Sunday 13 January – RSPB West Sedgemoor RSPB leaders

After a rather gloomy start to the day in Bristol we arrived at Dewlands Farm to be greeted by clear skies, albeit on a rather cool, breezy day. 15 members were in attendance and were met by Nigel and Elaine Smith who were our guides for the morning. Whilst in the farmyard we were treated to large flocks of Lapwing overhead, also Golden Plover and three Buzzards. On the short walk to the barn we had a variety of tits (Blue, Great, Long-tailed) and we heard the odd Redwing. Looking down on the reserve from the higher ground we saw two distant Cranes grazing and got the impression of large numbers of ducks. According to Nigel there were over 50,000 birds in total. Once we reached the barn and got settled in you could see the enormous numbers of ducks, Wigeon, Teal, Pintail, Gadwall and a smaller number of Mallards. Amidst the ducks were hundreds of Black-tailed Godwits and in the distance an enormous flock of Golden Plovers. Smaller numbers of Mute Swan, Canada Geese and both Little and Great White Egrets were present. The next couple of hours were action-packed as a number of raptors regularly disturbed the birds. We had at least four Marsh Harrier cruising the area and sending the birds up in a flurry of activity. Two Peregrines were seen alternately hunting over the site and then perching on fence posts. At one point, one Peregrine attacked a passing Buzzard. We had three Cranes fly fairly close overhead but the highlight for most people was a beautiful male Hen Harrier which took a leisurely flight past the barn giving exceptional views to all.
Most of the group then proceeded to Greylake, some via Burrow Mump where six Bewick’s Swans and a Little Egret were seen. At Greylake there were again large flocks of Lapwings and Golden Plovers and yet more ducks. In the hide we spent an enjoyable time spotting Snipe tucked away in the vegetation. Once again, we had good views of Marsh Harrier and Peregrine. Overall, we had 30 species which included both quantity and quality. Many thanks to Nigel and Elaine for leading. Sue Kempson