BRIDGWATER and District U3A
Natural History Meetings:        4th Wednesday of each Month      Group Leader:   Hilary Telephone:       431853
The Natural History group includes bird watching, but titled thus gives us a wider scope. We are planning various visits to local wildlife hotspots over the next few months.
Natural History Group ~ update Our   group’s   new   format   has   been   working   well;   each   of   us   takes   a   turn   to   organise   a   trip   or   event   and   this   helps   spread the   load.   We   had   our   post-Christmas   meal/planning   meeting   at   the   end   of   January,   with   lots   of   idea   and   suggestions   for things we can do or places to visit, down the year. We   started   off   the   year’s   trips   with   a   real   flourish.   Having   had   to   postpone   our   River   Exe   trip   last   February,   due   to   the ‘Beast   from   the   East’,   we   booked   it   again   for   early   this   March,   with   fingers   crossed.   The   weather   changed   from gorgeous   to   dreadful   the   weekend   before   so   we   weren’t   looking   forward   to   the   trip   with   much   confidence.   Although   it was   still   quite   breezy   on   the   top   deck,   with   a   few   sudden   downpours   (when   everyone   on   the   open   top   deck   hastily decamped to the deck below!), we hit pretty lucky and actually had sunshine. When   we   left   Exmouth,   there   were   several   intrepid   surf-boarders   with   hang   gliding   canopies   over   their   heads,   doing some   very   impressive   stunts.   The   groups   of   birds   on   the   nearby   sand   bars   weren’t   impressed   with   them,   however,   and kept   taking   off   to   get   away   from   them.   Around   the   corner   of   Dawlish   Warren   sand   dunes,   there   was   a   low   punt   like   boat in   the   water,   on   which   was   a   seal,   lazily   ‘waving’   a   flipper   at   us,   completely   unfazed   by   the   proximity   of   our   boat   and causing a lot of amusement. As   we   zigzagged   our   way   between   the   sand   bars   in   the   estuary,   there   was   an   incredible   display   of   birds   which   must have   run   into   thousands,   far   more   than   I   have   seen   on   previous   trips   there.   The   crew   gave   us   a   check-list   and   Peter was   checking   them   off   as   he   saw   each   one,   getting   up   to   31   species.   Amazingly,   with   all   that   ‘meat   on   the   wing’,   we only   saw   one   predator,   a   merlin.   The   commentators   must   have   had   extremely   sharp   eyesight   and   obviously   had   a rough   idea   where   to   look,   so   were   able   to   alert   the   passengers   to   the   different   species   on   all   sides.   However,   because   it was   mainly   overcast   and   the   plastic   awning   along   the   sides   was   a   bit   obscured   with   salt   spray,   it   was   difficult   to   get photos. It   was   a   very   successful   trip,   think   everyone   enjoyed   it   and   we’re   hoping   to   go   back   for   a   different   sort   of   cruise   later   in the year. If   you   are   interested   in   finding   out   more   about   us,   please   ring   me   on   01278   431853.   If   I’m   not   around,   please   leave   a message and I will endeavour to get back to you.        Hilary
Note:  In all cases before joining a group for the first time please telephone the group leader.