Tuesday 12 July – Sand Point/Middle Hope Leader: Graham Blacker

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