. 34 species were noted in all. Thanks to Alastair for leading. Judith Craddock

  • Saturday 03 September Chipping Sodbury Common Leader Mike Jackson Saturday September 03rd, 2022

    It was apparent there is a strengthening interest in this venue, evidenced by the weekend turnout of 16 members. On the lane we saw three Mistle Thrushes (27 had been reported here earlier!). Upon arriving at the common a mixed gathering of House Martins and young Swallows had us debating tail streamer lengths, before we aligned our sight along the hedgerow to see Blackcap and a couple of Spotted Flycatchers. A charm of Goldfinches twinkled in the foreground, the first of what would eventually be around 80 birds thriving on thistle seeds. Next up was a Redstart followed by two of each of Whinchat and Whitethroat, then another Redstart, this time a showy male. Buzzard, Kestrel and another Spotted Flycatcher kept the group focused before we topped the bushy vista to march on to where the cattle were gathered, passing two Wheatears and a cronking Raven as we went. The cattle had done their job to keep 17 Yellow Wagtails waiting for us. The varying plumages contained a few exquisite bright yellow males. With the ‘target birds’ bagged we returned satisfied with 37 species. Many thanks to the group for being such good company (and thanks to Mike for leading). Mike Jackson

  • Tuesday 30 August – Woodchester Valley Leaders: Di and Pete Bunniss Tuesday August 30th, 2022

    We gathered in the National Trust car park to walk down the valley, circling behind the mansion where the old stables once stood. Not many birds on this stretch but we saw and heard Chiffchaff, Coal Tit, Robin and a Buzzard. We continued gently downhill towards the lakes, Wren and Blackcap visible, to arrive at the Boat House, where we were met by James Gomery, the National Trust Warden for the estate. He gave us a very informative talk on the area management for wildlife, with the felling and removal of the conifers and reintroduction of native deciduous trees. While he was speaking, a Kingfisher darted down the pool in one direction and a Heron flew in another! After a relaxing coffee stop, with time or strolling around the immediate area, the route then led on along a board-walk fringing the lake and through a field of six docile Belted Welsh cattle. Lunch stop was soon reached and  we settled on the lake banks to watch more bird life. A flock of House Martins, Swallows and a few Sand Martins were swooping down over the water, a wonderful aerial display. Time for a leisurely lunch then a stroll back along the upper path, where we spotted the bird of the day, a Whinchat. Picnic tables and benches outside the mansion provided another resting place. Altogether 33 species. Thanks to Nick for keeping a record and to Di for leading. Di Bunniss

  • Tuesday 23 August – Clevedon/Walton picnic Leader: Judy Copeland Tuesday August 23rd, 2022

    Rain en route stopped when we arrived at Clevedon and it became very warm. Only two or three Swallows and House Martins were around the approach to the Golf Course, and only Wren and Chiffchaff tweeted in the hedges beside the long path to the coffee field  overlooking the estuary near Walton-in-Gordano. Here we had Green Woodpecker calling, then showing well in a fir tree and two Ravens flew over. Peter spotted a Great Spotted Woodpecker at the top of a bare tree and a Goldfinch on top of the fir. There was a very  distant Stonechat (ID via Alan’s scope) on a bush at the top of the field. A Cormorant flew down river, with a now sunlit Wales appearing out of the mist behind. Three members left us after coffee, leaving nine to continue. Very little was seen from the 13 coast path except a Black-headed Gull and two or three Herring Gulls, then a juvenile Herring Gull was spotted eating a crab on a rock, being approached by two young Crows. Jean saw a Kestrel just before we entered the wood. Once inside the wood leading to Walton Common, Alan heard Treecreeper and Marsh Tit, Long-tailed Tits gave flitting views and Nuthatch was heard. Lunch was taken when we emerged onto the Common. Continuing onwards, we heard Great Tit and another Green Woodpecker. After crossing the Walton road we ascended the long path up through Rock Wood to the Golf Course, where a Buzzard was heard and a Robin seen. 33 species. (Thanks to Judy for leading) Judy Copeland

  • Saturday 20 August – Chew Valley Lake Leader: Andy Davis Saturday August 20th, 2022

    Seventeen Club members met Andy on Herriotts Bridge. Autumn wader passage was underway, producing three Wood Sandpipers amongst 24 Green Sandpipers, and a Little Ringed Plover as well as 24 Snipe – a good count so early in the autumn. We spent time studying first the waders and then the gulls, picking out a Common and a Yellow-legged Gull amongst the more numerous Lesser Black-blacked Gulls and Black-headed Gulls. Great White and Little Egrets posed at close range for comparison. Black-tailed Godwits have moved from the pool to the lake, perhaps seeking deeper water, and a few were scattered along the shoreline. Lots of Sand Martins zoomed around our heads, a Cetti’s Warbler sang, a Raven ‘cronked’ and the sharp-eyed caught the blue flash of a Kingfisher or two out over the lake. We moved to Herons Green to find a quite unusual bird for Chew: an Oystercatcher. Also, there were Little Grebes, two Common Sandpipers, another Yellow-legged Gull and at least 30 Pied Wagtails with one Yellow Wagtail. We almost overlooked the Common Tern crouching low on the back of the old road that now pokes out of the shallow water. The group then split so as not to overwhelm the hides, half going to Villice Bay which turned up Lapwing and seven Mistle Thrushes, then on to Nunnery to see 20 Ringed Plovers, three Dunlin, Common and Green Sandpipers. The other half chose Stratford where up to three Garganey were hiding behind waving reeds which parted now and then to allow the odd glimpse of an eclipse male. We also had a few Shovelers, a Peregrine that shot down the lake disturbing all the ducks and a Hobby hunting over woods on the far shore. The shore held another unexpected wader- a juvenile Turnstone (two were reported). Many thanks to Andy Davis for his patience in imparting some of the knowledge he has picked up during all his years of birding at Chew. Jane Cumming

  • Tuesday 16 August – Folly Farm Leader: Jean Oliver Tuesday August 16th, 2022

    Although the great heat of the past week had lessened it was still a very humid day. Thirty members met in the car park and were treated to a light shower, of which there were a number during the morning. Jean led us off to the ‘BOC hedge’ which a number of BOC members had planted some years before. There was also an impressive fence, although the gate needed some attention. Discussions were taking place regarding a bird of prey we had seen gliding down the hill and on balance it was decided it was a Sparrowhawk. Slowly the bird count was increasing and included Great Spotted and Green Woodpeckers, Coal Tit, Goldcrest, Nuthatch and Bullfinch. Another bird of prey, this one flapping quickly, was recorded as a Hobby. Later a distant feeding Raven was identified as a Buzzard when it took off. A total of 28 species were seen. Many thanks to Jean for leading. Beth Yates

  • Sunday 14 August – Oldbury Power Station. Leader: Pete Hazelwood Sunday August 14th, 2022

    Ten people met early at this decommissioned nuclear power station on the Severn Estuary north of Thornbury, on a day that got rapidly hotter. We circled the northerly dry lagoon (Lagoon 2) with bordering large trees and some secretive side paths, then entered the open estuary embankment with the lovely sight of a flock of 20 Ringed Plovers, nine Dunlins and a Turnstone wheeling and landing along the foreshore – more Turnstones also camping out on a far buoy. We continued past the power station and back to the raised south dry lagoon (Lagoon 3) overlooking a large lake, and through a meadow and orchard. We saw or heard Canada Goose, Moorhen, Sparrowhawk, a Great Spotted Woodpecker and four Green Woodpecker, Swallows, a Little Egret perched in a tree, Blackcaps, Chiffchaffs, Whitethroats, a Willow Warbler, Goldcrest, Song Thrush, Pied Wagtail, and three Bullfinches calling as they flew over. Pete’s keen eyes picked out a young Peregrine hiding in the shade of a pylon strut. Total species was 36. Many thanks to Pete, whose patch this is, for leading.  Lois Pryc

  • Tuesday 09 August – Goblin Combe Leader Alastair Fraser Tuesday August 09th, 2022

    Twenty-one members met in the middle of the second heatwave of the summer; fortunately we would spend most of our time in the shade of the trees. My expectation of sightings was low due to the heat and time of year but we ended up with a surprisingly good list and some treats. In the first stretch of woodland Alan said he could hear Tree Creeper and possible Coal Tit. The Merlin bird app confirmed Treecreeper but suggested Marsh Tit. Multiple pairs of eyes scanning the trees eventually confirmed the app was right. Well done technology! (Although Cetti’s Warbler further along the path had to be a mis-identification). Our little patch of trees proved full of birds: a family of Marsh Tit, Great, Blue and Long-tailed Tit, Goldcrest, Treecreeper, a Great Spotted Woodpecker, Nuthatches and a Spotted Flycatcher. Juvenile Robins foraged along the edge of the path and a Stock Dove called from above. Typical of woodland, our purple patch was followed by stretches devoid of birds until our next lucky spot where we had another Flycatcher and calling Bullfinch. Buzzard was our only raptor. 21 species in total. (Thanks Al for leading.) Alastair Fraser

  • Sunday 07 August – Goldcliff. Leader: Jane Cumming Sunday August 07th, 2022

    Goldcliff is a separate and more informal part of the Newport Wetlands on the Bristol Channel coast, consisting of three shallow lagoons / scrapes and a series of small hides. Wet areas are fenced and the reserve is noted for Lapwing and Avocet breeding – though sadly some breached fencing meant little success this year owing to the predations of Fox and Otter. 17 people met on a hot day, to find that unsurprisingly the Monks and Becks lagoons were dry though the southerly Priors lagoon was still reasonably full. There we found Canada Goose, Mute Swan, Shelduck, Shoveler, Gadwall, Mallard, Teal (in deep eclipse), Moorhen, Little Grebe, Lapwing, a surprising count of 153 Black-tailed Godwit, Redshank, Grey Heron, a stately Great White Egret, and nine Little Egrets; while abundant Sand Martins with Swallows and House Martins hunted overhead. On the more dried-out areas were Stonechat families, two early Whinchats and a Wheatear, Pied Wagtail, Linnet and Reed Bunting. (Ringed Plover had been seen a few days before.) Hedgerows and trees held an abundance of small birds, including Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Reed Warbler, Whitethroat and Spotted Flycatcher. Climbing the sea embankment above the foreshore, we could see flocks of moulting Shelduck, Oystercatchers, Curlews and gulls including a Great Black-backed; and overhead flew Sparrowhawk, Buzzards, a brightly yellow-headed female Marsh Harrier, Kestrel, Raven, and small groups of Cormorants. Altogether we had a surprisingly productive morning with a total of 45 species – many thanks to Jane for leading. Lois Pryce

  • Tuesday 02 August – Hillesley Leader: Graham Blacker Tuesday August 02nd, 2022

    The forecast was for a rather drizzly morning, but 17 of us met in the pretty village of Hillesley. The first field we went through yielded several Whitethroats, Greenfinch, Chaffinch and a huge flock of Linnets. A great start! We moved into open farmland and watched a solo gull quartering a ploughed field. After a period of debate and pondering, we decided it was a somewhat unseasonal Common Gull. As we walked through a small wood, Treecreeper, Goldcrest and Long-Tailed Tits were seen. We joined the Cotswold Way, and along a wooded path we heard ‘mewing’ calls; the source was found to be two Sparrowhawks. We passed through the village of Alderley, and out into a shallow valley. There we heard Ravens calling, and watched House Martins flying over distant trees while Swallows dashed low across the fields. It was another pleasant Tuesday walk, through varied countryside, and the rain held off until the last few minutes. In total we saw and/or heard 43 species. Thanks to Graham for leading, to Alan and Nick for keeping the records, and to all present for their great company. Tim Fell

  • Sunday 31 July – Marshfield Leader: Nigel Kempson Sunday July 31st, 2022

    Despite July 2022 being the driest month in recorded history, five members turned up for a wet walk across the fields in the Rushmead Lane area. The stiff breeze kept the small birds in cover, making them difficult to see. We were treated to a constant background of Yellowhammer song but it was hard work to get more than this. We did have intermittent views of a mobile flock of small brown birds all the way round; when we finally caught up with it, they were House Sparrows rather than the hoped for Corn Buntings. The corvid numbers also seemed well down but we did find a flock of Starling on the corner by the farm. The highlights were distant views of two Red Kites and a young family of Stonechats in the corn. My thanks go to Alan Daniells for tallying up the list of 20 species seen. (Thanks to Nigel for leading) Nigel Kempson

  • Tuesday 26 July – Compton Dando Leader Mike Landen Tuesday July 26th, 2022

    There was a good turnout of 23 members and one guest for our walk from Compton Dando. We walked through the village towards the bridge over the River Chew and were a little surprised not to see any House Martins. A local resident informed us that there had been nesting birds but they had left after producing just one brood, rather than the usual two or three. At the bridge a Kingfisher was heard very briefly but not seen. There was no sign of the usual Grey Wagtail but we did see a Blue Tit and a Blackbird. As we made our way across the fields, we saw two Green Woodpeckers with a total of seven seen, or heard, on the walk. We also had Great Spotted Woodpecker, Jackdaw, Woodpigeon, Chiffchaff and Long-tailed Tit. As we climbed the steep path through a wood, we heard a Wren and a Nuthatch. Leaving the wood, we saw a Buzzard. We took a short diversion in Woollard to the bridge where we saw House Martins, Goldfinch and House Sparrow. We carried on following the river and stopped for our coffee break at a lovely spot on the riverbank where we were treated to the sight of a Kingfisher flying at great speed along the river. We also saw a couple of Mallards. As we left Woollard, staying close to the river we added Moorhen and Carrion Crow and then a Grey Heron was seen flying. As we made our way through the woods a Bullfinch was heard. Crossing an uncut meadow, a number of butterflies were seen, including Small Skipper, Common Blue and Gatekeeper. Many thanks to Nick and Alan for keeping a list of species seen or heard. We had a total of 37 species for the walk which was very good for this normally quiet time of the year for birding. (Thanks to Mike for leading.) Mike Landen

