It started with another complete blank on the great grey shrike at Shapwick Heath. Indeed that end of the reserve was so quiet that I could only amuse myself by commuting between the sunniest spots out of the wind. Fortunately there were several and it was quite pleasant.
I sandwiched a couple of sessions round a coffee and cookie at the Peat Moors, RIP. The wind being bitter, I then drove to the Noah’s Hide end in hope of the reported firecrest. I did get one marsh harrier and one pintail and two Bewick’s swans. I didn’t think twice about the swans until they began to look too large and the hide’s logbook noted several whoopers but nary a Bewick’s.
I checked them again. Bill pattern good. Size… Size? Hard to tell. Bigger than Canada geese and bigger than cormorants, as you’d expect. I wanted them next to one of the many mute swans but as soon as the pair drifted near, they took off and sulked at the back of the lake. I could imagine them being smaller and I think the bills were diagnostic anyway. I’m taking them for a new Somerset species.
I wish I could do the same for the firecrest. One goldcrest did flit by on the way out of the hide along with another small jobbie. My peerings through the willows did net me one creamy supercilium but what it belonged to was denied me by intervening branches. It could have been a yellow-browed for all I know so that’ll have to be one that got away.
I’d spent so long on all this IDing that dusk was falling and with it flocks of fieldfares and redwings. So I could whip over to RSPB Ham Wall for the starling roost, which never attained swirly skies status but did produce a reedbed full of birds and quite the susurration. It was a day of ‘close but not quite’.