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Greylake Nature Reserve, owned by the RSPB.  I’d visited it just once before, and that only briefly. The prospect of a guided tour with birding experts, set up by the Somerset Wildlife Trust, and led by an RSPB volunteer, was too good to miss, so this was my third outdoor outing this week in near freezing temperatures.01-p1250803001The briefing told us that the land had been in cultivation until 2003, when it was bought by the RSPB and converted into wetland for wildlife.  We would make our way to the main hide, where we would spend about half our time, and then walk around those parts accessible to the public.  Most of the area was kept behind electric fencing for the tranquillity of the birds and animals.  It was good to come at all times of the year, but this season was the best time because of the thousands of different birds over-wintering there.

On the way to the hide, I managed to get an indifferent picture of a fieldfare.

02-p1250804001Once at the hide, we had this general view ahead of us.03-p1250869001Looking round, and closing in a little with binoculars and camera, here are other aspects.


Wigeon, shovelers and coot



Wigeon, shoveler, coot and gadwall

08b-p1250834001Experienced birders were soon exclaiming at this clump, just 20 metres or so from us.09-p1250825001A pair of teal can be seen easily, especially the male.  But are there really snipe there? And four?10-p1250830001In due course I managed to find three, and indeed once you knew that they were there, it was even possible to pick the nearest one out with the naked eye, they were so close.  But what wonderful camouflage!  They didn’t move the whole of the time we were there.


It was not possible to get photos of all the species we saw, but here are some. (If birder readers wish to comment with further names, or corrections to any of these photos, above and below, please feel free!)


Shovelers, the male’s bill demonstrating just why they bear that name. The female has the same bill, but that is hidden here.


I just love lapwings, (also known as peewits) for their green iridescence, their cheeky crest, their wonderful courtship flight, their flappy way of flying (I call them flapwings).  This one all alone entertained us close to the hide for ages.12-p1250850001

13-p1250856001And as at Ham Wall, there was a Great white egret in the distance.14-p1250862001



Three in fact. and here is one of the others flying around


Not long after leaving the hide, and keeping to the established path, we were shown by one of the RSPB volunteers, to the right of the path, some otter poo and some mink poo, the former more welcome than the latter.  The otter spraint was on a well-established otter path.16-p1250871001To the left, the other part of the otter path could be seen.17-p1250874001We were pleased then to see crowds and crowds of lapwing flying around, as if there had been a signal to the thousands in the area all to rise up at once. Here are just a few of them.18-p125087700119-p1250878001Swans have no need to fear humans, and they know it. This one made for an easy photo, just a very few metres away from where we were walking.21-p1250882001A distant view of another great white egret.20-p1250881001Evidence of a recent hare boxing match.22-p1250886001And of a sparrowhawk kill.23-p1250890001We hoped to see more small birds, and indeed we did see redwing, and stonechat, but I couldn’t get photos.  We went on to a viewpoint:24-p1250892001But few wetland birds were favouring this area of the reserve. 25-p1250894001Perhaps, along with the small birds, they were favouring the more sheltered areas on this chilly day.  But I, usually spending far too much of my life in front of a computer, had really enjoyed my three outdoors outings this week.  I must do it more often, and certainly return to Greylake at other seasons.