Thursday 10 October 2019

Weekend tour to Somerset Levels

We started on Shapwick Heath NNR this time. Before we had left the car park ten cattle egret flew over heading east – a good start!  

As we started down the track, we soon heard several bearded tit calling from the nearby reedbed, despite a rapid detour we couldn’t find them. We soon added  Cetti’s warbler, blue tit, great tit and long-tailed tit. A quick look at the first reed bed gave us our first view of great white egret chugging over the reeds and marsh harrier were immediately evident too.

Male marsh harrier

We reached our first pool and were soon seeing a nice selection of waterfowl, including coot, mute swan, cormorant, shoveler, moorhen, mallard, gadwall, teal, grey heron and little grebe. A couple of  kingfisher were zooming around the pool and another great white egret was popping in and out of the reads.

Coot having a good wash

A few swallow were zooming over on their way of South Africa for the winter.

As we worked out way along the footpath, through the woods to the next hide we continued to pick up new species including, blackbird, wren, dunnock, chaffinch, goldfinch, siskin, robin and an elusive goldcrest.

Onto the next pool where we saw a number of herring gull, black-headed gull, greylag goose and great crested grebe. Here we watched a young marsh harrier try to catch a wigeon on the water with almost disastrous consequences. Having plunged osprey-like into the lake it just managed to get free from the grip of the water and slink off to hide in a bit of cover in the middle of the lake. Lesson learnt hopefully.

After lunch we headed over onto Ham Wall RSPB.

We picked up a little egret at the first viewing point. As well as some great views of mixed flocks of waterfowl.

Great white egret

At the next viewing points we had great views of snipe and lapwing as well as more teal, wigeon, shoveler and gadwall.

At the final hide we a marsh harrier master class from a splendid adult male.

All-in-all a great day! (NA)