Sunday 8 September 2019

Some of the highlights form our recent tours on the Somerset Levels.

We Normally run our tours at the RSPB’s Ham Wall reserve, so on one fine morning, stopping at the rail bridge we scanned around and found a couple of Chiffchaff and heard Cetti's Warblers calling, we headed on down the path to the first viewing platform (VP1) where we had a brief view of a Kingfisher sat on a post, next we saw a Marsh Harrier and a Buzzard also Great White Egrets. Little Grebes and Water Rails were calling. Next we heard the pinging calls of Bearded tits coming from deep within the reedbed, so a bit of patience was required which soon paid off with a flock of 25 birds seen moving around the reedbeds some giving good scope views albeit brief ones. We have had a lots of success with the Bearded tits the last few tours and had some of the best sightings of this difficult to see bird.

With all the water around you always see a lot of duck species we have encountered Gadwall, Mallard, Shoverler, Teal and a few Wigeon and Pochard on our tours. also Marsh harriers are a common sight and if you sit tight in the main hide you get some very close views of them, we have seen a few food passes taking place this year always nice to see this taking place. Bitterns too are a lot easier to see here than other place and we have been very lucky in seeing several birds in the air together, with some coming very close to the hides at times.

On some of the wetter muddy area we found flocks of waders that consisted of Black tailed godwit, Knot, Wood and Green sandpipers also Lawping,Snipe and Redshank.

Butterflies are encountered all over Ham Wall with a good list of them seen on our tours, a couple of good places to look are around the flower beds in the car park and along the main track where there are a few buddliea bushes. On our last visit we saw Painted lady and a Clouded Yellow both of these are migrants that visit us over the summer months.

We sometimes come across Roe Deer when out early but as soon as more visitors arrive they seem to disappear and hide.

We did find some tiny baby Harvest Mice out on the path so cute but very vulnerable.

We also visit Shapwick Heath which  has a large body of water so you always get a few different birds here.

From Noah’s Hide we heard Water Rail calling, and saw over 100 Mute Swans, along with Little and Great White Egrets, Canada and Greylag Geese, and Great Crested Grebes, we also saw a Bittern fly in and land in the nearby reedbed all good sightings. Also we have seen a few Black Tern from here this summer.

An Osprey normally stops off here on route back to Africa and this year we were lucky to be around when one showed up, again some wonderful close views from the hide on Noah's lake. This lake has been a good place this year with a great sighting of over 50 Hobbies on one not so good spring morning a truly unforgettable experience.

We sometimes come across Otters when out and about but you do need to be out early for these, all though you do sometimes come across them in the middle of the day.

We sometimes visit a small reserve called Catcott lows, this year Cattle Egrets have been common here with over 100 birds around at different times. Over the summer months we have seen some wonderful wildlife experience on the Somerset levels, now looking forward to the approaching winter which will bring in many thousands of wildfowl..DT