Red Breasted Merganser, Black Redstart, Whooper Swan and Hawfinch!

Happy New Year to all the visitors of my blog!I always look forward to the start of a new year as it means I can restart my birding year list and try to beat my previous years total!Last year I saw 151 species in all, which isn't too bad considering I ...

Happy New Year to all the visitors of my blog!
I always look forward to the start of a new year as it means I can restart my birding year list and try to beat my previous years total!
Last year I saw 151 species in all, which isn't too bad considering I rarely leave Somerset, and when I do it's only to the neighbouring Counties of Devon and Dorset.
  Also last year, I kept a photographic diary of the birds I'd seen on this blog for the first time, which I really enjoyed doing! You can see the list and photo's HERE
   In fact, I enjoyed it so much, I'm doing one for 2018 also! You can see how I'm doing so far HERE
It's the 13th of January as I write, and I have already seen half of my total for 2017! I'm on 76 species, but now most of the common birds are seen, it gets much harder from now on! I love a challenge though, so look forward to attempting to beat last years total and photographing as many of the birds as possible!
   I've seen and photographed some great birds so far. At Cheddar I was in the right place at the right time to see my first ever Red Breasted Merganser! These Sawbill ducks are rarely seen inland, so it was very unusual to see it on the reservoir!
  I went looking for Cranes at  Stathe in Somerset, where they have been part of a well known  reintroduction program. It was stormy, freezing and blowing a gale! I couldn't see the Cranes but managed a photo of a Whooper Swan, which is an uncommon Winter visitor. It was only when I got home to sort the photo's that I saw the Cranes in the field behind the Swan!!
    Brean Down near Weston Super Mare has been a very good and reliable spot for Black Redstarts in recent years, and sure enough when I visited a few days ago one soon came down to greet me on the rocks! They are such confiding birds and this female posed beautifully! I also had a Wren come down to pose for me, these are usually difficult to get a clear shot of and are not usually out in the open for more than a few seconds!
   I had to go to Bicknoller on the Quantock Hills in the week so popped into the churchyard there as a Hawfinch had been seen there recently. Sure enough, I saw it straight away, a heavy looking beautiful bird, high in the treetops! It was very flighty and not a poser at all, but I managed a few distant photo's. Whilst there a Siskin flew over, a much smaller Finch, but also a beauty!
    One day I popped into Bowling Green Marsh near Exeter in Devon. It's a reserve at the mouth of river Exe and a great place for Avocets and many other waders and wildfowl! I was struck by the amount of Brent Geese that continued to fly inland from the Estuary in small groups. There must have been hundreds in total!
   Out on the estuary itself the tide was far out but there were thousands of waders and wildfowl silhouetted by the sun stretching across the vast mudflats! I just about made out a group of Avocets amongst them, all resting and taking it easy! My first ever sighting of these delightful waders!
    As well as these rarer birds, I've photographed plenty of the commomer species as well, especially at my local RSPB reserve, Greylake, on the Somerset Levels. The car park and feeding stations allow me to practice getting little birds in flight. Not an easy task at all, but as I've already pointed out, I love a challenge! :)
  Finally, I've already seen 2 gorgeous Foxes this year! Both times they were out in a countryside field alongside a busy main road! They're a delight to see and a stunningly beautiful animal! Country Foxes always look far healthier than their urban cousins! I was thrilled to get some shots of these beauties. How anyone can hunt them I really don't know...

  Below are pictures of everything mentioned above, plus loads more including Peregrine, Redwing, Greenshank and Green Woodpecker!

 Enjoy! :)

^Above^ - Red Breasted Merganser at Cheddar Reservoir

^Above^ - Black Redstart at Brean Down

^Above^ - Whooper Swan and distant Cranes at Stathe.

^Above^ - Hawfinch at Bicknoller churchyard.

^Above^ - Wren at Brean Down.

^Above^ - Rock Pipit at Brean Down.

^Above^ - Robin at Brean Down.

^Above^ - Pair of Mandarin Ducks at Cheddar reservoir.

^Above^ - Blackbirds in my village.

^Above^ - Chiffchaff in my village.

^Above^ - Goldfinches in my village.

