Nineteen members joined me in the car park at The George, Bathampton, on a calm and sunny morning. Here, some saw a Buzzard being mobbed by Jackdaws and I heard and saw one Redwing. We encountered more corvid species along the first section of the walk; Carrion Crow and Magpie, and we spent a few minutes watching Rook activity at the small rookery in trees close to the Tollbridge. The river level was high and I listened out for any Kingfishers or Grey Wagtails to no avail, so we meandered along the shared cycle/footpath toward the Batheaston car park and most of the group saw a female Sparrowhawk heading across fields towards Bathampton Down (flap-flap-flap-flap – glide, on rounded wings). There were several Canada Geese and Moorhen feeding in the nearby field and we stopped near the bridge to listen to bird song, including Dunnock, Robin, and the three note “cooing” of the Collared Dove. Black-Headed Gulls and a Lesser Black-Backed Gull flew low over the river disturbing the Mallards.
We took a short break in the small walled garden by the car park where I found a Long-Tailed Tit in a quite open prickly bush and one of our party quickly noted that the bush contained its nest, a composition including lichen and moss, held together with spiders’ webs. It was wonderful to take a close look at the nest through telescopes; we kept a distance from the bird to cause as little disturbance as possible. We saw a female Blackcap with her russet-brown cap in ivy and a Goldfinch kindly sat up and sang its tinkling and twittering jumble of notes and I had a brief view of a male Chaffinch.
Heading out towards the round-a-bout at the end of the by-pass, we made a couple of stops to view the river and the Bathampton Meadows Avon Wildlife Trust reserve beyond. A Grey Heron and a male Teal were seen only briefly by a few members, as were a couple of Kingfishers in fast flight which I picked up initially on call (a short sharp high pitched whistle, often of two notes of slightly different pitch). Everyone saw the Cormorants sitting on top of the distant pylon but I think I was the only person to see a couple of Song Thrushes in flight before they disappeared into cover. Meanwhile, more Dunnocks were singing, the predominant songster during our walk. At the entrance to river-side apartments near the end of the by-pass we were delighted to watch a Goldcrest singing in the open; this tiny bird often moves about quickly and within the cover of ivy or in a coniferous tree so this was an excellent sighting.
The final stretch of the walk across fields, the railway line, and along the lane returning to Bathampton church and the pub was fairly uneventful. One member heard a Raven call, I heard a Buzzard “mew” and the squeaks of a small mammal, likely a field vole, were heard from dense grassy tussocks near the railway crossing. The small flock of Redwing I saw and heard the previous week had departed and in the churchyard, I pointed out the high-pitched, thin two-note song of the Coal Tit. Here ended a pleasant morning during which twenty-seven species were recorded.