Tuesday 17 November – Uphill and Bleadon Levels

With storm Barney predicted to drown us or blow us off a cliff, I rather hoped that no-one would turn up. In the event four mad people were waiting at my parking place – and six more at the official meeting place which I’d failed to notice in Club News! They were right to give it a go; apart from a couple of sharp showers, the worst weather came through only after lunch. It was mild and overcast, but mainly dry, as we walked past the cliff by the sailing club (noting two Dabchicks on the lake) and slowly on through a line of bushes heaving with thrushes and finches. The numbers flitting about and feeding on the blackberries suggested that many of them could be recent winter visitors from the continent, perhaps travelling ahead of the threatening storm. A flock of 250 Woodpigeons were also likely to be visitors passing through. From the hillside overlooking the salt marshes we counted a flock of 100 plus Lapwings and were delighted to see a late (or wintering) Common Sandpiper flitting down the pill and landing on a mud bank to provide a better view. Mute Swans and a few Redshanks moved about as the tide rose but astonishingly we failed to find a single Little Egret all morning! 15Teal sat quietly along the pill with a few Mallard. Black-headed Gull numbers were pushing a hundred but we saw only a handful of Herring and Lesser Blacked-backed Gulls. Passerines included Fieldfares and Redwings, Stonechats, at least ten Skylarks, a large flock of Linnets and some Reed Buntings. A Cetti’s Warbler sang explosively and so close to us that it made me jump. We watched a Kestrel and a Sparrowhawk and some noticed a Buzzard being harassed by a Raven. Back at our starting point, we walked down to the main beach to add to our list Grey Heron, the expected Shelducks, and waders including Oystercatchers, Curlews, Dunlins and Ringed Plovers. In total, eleven walkers saw 49 species and had a better morning than we expected. (Jane, thanks for leading) Jane Cumming