Friday 28 April 2017

Stunning Somerset Levels

Before we had even left the car park at RSPB's Ham Wall we were listening to garden warbler and blackcap. Two species we got to know well and could tell the difference between. We also heard dunnock, wren, robin, chaffinch, blue tit, chiffchaff, song thrush and great tit

As we started down the track, we were finding new warbler species as well as more garden warbler and blackcap. We picked up willow warbler,  cetti’s warbler and whitethroat singing in the scrub reed-side habitat. 

We started to notice hirundines and had soon seen swift, swallow, house martin and sand martin.
Sedge and reed warbler were also quickly found.

In the sheltered spots it soon became obvious that dragonflies and damselflies were on the wing.
hairy-looking hairy dragonfly

On the water we watched a pair of great crested grebe, as well as pochard, coot, cormorant, shoveler, mallard, tufted duck, gadwall, teal and little grebe.We eventually started picking up the odd marsh harrier.

There were five species of heron seen during before lunch! Besides the great white and little egret, flying around there were a few booming bittern, we eventually saw a few flying around. We also saw one of the glossy ibis on the far side of the pool, not quite as good as last year! It was a struggle to see a grey heron and we eventually found just the one.

At the final viewing point we hit a purple patch with two hobby flying around catching insects, two cuckoo chasing each other and seven whimbrel sat quietly on an island – brilliant stuff!

As we worked our way back along the screens, we managed to find a male garganey who decided to get out of the water just in case we hadn’t seen what a dapper chap he was.

After lunch we headed out to look around Shapwick Heath.

We were soon picking up more garden warbler in the scrub and there was a very showy male whitethroat in the car park.

At the first pool we saw a lovely flock of black-tailed godwit, some of which were in their full summer finery. A cursory glance at a little egret showed that it was in fact a cattle egret, that was soon joined by ten of its friends – here’s nine of them and our sixth species of heron of the day!
nine cattle egret

We carried on to Noah’s hide where we saw a male wigeon and a very fast-passing kingfisher. Next to appear where at least five hobby who put on a great show until the rain arrived. The stars however where the mute swans with their wrestling antics and a little egret who had worked out his own special form of fish-tickling.  
Fish-tickling little egret

Next, we popped to the viewing point behind Noah’s hide and were treated to the male marsh harrier cruising around and beating up a buzzard who was deemed to be too close.

After a brief visit to the last hide we headed back to the car park – another great day! (NA)

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