Friday 21 August 2015

Late summer tour on the Somerset Levels

With the summer drawing to a close we set out with added interest of what we might see today with the autumn migration now well under way.

Our client today had never seen a Bittern so with all the latest breeding success here on the Levels we know we had a good chance of finding one today.

As we started off you could tell we would have to work harder today to find the birds as there was very little in the way of bird song coming from the trees and bushes.

At our first stop a Great White Egret was seen lurking about in the reedbed, the reedbeds are now very tall which made it difficult to see much else around. We moved on to another vantage point and found a Barn Owl sat outside of its nest box enjoying the early morning sunshine.

Next stop would prove to be better as the reeds had been cut back to give better views of the muddy margins and pools.


Several Lapwing and Little Egret could be seen flying in and out of the pools, with a few Mallard and Gadwall sat resting on them.

As we were admiring the many butterflies which were on the wing I saw a shape fly out of the reedbed to my right, Bittern just what we hoped for, it did not stay in the air for long before dropping down into the reedbed but we still had a wonderful view. This was one of four Bittern sightings throughout the day with one bird flying in over our left shoulder again giving a great view as it drifted away to the far side of the reserve. (one happy client!)

As we decided to head for another location a small bird flew in and landed on a dead tree not to far away, and on closer inspection was a Spotted Flycatcher doing what they do so well dashing out from the branch and snapping flies out of the air!.

Next it was back for a spot of lunch.

After lunch we headed for the scrape area which is very good for waders if the water levels are right. Today we were in luck with eight different waders out on the waters edge, five Green Sandpipers, two Wood Sandpipers very easy to identify when they stand next to each other, also two Ruff, two Greenshank,Snipe and Redshank with 50+ Black Tailed Godwit and 25 Lapwing. Also Little and Great White Egrets which help to show the size comparison between the two when stood close to each other, also a female Gargany with the many ducks sat around the edge of the small island.

We stayed on into the evening and was rewarded with a female Marsh Harrier hunting over the reedbed all in all another great day at one of my favourite places.DT

Total Bird species 66
Total Butterfly species 10

Friday 14 August 2015

My favourite time of the year...

I'm a big fan of the Autumn, I love the fast changing colours in the woodlands, the fresher nights and the birds on the move.

In an around the Cotswolds we have birds from here heading to their wintering grounds, birds passing through, using the area as a service station and birds coming here for the winter.

Virtually all the swifts have gone from where I live on the edge of the Marlborough Downs, I saw a single bird hunting over the houses last night.

There are birds starting to pass through as well, I've recently seen a few redstart catching flies from fencelines and soon we will have meadow pipits passing over.

I am planning to start checking for migrating birds more regularly from tomorrow, by heading to the hills and seeing what is flying over.

It is very addictive! If you fancy coming along, let us know! (NA)