  • Tuesday 19 July – Eastville Park Leader: Richard Scantlebury Tuesday July 19th, 2022

    Only six brave souls turned up on the hottest day ever recorded, and my was it hot! Having negotiated the long narrow path through the allotments we were pleased to arrive at Eastville Lake which at least afforded a little shade. Herring and Black-headed gulls were abundant as were Mallard, a few Coot and Moorhen along with two posing Herons. Some proud Swans with their cygnets were seen, and on our return back around the lake we were greeted by eleven Canada Geese who were only too pleased to feed from our hand. On leaving the lake in the direction of Snuff Mills as the day progressed it proved to be getting even hotter but on we went stopping for a very well earned rest at the weir where we saw a couple of Grey Wagtails. Refreshed somewhat we plodded on towards Broomhill Road bridge passing fields and borders which were magnificent with wild flowers and plenty of butterflies including Gatekeepers and Red Admirals. On reaching the bridge we saw another Grey Wagtail and two Kingfishers showing very well as we were serenaded from above by a very noisy Blackcap. All told we saw 30 species of bird. Thanks to the brave six for even thinking of coming despite the weather and many thanks to Rich for leading in challenging conditions. Graham Blacker

  • Tuesday 12 July – Sand Point/Middle Hope Leader: Graham Blacker Tuesday July 12th, 2022

    It was an unexpectedly cloudy morning but still very warm, with barely a breath of wind. Heads down for the climb from the NT car park, there was little to distract us apart from a Chiffchaff in full song. Once up top we had Swallows and a couple of Swifts overhead. A few late arrivals caught up so there were now eleven of us. Linnet, Goldfinch and a family of Great Tits were seen in the bushes on the bay side. Out on the mud flats, Curlews were heard more than seen and there was just a single Shelduck. The sea was flat calm for once but efforts to turn one of the many Black-headed Gulls along the water’s edge into something more interesting failed. A pair of Oystercatchers cavorted noisily on and over the rocky Point. There were good numbers of butterflies up here, early season Gatekeepers looking resplendent, but all were outnumbered by Six Spot Burnet Moths whirring away or coupled on flower heads. Dropping down on the Channel side, we lost all vestige of breeze and conditions were described as sultry. It was quiet with few birds around until a small group of Goldfinches and Linnets arrived and another Chiffchaff called from up above. Some of us chose to keep to the high road and were rewarded by Peregrine; others, following our leader along the pebble beach by Rock Pipit and a scramble up the near vertical track at the end. Crossing to the eastern end of Middle Hope we encountered Skylark, Stonechat and a Buzzard gliding gracefully over the adjoining field. Our lunch stop was a pleasant grassy slope overlooking the pond and River Banwell estuary, giving good views of Little Egret, a hovering Kestrel and another Buzzard harassed by Carrion Crows. On the route back a Grey Heron flew overhead and dropped down to the beach below. There were more fine views of Skylark as we came towards the end of this great walk. 37 species seen. Thanks to Alan for the bird list and to Graham for stepping in to lead. Colin Hawkins

  • Tuesday 05 July – Lower Woods Leader: Jean Oliver Tuesday July 05th, 2022

    Seventeen of us met at the entrance to the Lower Woods Nature Reserve. The weather promised to be fine and dry. We set off along a broad ride through the woodland, admiring the plants in the verge, which brought butterflies but no sign of any bird; no birds until we emerged into a more open space to be greeted by the sight of three Red Kites and two Buzzards. We walked on through recently cut hay fields and a wonderful wild flower meadow, each field bringing something new – some Kites and Buzzards perched in a “raptor” tree, a small flock of Starlings, plenty of singing Chiffchaff and Blackcap and one visible Whitethroat. Ravens had been calling and soon we saw four, maybe a family, then a fine male Redstart up ahead. Before we splashed our way across the stream we were entertained by a flock of young Goldfinches. Crossing back by bridge gave a glimpse of a Grey Wagtail. A few saw the Marsh Tit as it shot out of a bush. In the woods where two paths joined, we had a flurry of small birds including a Nuthatch and, at last, a Spotted Flycatcher. We ended the walk with an invisible Bullfinch singing loudly and the sight of a Robin. In spite of early misgivings 36 species were seen. It had been a wildflower filled walk with stands of Common Spotted Orchids; many Meadow Brown, Ringlet and a few Marbled White and Silver-washed Fritillary butterflies; one Muntjac and one Roe Deer. Thanks to Alan Daniels for keeping the bird list and thanks to our leader Jean. Anne Crowe

  • Tuesday 28 June – Luckington Leader: Graham Blacker Tuesday June 28th, 2022

    A delightful walk between Luckington and Sherston on a cool and windy Tuesday. As soon as the group of 21 set
    off we counted Swifts and House Martins circling the village, with Sparrows chattering in the hedges and Wren
    calling. On entering the churchyard, Coal Tit, Goldcrest, Blackcap and Long-tailed Tits were seen. Onward we
    spotted a Grey Wagtail high in a tree with a beak full of insects ready to feed a youngster heard calling. Goldfinch,
    Chaffinch and Blackbird added to the list. Song Thrush delighted us with a variety of notes and calls. The route
    took us past ancient cottages, and over a ford where we spotted a Buzzard. Along a country lane we heard and
    saw Lesser Whitethroat, then we continued along a footpath, through a field of rippling barley, across meadows
    alive with butterflies and insects. A short stop for morning coffee, then through more meadows, a field of waisthigh maize and a very hidden stile that took a bit of finding.. The final field held more swooping House Martins,
    Swifts and possibly Swallows as well. A raptor darted from a tree and off into the distance which may have been a
    Hobby! Thanks to Graham for leading. Di Bunniss

  • Saturday 25 June – Crabtree Hill Leader: Alastair Fraser Saturday June 25th, 2022

    This was our annual, evening field trip for Nightjars. We met initially at Cannop Ponds, Forest of Dean for a short
    walk through the woodland alongside the lakes. It was fairly quiet; a couple of singing Blackcaps and Song
    Thrushes and a family of Long-tailed Tits. There was a good count of Grey Wagtails with at least three family
    groups up to seven strong. The Mandarin Ducks also had a good breeding season, at least 20 counted. Post
    breeding, the males were in eclipse plumage and were rather less spectacular than earlier in the season.
    We then reassembled in the car park just beyond Speech House and walked a circuit up to the watch point on
    Crabtree Hill. On our walk we found two of our hoped-for species: Tree Pipit and Willow Warbler, with three
    Buzzards circling around. At the watch point we settled down to wait for something to happen. After an
    uncharacteristically brief period we heard a quiet churr of a Nightjar. As it darkened the churring increased and
    was joined by a second. We saw a brief flight and a Nightjar settled on top of a small pine, not far away, churring
    loudly. A few of us glimpsed a Woodcock disappearing over the tree tops, quickly followed by two more over our
    heads and one flying in the opposite direction. On the way back we were treated to another Nightjar flight and the
    calls of more Woodcock. (Thanks to Alastair for leading ) Alastair Fraser

  • Tuesday 21 June – Velvet Bottom Leader Nick Hawkridge Tuesday June 21st, 2022

    Alas there was a traffic problem in Bristol so we lost a couple of car loads of walkers. Nine walkers – including
    Simon, a veteran member but a new Tuesday walker, started along the path towards the Bottom. A Redstart
    family was an immediate sighting, followed by Bullfinch, Raven, singing Blackcap and Chiffchaff and a
    Yellowhammer. As the day heated there was an increase in fly numbers and, apart from Chaffinch, Goldfinch and
    a singing Whitethroat, there wasn’t much else. As we paused for coffee, we were entertained by Stonechat, Song
    Thrush, but alas only two Swallows. As we approached the turning into Kings Wood it was clear that barriers were
    in place (Ash die back – danger of death), so we turned instead to transit along the back of the wood, where a
    Treecreeper was seen and a Coal Tit heard. Finally on reaching our normal route, time dictated so we cut along
    the road rather than up to the radio masts. At Mendip Farm we encountered a group of Stock Doves roosting on
    the wood piles and a nice count of House Martins around the barns. Thanks to Alan Daniells for keeping better
    records than me and getting us to 32 species for the day. (Thanks to Nick for leading.)
    Nick Hawkridge

  • Tuesday 14 June – Marshfield Leader: Chris Perry Tuesday June 14th, 2022

    The walk started with Swifts and Chaffinches near the village and after crossing the main road we had several
    Corn Buntings and Skylarks in the bushes and fields. Along the track were more Corn Buntings, singing and flying. A Yellowhammer was spotted in a nearby tree adding to our list. As we approached Rushmead Lane three Red Kites and three Buzzards gave good views. A few yards along the lane was a family of Whitethroat, parents busy feeding young. Another nice turn-up was a Lesser Whitethroat which called then flew across the field from a nearby bush. It was a pleasant end to a very hot walk – 22 species and 15 walkers. (Thanks to Chris Perry for leading ) Chris Perry

  • Tuesday 07 June – Felton Common Leader: Melanie Patch Tuesday June 07th, 2022

    A good crowd (24) turned up in reasonable conditions to crisscross our way over Felton Common. Most of the
    walk we were accompanied by the singing of Skylarks (parachute flight), Whitethroats (around their territories)
    and Linnets. A distant Kestrel was monitoring the rustlings from a landing light post, Swallows zipped over the
    grass at knee height and the House Sparrow simply would not morph into anything more exciting. Our coffee
    break Buzzard made its appearance on cue and we actually ‘saw’ a Willow Warbler singing (three seen /heard in
    total). Some male and female Stonechats were seen and the best count we got of House Martins, at the Round
    House, was 18 – probably 9 pairs with nests under the eaves. The walk down Long Lane added another Kestrel
    flying over and a Yellowhammer making the count four in total. A second Song Thrush was seen, adding to the
    one heard close to a snail shell anvil on the common. A lone gull, making free with a water trough, was initially
    thought to be a third-year Herring Gull but after close study through a scope, re identified as a Yellow-legged Gull.
    Up Kingdown Lane, past the camping site, we heard more Long-tailed Tits, a lucky few saw a Bullfinch and
    Chaffinches were singing in the background. Back on the common for lunch with Chiffchaff putting in a refrain or
    20 and then the final leg back to the cars. A follow up report from an early finisher recorded a Grey Heron. The
    total count was 34 species and many thanks to Melanie for leading us round. Melanie Patch & Nick Hawkridge

  • Tuesday 31 May – River Avon and Longshore Marsh, Pill Leader: Judy Copeland Tuesday May 31st, 2022

    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 Sunday May 29th, 2022

    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 Tuesday May 24th, 2022

    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 Sunday May 22nd, 2022

    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 Tuesday May 17th, 2022

    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 Sunday May 15th, 2022

    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 Friday May 13th, 2022

    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 Tuesday May 10th, 2022

    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

  • 8-13 May 2022 – Spanish Steppes Leader: Jane Cumming Sunday May 08th, 2022

    The BOC party of 12 joined six others at Plymouth for this tour arranged by Wessex Continental Travel Co.  Many were up on deck by 5pm to see what seabirds and cetaceans British waters had to offer, and then at dawn the following morning in the Bay of Biscay. There were many excellent sightings of Common and Striped Dolphins, also brief views of Cuvier’s Beaked Whale. Orcaweb researchers gave a very good lecture (https://www.orcaweb.org.uk). An on-board Turtle Dove together with a Collared Dove shared the southbound voyage with us! From Santander  crossing the Cantabrian mountains to our base hotel on the Tierra de Campos Plateau we started to get our eye in for raptors including many Black Kite but also Griffon Vulture and Booted Eagle. Once on the plateau, White Stork and Montagu’s Harriers were plentiful, with Great Bustard also seen. Our two local bird guides were excellent and spoke good English. The weather was unseasonably hot, up to 30C and the local villages where we ate our packed lunches were full of screaming Common Swifts as well as the omnipresent nesting White Storks.

    The first full day in Spain visited four main sites: 1) the Laguna de la Nava de Fuentes, (https://rsis.ramsar.org/ris/1260) where scrub and open water held, amongst many others, Purple Heron, marsh terns, Savi’s Warbler, Corn Bunting and Yellow Wagtail; 2) a site on the Canal de Castilla was full of Pied and Spotted Flycatchers in and under Poplars, as well as largely invisible Nightingales and Golden Oriole; 3) third was a remote village, having a church tower with colony nesting Lesser Kestrel; 4) finally the Laguna de Boada (Boada de campos: un lugar imperdible para el turismo de interior en Palencia – YouTube) involved a long hot trek to the hide but was arguably the best birding session of the trip with many duck, waders in particular Black-winged Stilt, terns including Gull-Billed and Whiskered and the highlight of following the aerobatics of two Collared Pratincole. Another local rarity was a Grey Heron!  We also enjoyed an informative talk from the local wildlife expert about the reserve and their research into Aquatic Warbler.

