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

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