I think it is fair to say that I have had worse days birding. It is also fair to say that I underestimated how much I would see today. Just mallard, gulls, moorhen, and mandarin I thought. Boy was I wrong!
It's a short walk from my house to my local park, Yeovil Country Park, or Ninesprings to the locals (for the park has 9 water springs). Ninesprings is an area of wooded terrain, surrounding the course of the River Yeo at the south side of Yeovil. There is a large pond and a vast array of streams and brooks which all contribute towards the River Yeo.
Most of the time the pond is populated by black headed and herring gulls, moorhen and mallard, with an escaped/released population of mandarin ducks. In the summer months, doves, pigeons and more gulls visit the park to feast on the vast amount of bread left by the human visitors to the park. Most of which is ignored by the already full ducks, pigeons and gulls to sink to the bottom of the pond. Heaven knows what in on the bed of that pond!!!
Observing the handful of ducks, I heard a small 'peep' coming from behind me. Spinning around I noticed what it was. "Oh, just a moorhen" I thought to myself. Hang on a sec, slightly different colouration, longer and different colour bill. "WATER RAIL!" I gasped. My friend Oli who joined me on this excursion rushed over. He was trying to photograph a distant gull. "Nice find!" Oli replied, hurrying to take a photo of it. I was very proud of my work.
A walk around the pond produced another water rail on the other side of the pond. Here, however, the path was muddy and the soles my shoes caked in mud. A wipe on some grass cleared the majority of the mud.
Elsewhere on my walk around Ninesprings produced the standard moorhen, mallard, black headed gull, herring gull, woodpigeon, carrion crow, blackbird, robin and wren, along with two little grebes, two lesser redpolls, two buzzards, great tits, coal tit, grey wagtail and a handful of mandarin from an originally captive group.
I returned the next day to check out my new scope, a Barr and Stroud Sahara 20-60x80 spotting scope. Didn't see the water rail again.
Here are a few photos from the two days: