Sunday, 11 May 2014

11th May: Steart etc.

With strong winds forecast I ventured over to the Somerset Coast today, hoping to combine a bit of seawatching with a look around the new WWT reserve at Steart Marshes, which, while still very much a work in progress, has been attracting a variety of interesting birds.

The beach at Steart is far from an ideal place for a Seawatch, being in the deepest (as in most inland) part of the bay, and with nowhere to gain any height, but I was hoping that maybe some Skuas or Terns would be forced inland and decide to take a rest on the beach. Predictably, that didn't happen, but 7 Arctic Terns had clearly had enough of being buffeted out at sea and flew over my head towards the River Parrett.

Not a very inspiring view for a Seawatcher

Arctic Terns heading up the River Parrett
 With little visible on the sea and the tide dropping, taking the waterline further and further away, I too was fed up of being buffeted and moved on to take a look at the lagoons created as part of the ambitious new project to create a huge new wetland reserve. The Black Tern that had been present for a few days was still feeding over the main lagoon, as were 4 Little Terns.
Black Tern

Little Tern
 I followed the new path past another lagoon and some smaller freshwater ponds and new hedging plants to the River Parrett. Here the tide was dropping to reveal plenty of fresh mud and associated waders, the best of which being 5 Whimbrel close to the path. Another 25 Arctic Terns flew up the rive towards Combwich, with a lone Black Tern tagging along.
Moving on to the Avalon Marshes, the strong winds made birding difficult and Bitterns, Great White Egret, Garganey and Marsh Harrier only gave fleeting views. 35 Black-tailed Godwit were on the Mere  Heath scrape with 3 Dunlin, it's been a poor Spring for waders on the scrape, and time is running out for anything unusual, maybe these Westerlies will bring in something American....
Black-tailed Godwits

And finally, this hideous beast was in front of the 2nd viewing platform at Ham Wall RSPB, an Egyptian Goose, of some domestic (at best, feral) origin. Hopefully it won't find a partner and breed, I had quite enough of these hissing brutes terrorising wetland wildlife when I was in Norfolk!
Egyptian Goose

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