The WWT reserve at Steart has been created as a result of the work by DEFRA to realign the sea wall and provide flood prevention measures in the area. The old sea wall was breached on the 6September 2014 allowing water to flow into the reserve to start the process to create an inter-tidal salt marsh. So the reserve is at an early stage of development and it will be interesting to see it mature over the next few years. The fog on the motorway gave way to brilliant sunshine by the time 28 members gathered in the WWT car park. The calm conditions and the sun made for a very pleasant day in this exposed landscape. The mature hedge by the entrance held Redwing and Fieldfare, a first sighting this winter for many of the group. The views from the Mendip hide over the lagoons required telescopes as the birds were mostly distant. Most notable were the flocks of Lapwing, Golden Plover and Shoveler. A sleeping Pintail was an ID challenge. Continuing to the river, the flocks of waders on the mud were distant but it is a long walk to the breach to get a closer view. Alas there were no Avocets in sight. We took the northerly path past the Polden hide to give views over an area of bog and rough grass. Meadow Pipits, Skylarks, Pied Wagtails and Goldfinches added to the variety.After a lunch break we drove round to the Natural England car park to walk out to Fenning Island. A search around the car park failed to find Little Owl which are resident here. We also missed out on Short-eared Owl this time. The flocks of waders were the main attraction. Persistence by one persondid find a Common Gull amongst the Herring Gulls and close scrutiny found a Spotted Redshank on one of the pools where there were a couple of Little Grebe. Stonechats and a Reed Bunting flitted around. Finally a couple of Avocets were seen heading up river. By the time we gathered in the car park to depart, the group total was about 53 species seen. More impressive was the number of waders. We saw about 6-7,000 Dunlin, over 1,000 Lapwing, 200plusGolden Plover, about 120 Grey Plover and lower numbers of other waders. This new WWT reserve shows great promise and is well worth repeated visits. (Many thanks to Richard for leading.) Richard Belson
Seventeen members arrived at the Kendleshire Golf Club car park on a dry but overcast morning. As we set off alongside the golf course, Dunnock and Robin flew about the hedgerow and on the course Moorhen and Black-headed Gulls were avoiding the golf balls along with a solitary Canada Goose. A Carrion Crow passed overhead as well as our first Mistle Thrush -we saw another later. A flock of Long-tailed Tits moved between trees, a Kingfisher flashed in and out of view and a Goldcrest wasspotted. As we left the golf course, a Rook and two Song Thrushes were perched in a tree and a Grey Heron languidly flew across the adjacent field. Shortly afterwards Redwing made an appearance and just before coffee a male Bullfinch showed. As the walk progressed, the cloud lowered and light rain began to fall. We added Coal, Blue and Great Tit, Wren, Collared Dove and Pied Wagtail to our list and saw a fox hurrying along beside a hedge. The rain continued and towards the end of the walk a Buzzard appeared and a Carolina Wood Duck cruised in the distance on a fishing pond.Overall we saw 32 species. Thanks to Duncan Gill and Peter Holbrook for leading. Mark Watson.
After a misty start to the day the sun broke through and the lakes and surrounding countryside looked very attractive with plenty of autumn colour still evident. 21 birders did the circular walk around the lakes and through woodland. A pheasant shoot was fortunately just finishing. We saw 46 species as a group total. On the water there were Swans and Canada Geese with a Greylag Goose in the fields where the winter wheat was already showing through. A Little Egret, Cormorants and several Great Crested Grebes gave good views. We had three sightings of Kingfisher. There were Mallard, Tufted Duck, Pochard, Wigeon and Gadwall as well as Coots and a Moorhen. The hedges and woodland provided two Goldcrests, Blue, Great and Long-tailed Tits. We had four Common Buzzards in total, three were with a Sparrowhawk, and a Kestrel. Some of the group were lucky enough to see a Green Woodpecker, two Great Spotted Woodpeckers and two Treecreepers. It made a very pleasant stroll on a lovely autumn morning. (Thanks to Sue and John Prince for leading.) Sue Prince
Five members met at the Cheddar end of the reservoir on an overcast morning. The first notable sighting was the very large raft of Coot which must have numbered over a thousand birds. Why Cheddar should be such a draw for wintering Coot was debated without an obvious conclusion. There were also a large number of Great Crested Grebes spread over the Reservoir. Pied Wagtails and Meadow Pipits searched the water’s edge for food. Tufted Duck, Pochard, Mallard, Teal and Shoveler were not far from the edge. Amongst the common passerines the highlight for some was their first Redwing of the autumn. Probably the best bird of the day was a male Goldeneye which apparently was the first wintering one to be reported at the reservoir this season. Thirty-nine species were recorded. (Thanks for leading, Mike.)
Twelve of us arrived in a deluge of rain with dark skies. Therefore,we decided just to go around the reservoir as the lower paths quickly become like paddy fields. A slightly delayed start gave us a sunny, dry amble with a large variety of both water and ‘field & hedge’ birds. There were very numerous Mute Swan, Tufted Duck, Pochard, Great Crested Grebe, hundreds of Coot and quite a number of other duck, the most notable being Red-crested Pochard (twomale & threefemale). It was good to see both Green and Great Spotted Woodpecker, Pied and Grey Wagtail, good views of a pair of Nuthatch and a mixed flock of finches, tits and a Robin! Kestrel and Buzzard made an appearance and beyond the yacht club five Redwing feasted on berries. Across the water, approximately 100 Canada Geese flew in from the southto make a total of 46 species. (Thanks for leading Sue.) Sue Watson