Sunday 16 August – WWT Steart Marshes and NNR Bridgwater Bay

Eight members gathered at the Steart Marshes car park on a chilly (but dry) Sunday morning. This new reserve is a work in progress with the old sea wall having been breached in September 2014 to create new areas of saltmarsh with ever-changing creeks and channels providing food and refuge for wildlife. From the Mendip hide there were good views of the lagoons but the birds were distant – Shovelers, Little Egrets, Canada Geese and a few Avocets. The walk out to the River Parrett allowed us to appreciate the amount and quality of landscaping undertaken by the WWT, and enjoy the Goldfinches, Linnets and Greenfinches. From the river viewpoint there were better views of Avocets but few other waders – only a distant Redshank. Returning to the Polden hide we passed flower and butterfly-rich grassland, with many Small Tortoiseshells and at least two Clouded Yellows, along with a Buzzard and various finches. From the Polden hide we added Pied Wagtail and a very pale Buzzard to the list. During lunch at the car park, Starlings, House Sparrows and a Pheasant were noted. After lunch we drove to Natural England’s car park at Dowell’s Farm and walked out to Steart Flats where views of Curlews, Shelduck and distant gulls were obscured by a heat haze. From the Tower hide we observed two Little Grebes, Redshank, juvenile Peregrine and Common Sandpiper; the views of Whinchats and Stonechats together were instructive. In the fields around the hide were Dunnocks, Linnets, Chaffinches and a Kestrel. The walk along the road to the car park brought the day’s species total to 33. This was a very enjoyable visit to the Steart area and, as the new WWT reserve “matures”, one that is sure to continue to attract visitors. Very many thanks to Richard for leading. Ken Carruthers