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The day before storm Ciara was beautiful, just right for joining a group privileged to visit an RSPB hide not normally open to the public, (for complicated reasons). West Sedgemoor is just about the southernmost extent of the Somerset Moors and Levels, and much of it is an RSPB reserve, acquisition of which has been built up over the decades. This means the RSPB is now able to control the water levels, to the advantage of wildlife of course, by the management of sluices, these days remotely.

We were given this information en route to the hide, having stopped here to overlook part of the moor.

And before we reached the hide we saw, looking right,

A Great egret
A swan family, a species often seen on the Levels; sometimes dozens of them in one field
A field full of lapwings. I heard that there are 35,000 here some winters.
‘Common’ cranes. Not so common here though. There has been a very successful reintroduction scheme on Sedgemoor in recent years, and these were the first I had seen of them.

Also seen en route, looking left:

Burton Pynsent Monument. Pynsent was a successful 18th century cider businessman. To the great displeasure of his family, he left his estate to Pitt the Elder, in gratitude for the latter’s approach to cider tax laws! The monument was erected by the statesman, presumably to show his own gratitude.
The hide
The view directly ahead of me from my spot in the hide. Thank goodness for binoculars, and a zoom on my camera!

We stayed for about 90 minutes. Here are some of the dozens and dozens of photos I took. It should be said that nearly all of them were taken with my camera on its maximum zoom. The other caveat I would make is that there were too many people to make it easy to ask our expert leader for identifications, so some of them given here are tentative. I hope a knowledgeable reader may offer suggestions and corrections.

Just a few lapwings
Wigeon (?)
Greylag geese (?)
The glossy green flashes on the wing identify these as teal.
Great egrets, Canada geese
There are pintail ducks here
Not starlings, but lapwings…
… spooked by this, a marsh harrier,
Someone said that there were 35,000 lapwings wintering on the moor.
Two Marsh harriers, a raven(?), lapwings, and the village of Stoke St Gregory
There was said to be a Peregrine putting the birds up as well, but I think these (see also the flat one at 4 o’clock to the main one) are Marsh harriers.
Way over to my left, hundreds and hundreds of ducks of various kinds, impossible for me to identify at the distance, and blurred even more by the requirement of the blog host for a very reduced number of pixels
A final look at some Little egrets, and it was time to leave