Tuesday 15 December – Newton St Loe

It was mild and murky as 33 of us set off, the poor light not aiding identification. This was a shorter than usual walk – a prelude to the Christmas lunch – but it proved very productive. Led jointly by Peter Holbrook and Duncan and Pat Gill, we heard Raven and in a Lime tree saw a mixed flock of Goldfinches, Chaffinches and Greenfinches. Assorted gulls were in the fields, including 150 Common Gulls. Then came the only Buzzard of the day, plus 50 Starlings, followed by large numbers of Corvids, including Jackdaw “grooming” sheep. On the first lake were ten Goosanders – equal numbers of male and female – and a Grey Heron was perched attentively in a tree above the water. Most of us had good views of two Kingfishers at the second lake, where fisheries staff were hauling in a huge net to remove thousands of tiny fish from the over-populated lake (presumably something not appreciated by the Kingfishers!).A flock of 40 Linnet was seen, then a Treecreeper, Grey Wagtail, Long-tailed Tits, a pair of Great Spotted Woodpeckers, Dunnock and Goldcrest. A total of 43 species, the count being taken by Nick Hawkridge. 47 of us later attended the festive lunch at the Riverside Inn, Saltford, where Mark Watson thanked Peter for organising the event and told us that, in 2015, 23 leaders (including David Tombs, who had led 163 walks since 1994) led 52 walks. Mark, who appealed for more members to volunteer to lead walks in 2016, was presented with a birding book by Nick as a thank you for organising the Tuesday walks. John Beaven