Visit to Huntspill Sea Wall, 26 September 2017

Ten of us decided to go on this morning visit to Huntspill on 26 September 2017. The weather was initially cloudy, misty but dry, but it improved as the morning progressed.

After an unusually difficult journey, the first thing we saw on arrival at the site was a flock of Linnet flying overhead. The tide was nearly high, so seabirds were perched on every available raised piece of land. A mudbank near the mouth of the River Parrett was therefore smothered in birds, most of which turned out to be redshank, though there were a few gulls Shelduck and cormorants mixed in with them, and two larger waders which were sleeping facing towards us, so it was impossible to be sure about identification.

On walking along the se wall, a large flock of Goldfinch made repeated appearances, but the surface of the river was largely empty and we saw no new birds until, about half way along we encountered large numbers of Meadow Pipits.and Pied Wagtails, plus a few Rock Pipits. We had fun distinguishing these from their Meadow Pipit cousins, particularly since there were several young around so plumage colour was unusually varied. In the end we decided that the presence of a noticeable eye ring on the Rock Pipit was the best way of telling the two species apart.

By now the tide was receding fast, and this made more birds visible. We were searching principally for Wheatear and Turnstone, which both evaded us, but we did happen upon a pair of very smart Grey Wagtail. Meanwhile there was a flypast of four Canada Geese, and more exposed mud also brought in a Little Egret and two Grey Heron. And Shelduck (which are more numerous in Bridgwater Bay than anywhere else in Britain) were everywhere.

At the gate where we decide to retrace our steps we happened upon Several Curlew in the fields, and no sooner had we started our return walk than a lone, but very smart female Wheatear started showing off immediately in front of us. Sadly Turnstone were still absent, but towards the end of the walk we did find a small group of Avocet feeding on the mud the other side of the river - a good bird to find even if the views were distant and imperfect. And then shortly before we reached the cars again, virtually every bird on site took off in panic as a peregrine Falcon flew swiftly overhead. They had hardly settled down again when a female Marsh harrier made a appearance, causing more panic amongst the assembled birds.

Altogether a good morning and we encountered around 33 different species - not bad considering there was a complete absence of several families of common bird

Brian Roberts-Wray