I had a great days birding today to try and drag my year list up to a semi reasonable level. I was out and meeting two birding friends just as it was turning light (around 8am). Our first stop was Carymoor reserve, an area that has been improved for environmental education from a landfill site near the town of Bruton in Somerset. The area has some wetland lakes with reeds and some marshy areas. We saw Mallard and Teal on the unfrozen areas of the wetland as well as Moorhens and a Water Rail. A lone Bearded Tit was calling in the reeds but was impossible to find due to the windy conditions. Up on the marshy area we managed to see several Common Snipe and a Jack Snipe which is much less common.
My friends live in Bruton and so our next stop was in the town of Bruton where up to five Hawfinches are spending the winter. These normally shy and elusive birds eventually gave some reasonable sightings, the one photographed here below feeding on seeds on a garage roof.
After a much needed coffee (it was a freezing easterly wind out there today), I left my friends and made my way home via Stourhead lakes (where I recently did a BTO bird survey). A Lesser Scaup has been reported from the main lake recently so I dropped in there to check it out. I eventually found it hanging out with the Tufted Ducks. My next stop was home for a much needed spot of lunch, as I was looking out the window I noticed this male Blackcap in our Strawberry Tree. We've had both male and female Blackcaps in our garden this winter. It's only in more recent years that this warbler species has decided to overwinter in numbers in the UK. In Spring they have the most melodic song. My last stop of the day was down on the Somerset Levels at the National Nature Reserve of Westhay. I had promised an old work friend of mine and her Mum that we would go one day this winter to see the Starling roost. They roost here on the Levels in spectacular numbers although finding the right place to watch them can be tricky. The display given by the Starlings today (see photos below) is not the most amazing I've seen, but it was pretty good which made a lovely end to the day.