^Above^ - Buzzard in my village.

^Above^ - Foxes in Somerset.

^Above^ - Great Spotted Woodpecker with Starling and Collared Dove in my village.

^Above^ - Male House Sparrow in my village.

^Above^ - Jackdaw in my village.

^Above^ - Long Tailed Tits in my village.

^Above^ - Pied Wagtail in my village.

^Above^ - Redwing in my village.

^Above^ - Robin in my village.

^Above^ - Rabbits in my village.

^Above^ - Starling in my village.

^Above^ - Stock Dove in my village.

^Above^ - Woodpigeon in my village.

^Above^ - Pied Wagtails at Cheddar reservoir.

^Above^ - Tufted Duck at Cheddar reservoir.

^Above^ - Blue Tits at RSPB Greylake.

^Above^ -  Chaffinches at RSPB Greylake.

^Above^ - Dunnocks at RSPB Greylake.

^Above^ - Fieldfares at RSPB Greylake.

^Above^ - Great Tits at RSPB Greylake.

^Above^ - Robins at RSPB Greylake.

^Above^ - Starling at RSPB Greylake.

^Above^ - Gadwall at RSPB Greylake.

^Above^ - House Sparrows at RSPB Greylake.

^Above^ - Kestrel at Greylake.

^Above^ - Lapwing at Greylake.

^Above^ - Mallards at Greylake.

^Above^ - Marsh Harriers at Greylake.

^Above^ - Mute Swans at Greylake (top) and Stathe.

^Above^ - Raven at Greylake.

^Above^ - Redwing at Greylake.

^Above^ - Reed Buntings at Greylake.

^Above^ - Shovelers at Greylake.

^Above^ - Teal at Greylake.

^Above^ - Wigeon at Greylake.

^Above^ - Grey Heron near Mark in Somerset.

^Above^ - Little Egret near Mark.

^Above^ - Peregrine Falcons at Brean Down.

^Above^ - Jackdaw at Brean Down.

^Above^ - Magpie at Brean Down.

^Above^ - Pheasant near Bleadon in Somerset.

^Above^ - Black Headed Gulls at Cheddar reservoir.

^Above^ - Common Gull with apple core chased by Black Headed Gull at Cheddar.

^Above^ - Coot at Cheddar.

^Above^ - Pochard at Cheddar.

^Above^ - Great Crested Grebes at Cheddar.

^Above^ - Green Woodpecker at Cheddar.

^Above^ - Magpie at Cheddar.

^Above^ - Long Tailed Tit at Cheddar.

^Above^ - Goldcrest at Cheddar.

^Above^ - Buzzard near East Brent.

^Above^ - Grey Wagtail near Wedmore.

^Above^ - Dunnock at Bicknoller.

^Above^ - Siskin at Bicknoller.

^Above^ - Rook at Bicknoller.

^Above^ - Shy Squirrel at Bicknoller.

^Above^ - Redwing near East Brent.

^Above^ - Greenshank at Bowling Green Marsh in Devon.

^Above^ - Redshanks at Bowling Green Marsh.

^Above^ - Redwings at Bowling Green Marsh.

^Above^ - Shoveler at Bowling Green.

^Above^ - Wigeon at Bowling Green.

^Above^ - Woodpigeon at Bowling Green.

^Above^ - Brent Geese at Bowling Green.

^Above^ - Black Tailed Godwits at Bowling Green.

^Above^ - Blackbirds at Bowling Green.

^Above^ - Great Tit at Bowling Green.

^Above^ - Canada Geese, Greylag Geese, Black Tailed Godwits & a yawning Fox at Bowling Green!

^Above^ - Canada Geese at Bowling Green.

^Above^ - Robin at Bowling Green.

^Above^ - Song Thrushes at Bowling Green.

^Above^ - Dunnock at Bowling Green.

^Above^ - Avocets on the Exe estuary.

^Above^ - Dunlin on the Exe estuary.

^Above^ - Shelduck on the Exe estuary.

^Above^ - Black Cat on a post near Rooksbridge in Somerset.

^Above^ - Dog having fun at Cheddar reservoir.

^Above^ - Cows in my village. :)