A MASSIVE project to create a wild-life habitat on the Steart Peninsula is already attracting rare birds, despite still being under construction.

A rare white-rumped sandpiper has been spotted at the £20million development, which involves flooding large areas to create a 488-acre visitor attraction on the peninsula, north-east of Stockland Bristol, near Bridgwater.

The habitat, which will be managed by the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT) on behalf of the Environment Agency, has been attracting a host of rare birds and has seen bird watchers flock to the area this week.

Tim McGrath, from WWT, said: “It is rather unexpected. We’re in the middle of construction so there are a lot of large diggers rumbling around the site.

“There’s one small field that hasn’t drained but it has been simply teeming with birds over the last weeks, despite being surrounded by this hubbub.

“We’re thrilled though. With birds like this turning up now, just imagine how it will be when the diggers are gone and we have 500 hectares of wetland, rather than just one field.”

The white-rumped sandpiper, which was blown off course on its migration from Canada to South America, is now recovering on a flooded field.

Photographer and birdwatcher Tim Taylor took photos of the rare bird. He said: “It’s exciting to see all the work underway. Somerset is already such a great place for birding - boosting it further will be a dream.”

Other birds found in the area now include the pectoral sandpiper, wood sandpiper, glossy ibis and spoonbill.

Former fields have been landscaped into channels and embankments before the current sea wall is breached next year, letting in the tide and creating coastal wetland.

The River Parrett Trail will also be realigned, giving views across the coastline and freshwater wetlands.