    The second morning featured a walk in open Holm Oak woodland in El Cerrato. This turned out to be relatively unproductive bird-wise but had plenty of interest for those of a flower and butterfly disposition with many Spanish Festoon butterflies. In the afternoon we returned to La Boada.

    The priority on Day three was to return to catch the return boat but there was a productive coffee stop in the mountains where, amongst others, Wryneck and TreePipit were detected.

    A total of 116 birds were identified on the holiday. Sadly for some, this didn’t include Aquatic Warbler as these pass through the area primarily in autumn. The full list of species and locations are on the BOC website. Many thanks to Jane for coordinating the excellent trip.                           Gary Magill

    Locations of some species:

    Final list of species seen:

  • Saturday 07 May – Blagdon Lake Leader: Nigel Milbourne Saturday May 07th, 2022

    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 Tuesday May 03rd, 2022

    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 Tuesday April 26th, 2022

    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 Sunday April 24th, 2022

    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 Friday April 22nd, 2022

    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

  • 19-22 April 2022 – Mid-Wales Leaders: Kate Cashmore and Clive Burton Tuesday April 19th, 2022

    Thirteen of us met at at Llangasty Church on the south side of Llangorse Lake, just east of Brecon. The lake is a large shallow natural lake, good for fish, plants and invertebrates and therefore birds, including Garganey, Great White Egret and Marsh Harrier. In the reed beds in front of the hide we had good views of a male Reed Bunting, and Cetti’s Warbler, Reed Warbler, Chiffchaff, Blackcap and Willow Warbler were all seen and heard. We then headed to our guesthouse at Llanerchindda Farm, Cynghordy, eleven miles north of Llandovery. We had a warm welcome from the proprietor, Martin and his family, and settled down to watch the well-used bird feeders on the tree canopy level terrace. Over our stay these were visited by many species including Great Spotted Woodpecker, many Chaffinches, Greenfinches, a bright Yellowhammer, and a Marsh Tit. Wednesday dawned sunny and warm, and we headed through to the nearby RSPB reserve at Dinas. In the boggy woodland we had Wood Warbler, Treecreeper and Long-tailed Tit; in the stony river, Dipper and Grey Wagtails and a Cuckoo was heard calling, and in the oak woodland, Redstarts and Pied Flycatchers, mostly males, apparently setting up territories. The trees were still only beginning to come into leaf, allowing us good views. In the picnic area a Nuthatch was calling incessantly, and where seed had been put out on a log, several Siskins were feeding with Chaffinches. At Llyn Brianne, a reservoir further up the valley we had good views of Wheatear. Thursday was again warm and sunny and we headed 30 miles north to the Elan Valley. House Martins and Siskins were seen. On the recommendation of the local ranger, we followed one of the woodland trails up the hill to the top of the dam and then zig-zagging back down through damp oak woodland. More Pied Flycatchers were seen, male and female, the latter with nesting material. We also noted Goldcrest, Blackcap, and a Tree Pipit and heard the sad song of a Mistle Thrush. We then visited Gilfach Reserve, an old hill farm three miles north of Rhayader. We were able to train a scope on a raven’s nest with three young. Dipper and Grey Wagtail were seen on the river. One lucky couple saw an Osprey flying in the valley. On our way home, despite the biting wind, most of us walked round the ‘traeths’ or bogs of the National Nature Reserve south-west of the Brecon Beacons visitor centre, and spotted many birds in the heathland habitat, including Skylarks, Stonechats, Peregrine, Wheatears, and Meadow Pipits. Though we did not find any great rarities on the trip, we had good views of many species. The Pied Flycatchers and Redstarts were the stars, and the species the area is renowned for. We had 76 species in total. (Thanks to Kate and Clive for leading). Kate Cashmore

  • Tuesday 19 April – Northend, Bath Leader: Robert Hargreaves Tuesday April 19th, 2022

    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 Tuesday April 12th, 2022

    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 Tuesday April 05th, 2022

    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 Tuesday March 29th, 2022

    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 Tuesday March 22nd, 2022

    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 Saturday March 19th, 2022

    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 Tuesday March 15th, 2022

    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 Tuesday March 08th, 2022

    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 Sunday March 06th, 2022

    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 Tuesday March 01st, 2022

    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 Sunday February 27th, 2022

    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 Tuesday February 22nd, 2022

    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

  • Saturday 19 – 22 February – Cornwall weekend Leader: Jane Cumming Saturday February 19th, 2022

    Our group of 13 was based near St Just. Day one started at Hayle’s Carnsew Pool, showing Goosander, Red-breasted Merganser, Greenshank, Sinensis Cormorants with extensive white head areas, and Little Grebes; another visit added Shags. At Hayle Estuary, we saw Shelduck, Wigeon, Teal, Goosander and Red-breasted Merganser, Oystercatcher, Lapwing, Grey and Ringed Plover, Curlew, Dunlin, Redshank, Common and Yellow-legged Gull, with a Grey Wagtail on the river sluice, and a Buzzard.
    Next day we pursued a Rosy Starling in the village of Lower Boscaswell, and were lucky enough to find it quite quickly in bushes in an enclave of post-war housing – this pretty bird’s plumage already turning a convincing pink.
    On to wild sea watches at adjacent Pendeen Lighthouse and Cape Cornwall, where we got better at picking out the Kittiwakes and Fulmar cruising the thunderous waves with Gannets (and a possible Manx Shearwater), and spotting the small Auks and the Shags through storm-vibrated optics. Then to the strikingly calmer Newlyn to hunt ‘white’ gulls – a Kumlien’s and Glaucous – in the fishing harbour and shore just west. A persistent search found the rare Kumlien’s (a variant of Iceland Gull from northern Canada) placidly floating in the harbour: a dainty gull with small bill, shadowed eyes, pink legs, and wing tips elegantly barred in a pale grey. We also found a Red-throated Diver there – a handsome sleeping juvenile in pale grey winter plumage – as well as a Great Northern Diver in the bay, Mediterranean Gulls, Shags, Cormorants and Turnstones, an abundance of strapping Great Black-backed Gulls and young, and Meadow Pipit.

    On our third day we began at Penzance’s Jubilee Pool, finding Purple Sandpipers with Turnstones (the latter looking almost impossibly tiny next to adjacent Great Black-backed Gulls). At Marazion’s seaweed-piled Little London Beach was a dark bellied Brent Goose pottering with Oystercatchers, Curlews, Shags and Rock Pipits.
    Back up through Hayle to the pools at St Gothian’s reserve in the dunes by Godrevey Point, showing Tufted Ducks with Little Grebe, Coot, Canada Geese and Mute Swan, and a massive stormy surf beyond; then zigzagging back to Marazion Marshes to see a Grey Heron in its nest, Great and Little Egret, displaying Teals, our first Mallards – and excitingly our first Warbler, a Chiffchaff breezing about in willows. Also seen from the van en route – a lovely flying flock of around 300 Golden Plover, and as the sun lowered, on to Sennen Cove just south of Cape Cornwall for Choughs. Many Jackdaws came swirling in and included some Choughs, though only the quick-eyed picked them out. Finally, a crepuscular mystery adventure: Jane took us to a remote landscape near our residence, and as we watched, two Short-eared Owls flew in to hunt – pure sorcery! This special site can get as many as six. 

    On our last day we returned to Hayle Estuary, seeing more abundant gulls and waders including four Goosanders, another Mediterranean Gull, and Golden Plovers; and within Ryan’s Field reserve behind, Great White Egret (snuggling with Grey Herons), Greenshank, Black-tailed Godwits and Cetti’s Warbler, Chaffinch, Greenfinch and Goldfinch. Finally a last twitch for Glossy Ibis at Chapel Amble near Wadebridge, where we were lucky enough to find eight of a reported eleven feeding busily on flooded meadow with Shoveler and other ducks, and a Water Pipit. Total 83 species. Great food and accommodation at Bosavern. Massive thanks to Jane for brilliant and surprise filled leading, and to our accomplished new drivers Alison and Jeremy Pilling. Lois Pryce

  • Tuesday 15 February – Old Down/Tockington Leader: Sue Black Tuesday February 15th, 2022

    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 Tuesday February 08th, 2022

    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 Sunday February 06th, 2022

    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 Tuesday February 01st, 2022

    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 Tuesday January 25th, 2022

    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 Saturday January 22nd, 2022

    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 Tuesday January 18th, 2022

    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 Tuesday January 11th, 2022

    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 Sunday January 09th, 2022

    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 Tuesday January 04th, 2022

    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 Tuesday December 28th, 2021

    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 Tuesday December 21st, 2021

    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 Sunday December 19th, 2021

    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 Tuesday December 07th, 2021

    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 Tuesday November 30th, 2021

    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 Sunday November 28th, 2021

    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 Tuesday November 23rd, 2021

    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 Tuesday November 16th, 2021

    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 Saturday November 13th, 2021

    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 Tuesday November 09th, 2021

    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 Saturday November 06th, 2021

    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 Tuesday November 02nd, 2021

    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

  • Saturday 30 October – Blagdon Lake Leader: Nigel Milbourne Saturday October 30th, 2021

    Eleven members met at the Blagdon Lake Fishing Lodge at 10:00, some having previously taken a look along the dam where some Grey Wagtails and Little Grebe were seen. Weather was 10-14C with a fairly stiff breeze making it feel quite cold. Despite heavy overnight rain, it was dry except for a short heavy shower during the return part of the walk. We started by the Lodge where new birders were introduced to duck and gulls including Shoveler, Gadwall, Wigeon, Teal, Pochard and Tufted Duck, along with three Egyptian Geese. There was a Great White Egret on the far side of the lake and one Cetti’s Warbler was heard calling nearby. We walked eastward along the lake edge stopping at various places along the way. There were hundreds of Coot and 100 plus Canada Geese, small rafts of Little Grebes, ten Pintails, also a good number of Cormorants and Great Crested Grebes too on the water. A few wader species were present, notably 90 Lapwings, 38 Black-tailed Godwits and a Green Sandpiper. We scanned the Tufted Ducks for Scaup but none were forthcoming. Several woodland species were present amongst the trees beside the lake, including twelve Siskins as well as Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Nuthatch and Treecreeper with Linnet and Meadow Pipit along the lake shore. We turned back around Bell’s Bush and finished around 14:00, taking some time to determine if a particular gull was a Yellow-legged, which it was. Many thanks to Nigel for leading. Alan Daniells

  • Tuesday 26 October – Bleadon Levels Nature Reserve Leader: Jane Cumming Tuesday October 26th, 2021

    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 Sunday October 24th, 2021

    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 Sunday October 17th, 2021

    alas the rain was against us

  • Tuesday 12 October – Saltford Leader: Robert Hargreaves Tuesday October 12th, 2021

    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 Sunday October 10th, 2021

    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 Tuesday October 05th, 2021

    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 Tuesday September 28th, 2021

    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 Sunday September 26th, 2021

    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 Tuesday September 21st, 2021

    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 Tuesday September 14th, 2021

    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 Sunday September 12th, 2021

    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 Tuesday September 07th, 2021

    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 Saturday September 04th, 2021

    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 Tuesday August 31st, 2021

    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 Tuesday August 24th, 2021

    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 Tuesday August 17th, 2021

    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 Saturday August 14th, 2021

    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 Tuesday August 10th, 2021

    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 Tuesday August 03rd, 2021

    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 Saturday July 31st, 2021

    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 Tuesday July 27th, 2021

    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 Tuesday July 20th, 2021

    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 Sunday July 18th, 2021

    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 Tuesday July 13th, 2021

    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 Tuesday July 06th, 2021

    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 Sunday July 04th, 2021

    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 Tuesday June 29th, 2021

    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 Sunday June 27th, 2021

    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 Tuesday June 22nd, 2021

    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 Tuesday June 15th, 2021

    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 Saturday June 12th, 2021

    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 Tuesday June 08th, 2021

    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 Tuesday June 01st, 2021

    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 Sunday May 30th, 2021

    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
    CLUB NOTICES
    Chairman’s notes

  • Saturday 29 May – Oldbury Power Station Leader: Andy Middleton Saturday May 29th, 2021

    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 Tuesday May 25th, 2021

    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 Tuesday May 18th, 2021

    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 Friday May 14th, 2021

    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 Tuesday May 11th, 2021

    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 Tuesday May 04th, 2021

    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 Tuesday April 27th, 2021

    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 Sunday April 25th, 2021

    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 Tuesday April 20th, 2021

    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 Saturday April 17th, 2021

    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 Tuesday April 13th, 2021

    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 Saturday April 10th, 2021

    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 Tuesday April 06th, 2021

    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 Saturday April 03rd, 2021

    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 Tuesday March 30th, 2021

    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 Tuesday December 29th, 2020

    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 Sunday December 27th, 2020

    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 Tuesday December 22nd, 2020

    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 Saturday December 19th, 2020

    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 Tuesday December 15th, 2020

    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 Tuesday December 08th, 2020

    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 Sunday December 06th, 2020

    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 Tuesday November 03rd, 2020

    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 Tuesday October 27th, 2020

    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 Tuesday October 20th, 2020

    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 Tuesday October 13th, 2020

    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 Tuesday October 06th, 2020

    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 Sunday September 27th, 2020

    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 Sunday September 20th, 2020

    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 Saturday September 12th, 2020

    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 Sunday September 06th, 2020

    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 Tuesday March 17th, 2020

    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 Saturday March 14th, 2020

    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 Tuesday March 10th, 2020

    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 Tuesday March 03rd, 2020

    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 Tuesday February 25th, 2020

    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 Sunday February 23rd, 2020

    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 Tuesday February 18th, 2020

    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

  • Club Weekend, 7-10 February – Norfolk: Leader Jane Cumming Friday February 07th, 2020

    Sixteen members went on the long weekend trip to north Norfolk, expertly led by Jane Cumming. On the way we stopped at Welney Wetland Centre where we saw lots of Whooper Swans, Pochard and Teal. 55 different species were seen on our journey to Hunstanton, including Tree Sparrows and a Short-eared Owl at WWT, Red Kite, Buzzard and Marsh Harrier en route and a distant Hen Harrier at Roydon Common. Saturday was a perfect day for bird watching, clear and mostly still. We started before breakfast on the sea front at Hunstanton where Brent Geese, Fulmar, and Oystercatchers were out and about feeding. After breakfast we went to Thornham Marsh to find Black-tailed Godwit, Knot, Redshank, a Spotted Redshank, Curlew, Lapwing and Reed Bunting, also beautiful flocks of Linnets. But the highlight there was a group of Twite which settled near the path. Nine were counted in all and their winter yellow beaks were clear to see. After that we went to Holkham Gap. Two Grey Partridges were close by to the parked cars and Wigeon and Teal were also very close, markings clearly visible to the naked eye. A few Black-tailed Godwits were seen in the nearby channel mud flats. We wandered through pine trees to the Gap and saw in the distance of the roped-off area, Shore Lark. But we had a much better view on our return when their yellow and black faces were clearly visible. Five were counted. There was lots to see from the beach at Holkham Gap. Hundreds of Common Scoter were out at sea and some Velvet Scoter spotted with them. Red-breasted Merganser and Red-throated Divers were seen by those with ‘scopes. We continued onwards towards Wells in an effort to see a Rough-legged Buzzard that had been around there all winter but no luck, only a Buzzard. On to Cley Marshes NWT for a much needed cup of tea before venturing out onto the marshes to enjoy the afternoon. The marshes looked quite beautiful in the late sunshine. A Peregrine and Buzzard flew overhead and the Peregrine perched on a post for long enough to give all a good view. Turnstone and Snow Bunting were at the beach but some of us had difficulty picking them out since their camouflage was so good, only spotting them when they took off. On the way back the ethereal light of the full moon gave the area a special beauty with Little Egrets coming in to roost and flocks of Greylag Geese flying noisily overhead. Those who arrived back at the minibus early were rewarded by a Barn Owl sighting. Finally we took a detour up Beach Road at Cley NWT before darkness made further bird-watching impossible. But all were pleased to have had such a full and successful day with sightings of 80 species of birds The next day we awoke to 60-70 mph winds and the full force of Storm ‘Ciara’. RSPB Titchwell Marsh was closed and an attempt to see birds on the sea front at Hunstanton beach was really only possible from the shelter of an ice cream hut. Despite the atrocious conditions and the fact we had to stay put in Hunstanton for the day, 25 species were sighted including Turnstone, a Kittiwake and one Gannet. Many Sunday newspapers were read! The weather picked up on Monday. The wind although still strong had subsided slightly and we were relieved that Titchwell Marsh was open again. The light was excellent with the clear blue sky reflected in the freshwater lakes and Skylark sang overhead. On the salt marsh, the tide was retreating revealing the mud flats on which many waders were feeding. It gave the experts in our party the chance to point out the differences between the Grey Plover and Knot. Redshank and Curlew were in evidence too and a Little Egret was feeding so close to the path that its long head and tail plumage was clearly visible fluttering in the wind. On the beach there were flocks of Dunlin and Knot as well as many Bar-tailed Godwit. A flock of about 40 Avocet were sheltering in the freshwater lake closest to the centre and at one stage two Marsh Harriers were hunting overhead. Pintails, Shelduck, Mallard, Teal, Shoveler, Brent Geese and Greylag Geese were also in evidence. Back at the centre, the bird feeders were full of Chaffinch, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Goldfinch and Greenfinch. We left Titchwell after lunch driving back through the Norfolk hinterland where from the minibus, we spotted four Red-legged Partridges along a hedgerow and three Hares running across the open fields. A decision was taken to detour to Deeping Lakes in Lincolnshire on the way home hoping to see the Long-eared Owls known to roost there. Unfortunately, the weather had deteriorated with snow falling by the time we got there and the owls were nowhere to be seen. Nevertheless, we were happy to have experienced such a successful weekend. Over 105 different species had been seen and we were all delighted to have seen Twite and Shore Lark. Many thanks to our drivers Chris Neale and Alastair Fraser and to Jane, our leader, for all the trip organisation. My thanks also to those with ‘scopes for so patiently pointing out the waders and their differences to me and to the other inexperienced birders. I feel that my identification skills have much improved (or at least they should have). This was my first visit to Norfolk and I feel very privileged to have seen such a beautiful winter coastal landscape in all its diversity with people who were knowledgeable about the birdlife to be found there. Thank you. Alison Hooper

  • Tuesday 04 February – Bristol City Centre Leaders: Margaret Gorely and Nancy Barrett Tuesday February 04th, 2020

    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 Saturday February 01st, 2020

    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 Tuesday January 28th, 2020

    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 Tuesday January 21st, 2020

    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 Sunday January 19th, 2020

    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 Tuesday January 14th, 2020

    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 Sunday January 12th, 2020

    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 Tuesday January 07th, 2020

    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 Wednesday January 01st, 2020

    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 Tuesday December 31st, 2019

    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 Tuesday December 24th, 2019

    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 Tuesday December 17th, 2019

    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 December 15th, 2019
    Sunday 15 December - Weymouth/Portland, meeting cancelled due to bad weather.
  • Tuesday 10 December – Ham Wall Leader: Mark Watson Tuesday December 10th, 2019

    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 Tuesday December 03rd, 2019

    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 Sunday December 01st, 2019

    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 Tuesday November 26th, 2019

    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 Tuesday November 19th, 2019

    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 Tuesday November 19th, 2019

    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 Sunday November 17th, 2019

    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 Tuesday November 12th, 2019

    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 Tuesday November 05th, 2019

    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 Sunday November 03rd, 2019

    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 Tuesday October 29th, 2019

    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 Tuesday October 22nd, 2019

    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

  • Club Weekend, 18-20 October – Kent Leader: Jane Cumming Friday October 18th, 2019

     

    Sixteen club members met in Gillingham on Kent’s north-west coast. Weather was generally mild and dry.
    Day 1: Oare Marshes is 81 hectares of grazing marsh with freshwater dykes, open water scrapes, reed bed, saltmarsh and seawall, on the north Kent coast facing the Isle of Sheppey across the Swale. (It was thought too early to visit Sheppey for Harriers and Owls – though a Hen Harrier was reported the day after our return). We concentrated on the modest pools next to the access road, that had a full selection of waders in close view, including eight Spoonbills standing together with heads tucked, 180 Avocets who took off to wheel around in a magnificent show of flashing white and black, some large flocks of Lapwing, Grey Plover, Ringed Plover, Curlew, Bar- and Black-tailed Godwit who could be heard ‘muttering’ together, Turnstone, Knot, Ruff, Sanderling, Dunlin, Snipe, Common and Spotted Redshank (the latter showing a fairly unmarked back but much spangling on the wings, and clear white round the eyes), and Greenshank. Bearded Tit and Cetti’s Warbler were heard in the reed beds and Marsh Harrier and Swallows seen. However, amidst these successes, our first target species ‘fail’ was for Curlew Sandpiper
    Day 2: Dungeness is on Kent’s south coast, Europe’s largest area of shingle habitat, with miles of beachline and extensive areas of scrub and gravel extraction pits behind, including the large RSPB reserve. Our sea watch by the nuclear power station produced Gannet, Sandwich Tern, Great Crested Grebe, Auks, Mediterranean Gull – and ‘bird of the day’ if not ‘of the trip’ – a close-up juvenile Sabine’s Gull flying low along the surf line and showing how small it was when sitting in the waves. It hung around on the beach for the next two days. Further along at the power station’s warm water outfall, gulls fished in a frenzy or gathered in species groups on the beach – including the extraordinary sight of about 100 Great Black-backed Gulls all together with Cormorants, (Leader’s factoid: GBB Gulls are only found in the North Atlantic, unlike many other gull species which have a much more extensive range). Again we saw a few Swallows – mild weather and plenty of insects probably keeping them here. The RSPB reserve has a large circle of hides overlooking a series of pools surrounded by dunes and scrubland. Our watches there produced Greylag and Egyptian Goose, a selection of Ducks including Pintail, Pochard and Long-tailed, a Red-throated Diver in close view clearly showing its fine uptilted bill, Common Tern (easily mistaken for Sandwich as its bill goes dark in winter), Little and Great Crested Grebes but not a reported Black-necked, Cattle and Great White Egret (not yet expected in Kent), majestic views of Marsh Harriers – particularly a boldlypatterned female, a Little Stint in a small woodland pool, a flying flock of 40 Stock Dove, and lots of Cetti’s Warblers. Another birdwatcher surprised a Short-eared Owl literally outside one of our hides, We also missed Ring Ouzels, searched for in the shingle dunes of the ‘Moat’ by the lighthouse buildings, also Tree Sparrows which nest at the reserve entrance but weren’t currently being fed to keep their interest there!
    Day 3: Driving in towards Cliffe Pools Reserve, we passed 27 Red-legged Partridge in a field. The reserve on the south bank of the Thames estuary below Tilbury, is an extensive area of semi-industrial gravel extraction lakes and scrubland with ponies and showing huge cranes and ships visible in the distance. The large lakes held scattered treasures, including large flocks of Lapwing, Golden Plover, Ruff and Greenshank, Greylag Goose, many Little Grebe, Pintail and Pochard, a charming flock of Avocet running to keep closely together as they fed, and Common Gull, Kingfisher, Green Woodpecker and Marsh Harrier. As we had seen elsewhere, groups of Starlings were gathering into larger flocks to perform ‘mini-murmurations’. Returning home, we did a final twitch at Runnymede near the Thames, for the Ring-necked Parakeets that have made this their home. We walked to the meadow site of the historic signing of Magna Carta where three slender green Parakeets squawked as they flew over, and we admired two Mistle Thrushes high in a tree. Many thanks to Jane for her usual inspiring and informative leadership, and to our gallant drivers Keith Williams and Chris Neale for the long distances covered. Lois Pryce

  • Tuesday 15 October – Hawkesbury Upton Leader: Nick Hawkridge Tuesday October 15th, 2019

    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 Tuesday October 08th, 2019

    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 Sunday October 06th, 2019

    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 Tuesday October 01st, 2019

    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. Sunday September 29th, 2019

    This meeting was cancelled due to adverse weather.

  • Tuesday 24 September – Arlingham. Tuesday September 24th, 2019

    This meeting was cancelled due to adverse weather.

  • Tuesday 17 September – Marshfield Leader Chris Perry Tuesday September 17th, 2019

    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 Tuesday September 10th, 2019

    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 Saturday August 31st, 2019

    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 Tuesday August 27th, 2019

    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 Tuesday August 20th, 2019

    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 Tuesday August 13th, 2019

    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 Sunday August 11th, 2019

    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 Tuesday August 06th, 2019

    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 Tuesday July 30th, 2019

    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 Friday July 26th, 2019

    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 Tuesday July 23rd, 2019

    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 Saturday July 20th, 2019

    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 Tuesday July 16th, 2019

    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 Tuesday July 09th, 2019

    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 Sunday July 07th, 2019

    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 Tuesday July 02nd, 2019

    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 Thursday June 27th, 2019

    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 Tuesday June 25th, 2019

    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 Tuesday June 18th, 2019

    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 Sunday June 16th, 2019

    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 Tuesday June 11th, 2019

    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 Tuesday June 04th, 2019

    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 Saturday June 01st, 2019

    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 Tuesday May 28th, 2019

    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 Tuesday May 21st, 2019

    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 Sunday May 19th, 2019

    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 Friday May 17th, 2019

    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 Tuesday May 14th, 2019

    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 Tuesday May 07th, 2019

    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

  • Scotland 04 -11 May – Glenloy Saturday May 04th, 2019

    Eleven club members joined this trip which was centred around the Fort William area of north west Scotland. We stayed at Glenloy Lodge which had very peaceful surrounding and a bonus in the form of two Pine Martins which would visit in the evenings to feed on snacks put out by our host Jon. We were incredibly privileged to be able to see these beautiful animals so close totally unconcerned. We explored a range of habitats which included sea and freshwater lochs, mixed woodland glens, moorland and mountains and the islands of Eigg and Muck. The weather was quite cold but mainly dry but with overnight snow frequent on the mountains. A group total of 114 species were recorded. The highlights were: Golden Eagles, Sea Eagles, Ospreys, three species of Divers, a Black Grouse lek and Slavonian Grebes. Mammals included three Deer species, Red Squirrels, Pine Martins, Otters and Common Seals. The scenery was in places spectacular in the clear light conditions and was enjoyed by all. Places visited included the Ardnamurchan peninsula, Lochs Shiel, Arkaig, Linnhe, Ruthven, and Glens Loy and Roy.
    On our first day looking around the Ardnamurchan area we saw twelve Great Northern and five Red-throated Divers, all in summer plumage, Red-breasted Mergansers, Eiders, Black Guillemots breeding on the Corran Ferry pier and twelve Purple Sandpipers. Raptors included two Sea Eagles and a Peregrine. The next day we took a boat trip to the islands of Eigg and Muck. Before joining the boat we stopped at a freshwater loch near Arisaig to watch a close pair of Black-throated Divers which gave great views. Very few seabirds were seen on the island crossings. A brief stop was taken at Eigg, then two hours were spent on Muck. Looking over a damp meadow we saw Snipe and a few people heard a brief Corncrake call but it was not located. A male Hen Harrier flew overhead and while looking over the newly arrived Arctic Tern colony a Sea Eagle flew low and out to sea. The views of the four surrounding islands were spectacular, Rum in particular. Two local Glens were visited the next day with a wide mix of habitats. The woodlands held lots of Siskins and Redpolls, Willow Warblers everywhere with smaller numbers of Whinchats, Tree Pipits, and Cuckoos while the streams contained Common Sandpipers and Oystercatchers. Two Black Grouse were perched high up in nearby trees and our only Ring Ouzel gave good but brief views. Over the moorlands a male Hen Harrier, Buzzards and two distant Golden Eagles put in an appearance. The next morning we took a steady three hour boat trip along the whole length of Glen Shiel (15 miles). There were the usual Mergansers and Grey Herons plus a Red-throated Diver. Three Golden Eagles soared over the mountains and the boat stopped to enable us to view a Sea Eagle sitting on a nest situated in the top of a large tree. Just before disembarking we watched an Osprey eating a fish on the shoreline. After lunch we took a very pleasant walk around the oakwoods of Ariundle which had a splendid display of Bluebells along with sightings of Willow, Wood and Garden Warblers, Tree Pipits and a Treecreeper were seen. Next morning, after a 05:00 start at a spot close to Fort William, we watched eight male Black Grouse at a lek which was situated very close to our vehicles and gave great views. After breakfast we visited Loch Arkaig stopping at various spots. We were hoping for Eagles but, unfortunately, none appeared but we saw a pair of Dippers at a waterfall, feeding young in the nest, and on the Loch a pair of Red- throated Divers and Mergansers. Our last day was spent visiting the western side of the Monadhliath Mountains above Loch Ness. The lochs and moorland held a pair of Black-throated Divers, Slavonian Grebes, an Osprey flying past carrying a fish, several Red Kites, Peregrine and a few Red Grouse. It was a very good end to the trip. Many thanks to Alastair for organising the trip and to the members of the group and the owners of Glenloy for making this a very successful club holiday.
    Jeff Holmes

  • Tuesday 30 April – Priors Wood, Portbury — Leader Judy Copeland Tuesday April 30th, 2019

    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 Sunday April 28th, 2019

    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 Tuesday April 23rd, 2019

    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 Tuesday April 16th, 2019

    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 Sunday April 14th, 2019

    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 Tuesday April 09th, 2019

    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 Saturday April 06th, 2019

    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 Tuesday April 02nd, 2019

    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 Tuesday February 26th, 2019

    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 Sunday February 24th, 2019

    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 Tuesday February 19th, 2019

    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

  • Club Weekend, 15 – 18 February – Cornwall Leader: Jane Cumming Friday February 15th, 2019

    We were 15 participants, based at Bosavern House just below St Just. Weather generally fine and relatively mild
    with some strong winds, and overcast.
    As tradition dictates, we stopped in Hayle for pasties and scouted Copperhouse Creek, dockside Carnsew Pool, and Ryan’s Field RSPB reserve and the estuary bay, getting over 20 wetland species including Mediterranean Gulls (one pair posturing to each other with necks stretched up), Greenshank, Grey Plover, and a strapping Spoonbill with head plumes. We compared Bar-tailed Godwits clearly showing prettily streaked brown-grey backs in comparison with the Black-tailed’s plainer backs.We twice visited the Drift Reservoir near St Just to look for Cattle Egret, finding four on our second try in a field ofcattle (at one point joined by a Herring Gull who followed them in a line, showing its surprisingly larger size…), aswell as Great Crested and Black-necked Grebe, and over 100 Canada Geese. Each subsequent morning we visited the dramatic cliffs of Cape Cornwall with south-westerly winds and great breakers rolling in. The most tantalising glimpse was two member’s sighting of a pale beige first-year Iceland Gull on our first visit, amongst rock and beach roosts of mostly Herring Gull, though subsequent persistent trawls through the roosts failed to find it again. However, where a descending stream formed beach waterfalls and pools, a delightful ‘gull spa’ was revealed with much splashing and preening in the freshwater – as Jane said, you could almost hear the cries of ‘pass the soap’! We were lucky enough to spot groups of up to 16 Choughs calling and airily bouncing in the wind, as well as rafts of Guillemots and Razorbills – the largest at least 500 – around 100 Gannets, Fulmars, Shags, an unidentified diver (our only one of the trip – probably Red-throated), Kestrels, Ravens and seals. Later, walking down the sheltered road from the exposed Coastguard station above Porthgwarra, small birds created a wall of twittering sounds in the dense scrub and Sycamore woods: Chaffinch, Linnets and Goldfinch with a Bullfinch heard.
    On the second day we also visited Sennen Cove, Pendeen Watch, and Carbis Bay with seals and a porpoise. Then back up past Hayle to the Gwithian Sands Nature Reserve created from old sandpits in the dunes south of Godrevy Lighthouse, with a nice selection of ducks and waders in the lake, including a Pochard. Then south to Marazion Reserve at dusk for a possible Starling murmuration that did not arrive.
    On the third day we drove to Helston which has a nice public park and boating lake (with a smart pinioned Ferruginous Duck amongst gulls and Tufted Ducks), fed by the River Cober which carries on to the sea via Loe Pool (Cornwall’s largest natural body of fresh water). By the car park is a sewage works where we hunted for Yellow-browed Warbler in the surrounding patchy hedgerow/woodland – finally locating one as it moved restlessly about with Chiffchaff and Goldcrest, though most of the group never got good views; and we also got our first (singing) Greenfinch, and Grey Wagtails. We then searched without luck along the valley for a reported Glossy Ibis. Back at Marazion we looked for Glossy Ibis and Bittern but only found more common species – and an extraordinary coup for driver Keith who whilst filming a Grey Heron, found he’d caught an adjacent Snipe flying up into the picture! At Penzance’s dockside Jubilee Pool, we looked for Purple Sandpiper and found them in force – over 20 of the delightful birds scurrying amongst rough waves or jumping up onto the rough granite wall where they nestled in the tiniest indents (becoming Bird of the Trip for many members). Further along the jetty scores of Turnstones scuttled and scavenged amongst the humans with their cheeky air. Then a first-year male Eider flew fast and low from open water, looking large and heavy with white front patches visible on overall dark plumage.
    On our last day we returned to the Hayle Estuary, adding a Common Gull and Yellow-legged Gull to our list. Our final visit was to the pretty village of Chapel Amble just past Wadebridge, where a Temminck’s Stint had settled into the wetlands formed by the River Amble making its way to the Camel Estuary via the new wetland reserve of Walmsley Sanctuary. When we read our instructions correctly, the group soon found this small but very rare wader in a wet field with the tiny river flowing through it, with Teal, Green Sandpiper, and Meadow Pipits – for some discriminating members the Bird of the Trip!
    Many thanks as always to Jane for her excellent leadership, and to Alastair and Keith for driving. Our stay was also memorable for the wonderful food and comfortable accommodation. Even with a surprising lack of divers, scoters, shearwaters etc, and our failure to find Bittern or Glossy Ibis, we achieved a total of 89 species. Lois Pryce

  • Tuesday 12 February – Ham Wall, Somerset Levels Leader: Peter Holbrook Tuesday February 12th, 2019

    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 Tuesday February 05th, 2019

    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 Tuesday January 29th, 2019

    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 Sunday January 27th, 2019

    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 Tuesday January 22nd, 2019

    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 Sunday January 20th, 2019

    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 Tuesday January 15th, 2019

    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 Sunday January 13th, 2019

    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 Tuesday January 08th, 2019

    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 Tuesday January 01st, 2019

    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 Tuesday December 25th, 2018

    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 Tuesday December 18th, 2018

    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 Sunday December 16th, 2018

    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 Tuesday December 11th, 2018

    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 Saturday December 08th, 2018

    Cancelled courtesy of storm ‘Deirdre’.

  • Tuesday 04 December – Newton St. Loe Leaders: Duncan and Pat Gill, Peter Holbrook Tuesday December 04th, 2018

    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 Tuesday November 27th, 2018

    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 Sunday November 25th, 2018

    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 Tuesday November 20th, 2018

    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 Tuesday November 13th, 2018

    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 Tuesday November 06th, 2018

    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 Tuesday October 30th, 2018

    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 Saturday October 27th, 2018

    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 Tuesday October 23rd, 2018

    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 Tuesday October 16th, 2018

    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 Sunday October 14th, 2018

    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 Tuesday October 09th, 2018

    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 Saturday October 06th, 2018

    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 Tuesday October 02nd, 2018

    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 Saturday September 29th, 2018

    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 Tuesday September 25th, 2018

    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 Tuesday September 18th, 2018

    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 Sunday September 16th, 2018

    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

  • Sunday 09 – Thursday 13 September – Pelagic trip to Spain and Asturias Organised by Jane Cumming Tuesday September 11th, 2018

    Day 1; Sunday 9 September
    We met up with the group by the Downs Water Tower in Bristol and boarded the coach to Plymouth. We got to
    the Ferry Terminal in the afternoon and our tour guide, Paul Burley was waiting for us. We then boarded the
    Brittany Ferries, Pont-Aven for the overnight sailing to Santander.
    Day 2; Monday 10 September
    After breakfast, we went up on the deck to look for whales and dolphins in the Bay of Biscay. We saw lots of
    Gannets flying past along with Sooty and Great Shearwaters. A few Short-beaked Common Dolphins were seen,
    but sadly no Striped Dolphins. Our guide, Paul, said it had not been a very good for cetaceans this year, due to
    the lack of plankton moving northwards, although we did see a few Fin Whales. We docked in Santander about
    lunchtime and boarded the Spanish coach to take us to the hotel. We stopped for lunch at the port of San
    Vincente de la Barquera. The birds of note here were Common Sandpiper, Ringed Plover, Curlew, White Wagtail,
    Great White and Little Egrets. We continued our journey to our lovely hotel in Playa de la Franca, overlooking a
    beach in an unspoilt cove. In the evening, we went for a walk around the area. We saw a few Yellow-legged
    Gulls, Kingfisher and Crested Tit, as well as a Mediterranean Speckled Wood butterfly. A juvenile Black Redstart
    was hopping around in front of the hotel. Chris Perry also managed to see and photograph a Long-tailed Blue
    butterfly, which most of us missed. In the evening, Paul introduced us to a local guide called Javier, who told us
    what to expect for the next two days.
    Day 3; Tuesday 11 September
    After breakfast we headed towards Panes and then along the stunning Cares Gorge to Covadonga. We dropped
    the tourists off at the impressive Basilica and Holy Caves, while we headed up to the feeding station. The rangers
    waited for us to arrive before putting the food out for the vultures. The skies were full of Griffon Vultures coming
    down to feed and there were three Lammergeiers in the area. Two birds were seen perched on the hills, but
    sadly due to lack of wind they didn’t fly over to the feeding station. A few Wall Lizards were seen around the
    viewpoint. A few butterflies included Mountain Small White, Clouded Yellow and Chalkhill Blue. We headed to
    Covadonga Lakes, where we had lunch. Around the picnic site was a juvenile White Wagtail, Black Redstart and
    Spotted Flycatchers. In the afternoon we walked up into the hills looking for raptors, we saw more Chalkhill Blues
    and Clouded Yellows on the way, I managed to see a Humming-bird Hawkmoth feeding on some of the flowers.
    The views were stunning and we saw lots more Griffon and Egyptian Vultures and Lammergeiers on the way up,
    along with Short-toed Eagle. As we sat at a viewpoint, listening to the cowbells ringing in the valley, a Booted
    Eagle flew towards us giving brilliant views. We saw and heard lots of Red-billed Chough. Afterwards we made
    our way back down the hill to our coach to pick up the tourists, before heading back to the hotel for dinner. The
    juvenile Black Redstart was still hopping along the lawn in front of the hotel. A few Yellow-legged Gulls were
    foraging on the beach.
    Day 4; Wednesday 12 September
    On our final morning in Spain, we left the hotel and headed through the beautiful Hermida Gorge to Potes. We
    continued to Fuente De, where we took the cable car up to the Picos de Europa mountain range. At the top
    station, a Black Redstart was feeding near a tractor. We walked further up the mountain and heard some Chough
    calling overhead. A Water Pipit was feeding along the path. A few more Chalkhill Blues and Wall Lizards were seen along the way, a Rock Grayling was resting by the path. We managed to see some Alpine Accentors
    foraging on the ground and on the rocks, until they flew over the top when an Egyptian Vulture flew through the
    valley briefly. We walked further along the rocky track to see if we could see any more alpine birds. We stopped
    for lunch at a good Wallcreeper site and soon had fantastic views of them foraging around the rocks and the cliff
    face. While we were having our lunch, a couple of Alpine Choughs flew in and landed on the rock in front of us, so
    we shared our sandwiches with them. An Alpine Accentor also came down, giving excellent views. Afterwards,
    we started to make our way back down the mountain. Another Egyptian Vulture soared over our heads. By the
    top station, there were lots of Alpine Choughs perched and flying around, unafraid of all the people. We then took
    the cable car back to our waiting coach at Fuente De, where we said our goodbyes to Javier and the other guides,
    and headed back to Santander to catch the ferry.
    Day 5; Thursday 13 September
    We had an early start at 06:30 to get on deck for a seawatch. We saw an impressive number of Great and Sooty
    Shearwaters passing by along with a few Manx Shearwaters. Plenty of Gannets were still flying about and we
    also saw some Common Dolphins. After breakfast, we went back for some more seawatching, we saw a couple
    of Sabine’s Gulls close to the ship and a ‘Bonxie’ (Great Skua) chasing a Sandwich Tern. As we neared the
    Ushant Islands we saw a few Manx Shearwaters and Common Dolphins. A Mediterranean Gull flew by and more
    Sooty, Manx, Great and the odd Balearic Shearwater, four more ‘Bonxies’ were seen along with another Sabine’s
    Gull. Also, Common and Bottlenosed Dolphins, Tuna and a Blue Shark.
    Huge thanks to Paul Burley and Javier for guiding, and to Jane for organising the trip. Chris Teague

  • Tuesday 11 September – Woodchester Park Leader: Nancy Barrett Tuesday September 11th, 2018

    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 Tuesday September 04th, 2018

    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 Sunday September 02nd, 2018

    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 Tuesday August 28th, 2018

    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 Tuesday August 21st, 2018

    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 Tuesday August 14th, 2018

    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 Saturday August 11th, 2018

    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 Tuesday August 07th, 2018

    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 Tuesday July 31st, 2018

    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 Sunday July 29th, 2018

    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 Tuesday July 24th, 2018

    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 Tuesday July 17th, 2018

    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 Tuesday July 10th, 2018

    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 Sunday July 08th, 2018

    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 Tuesday July 03rd, 2018

    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 Sunday July 01st, 2018

    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 Tuesday June 26th, 2018

    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 Tuesday June 19th, 2018

    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

  • Friday 15 – Monday 18 June – Anglesey Leaders: Keith Williams and Alastair Fraser Friday June 15th, 2018

    After a pleasant journey spotting numerous Buzzards, several Kestrels, and of course the occasional Red Kite as we entered Wales, we arrived at Gronant near Prestatyn. Here on the beach is a breeding colony of Little Terns but sadly only the day before, due to a severe gale causing a tidal surge, the colony had been devastated. There were plenty of Terns to be seen in the air and an army of volunteers who were repairing the security fences. They reported that there were a few surviving chicks and some of the pairs had started nest building again so hopefully all is not lost. Skylarks were much in evidence on the surroundings dunes and Shelduck, Mallard, Moorhens and Little Egret were seen on the marsh. A Marsh Harrier, not common here, was also spotted. Those lucky enough to have good hearing were entertained by a Grasshopper Warbler. Many orchids were among the flowers blooming. We then continued our journey along the North Wales coast, the Menai Straits and finally to our destination near Holyhead.
    We woke to heavy rain on Saturday but dressed for the weather and headed to South Stack. Here a gale was blowing and the foghorn was wailing in the low cloud. We took the path along the edge of the cliff but there was no sign of Choughs. The writer, for one, wished she was wearing lead boots to keep her tethered to the ground. It was not ideal birdwatching weather with rain on spectacles, binoculars and the windows of Elins Tower. Nevertheless, a good bird list soon built up including Gannets, Fulmars, Kittiwakes, Guillemots and Razorbills. Manx Shearwaters were also seen. The first Choughs were seen by those who headed towards the cafe for a comfort stop. We descended the steps towards the lighthouse battling against a wind that felt like a hurricane but were rewarded by the sighting of a Puffin. The rain then started to come down more heavily and we retreated to the cafe for a welcome coffee. Hearing reports of a Snowy Owl on Anglesey we made enquiries about its location and set off to look for it. Amlwch Port proved to be an attractive sheltered spot for birds and birders to eat their lunch. Sadly it was to be a ‘it was here yesterday’ occasion. However, we were rewarded by good sightings of about six Harbour Porpoises just offshore. Our next stop was Cemlyn Bay where there was much activity in the tern colony. It was a good opportunity to sort out identification of Common and Arctic terms as they were here side by side. Sandwich Terns had their own territory and were present in good numbers. Oystercatchers were also breeding there and two Curlew flew over. A female Red-breasted Merganser fished on the pond near the car park. Seals were singing on the rocks towards the Wherries.
    The next day started very well with a flyover of about four Choughs before we had left the car park of our accommodation. Holyhead harbour was our next stop where we quickly spotted Black Guillemots. We had excellent views of at least six birds including one in its nest hole in the harbour wall. A male Red-breasted Merganser was seen in the distance and more seals. After a drive to the North East corner of the island via a very attractive Beaumaris and coast road we arrived at Penmon point opposite Puffin Island. Here in lovely weather was a raft of Eider off shore and Cormorants and Shags for us to practice identification. More Harbour Porpoises went by. After lunch we strolled through the sheltered clifftop habitat and soon saw Bullfinches, Rock Pipits and Whitethroat and heard Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler and Blackcap. We next headed to the South Coast at Malltreath, returning to the wet and windy weather. After an excellent view of a Sparrowhawk with prey we saw a Little Egret, Ravens, Moorhen, Oystercatcher and heard Reed and Sedge Warbler.
    On Monday morning we reluctantly left our excellent accommodation at Blackthorn farm and travelled south through lovely scenery. We arrived at the Osprey nest site at Cors Dyfed just as the rain started making viewing through the glass of the treetop hide less than satisfactory. There were big screens showing live footage which were the clearest pictures I have ever seen. Some of our telescopes were set up where there was no glass and good views were had of both adult birds. We ate our lunch in hides by the bird feeders and saw Siskins, Great Spotted Woodpeckers, Coal Tit and brightly coloured Redpoll. A Snipe flew over. We then moved on to Bwylch Nant yr Arian Kite feeding station. Red Kites were already circling overhead waiting for the three o’clock tea time. The attractive lake gave us Tufted Duck and Little Grebe to add to the list. At 15:00 precisely the feeding frenzy started and what a sight it was with around 200 birds gliding in to snatch a morsel of the meat provided. It was an amazing finale to a great weekend. 93 bird species were recorded. Many thanks to Judy for making all the arrangements and to our two leaders and stalwart drivers Alastair and Keith. Thanks also to Jeff for sharing his detailed knowledge of all forms of wildlife. Margaret Gorely

  • Tuesday 12 June – Compton Dando Leader: Mike Landen Tuesday June 12th, 2018

    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 Friday June 08th, 2018

    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 Tuesday June 05th, 2018

    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 Saturday June 02nd, 2018

    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 Tuesday May 22nd, 2018

    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 Sunday May 20th, 2018

    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 Friday May 18th, 2018

    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 Tuesday May 15th, 2018

    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 Sunday May 13th, 2018

    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 Tuesday May 08th, 2018

    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 Tuesday May 01st, 2018

    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 Tuesday April 24th, 2018

    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 Saturday April 21st, 2018

    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 Tuesday April 17th, 2018

    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 Sunday April 15th, 2018

    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 Tuesday April 10th, 2018

    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 Saturday April 07th, 2018

    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 Tuesday April 03rd, 2018

    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 Tuesday March 27th, 2018

    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 Tuesday March 20th, 2018

    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 Tuesday March 13th, 2018

    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 Sunday March 11th, 2018

    Report next month.

  • Tuesday 06 March – Snuff Mills. Leader: Nick Hawkridge Tuesday March 06th, 2018

    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 Tuesday February 27th, 2018

    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 Sunday February 25th, 2018

    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 Tuesday February 20th, 2018

    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

  • Weekend in Kent, 16-18 February Leader: Jane Cumming Friday February 16th, 2018

    Friday 16 February. A number considered unlucky for some left Bristol for this trip, but on arrival in Kent we were joined by BOC member Lyn and her partner Ray, who stayed with us for the whole trip and whose local knowledge proved invaluable. But before we got to Kent our trip list was already around 40, due partly to an injunction to keep a look-out for Red Kite between Junctions 13 and 11 on the M4 (in fact we saw several); and partly because we made a small diversion to Staines Reservoir en route, having been advised of the presence of a “Horned Lark”. Information on which race was ambiguous (hardly surprising since there are around 40 races of this species). Suffice it to say that it was not the race we call Shore Lark, so there was considerable excitement about this bird, which had evidently arrived from North America, or possibly Asia. We duly found it, but sadly not everyone saw it, since it flew off after showing really well for a few minutes. All this meant that we didn’t reach the Isle of Sheppey until after 15:00. Here we saw Merlin, Marsh Harrier, Barn Owl, Stock Dove, Red-legged Partridge and Hooded Crow before Ray and Lyn took us off to the Swale NNR, where we added Greylag, White-front, Brent and Barnacle Geese to our list – plus Fieldfare, Kestrel and, best of all, a gorgeous male Hen Harrier.By then the light was fading, so we set off towards our hotel; we screeched to a halt when Ray discovered Corn Bunting. But most of us assumed that we were just getting better views of Barn Owl, so dipped out on that opportunity. Saturday 17 February. Our first experience on arriving on the Dungeness peninsula was to fail to find a Caspian Gull, which should have been mingling with a large group of gulls. It wasn’t, so we went for a 45 minute sea watch, where we added Guillemot, Razorbill, Gannet, Kittiwake and Red-throated Diver to our list. From there it was a short journey to the Power Station where an immature Glaucous Gull had been seen for some while. Since there were about 200 gulls in a tightly knit gathering, finding the target bird needed hard work and patience. But finally we all got good views of this spectacular bird. Before lunch at the RSPB Observatory we took ourselves off to Scotney Gravel Pits in the hope of seeing Bean Goose. We failed in this but compensation was rich because we saw Raven, Redshank, Oystercatcher and Buzzard (which surprised us this far east, but the following day we saw many more, so it was no accident); also Gadwall and Wigeon, which had been thin on the ground before this. After lunch, we spent the afternoon touring the RSPB Reserve.At the feeder station we encountered Tree Sparrow, which pleased us, and Greenfinch which have become scarce in recent years. Most of our time on the Reserve was devoted to viewing waterbirds in flooded gravel pits from hides. Between hides we discovered a Great White Egret (OK, so it’s common in the West, but still a rarity here) and a large flock of very colourful Golden Plover. The first two hides treated us to a feast of so many birds that we gloried in the number and variety and didn’t bother too much about listing individual species. That tendency disappeared in a flash at the third hide where we were treated to a male and two female Smew, plus a Slavonian Grebe, a Black-throated Diver and hundreds of Cormorant with all-white heads. Thus sated, we returned to Gillingham and our hotel. Sunday 18 February. Today we first went to a small village called Eastling, which had a mixture of woodland and farmland habitat. On arrival a Little Owl flew into a Yew tree. Not many of us saw it, but the small birds did and they proceeded to emerge and mob the tree in large numbers. This was good for our I/D skills of Blue and Great Tit, Goldfinch, Chaffinch etc., and fortunately the “defenders” included a splendid female Hawfinch, which gave all of us excellent views. There was also much birdsong to be enjoyed – possibly because we were basking in the third successive day of fine, spring-like weather. On the subsequent walk through woods and farmland, we added Yellowhammer, Sparrowhawk and Mistle Thrush to our list, and we also passed close to an active Rookery. Finally, we stopped and were treated to a distant view of three more Hawfinch, including a spectacular male. We heard the repeated sound of a Bullfinch and a lucky few managed to see the bird. The rest of us had to be content with a repeat viewing of a Red-legged Partridge. By now most of us were suffering from WWS (Wader withdrawal symptoms), so after lunch we went to Oare Marshes to solve this problem. And how! We saw Avocet, a large flock of (probably) Knot, Black-tailed and Bar-tailed Godwits, hundreds of Golden Plover and several Ruff. We also saw three Bearded Reedling feeding at the top of a small reedbed. And after a long, hard-working search we finally managed to connect with the Long-billed Dowitcher which has been at Oare Marshes for several weeks but had not been seen for some days. Flushed with success, we went off in search of some Water Pipit, which had been reported recently. What we saw was a Green Woodpecker! Lovely bird, but….. Well you can’t win them all! Nevertheless the consensus was that it had been a brilliant weekend – weather, birds (106 species), company, hotel – and in Alastair Fraser and Keith Williams two of the most skilful and dedicated drivers you could ever hope to meet. Along with Jane Cumming our leader, the rest of us owe these three and Ray and Lyn, an enormous debt of gratitude. Brian Roberts-Wray

  • Tuesday 13 February – Chew Valley Lake Leaders: John and Sue Prince Tuesday February 13th, 2018

    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 Tuesday February 06th, 2018

    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 Sunday February 04th, 2018

    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 Tuesday January 30th, 2018

    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 Sunday January 28th, 2018

    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 Tuesday January 23rd, 2018

    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 Sunday January 21st, 2018

    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 Tuesday January 16th, 2018

    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 Saturday January 13th, 2018

    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 Tuesday January 09th, 2018

    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 Tuesday January 02nd, 2018

    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 Monday January 01st, 2018

    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 Tuesday December 26th, 2017

    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 Tuesday December 19th, 2017

    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 Tuesday December 12th, 2017

    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 Saturday December 09th, 2017

    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 Tuesday December 05th, 2017

    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 Sunday December 03rd, 2017

    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 Tuesday November 28th, 2017

    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

  • Friday 24 – Sunday 26 November – South Devon weekend Leader: Jane Cumming Friday November 24th, 2017

    Based at Hope Cove – 20 members; weather – squally with periods of bright sunshine interspersed with showers, driven by a blustery NW wind. Species total: 90
    Day 1: We started at Matford Marsh, an informal newish reserve for flood relief between main roads just south of Exeter, to look for an American Wigeon – not there; though Eurasian Wigeon, Teal, Shoveler, Black-tailed Godwit and Snipe were.
    Next, Labrador Bay, a coastal farmland reserve just south of Teignmouth, for Cirl Bunting. We found abundant Linnet and Chaffinch, and Skylark and Meadow Pipit as well as up to 20 Cirl Buntings sunning on a sheltered hedgerow waiting to be fed. It was many people’s first view of these lovely birds with striped heads with olive surround, and they became the favourite ‘bird of the trip’.
    Next, a sea watch on the calm seafront by Paignton Pier, finding Gannet, Shag and Great Northern Diver.
    Finally, the Clennon Valley Reserve, Torbay, a modest urban-fringe reserve with woodland, stream and lake, to look for Yellow-browed Warbler. We didn’t find it, though it was there earlier and would be seen later; but we did find a Firecrest and Kingfisher.
    Day 2: The early morning beach at Hope Cove had Oystercatchers, Rock Pipits and Pied Wagtails and Kestrel, Guillemots and Gannet flying close in.
    Next, to South Molton Reserve, Thurlstone, a mile west of Hope Cove – a modest wetland area behind the beach and dunes, with Wigeon, Snipe, Lapwing, Black-tailed Godwits, Stonechats, and a Kingfisher balancing in the reeds. The large sea stack off the beach had Cormorant and Shag, with a Grey Heron huddled high on the sheltered side.Next, to the long flat stretch of shingle beach at Slapton Ley, where on the sea side were Shags, a diver which photographic scrutiny resolved to be a Red-throated Diver; and, surprisingly close inshore, a raft of 25 female and two male Common Scoters (Jane’s ‘birds of the trip’…) bobbing on relatively calm waters and easy to view even with bins; with a dolphin diving further out. Then, into the reserve round the Ley (lagoon) behind the beach – strikingly calmer and warmer. We saw or heard a good list of water and woodland birds including Water Rail, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Jay, Song Thrush, Redwing (one of only a handful of winter thrushes seen on the trip), Treecreeper, Cetti’s Warbler and Chiffchaff, Goldcrest and Bullfinch; with Cormorant, Tufted Duck, Little Grebe, Coots and Moorhen on the Ley.
    Next, to Bowcombe Creek, a quiet inland arm of the great tidal Kingsbridge Estuary, to see Shelduck, Little Egret, Curlew, Redshank, Greenshank, Common Gull – and strikingly, a Cormorant catching and swallowing an eel whose writhing progress down the neck we followed… it became one member’s ‘bird sight of the trip’.
    Finally, to South Efford Marsh Reserve by Aveton Gifford (on the tidal headwaters of the River Avon which debouches at Bigbury on the coast west of Hope Cove) – a relatively new reserve with a path running betweenenclosed wetlands on one side and the river on the other. We saw Mute Swan, Heron, Little Egret, Common Sandpiper, Curlew, Redshank, Greenshank, Wigeon, Kingfisher, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Reed Bunting, Bullfinch, Stonechat, an LBJ that resolved to a Water Pipit, and Otter prints.
    Day 3: Through the beautiful wooded lowlands of Dartmoor Forest national park, to Steps Bridge and Dunsford Nature Reserve on its north-east edge – ancient woodland along the River Teign. Two Goosanders on the river and a Dipper calling loudly as it patrolled up and down. Great Spotted Woodpecker, Mistle and Song Thrush, Nuthatch, Treecreeper, Coal and Marsh Tit, Goldcrest, Siskin – and for a lucky minority, a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker showing fleetingly in low tree growth.
    On the drive back we returned to a less obvious area of wetland at Matford Marsh, where kind locals pointed out the American Wigeon sitting with Eurasian Wigeon on the banks of a stream, its dark green face pattern almost black against a greyish face. It was here last year too – a distinctive patch of dark feathers on the creamy crown identified it to the local birdwatchers. And finally our first, and only Fieldfare.
    Many thanks as always to Jane for her fun yet focused leadership, and to Keith and Alastair the gallant drivers of a minibus round the too-small, too-steep Devon lanes. Lois Pryce

     

  • Tuesday 21 November – East Harptree Leader: Geoff Harris Tuesday November 21st, 2017

    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 Tuesday November 14th, 2017

    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 Sunday November 12th, 2017

    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 Tuesday November 07th, 2017

    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 Sunday November 05th, 2017

    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 Tuesday October 31st, 2017

    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 Sunday October 29th, 2017

    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 Thursday October 26th, 2017

    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 Tuesday October 24th, 2017

    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 Tuesday October 17th, 2017

    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 Sunday October 15th, 2017
    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 Tuesday October 10th, 2017

    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 Sunday October 08th, 2017

    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 Tuesday October 03rd, 2017

    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 Sunday October 01st, 2017

    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 Sunday September 24th, 2017

    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 Tuesday September 19th, 2017

    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 Sunday September 17th, 2017

    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 Tuesday September 12th, 2017

    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 Sunday September 10th, 2017

    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 Tuesday September 05th, 2017

    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 Thursday August 31st, 2017

    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 Tuesday August 29th, 2017

    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 Tuesday August 22nd, 2017

    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 Tuesday August 15th, 2017

    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 Saturday August 12th, 2017

    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 Tuesday August 08th, 2017

    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 Tuesday August 01st, 2017

    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 Tuesday July 25th, 2017

    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 Tuesday July 18th, 2017

    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 Saturday July 15th, 2017

    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 Tuesday July 11th, 2017

    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 Saturday July 08th, 2017

    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 Tuesday July 04th, 2017

    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 Sunday July 02nd, 2017

    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 Tuesday June 27th, 2017

    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 Saturday June 24th, 2017

    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 Tuesday June 20th, 2017

    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 Tuesday June 13th, 2017

    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 Tuesday June 06th, 2017

    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 Sunday June 04th, 2017

    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 Tuesday May 23rd, 2017

    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 Tuesday May 23rd, 2017

    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 Friday May 19th, 2017

    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 Tuesday May 16th, 2017

    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 Tuesday May 09th, 2017

    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

  • 07 to 14 May – Wild Herzegovina Sunday May 07th, 2017

    Club Trip:  7-14 May – Wild Herzegovina                                                           Leader: Denis Bohm

    Rock Partridge

     

    We arrived in Dubrovnik, Croatia on 7 May and drove across the border into Bosnia-Herzegovina. A three-hour drive took us to picturesque Mostar (although many of the buildings still show chunks missing and peppered shrapnel holes from the brutal war this town endured in the 1990s). The scenery was extremely unspoiled, with rivers meandering through rocky valleys and views across to islands dotted about the Adriatic Sea. The weather was moody, ending in torrential rain with dramatic cloud formations. Our first birds seen were several Alpine Swift, hundreds of House Martins (so this is where all ours are) and cracking views of a Nightingale.

    On 8 May, from our balcony, we watched Red-rumped Swallows and Pallid Swifts hawking insects above us. We soon noticed a large Honey Buzzard movement along the River Neretva. We headed South to the banks of the River Buna just outside town and what a treat it was. There was no-one else there, the woodland purred with Turtle Doves and Bee-eaters, trilled with Wood Warblers and the sound of bill-snapping Spotted Flycatchers. Six species of Woodpecker were present with Wryneck and Lesser Spotted common, as were Golden Orioles who chased each other around vying for nesting sites. After lunch, we went East of the city and up into the foothills of the Dinaric Alps where Subalpine Warbler and Black-eared Wheatears were numerous. We were around 600 Metres above sea level.  This subalpine region is inhabited by a mostly Muslim population, so one can see mosques and minarets dotted around the plateaus of limestone Karst. The star bird though, after a gap of 43 years for me and a lifer for the rest of the group, was Rock Partridge – we had a couple of sightings of this limited-range bird and were able to study its call which is completely different from Chukar. Our attention was also caught by a male Montagu’s Harrier that drifted past us.

    At the end of each day in Mostar we dined in a lovely old restaurant in the historic quarter of town near the Old Bridge.

    Male Golden Oriole

     

    9 May. A day spent in two countries: the morning Bosnia-Herzegovina and the afternoon Croatia. After breakfast, we visited a Pallid Swift colony under the New Bridge in Mostar. We then headed North-east out of town to the fabulous Blagaj Gorge which is the source of the River Buna. Here we enjoyed nesting Rock Nuthatch, Alpine Swift, Crag Martin, Blue Rock Thrush, and a Dipper on a cafe table! Before crossing the border, we visited a small section of Hutovo Blavo Nature Park where there were large numbers of Bee-eaters; we also found a Penduline Tit weaving a nest and several Pygmy Cormorants. Our sortie into Croatia took us to the Neretva Delta, a great place for water birds with wonderful views of some of the Adriatic Islands that were dotted around the sea. Birds seen included Little Bittern, Squacco Heron, Spoonbill, Honey Buzzard, Black-winged Stilt, Avocet, Kentish Plover, Little Stint, Curlew Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper, Great Reed Warbler, Black-headed Wagtail, Serin and Spanish Sparrows.

    Great Reed Warbler

     

    10 May, Bosnia-Herzegovina is the best value-for-money country that I have been to in recent times, one’s money goes far here. Lyn and I rose at 6am to head down to the old town, the Stari Grad district of Mostar, and to the Old Bridge famous for its divers. Since the 16th century folk have dived the 24 metres off the bridge into the raging waters below. Just looking at it was frightening enough, yet they even had a divers club!
    In 1992 the bridge was destroyed by shelling and reconstructed after the war in 1997 with materials from the quarry originally used in 1566. We walked along the river valley to the mosque. Golden Oriole’s songs reverberated around the valley echoing off the walls and we had great views of some adult males. After breakfast, we all headed up into the Dinaric Alps on Prenj Mountain to a height of 1300 Metres. The alpine meadows were beautiful with myriads of butterflies such as Duke of Burgundy, Queen of Spain Fritillary and Clouded Apollo and spring flowers such as Gentian and Star of Bethlehem. Several nice birds were observed: Rock Thrush, Rock Bunting, Sombre and Crested Tits and Ortolan Buntings. After dinner, we finished the day off listening to my first ever Slavac Punk band (don’t knock it until you have heard it).

    Rock Bunting

    11 May we had a great finale from Mostar on our last night. Lyn and I were treated to a pair of Scops Owls mating on a minaret next to the old bridge in the Stari Grad district. The whole group previously saw the male bird. We spent the day at the picturesque Hutovo Blavo Nature Reserve. In the morning walking alongside the Krupa River looking over the reed-fringed lake. Birds here included Pygmy Cormorant, Collared Pratincole, White-winged Black and Whiskered Terns, Crane, a variety of herons and many Ferruginous Duck. It was also a great place for dragonflies.
    In the afternoon we took a small motor boat onto the lake and explored some of its reed corridors, Ferruginous Duck and Garganey gave good views. The lake is fed by mountain water from the Dinaric Alps that flow underground and rise at that spot forming a pristine habitat and a lovely place to be. We saw not another person while out birding all day.

    Squacco Heron

    12 May. Our last day in Herzegovina. We arrived in Dubrovnik back into the hustle and bustle of the modern world. Before that though, our first stop in the morning was at the Buna Quarry where there were thousands of Sand Martins and hundreds of Bee-eaters nesting. We also saw a Little Owl with a Sand Martin in its talons. The site was alive with wild flowers and very colourful indeed. We then moved onto the Popovo Polje Karst Fields, these flower-covered green meadows ...

