Steart Marshes visit December 9th 2019
11 of us made the long journey to the WWT Steart Reserve where we were blessed with a glorious sunny day and a temperature of 11C although it felt colder with the strong wind.
After crossing the road, our first sightings were a large flock of starlings, a magpie and a chaffinch, quickly followed by a kingfisher, although it was not seen by everybody. As we climbed the slight ascent towards the Mendip Hide, a few of us briefly saw a large raptor flying away. It was probably a buzzard based on its size. The hide, however, was disappointing with just five shelduck visible in the far distance.
We proceeded towards the River Parrett where we saw a large gathering of redshanks plus dunlin, gulls and mallard along the wide muddy banks of the river which was at low tide. Most of us started to walk the three km walk along the bank towards the Breach where merlin and marsh harrier are often seen. Sadly there was no sign of them so we turned back before reaching Breach but we had sightings of stonechat, meadow pipit and robin. About 70 shelduck were visible on the marshes.
We then retraced our steps and headed for the Quantock Hide for lunch. We were rewarded with large flocks of lapwing, golden plover, teal and a couple of cormorants. We were also just able to make out a distant view of a lone spoonbill.
On our return towards the main car park we had the lovely sight of a family of mute swans with two mature young swimming in line along the narrow canal in the glowing sinking sun.
The main car park itself proved to be productive with several kestrels, goldfinch, fieldfare and redwing flying around but there was no sign of the barn owl usually seen at dusk.
We also took the opportunity to drive the 3km to the Steart Gate car park where we passed curlews and black-tailed godwits en route. A large compost heap proved popular with a stonechat, starling and a couple of pied wagtails. Finally a starling murmuration to finish the day.
It was an enjoyable trip to see a good selection of 36 birds at sunny Steart.
chaffinch, magpie, starling, kestrel, blackbird, kingfisher, carrion, crow, green woodpecker, grey heron, pied wagtail, lapwing, mallard, redshank, dunlin, stonechat, robin, skylark, little egret, golden plover, cormorant, teal, curlew, shoveler, little grebe, meadow pipit, spoonbill, mute swan, redwing, woodpigeon, fieldfare, Goldfinch, black tailed godwits, shelduck, black headed gull, lesser black backed gull, common gull.
36 species 11 people