A Day Out in Somerset

On Thursday Ian and Matt were heading out for a days birding but unfortunately I had a hospital appointment in the afternoon. However on Tuesday the hospital rearranged my appointment and I managed to book the day off work so was all set for my second birding trip in eight days. Thursday morning arrived along with the rain and wind but at least with a nice late 06.15 I got a good nights sleep. First stop was to be Chard reservoir, a new site for us all with a Red-necked Grebe the target bird. When we got there it was still raining hard and we prepared ourselves for a soaking. However on arriving at the Fishermans car park at the north end of the reservoir we were delighted to find the Grebe showing well just a hundred yards or so away. All we had to do was to open the car windows and enjoy watching the bird from the comfort of the car. A great start to the day a site that would have justified more time if the conditions had been better. A few birds were noted on the cross-country drive to Ashcott Corner on the Somerset Levels to get the list ticking over. Crossing Greylake there were large flocks of Lapwing, Golden Plover and Starlings to be seen. Matt got a glimpse of a Kingfisher and the first of several Great White Egrets was seen. Arriving at Ashcott the weather which had started to improve turned wet again with the arrival of heavy drizzle. Gearing up in wet gear and wellies we set off along the South Drain towards Noahs Hide. The target bird here was a Ring-necked Duck which we knew would be hard to find amongst the many hundreds of wildfowl on the lake. Fortunately the majority were Wigeon giving us a better chance of finding the RND. Despite searching for the best part of an hour it couldn’t be found. With the sun now out and once we had enough of the loud whistling noise caused by the wind blowing through the hide and the group of, in age at least mature birders, who seemed to be competing to see who could make the most noise we left the hide and continued west along the reserve hoping to find three Whooper Swans that were supposedly around. After braving the wind along the drain it was a relief to turn onto the sheltered path that led to the Decoy Hide. Along here we were surprised to find a Damselfly and a Butterfly, obviously the small amount of heat generated by the December Sun. This was new territory for us and after  a fair walk we finally saw the hide. It appeared to still be a way away so after checking out some more Tufted Ducks we decided not to carry on and to retrace our steps back to the car. Just before rejoining the South Drain we saw a Kingfisher and a Ringtail Hen Harrier. From here our next stop was to be Chew Valley Lake. We drove out over Tealham Moor and inevitably when Matt checked RBA the RND had been reported as being seen from the Decoy Hide about half-an-hour after we had been in the area. It was decided not to return and within the hour we were at Chew Valley. Conscious of the short time we had available a whistlestop tour of the Lake got us, amongst others, Blackwit, Little Stint, Water Rail, GBB Gull, Goosander, Goldeneye, Pintail, Shelduck and Several more GW Egrets. The main target bird here was Long-tailed Duck which we weren’t able to find. As is usually the way, today, some good pictures of it from yesterday were posted as were some of the RND. Final stop was to be Blagdon Lake, another new site for me where we had more luck with Ian soon finding the male Scaup. Almost of interest here was a very pale Buzzard a picture of which can be found here;  http://www.blagdonlakebirds.com/. That was it for the day, Ian pointed the car in the direction of home via Bristol and another great day of birding was over with around seventy-five species noted.

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