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WEATHER: birght with some sunshine all morning theN rain from 1pm. Temp 4-6C all day.

What a fantastic morning we had today, a complete contrast to yesterday. A clear sky, no wind and hazy sunshine, perfect for birding and boy did we see some birds!

In the car park at our Guest House we watched a huge flock of Starlings fly over us, there was thousands of them, a group of about 500 dropped down to settle on the large barn next to us, it was an amazing start to the morning.

We drove a short distance to Westhay Moor Reserve to look for Glossy Ibis they had been reported at the same site several times in the last few days. We got side-tracked along the way when huge numbers of Cattle Egrets flew across the road in front of us. In a flooded field we saw between 500-600 Cattle Egrets and more were dropping in! They joined large flocks of Lapwings, dozens of Mute Swans and smaller numbers of Little Egrets.

Little Egrets 

The hedgerows were full of birds too, Chaffinches, Goldfinches, Robins, Fieldfares, Blackbirds, Redwings, Blue and Great Tits, Dunnocks, and Wrens. We also found Reed Buntings, Common Chiffchaffs and all the time the sky was full of huge flocks of Lapwings.

Ravens flew over calling, we saw Jackdaws, Crows, Cormorants, Grey Herons, Great Egrets and large flocks of Wood Pigeons, it was mind boggling, watching the vast number of birds in the sky. 

We dragged ourselves away from the 'egret fest' and walked 200 meters along the lane to a spot where the Ibis were meant to be. Sure enough, at the side of the road there were three Glossy Ibis. Despite the bright morning the Ibis fed in the shadow of a hedge in bad light. We canned them as best we could and then moved on. We walked back to the bus and added a Peregrine Falcon to the list.

in bad light -  a bad record shot of two of the three Glossy Ibis

A field near the Westhay Reserve held about 50-70 Swans, we stopped to check them out for yellow bills, but found only Mute Swans. So we continued with our planned itinerary and headed for Greylake Reserve. From the car park at Greylake we scanned Aller Moor and found several Common Buzzards, Great Egrets, Grey Herons and few other species.

It was a bit of a disappointment looking from the hides at Greylake, we were looking for a male Baikal Teal, a mega rarity for the UK, this bird had returned for a second winter here. We hardly saw a Eurasian Teal never mind a Siberian one! But we added Common Snipe, Dunlin and saw thousands of Lapwing, Wigeon with fewer numbers of Pintail, Shoveler, Mallard and Gadwall.

a few Snipe at Greylake

One interesting sighting was of a GARGANEY!! They do not usually over-winter in the UK but this one hadn't read the 'Bird Migration' Booklet. Another birder in the hide found it and I confirmed it with a quick glimpse through his scope, unfortunately by the time I got it in my scope it swam off into the reeds never to be seen again! So my group never got to see it - that's great guiding for you!!

A light micro-light aircraft put up all the birds on the reserve, flocks were up in the sky like clouds of mosquitos, we then all saw a couple of Dunlin in with a Lapwing flock. We heard Water Rail on the way back to the car.

 a lot of birds in the sky at Grelake after the Micro-light flew past

We knew that bad weather was coming in around 1pm so with two hours left of dry conditions we drove round to Aller Moor to look for Common Cranes. A quick stop at Barrow Mump produced very little and nothing new for the list.

At Staith we stopped in two places to scan the flooded fields, we had driven through large flooded sections of the road through Staith and survived. At one place we saw quite a few birds including all five Thrushes in one area! Dozen of Fieldfares were accompanied by Redwings and Starlings in a grass meadow, we saw a Mistle Thrush eating Mistletoe berries, what a surprise, ha! A Song Thrush sat in a wood pile with more Fieldfares and a Blackbird hopped along a hedge.

a male Eurasian Wigeon

A flock of 25 Little Egrets sat on the grassy edge of the flood water, we saw a pair of Stonechats, Pied Wagtail, Chaffinches, Goldfinches and Reed Bunting on a track. Not sign of any Cranes in the area, I don't think that they like getting their feet wet!

Driving further along we saw 45 Little Egrets together in another field, with dozens of Balck-headed Gulls, Rooks and Jackdaws. As we drove up off the Moors we flushed a pair of Jays from the side of the road and in Langport central car park we watched Greenfinches and Long-tailed Tits.

Shoveler and Wigeon taken at Cattcott

We bought lunch at 1pm just as the rain started! We ate in at a bench next to the car park before driving off to Swell Woods about 5 miles away. The rain increased as we drove along, so at Swell Woods car park we parked in such a way that we could all watch some bird feeders from inside the bus. Mike put down some bird seed and within minutes we were surrounded by common woodland species.

Our three main traget species were seen within ten minutes! Eurasian Nuthatch came first, quickly followed by Marsh Tit and then Mike found us a Eurasian Treecreeper. Other species visiting the feeders included Coal, Blue and Great Tits, Dunnock, Robin and Chaffinch.

two pictures of Masrsh Tit by Mike Taylor

We left around 2pm and drove the long way round to Cattcott, we avoided the moors because of the flooding. At 2:30pm we were sat in the hide at RSPB Cattcatt Low. There were dozens of Wigeon very close to the hide with Shoveler and Teal. We saw a very obliging Common Snipe and a couple of Common Chiffchaff just below the hide.

Common Snipe taken at Cattcott

By 3:30pm my group were wet and cold and fed up! The light was pretty dismal too! So we called it a day and drove a few miles back to the Farmhouse for a nice cuppa and piece of cake.