Sunday 26 November 2017

Somerset Levels in November

As we planned to finish with the starling roost that has recently been on Ham Wall, we started on Shapwick Heath NNR.

We were soon hearing the first of many well-hidden cetti’s warblers. A sound we became very familiar with!

Many of the berries had already been eaten, but there were still a few blackbird  finishing off the last ones. Other species seen at the star included blue tit, great tit, robin, wren and dunnock.
As we reached the reeds we were soon watching a great white egret flying by on those massive wings.

A movement in the reeds betrayed the presence of a female stonechat, who put on a great show.
Female stonechat

A squealing noise from nearby was a water rail having spotted another nearby. We were next distracted we a fantastic male marsh harrier that lifted from the nearby reeds and headed off into the distance. This was quickly followed by the pinging of a couple of bearded tits, the male was good enough to land in full view for a brief period.

On the first pool there was a nice selection of waterfowl including: coot, gadwall, teal, wigeon, tufted duck, shoveler, mute swan and cormorant.

The next species of heron was soon flying by in the shape of a bittern which gave prolonged views, albeit from behind as is headed across the reedbed.

As we worked our way towards the next hide, we picked up goldcrest in the trees, along with chiffchaff, chaffinch and long-tailed tit. We heard a noise form the birch and alder across the river and detoured to look at siskin, lesser redpoll and goldfinch feeding on the seeds and cones.
As we headed to Noah’s hide, we had brilliant views of another great white egret.

great white egret

At Noah’s hide we saw a distant marsh harrier sat on a tree as well as a sleeping male pintail also black-headed gull, lesser black-backed gull and herring gull were new.

The next hide was quiet for birds, but insects were taking advantage of the late morning sun to warm up on the wood, this included a lovely make ruddy darter.

It was then back to the car park for lunch and a nice cup of coffee from the RSPB hut.
We were soon hearing more cetti’s warbler and water rail along the tracks in Ham Wall. At the first viewing point we had decent views of common snipe, little grebe teal and mallard.

 Another detour to look from the Taw view hide paid off when the shout ‘bittern’ went up from the other side of the hide, we were son getting great views of the bird hiding in the reeds.
Bittern in the bottom right corner

We headed next to the Avalon hide where we were lucky of see enough to see an adult male marsh harrier quartering the reed bed right in front of the hide with the sun on him – fantastic!
We headed for the final viewing platform, where we saw some splendid lapwing catching the afternoon sun. We also picked up Canada goose, and greylag goose  here.

It was then back to the car park to watch the starling come into roost, we picked the middle site which meant we saw the birds heading in large flocks of tens of thousands to the other roost as well as seeing many, many thousands whooshing down into the reeds near us.  A perfect end to a great day! (NA)

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