Step out onto Bristol's Downs this autumn


Owl lovers are in for a special treat on Bristol Downs this autumn

Ian McGuire, who is an owl specialist, is leading a walk over the beauty spot revealing the secrets of these remarkable birds of prey.

He has been raising awareness of wild owls and other birds of prey for 20 years during which time he has given more than a thousand talks. Ian’s Owl Prowl across the Downs takes place on Thursday October 19 beginning at 7.30pm and going on until 9.30pm.

Tickets cost £6 and there is even the possibility that the resident tawny owls will put in an appearance.

The Owl Prowl is just one of a series of walks and family and children’s events organised by the Avon Gorge and Downs Wildlife Project for this special time of year.

Two days later on Saturday October 21 families are invited to the Downs for the Feathered Friends Family Fun event. 

Local RSPB and Avon Gorge and Downs education teams will lead people on an autumn bird-spotters’ trail on the Downs. They will discover what birds like to eat and then after going back to the Zoo there will be a chance to make bird feeders.

The Feathered Friends Family Fun event runs from 9.30am – 11.30am and costs £4.00 per person.

Then during half-term children from 8 to 12 can discover the wonderful world of wild owls with the Awesome Owls event.

They will be able to meet a real owl and create an owl puppet from autumnal materials. This event takes place at Bristol Zoo Gardens on Thursday October 26

Adults simply need to drop the children off at 10am and pick them up at 3.30pm. Tickets cost £15 per child and booking is essential.

In November bird expert Ed Drewitt is leading a walk helping people to identify both resident and migrant birds. This walk is aimed at those who are developing their bird identification skills or who may have attended one of the project’s spring birdsong courses.

The walk which takes two hours starts at 9am on Sunday November 26. Tickets cost £6.

But if you would prefer to remain indoors there are two fascinating talks at Bristol Zoo Gardens in the coming weeks. 

The first is about the history and significance of Bristol’s own dinosaur, the Thecodontosaurus. It is more than 180 years since the first bones from this dinosaur were found in quarries around the Downs. Since then it has become key to unravelling the origin of dinosaurs.

Professor Mike Benton will explain all about it in this talk called The Bristol Dinosaur on Tuesday October 10 from 7pm to 8pm. The cost is £4.

On November 14 there is a talk entitled Myths, Moths and Butterflies which also takes place at Bristol Zoo Gardens. 

Butterfly Conservation’s education officer Matt Brierley will tackle questions like, why are butterflies called butterflies? And do moths really wear perfume?

His talk begins at 7pm and lasts for an hour. Tickets are £4.

Mandy Leivers, Avon Gorge & Downs Biodiversity Education Manager, said: “These walks and talks will give people a fascinating insight into the wildlife and extraordinary history of the Downs from pre-historic times to the present day.”

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