This walk was done in preparation for the New Year City Walk the following day. I started on the riverside path opposite St John’s Church. Two peregrine falcons were sitting on the church, the tiercel on top of one of the small towers, and the female well hidden by masonry above the large window with the nestbox. A few days earlier I had seen a couple of peregrines displaying overhead. At one point they became locked together and fell almost to the rooftops where they broke apart. Could it have been early mating behaviour?

Cormorant © David Goode


The river had a small party of black-headed gulls sitting on the railings, a pair of swans, and the usual feral Canada goose. Today three cormorants were fishing in the river and two herons were quietly stalking the shallows. A few herring gulls were drifting around, looking for food. House sparrows were calling from the garden nearest to the railway bridge, one of the few colonies in central Bath.

I walked up to the canal, noting mallard and moorhen, but sadly there was no kingfisher today. Going over the footbridge and through Sydney Buildings I crossed onto the footpath to Bathwick Meadows. A blackcap was calling sharply from the adjacent garden. On the meadows I was met by the sight of numerous people out for a walk, many with dogs. Several groups exceeded the “rule of six.” I chose the path with fewest people and headed for Richen’s Orchard where there were small flocks of redwings and a group of greenfinches and chaffinches. A mistle thrush was in full voice, and there was much robin song, including the sub-song. A nuthatch called briefly.

Getting out of the orchard via kissing gates, with large parties of people coming the other way, made me realise that this was not a suitable route for tomorrow’s walk. I hastened on, briefly visiting Smallcombe Cemetery noting a number of woodland birds, together with raven and buzzard. I followed Horseshoe Walk back to the canal where the towpath was full of people enjoying the weather. Social distancing seemed to be forgotten.

In view of this experience I decided to postpone the walk planned for Sunday. We agreed to meet on the following Thursday. Alas lockdown was imposed on Tuesday, so this report will have to do.

David Goode