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Sunday, 28 December 2014

Something to Snipe about...

With Christmas food causing my stomach to swell to a size that would make Santa proud, I decided to drag myself off my sofa and into my other halves newly fixed Mondeo. ( Someone had reversed into her shortly before Christmas, seemingly unaware what her wing mirrors were for!)
   Despite driving for a living, my love, Nick, didn't trust me to drive her automatic motor, so I was chaperoned to RSPB Greylake, via trips to Argos, Lidl, the garage, etc etc.
   My patience starting to wear thin, I insisted that she drive us to Greylake before clouds caused the light to diminish to such an extent that photography proved pointless. Luckily there wasn't a cloud in the sky, but from past experience, as soon as I usually arrive at a nature reserve, a cloud manifests itself from nowhere and precedes to hang around for the duration of my stay, often deciding to drop rain on my equipment for good measure!
   After getting stuck behind every Sunday driver, learner driver, tractor and milk float in Somerset, we finally arrived at Greylake!! Incredibly the sun was still shining!
 We didn't have much time, so immediately walked to the hide, where the usual hundreds of Wigeon and Teal fed or rested on the wet grassland in front of us. We scanned the birds looking for anything different or unusual. There were a few Mallard and Shoveler, and even a lone Pintail, which was roosting right in front of the hide but would have been easily missed in the crowds! Pintails are gorgeous ducks, and rarely seen in large numbers, ones or twos being most likely.
   Then my love spotted a Snipe. There are usually Snipe at Greylake, but they blend in well with the vegetation and grasses and are quite small so are easily overlooked! In all there must've been 4 or 5 dotted about, but in recent years there have been flocks of 50-100 birds! Maybe more will appear as the Winter rolls on.
   On the walk back to the car park we saw a Heron, another overhead Snipe and a couple of Moorhens running across the track. Surprisingly we didn't see a single bird of prey, although I saw Brian Sweeting when I arrived and he reported that there had been a Marsh Harrier and Peregrine earlier in the day! As always, it's all about timing, but just experiencing the atmosphere of the reserve and getting out in the fresh air is priceless, no matter what birds you do or don't see!
    My love drove me home where my sofa was calling, it had missed me..... as had the Christmas chocolates....

Below are some of the pictures I took during my brief visit;

^ Above ^ - Snipe

^ Above ^ - Shoveler (Top 2 female, bottom 2 male)

^ Above ^ - Pintail

^ Above ^ - Mallard

^ Above ^ - Teal

^ Above ^ - Wigeon

^ Above ^ - Wigeon and Teal in front of the hide.

^ Above ^ - Grey Heron

^ Above ^ - Greylake reeds

^ Above ^ - My love, Nick, at Greylake

^ Above ^ - Male Chaffinch.

^ Above ^ - Female Reed Bunting.

^ Above ^ - Starlings in the car park!