On Friday morning the group met in a tiny village next to a ancient site and plunged down a steep hill to the car park. As someone else had just arrived we turned right and made a long walk to a brand new hide up some steps. We flushed a pair of Green Sandpipers on the way, but didn't see an awful lot of birds here. We were able to watch for several minutes a very smart Fox, and even saw it pounce on some prey. Only a few minutes later, Alison pointed out another predator on the opposite side to us. Hidden in the trees was a female Barn Owl. unfortunately, as we were watching her she moved higher up the tree and was soon lost to sight before everyone managed to lock on to her. When we arrived at the hide we found the only birds were visible from the far right window. There were plenty of dabbling Teal, and about 5 Ruff, all of different sizes and plumages.
We retraced our steps and headed for the site's main hide. On the way we saw some clear Otter prints, where the animal had hauled itself out of the water, and climbed a steep bank. As we reached the hide at least 1 or possibly 2 Kingfishers flew away. Later, in the hide one was visible for a few seconds as it flew west. Then about 20 minutes later 2 flew past over the water and headed towards the NW corner of the reserve. It seemed as though one was chasing another out of its territory.
From the hide at least 70 Avocets were busy feeding, while slightly fewer Black-tailed Godwits were roosting on the edge of the water. A couple of Ruffs flew in later. A distant Marsh Harrier drifted over the reeds ahead of us, but was lost to sight fairly quickly. Some Curlews flew from behind the hide, but only 1 dropped in front so us, the others disappeared over the reeds. A flock of ducks arrived, which included a pair of Shovelers. A Little Egret stalked a channel very close to the hide, but ultimately kept its distance. However, the highlight here was a Water Rail, which crossed from one patch of reeds to another right in front of the hide. Nearly everyone got very decent views. On the way back we saw a brief glimpse of a flying Greenshank as it flew towards the area we had just left.
Water Rail Scuttling for cover