Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Somerset Levels in July

We started our trip on Ham Wall RSPB reserve and despite the lateness of the date we were soon listening to and watching a number of warbler species. The first ones we encountered were blackcap, willow warbler , whitethroat and chiffchaff, all of which we heard and mostly saw very well. We also watched a family of reed warbler in a hawthorn bush. Our next warbler along the footpath was a garden warbler not seen but heard well, allowing the song to be compared to the blackcap. We also got to grips with robin, chaffinch, bullfinch, goldfinch, wren, blackbird, song thrush , long-tailed tit, blue tit and great tit.

We then saw our first little egret and bittern of the day flying over the reeds, as well as a buzzard, quickly followed by a marsh harrier.

We reached the first hide and were greeted by a number of waterbird families. We had great views of young great crested grebe, pochard, coot and tufted duck.

Female tufted duck and ducklings

Soon afterwards we had great views of a reed bunting, little grebe and mallard.
After that we headed onto the second viewing platform, on the way we listened to many blackcap, with the odd chiffchaff and whitethroat in the mix also. Swift were present over the reeds in good numbers and we saw the first of a number of great white egret loafing across the reeds.

While at the lookout point, we spotted a hobby hunting over the reeds with the swift. on the way however we were distracted by the flying antics of several hobby over the reedbed, mixing in with the swifts. We could see it catching insects in their feet and passing them to their mouths – great stuff!

From the viewing platforms we picked up a few more birds: lapwing,  gadwall and black-tailed godwit.

We headed for the tower hide, on the way to which we saw a cuckoo fly by, having heard one calling just earlier.

From the hide we had more great views of ducklings, this time coot, pochard and great crested grebe, as well as some young marsh harrier getting to grips with that flying malarkey.

After lunch we headed out onto Shapwick Heath where we heard cetti’s warblers singing well, as well as more whitethroat.

Great crested grebe adult with a hungry chick

We picked up shoveler in with the gadwall on the first pool. On the opposite side we watched the antics of two recently fledged marsh harrier, practising food passes, that came in very useful when the male turned up with food.

We saw similar things from the other hides, more marsh harrier, great white egrets and bittern! (NA)

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