Tuesday 11 May – Stoke, Eastville, Vassals Parks Leader: Rich Scantlebury

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