Thursday, 1 March 2018

A chilly Somerset Levels

We started our walk on RSPB Ham Wall, heading to Shapwick Heath NNR in the afternoon.

One of the first things we saw was the pair of stonechat along the large drainage ditch.

Male stonechat

Many of the berries had long been eaten, but there were still a few blackbird and song thrush foraging around the bushes. Other species seen at the start included blue tit, great tit, robin, wren and dunnock.

At the first viewing point we picked up a nice selection of waterfowl: coot, great crested grebe, gadwall, teal, wigeon, tufted duck, pintail, shoveler, mallard, mute swan and cormorant.
We were lucky enough to catch some of the display of the grebes too – brilliant!

Other birds seen here included the first two of many marsh harrier, as well as a grey heron and a rather splendid glossy ibis

Great crested grebe not carrying a feather!

We had a brief detour to look for a kingfisher that proved elusive. But we did see little grebe, moorhen and pochard.

Just along the path and we bumped into a little egret next to a great white egret, perfect for comparisons!

As we carried on, we heard a few blasts of some well-hidden cetti’s warblers. As we worked our way along the scrub and bushes, we saw chaffinch and long-tailed tit as well as goldfinch feeding on the seeds and insects.

A brief check from the second viewing point provided more marsh harriers, then onto the return path from which we had great views of a male bullfinch feeding on buds.

We carried onto the Avalon hide where we had excellent views of waterfowl and more marsh harriers, some of which came very close to us.On our way back for lunch we picked up the slightly less elusive kingfisher in the same area as before.

The afternoon started with an even closer view of a male bullfinch. We heard more Cetti’s warblers and had brief views of a goldcrest moving through the vegetation. We headed for Noah’s Lake where we had very close views of a great crested grebe, grey heron and a common snipe. Out on the lakes there were 1000s of duck, included in their number was a male goldeneye.


A great day! (NA)

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