Tuesday 28 August – Old Down Leader: Sue Black

At this bird quiet time of the year 31 optimistic members gathered to walk around the Tockington hills and woods and were surprisingly well rewarded. The walk edged past the old quarry and down into the village, catching the usual woodland birds especially Robins who kept us company almost the whole morning, with their songs now more autumnal. As we walked past Tockington School and its pond a resident Moorhen was spotted, and the first of several Buzzards. A flock of 30-40 Swallows and House Martins flew over the roadside cottages. Crossing several stubble fields, one revealed at least 100 Herring Gulls with about ten Lesser Black-backed Gulls contrasting with their paler cousins. In the next field was a contingent of 80 or so Black-headed Gulls with at least three Common Gulls lurking amongst them. At the same time a flock of about 150 mixed corvids was seen, including Carrion Crows, Jackdaws and Magpies, as well as a Raven and Buzzard. Things were definitely hotting up! Entering Sheepcombe Wood there were more passerines in the form of Nuthatch, Goldcrest, Long-tailed Tits amongst others. Emerging from the wood we crossed grassy fields where a Green Woodpecker was seen briefly flying between trees. Soon a cottage garden with a bird feeder enabled more birds to be spotted (Coal Tit, House Sparrow and Chaffinch) and a Great Spotted Woodpecker was heard. By the time we returned to the cars we were up to a tally of 30 birds, a good number for late August, thanks to the many keen-eyed birders. (Many thanks Sue – a lovely walk) Sue Black