Tuesday 28 January – Stoke and Eastville Parks / Vassals Leader: Rich Scantlebury

A group of over 30 members congregated in Snuff Mills car park for our walk. The weather was dry and cold but sunny. As we entered the Frome Valley walkway, we saw Goldcrest, Stock Dove, Long-tailed Tit, and various corvids including Crow (35), Jackdaw (30) and Magpie (eleven). As the group started to elongate members were spotting Goldfinches (42 in total during the walk), more Long-tailed Tits, and Nuthatch. From a little bridge over a tributary of the Frome we watched a Grey Wagtail. The light was good at this point so the distinctive yellow was highly visible. Moving on we reached Eastville Park lake where the highlights were Kingfisher and the resident Tawny Owl. At one point, a Kingfisher was sitting very openly in profile on a low branch by one of the islands, which made it easy to see. For most of the time the Tawny Owl was rather sleepily perched in the entrance to the owl box, However, just as most people were moving off, a shaft of sunlight came through, and a few of us were treated to a wonderful view of the owl’s full head as it bent down as if to catch the warmth of the sunlight. Other species observed included Cormorant, Black-headed Gulls (68), a Lesser Black-backed Gull, Grey Heron and six Mute Swans. During the second half of the walk the weather worsened bringing hail and cold wind. We passed through Ridgeway Park Jewish Cemetery where a few lucky folk saw Bullfinch and Green Woodpecker. At this point the weather was unpleasant so the group split and some people decided to head back to the car park. Those of us who braved the cold wet conditions were rewarded with a lovely sighting of two Dippers in a tiny stream that feeds down into the Frome. What a delight to see these beautiful birds in an urban setting. Other highlights include Greenfinch, Treecreeper, Sparrowhawk, Buzzard, Blackcap, Jay and Great Spotted Woodpecker. We were hoping to see Ring-necked Parakeet but, alas, that was not to be. Total bird species count was 40. Many thanks to Richard for leading this urban walk which never fails to delight. Linda Moysey