For the last 2 years or so I have been involved in conducting wetland bird surveys on the Somerset Levels. I have taken a break from it for a few months, while I get my head around the mental health issues I’ve been dealing with. Today however, I got back to it as I have been feeling ready to do so. Counts take place once a month on specified dates to enable coordination and today’s is the most important of the year as it coincides with the International Waterbird Census.

The species I see in the greatest abundance are Lapwings and Golden plover, and although I didn’t see many of the latter, approximately 2000 Lapwings passed overhead, probably enroute to their daytime feeding sites. Other species present included Little Egret, Great White Egret, Mute Swan1 , Cormorant, and Grey Heron. Generally, I will also see several species of duck, but oddly there were none present today.

It felt good to get back into it, and the decent weather certainly helped - it’s not always like this!


  1. The swans in the photo are a pair that I have become familiar with, plus two of last years’ cygnets, still looking rather brown. They usually nest in reeds right next to the track along which I walk and seem quite relaxed. [return]

Stephen James

Minding the gaps


© Stephen James 2021

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