Storm Callum was wind-blasting the south-western counties of Wales and England with 50-mph-plus gusts yesterday but that didn’t deter 10 mad keen (some might just say mad) members of the Glamorgan Bird Club from heading to England, to the Wildfowl & Wetlands Trust property at Steart Marshes in Somerset, for a day’s birding. And what a magnificent place it is and an incredible day we had!
This is a man-made landscape, engineered to deal with local flooding issues and future sea-level rises, but it has the advantage of providing much-needed and extensive salt- and fresh-water wetland habitats. You can read more and watch a video on the WWT website.
I don’t have a lot of close-up photos to share from this trip. As I mentioned at the start, it was incredibly windy so the conditions for non-blurry photography were difficult, and many of the birds were distant so I was relying on my bins and the generosity of my birding friends and their telescopes for better views.
That doesn’t mean you can’t see some incredible sights here with the naked eye though: the miracle of hundreds of Lapwings or Bar-tailed godwits rising and flying in unison is one of Nature’s finest wonders, as are views of birds of prey like Merlin and Hobby screaming like fighter jets across the marshes in pursuit of prey.
We also saw small numbers of Roe deer and Hares, scampering about in the fields.
For the serious birder, there was much to quicken the heartbeat, with 13 species of wader seen, 12 Cattle egrets, a Spoonbill and a Glossy ibis. I managed to add five ticks to my year list so I was well pleased.
This is a site that will only improve in future years and will almost certainly continue to attract star birds, but it’s also a place for everyone to enjoy the many walking trails, the excellent wildlife viewing facilities and the stunning beauty of the saltmarsh, an environment more colourful than I had imagined it would be. If you can, do visit!
My species total for the day was only 49 but this list is about quality, not quantity. Five of these were year ticks for me: Mute Swan, Canada Goose, Shelduck, Eurasian Wigeon, Mallard, Northern Pintail, Pheasant, Little Grebe, Glossy Ibis, Spoonbill, Cattle Egret, Grey Heron, Little Egret, Cormorant, Marsh Harrier, Common Buzzard, Kestrel, Merlin, Hobby, Moorhen, Coot, Ringed Plover, European Golden Plover, Grey Plover, Northern Lapwing, Knot, Little Stint, Dunlin, Ruff, Common Snipe, Black-tailed Godwit, Bar-tailed Godwit, Eurasian Curlew, Spotted Redshank, Greenshank, Common Redshank, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Woodpigeon, Magpie, Carrion Crow, Skylark, Wren, Starling, Pied Wagtail, Meadow Pipit, Goldfinch and Linnet.
The ones I missed but others saw or heard: Eurasian Teal, Northern Shoveler, Mediterranean Gull, Stock Dove, Collared Dove, Raven, Jackdaw, Blue Tit, Cetti’s Warbler, Blackbird and Chaffinch.