Sunday 10 November – Coombe Hill Meadows Nature Reserve, Glos

 After some recent foul weather, the morning gave way to clear skies and warm sunshine. Seven members met with Mike Smart, local birder and bird surveyor for this part of Gloucestershire. Mike introduced us to the reserve and its past life as a working canal in the late 1800s, delivering coal to Cheltenham. Here at Coombe Hill Meadows the coal was offloaded and taken by horse and cart into the town. Recent rains had flooded the meadows, something that happens three or four times a year. As we walked along the hedgerows of the canal the berry bushes were alive with winter thrushes. Skylarks, Meadow Pipits, and a few Yellowhammers flew overhead. The flooded fields were full of over 2500 Wigeon, 500 Canada Geese, 100 Greylag Geese, 24 Mute Swans, and smaller numbers of Teal and Lapwings. Scanning through them we also spotted a few Shoveler and Pintail. As we walked back a Water Rail squealed from a concealed ditch. The Wigeon became nervous and at one point the whole flock were in the sky, wheeling around, some getting quite high. Along with common field edge birds such as Robin, Wren and Blackbirds, we counted over 30 species in total, and headed back to Bristol in glorious sunshine.