Tuesday 29 January – Cheddar reservoir Leader: Alastair Fraser

On a chilly, overcast morning 23 of us met at the southern car park. We started with a few minutes scanning the water then set off clockwise. Looking down to the fields, trees and hedgerows we soon spotted a Green Woodpecker poking around in the grass while a Jay flew into a tree nearby. A Mistle Thrush sang loudly; Redwings and Blackbirds rummaged around in the leaf litter. We stopped now and then to scan the water birds on the right, delighted to find a Scaup among the many Pochard; also, a single distant Wigeon. Great Crested Grebes were in pleasing numbers (79). Next: down the steep bank to the lane taking us to the rhynes, and on through the fields to Axbridge and the other side of the reservoir, an extremely muddy walk! This gave us mostly birds in flight including a Grey Heron, two Raven and a Skylark calling over the moor. Nearing the town, we spotted a pair of Stonechats perched on grass tussocks in a field and a Buzzard low in the hedge as we looked across to the woods on the left. A large collection of bird feeders gave good sightings of many small birds, including good numbers of bright Chaffinches and one male Blackcap. A Great Spotted Woodpecker flew into the tall trees opposite, to be hidden instantly. Cutting through the streets we came back behind the reservoir where we glimpsed several Reed Buntings in the boundary hedge. A walk through the woods took us back up onto the walkway. We were excited to find the Great Northern Diver in the distance; by the time we got to the sailing club it was really close, we had excellent views, good enough to see the cross-hatching on the back and its pale under- belly as it turned on its side; star bird! We also had just two Gadwall here. It was time to get back to the car park, picking out two Greenfinches and a Treecreeper in the trees and scrub on the way. It had been a great if muddy walk with 52 species seen (if we include the handsome Mandarin). It was good to see the large numbers of water birds, like the thousand or so Coot. Thanks to Alastair Fraser for leading the walk and Nick Hawkridge for the bird list and help with the route. Anne Crowe