Leader: Lucy Starling

Five members joined me by Pulteney Weir at 10am and we had not long set off along the riverside footpath when our first sighting flew low over the river, a Cormorant. Our first stop was opposite St John’s church where we only waited for about 5 minutes before the resident female Peregrine arrived with a feral pigeon in her talons; she alighted below the spire before taking flight, calling loudly, perhaps to the male bird, announcing her arrival with the prey. She finally settled out of our view on the far side of the spire.

Grey Heron © Andrew Harrison

A Grey Heron sat motionless on the far bank below the Postal Sorting Office (he/she was still there at 12.45pm)! Our first passerine species of the walk was Long-tailed Tit.

We walked steadily up Prior Park Road beyond Widcombe and stopped opposite the Heronry and noted at least 6 large nests; activities will really get started in February. Herons are an early nesting species.

We then made our way along Lyncombe Vale Road as far as the entrance to The Paragon School. Along this stretch of quiet suburbia we encountered Nuthatch, Dunnock, Coal Tit, Chaffinch, Blue and Great Tit, Robin, Wren, Blackbird, Jackdaw, Magpie, Wood Pigeon, Jay and Stock Dove.

Abbey Cemetery, where we sheltered from a 15 minute shower, sadly delivered nothing, so when the clouds cleared we headed along Church Street and up Church Lane to the side entrance of Prior Park Gardens. We heard the soft call of a Bullfinch and Robin song, otherwise the area was almost absent of birds! At least Tom R spotted a couple of Jays.

Palladian Bridge

Palladian Bridge © Andrew Harrison

Wood Mouse © Andrew Harrison

I pointed out the Dams restoration work completed last summer within Prior Park Gardens and we had lovely views of The Palladian Bridge, of course from the public footpath.

The most unexpected surprise sighting of our 2.5 hour walk was a very confiding Wood Mouse at the end of Church Lane by Thomas a Becket Church; thanks to Andrew Harrison who managed a couple of snap shots before the mouse ran into a hole at the bottom of the high stone wall.

Returning to Pulteney Weir we added Mallard and Mute Swan, and both male and female Peregrines were sitting below the spire. I was very sad not to see a single Black-Headed Gull along the river, a welcome avian visitor in winter months to Bath.

Lucy Starling