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WEATHER: bright and clear to start, cloudy later

It was a lovely morning, clear blue sky and no wind. Dawn and I decided to pop over to the 'Levels' for a walk. Not one, not two, but three Ring-necked Ducks had been seen yesterday at Decoy Lake on Shapwick Heath and that is where we headed for.

The hide overlooking Decoy Lake is a fair trek from the main footpath at Shapwick but it is a lovely walk through marshland, reedbeds and woodland. We saw one or two Chiffchaffs, a Goldcrest, some Long-tailed Tits and we heard Cetti's Warbler a couple of times.

Decoy Lake was covered in ducks

We eventually arrived at the hide wwhich overlooks the vast decoy pond, I estimated that a thousand ducks were sitting on the water. No-one else was in the hide, so I had to locate the Ring-necked Ducks myself. After about thrity minutes of scanning with bins and my telescope, I still hadn't seen one, perhaps I should concentrate on looking for the females instead of the males that look like male Tufted Ducks.

Little Grebe

Bingo, I found two female Ring-necked Ducks, both sticking together and associating with a party of Tufted Ducks. I assume that they first year birds as the markings were not as clear as the adult female I saw last winter on Blagdon Lake. A few people turned up and I put my guides hat on to show them all the two American Ducks. No-one found the male that day but I later heard that they were seen the day after.

Four pictures of the female Ring-necked Ducks

this is the best I think - remember these birds were quite distant

two of them together shown here

Other birds seen on the water included: Teal, Shoveler, Wigeon, Gadwall, Goldeneye, Pintail, Moorhen, Coot and Mute Swan. A Marsh Harrier flew over the pool and disturbed most of the birds. We also saw Common Buzzrad and Sparrowhawk, Little Egret, Grey heron, Cormorant and Little Grebe.

Migrant Hawker

On the way back to the car we found several Red Admirals and a couple of Dragonfly species: Common Darter and Migrant Hawker.