Sunday 10 October – WWF Steart Leader: Richard Belson

What a lovely day and what fantastic birds and, of course, good company! 14 of us met in the WWT car park and set off for the Quantock hide overlooking Otterhampton Marsh, meanwhile picking up a large flock of 80 Wigeon and 40 Teal in the sky in the distance. The waders here consisted mainly of Dunlin, 14 Ringed Plover and 120 Golden Plover looking really gorgeous in the sunshine. Shelduck and Shoveler were on the water and many Lapwing resting on the mud. Seven Spoonbills flew in and sat in a huddle in the middle of a flock of Black-headed Gulls. Later, one of them started to feed and we could watch it sweeping its bill and then raising its head to swallow its catch. We searched for the reported Little Stints but they were hard to find among the Dunlin. Leaving Jane in the hide, we walked on to the Mendip hide. Several Stonechats were perched on the bushes beside the path, flitting off and back again, and there was also a remarkably bright yellow Meadow Pipit and two Chiffchaffs. From the River Parrett path we saw a mass of Canada Geese, some duck, Kestrel, Sparrowhawk and a Cormorant, all rather distant. On our return to the Quantock hide, Jane had found three Little Stints, also two Grey Plover and a Ruff, so that was time well spent. Lunch was taken in the sunshine on benches beside the car park, then we drove down to the Natural England car park further on and walked on to the viewing point beside the now very full and shining River Parrett. An unusual view was a Buzzard and a Raven sitting together on top of a barn. A distant Marsh Harrier was spotted against the clouds and this was followed by some excellent views of four of them quite close, as well as five Kestrels. Further Meadow Pipits were flying across the track and more Stonechats spotted. Seven Little Egrets were on the edge of the water, two people saw a Cattle Egret, there were several Herons and 20 Lapwing. A Wheatear sat on a fence post, later moving to another post closer to us, showing all its colours, then 20 Black-tailed Godwits appeared. A couple of House Sparrows greeted us back at the car park. A most successful day: many thanks to Richard for leading, to Jane and Jeff for their input and to Alan for creating the bird list. Judy Copeland