  • Tuesday 02 May – Elm Farm, Burnett Tuesday May 02nd, 2017

    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 Saturday April 29th, 2017

    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 Tuesday April 25th, 2017

    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 Sunday April 23rd, 2017

    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 Tuesday April 18th, 2017

    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 Tuesday April 11th, 2017

    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 Saturday April 08th, 2017

    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 Tuesday April 04th, 2017

    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 Monday April 03rd, 2017

    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 Sunday April 02nd, 2017

    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 Tuesday March 28th, 2017

    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 Tuesday March 21st, 2017

    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 Saturday March 18th, 2017

    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 Tuesday March 14th, 2017

    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 Saturday March 11th, 2017

    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 Tuesday March 07th, 2017

    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 Tuesday February 28th, 2017

    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

  • Norfolk 24 to 27 February Friday February 24th, 2017

    The first club trip I went on was to Norfolk and it was one of the best weekends I ever spent. This one more than lived up to the previous high standard. The weather was kinder to us than the forecasts predicted. We got a bit wet on Saturday, Sunday was windy but sunny and Monday’s storm hit us on the drive home leaving us to do the birding in relative comfort. We explored the Norfolk coast using Hunstanton as our base visiting Holme, Thornham, Titchwell, Cley, Holkham and Sculthorpe Moor as well as Welney WWT, Roydon Common, Flitcham, Sandringham and the mysterious Wolferton Triangle, Lynford Arboretum and points in-between. The group saw 116 species, I won’t list them all! The highlights were: Hen Harrier and Marsh Harrier roosts; seven types of Geese including one White-fronted in a group of Pink-footed; Shore Larks only metres away, a beautiful bird that instantly disappears when it lands – a whole flock of 40 could vanish before your eyes; a close fly past of a Bittern at Titchwell; Crossbill, heard in two locations and a small flock seen at Lynford; Hawfinch at Lynford just as we were giving up and heading back and a Little Owl at Flitcham which was another well-behaved bird that flew in just as we thought we would not see it; Bramblings and Redpoll, including a Mealy. Bad news for listers, Mealy Redpoll is merging back into Lesser Redpoll. We also saw Red-legged and Grey Partridge. The Grey is no longer stocked for shooting and is not supposed to be shot. So these should be proper wild birds rather than tame target practice for shooters. There was a huge raft of Common Scoter offshore from Hunstanton and more Scoter off Titchwell. Patient observation (by Ken and Jane, let’s be fair) turned these into Velvet Scoter with the not too obvious flash of a white wing patch. The van flushed two Woodcocks sitting in the road and we had a Sparrowhawk in front of us for a few hundred metres down a narrow lane. Several turns round the Wolverton Triangle looking for Golden Pheasant were ultimately successful for two minibus passengers who spotted one in the bushes heading for cover. So they do still exist! There was also a futile attempt to find a Glaucous Gull with a report that one was at a pig farm just past a Methodist chapel. We found a Methodist chapel but no pig farm. There was a pig farm, and no chapel, but a large flock of gulls, in a field, some distance away plus another huge flock on the next field, hundreds more circling above and even more among the pigs. Time to move on! The one disappointment concerned Barn Owl. We had no sightings in spite of multiple visits to favourite haunts. They were seen about by others but there is a concern the numbers may have taken a hit due to poor weather in the breeding season. Ken is also a fund of knowledge about the area from local celebs (Nelson and sea captains rather than Stephen Fry) to Norfolk round tower churches and the stained glass window at St Margaret’s church, Cley with an image of a White-crowned Sparrow in celebration of a famous twitch in 2008 and the generous collection to the restoration fund by twitchers. There are so many other good sightings to report but space won’t allow. So, you will have to go and find out for yourself, preferably on the next club trip. Many thanks to Ken for leading, his expert knowledge and enthusiasm. Thanks also to the rest of the group for being so helpful and such good company. Alistair Fraser

  • 50th Anniversary Dinner held at Bristol Zoo, 23 February Thursday February 23rd, 2017

    A fine tribute to a wonderful club, I arrived early to help set up the table flowers with Phyl Dykes, a long standing member and one of the many unsung heroines of the BOC. The roosting calls of the adjacent Flamingos in the lagoon outside presented a perfect backdrop to the venue. A quick chat with Dr Mark Avery provided a taster of the brilliant and witty talk that followed later. There was news from Chairman Ken that not only had the Avon Gorge Peregrines mated, but former Chairman Ed and Liz were also successfully raising young, future club member Freddie Drewitt. A memorable meal followed with fine wine and good company. A fabulous evening: may the BOC in the words of Mr Spock “Live long and prosper”. Rob Miles

    The evening was animal themed, not only birds but carpet, walls, doors and animal models including a large crocodile! We were greeted with a quiz which continued through the evening and proved challenging! Oliver Smart awarded a stunning model of a Pied-billed Grebe (the club’s logo) to Rich Scantlebury for best bird photo, a peregrine falcon in flight. As we sat for the excellent dinner, Judy Copeland received a big bunch of flowers for her unstinting time as membership secretary (46 years not out!). These were presented to her by Dr. Mark Avery, who then gave an excellent speech after the meal. He reminded us that he was a Bristolian born and bred, and a previous member of the BOC. A job with the RSPB (including 13 years as its Conservation Director) laid the ground for a subsequent career as a freelance journalist, author and conservation activist, particularly against driven grouse shooting, which is the subject of his book “Inglorious”. He helped to set up the Hen Harrier action group. We were enthralled by his enthusiastic and humorous talk. The evening was a very successful and enjoyable occasion, and a fitting finale to the celebrations! Sue and Andy Black

  • Tuesday 21 February – Between Chew and Blagdon Lakes Tuesday February 21st, 2017

    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 Saturday February 18th, 2017

    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

  • Special Members Evening on 16 February. Thursday February 16th, 2017

    The evening was a wonderful collection of memories, personal reminiscences, and facts about the history of the club, with a delicious birthday cake for all. Robin Prytherch set the ball rolling by telling us about the Pied-billed Grebe, which initiated the whole project 50 years ago, and which to a young birder (yes, even Robin was one once!) was incredibly exciting, the first time ever it had been seen in the whole of the Western Palearctic. There were tales of romantic encounters when Richard met Rosemary whilst birding, of new birders (Alison Pilling) who enticed their husbands to join, of long-standing birders (Mike Jackson) who had been encouraged to start BBS surveys by John Tully, the latter a tremendous enthusiast who encouraged many. Peter Holbrook, past organiser of the Tuesday group, told us that there were 52 meetings last year under the guidance of Mark Watson. The group’s warm welcome has been the start of many a local birder’s career. Former Club Chairman Mike Lord returned from Cornwall with tales of a successful Chough watch adapted from our Peregrine watch. Jane Cumming highlighted the Avon Birds blog as a well-respected and well-used facility. Ken Hall detailed some of the many and varied trips to France which he had run, and former Club Secretary, Wendy Dickson, who had come down from Northumberland, spoke about birds on her previous home in the Shetlands. The whole evening emphasised the wonderfully friendly, warm atmosphere of the club, and was very ably chaired by Ken Carruthers.
    Andy and Sue Black

    What an enjoyable twitch! Some of the visitors had returned to their former haunts close to Severnside from the Scottish Islands and from the Lizard. As it was an early Spring gathering the local residents were even in their breeding plumage. Eight wise specimens regaled the gathered flock with tales of dedicated research, birding holidays and romance and intrigue. One pair had even met on a BOC walk many years previously. If Black Grouse could talk to their prospective mates at a lek I’m not sure that “Not Bad” would have carried the day, but happily it did. The tale of how the BOC Peregrine watch inspired the locals on the Lizard to set up “Chough watch” was enthralling, and the results spectacular. The last time I saw a Cornish Chough was in Newquay Zoo 45 years ago but now the thought of 50 birds wheeling and sneezing above the headland at Lands End makes a return visit to Cornwall inevitable. Rob Miles

  • Tuesday 14 February –Greylake Tuesday February 14th, 2017

    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 Tuesday February 07th, 2017

    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 Sunday February 05th, 2017

    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 Tuesday January 31st, 2017

    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 Saturday January 28th, 2017

    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 Tuesday January 24th, 2017

    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 Saturday January 14th, 2017

    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 Tuesday January 10th, 2017

    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 Sunday January 08th, 2017

    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 Tuesday January 03rd, 2017

    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 Sunday January 01st, 2017

    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 Tuesday December 27th, 2016

    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 Tuesday December 20th, 2016

    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 Tuesday December 13th, 2016

    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 Sunday December 11th, 2016

    Report next month

  • Sunday 11 December – Blagdon Lake Sunday December 11th, 2016

    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 Tuesday December 06th, 2016

    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 Sunday December 04th, 2016

    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 Tuesday November 29th, 2016

    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 Saturday November 26th, 2016

    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 Tuesday November 22nd, 2016

    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 Tuesday November 15th, 2016

    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 Sunday November 13th, 2016

    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 Sunday November 13th, 2016

    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 Tuesday November 08th, 2016

    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

  • Monday 07 to Friday 11 November – Dumfries Monday November 07th, 2016

    Dumfries: the destination. These are the voyages of the BOC Tardis. Its five-day mission: to explore strange new reserves, to seek out birds and new experiences. Ably piloted by Ken and Alistair the BOC team headed north to the WWT reserve at Martin Mere. Here the team got their first views of this winter’s wildfowl – Pink-footed Geese and Whooper Swans, some waders including Ruff, and a Tree Sparrow. From Martin Mere it was then north to Dumfries, the home of Robert Burns.
    On the second day the first port of call was Castle Loch, Lochmaben, where Great Crested Grebes, Goldeneye and Tufted Ducks swam and dived while the sky was busy with large skeins of Pink-footed, Greylag and Canada Geese flying between the loch and surrounding fields. Leaving the loch side the team set off in search of feeding geese in the fields en route to Eskrigg, a small but select nature reserve on the outskirts of Lockerbie which seemed to be infested with large numbers of Coal Tits in the company of numerous Nuthatches, Blue and Great Tits, Mallards, a Little Grebe and a Great Spotted Woodpecker. We were also entertained by some highly mobile Red Squirrels. Returning to the Tardis the team had flybys of Fieldfares, Redwings and Chaffinches. We then visited the WWT’s reserve at Caerlaverock; as at Slimbridge it has a swan feed, but here it is for the larger Whooper Swans rather than the small Bewick’s found at Slimbridge. Also on the reserve was a Green-winged Teal that gave excellent views and much pleasure to those team members for whom it was a lifer. Walking out to the Saltcoats Merse Observatory, we found the avenue alive with feeding Blackbirds and tits, with large flocks of Barnacle Geese feeding in the fields. Once at the observatory the team were treated to the sight of a hunting male Hen Harrier – a very special moment.
    A light dusting of snow had replaced the overnight rain on day three and the first task of the day was to explore Dumfries, including the banks of the River Nith where a small group of Goosanders flew upstream overlooked by four species of gull: Herring, Black-headed, Lesser and Great Black-backed. Meanwhile, Grey Wagtails flitted around the edges of the river as we searched unsuccessfully for a reported party of Waxwings. Leaving Dumfries, we headed for the RSPB reserve at the Loch Ken-Dee Marshes, which was surrounded by snow-covered hills. Here the team experienced flybys by Raven, Red Kite, Buzzards and Canada Geese. During this aerial display, a plucky trio of members went to the rescue of two sheep in distress. Shortly before leaving, a flock of 40 odd Greenland White-fronted Geese arrived at the site and distant views of a Golden Eagle on a pylon were had by some members. Another RSPB reserve was next – Mereshead, on the Solway coast. Numerous tits, finches, ducks, Yellowhammers, Goldcrest and Barnacle Geese gave splendid views. A short stop at Carsethorn on the estuary provided us with views of thousands of waders especially Oystercatchers.It’s the penultimate day and looking bright, but the forecast is gloomy! The team set forth towards Stranraer to explore the shores of Loch Ryan. The first shoreline stop was near one of the ferry terminals; first impressions were not encouraging until three Scaup and an Eider were sighted, accompanied by a wonderful rainbow. Moving on, we were hoping for the pot of gold and, despite a biting easterly wind, were treated to a flyby Peregrine, four species of gull, Pale-bellied Brent Geese, Oystercatchers, Dunlin, Eiders, Redshanks, Turnstones, Mute Swans and Bar-tailed Godwits.
    The last stop on Loch Ryan, the former RAF Wig Bay seaplane base, was equally fruitful with a host of Golden Plover, Knot, Meadow and Rock Pipits, Oystercatchers, a large flock of Common Gulls, Starlings, Twite and a Brambling. Time was getting on and we had one more site to visit before the light faded: this was West Freugh a former RNAS in WW1 for Naval Airships. Even before the team managed to exit the Tardis, Greenland White-fronted Geese were observed feeding on the ground. Then a sharp-eyed member sighted a male Hen Harrier – one of four seen (two males and two ringtails). All four were observed for some time and then a Marsh Harrier joined them. A small flock of Skylarks flew overhead and two Merlins were spotted. This was obviously the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. The list of species seen by the team in Scotland totalled 110.
    It’s the last day of the mission and team is heading home, with a stop at RSPB Leighton Moss. On arrival, our leader Ken took us to a predetermined spot on the reserve. As the team gathered together, about half a dozen Bearded Tits appeared on the gravel trays – impeccable timing on Ken’s part (not for the first time). The team then split up, with some heading off to see the American Wigeon while others explored some of the hides and the new tower platform. From Lillian’s Hide, Judy saw a glimpse of a Bittern diving into the reed bed. From the tower and the hides, many Common Snipe, Wigeon and Teal were seen, along with three Great White Egrets and a couple of Little Egrets. In the wooded areas between the hides not only were the usual tits observed but also two Marsh Tits, a good number of Treecreepers and some delightful Goldcrests.
    All good things must come to an end so it was back on the road south in the Tardis homeward bound (many thanks for the smooth driving guys). Over the five days the Team recorded and sometimes photographed a total of 118 Species. Many thanks to Judy for organising the holiday and keeping the team in order, and to Ken for leading us and organising the birds and to Ken and Alistair for driving. Rich Scantlebury

  • Tuesday 01 November – Stoke Park Tuesday November 01st, 2016

    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. Tuesday October 25th, 2016

    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 Tuesday October 18th, 2016

    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 Sunday October 16th, 2016

    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
    Species        
    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 Tuesday October 11th, 2016

    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 Tuesday October 04th, 2016

    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 Sunday October 02nd, 2016

    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 Tuesday September 27th, 2016

    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 Tuesday September 20th, 2016

    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 Sunday September 18th, 2016

    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 Tuesday September 13th, 2016

    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 Sunday September 11th, 2016

    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 Tuesday September 06th, 2016

    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 Saturday September 03rd, 2016

    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 Tuesday August 30th, 2016

    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 Tuesday August 23rd, 2016

    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 Monday August 22nd, 2016

    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 Tuesday August 16th, 2016

    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 Saturday August 13th, 2016

    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 Tuesday August 09th, 2016

    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 Tuesday August 02nd, 2016

    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 Tuesday July 26th, 2016

    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 Sunday July 24th, 2016

    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 Tuesday July 19th, 2016

    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 Saturday July 16th, 2016

    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 Tuesday July 12th, 2016

    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 Tuesday July 05th, 2016

    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 clos