Tuesday 06 December – Saltford Leader: Robert Hargreaves

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