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WEATHER: an awful day, wet and windy with some dry spells, quite cold too!

I guided Jane and Sarah for the day and they couldn't have picked a worse day as far as the weather was concerned and even though we discussed cancelling they still wanted to go ahead. So, we got wet and cold but........we saw a good number of species, a couple of lifers for them and many year ticks for all of us.

Relatively new to birding Jane and Sarah came out with me last year, also to visit Steart, they both live in Somerset and are familar with many of the species. We met at 8:30am in the rain and walked to Quantock Hide not seeing much at all along the way. A Few Common Shelduck and the one or two Avocets flew over, it was quite noisy on the marsh behind the grassy bank.

It was dull, wet and windy looking from the Quantock Hide at Steart

We stayed in the first hide for almost two hours, it rained all the time we were there, it was nice to be out of the wind too! The whole marsh area was covered in groups of Shelducks and Pied Avocets, they were obviously pairing off as there was a lot of chasing going on.

A pair of Shovelers looking very dapper in spring plumage

I think the same went for the Little Ringed Plovers, several pairs were dashing about, we also saw half-a-dozen Greater Ringed Plovers and a single Lapwing.

Redshanks were very noisy at times they flew around in small packs with many individuals feeding alone along the edge of the main lagoon, We saw a single Black-tailed Godwit, many Pied Wagtails and Sarah found a couple of very bright Yellow Wagtails, she was thrilled to have found her very own lifer. Other species out there included; Shoveler, Mallard, Gadwall, Teal, Little Egret and the gull roost held Herring and Lesser Black-backed Gulls. 

groups of Common Shelduck with a couple of LBB Gulls

From another section of the hide looking in the oppostie direction we found Meadow Pipits, Skylarks and a lot more Redshanks.

A quick visit to ther Mendip Hide added very little, it was quite dry below the hide with small pools, we did see a nice male Reed Bunting and a few Goldfinches.

From the main car park we drove down through Steart Village and parked in a second car park. We then spent a couple of hours walking down to the Hides at the Point where the river Parrott meets Bridgewater Bay, we knew the tide was coming in and were hoping to see some more waders.

one of the few things that we did see on the beach was this Hare, we also Rabbits and Roe Deer during our walk

In actual fact we saw far more species along the lanes and tracks than we did from the hides at the Point. The beach area and ther mouth of the river held very few species. We saw Oystercatchers, Shelduck, Curlew, Bar-tailed Godwit and a few Crows. From one of the hides we saw a distant Eurasian Spoonbill and we heard Reed Warblers singing from the reedbeds without actually seeing one.

this Raven gave us good close views

Along the lanes however, we saw good number of birds. It was windy down there but the rain eased off and we enjoyed some good sigtings. One field held six Northern Wheatears, five of them were brightly coloured males, we also saw a couple of Chiffchaffs, a Blackcap and I saw a Common Whitethroat. We had views of more Yellow Wagtails with groups of Pied Wagtails and Meadow Pipits.

Redshanks are starting to look very smart as they moult into summer plumage 

Curlews fed in the fields with Skylarks, Meadow Pipits, Linnets and Godlfinches dashing about. A kestrel posed nicely for the camera as she sat on a post, a couple of Buzzard sat on distant trees and a Raven gave incredibly close views. A lot of the species were new 'year ticks' for all of us. We spent some time watching Stock Doves, they wouldn't perch close to us but we had good views in the scope. 

one of the many Yellow Wagtails seen today

record shot of a couple of Northern Wheatears

Over the last 3 days a Pectoral Sandpiper had been seen from the Quantock Hide and we hoped to see it, so after eating our lunch (2pm) we drove back to the main car park, it was now high tide so we thought that the Sandpiper may be back on the marsh. We settled down into the hide and scanned the area for a second time, we relocated the Spoonbill, we saw 11 Little Egrets, Grey Heron and a lot more Redshanks (50+) but there was no sign of the Sandpiper. 

Common Kestrel posed very nicely for us

One last species for the list was Ruff, we saw a couple of them out on the marsh working along a channel, they made our list up to 60 species, 61 if you count the Bar-headed Goose feeding out in the grass meadow!! Sarah said if the bird is in the Collin's Guide she can tick it!!!

We parted ways around 4:30pm, it was raining when we met and it was raining as we parted, but all in all it had been a great day out, Sarah and Jane are such good company and are willing learners too, I hope to see them again sometime.