Tuesday 23 June – Blaise Castle

19 walkers assembled in the Blaise car park on a warm morning after overnight rain. The conditions had encouraged the ant colonies to multiply and Swifts and gulls were massed taking advantage of the flying meal. 90 Lesser Black- backed Gull, 40 Herring Gull and 35 Swift were counted – but the aerial acrobatics made it hard to be sure of the numbers. Carrion Crow and Chaffinches were seen on the way to the churchyard and eleven Jackdaws were counted around the church tower where several of them had nests. Down at the Hazel Brook a rat was swimming in the water, then up in the meadow we were treated to a reprise of the gulls and Swifts spectacle, joined this time by a Common Gull. In the woods were Woodpigeon, Blackcap, Wren, Dunnock, Robin and on the meadows Magpie and Rook. Two Ravens were spotted and three Buzzards at different times, twice so close that their different markings could be clearly seen. We had our coffee break at the castle where two weeks previously a Red Kite paid a visit – unfortunately, this was not repeated – but we went on to hear Stock Dove, and see Grey Wagtail, Coal Tit, Great Tit, Nuthatch, Jay, Chiffchaff and a solitary Long-tailed Tit. Seven Goldfinches congregated in trees near the old water mill. Altogether 27 species were recorded, not a huge count, but for a site in the city with many dogs and families enjoying themselves, it was a rewarding morning. (Thanks for leading, Ruth and Glyn.) Ruth Stanton