The invitation was to take a leisurely walk up to the Millennium seat, picking up where possible the sounds of local birds. So, on a bright but chilly Saturday morning in May, and in strict observance of the COVID Government guidelines, six enthusiasts gathered in the middle of South Stoke. It was not long before Simon Stuart picked out the soloists in the birdsong concert.
‘That’s a chiffchaff and did you hear the chirp of a long-tailed tit? ’Of course the treat was also to catch sight of birds on the wing as well as to take in the wonderful view across the Midford Valley. On the left-hand side of the path that runs up the hill from St James Church there is a long, low level clump of bushes. We were pleased to catch sight of whitethroats darting in and out of these. These birds had recently arrived from Sub-Saharan Africa as had swifts swooping over the wooded area near the farm on our right. I reckoned they would be feeling the cold after the African heat! We heard a great-spotted woodpecker drumming, then had a good view of it in the dead ash tree right by the millennium seat.
As we neared the top of the hill, as some of us were gazing out towards Westbury hoping to catch sight of whatever swooped over the valley, Simon’s wife Ann was taking photographs of a variety of different attractive bumble bee species buzzing though the hawthorn. One of her loves is spotting insects and bugs!
What a great treat to spend such an hour on a spring morning! We learnt a lot, in good company. We saw or heard 15 different bird species, most of which we would have missed without Simon’s expert ear and long experience. Looking forward to other outings. Watch the events page on the website and the Facebook group page (search Wild about Bath) for details of further outings.
By Paul Maxwell-Cook