Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Spring on the Levels


We started on Ham Wall RSPB reserve with the last of the showers passing overhead.  

Before we had even left the car park we were listening to, blue tit, chiffchaff, robin and blackcap.
As we started down the track, we were finding new species and soon added  willow warbler and  Cetti’s warbler

A quick look at the first reed bed gave us our first view of great white egret this chap was stood behind some mute swan and looked every bit as big.  

We reached our first cover and were soon seeing a nice selection of waterfowl, including great crested grebe, as well as lesser black-backed gull, coot, cormorant, shoveler, moorhen, mallard, tufted duck, gadwall, teal, grey heron and little grebe

Great Crested Grebe


A  kingfisher was nice enough to pitch on the reeds opposite us so we could get a reasonable look at it. Perhaps my favourite bird of the day was the long-tailed tit who was a metre or so from us and completely oblivious to us watching – brilliant!

A few swallow, and sand martin were feeding over the lakes and our heads.  

As we worked our way along the footpath, we continued to pick up new species including great tit, blackbird, wren, dunnock, reed warbler, song thrush, chaffinch, goldfinch, lesser redpoll and brambling.

Male teal


At the second viewing point we had great views of a male marsh harrier and a pair of bittern flying around and around like a couple of WW1 fighters in a dogfight!

On our way back to the car park we heard a distant tawny owl hooting and picked up great spotted woodpecker for our every growing list. We were also able to compare the great white egret to the much smaller little egret.

After lunch we worked our way around Shapwick Heath where we saw a few extra birds from Noah’s Hide such as  wigeon as well as snipe, herring gull, Canada Goose, greylag goose and black-headed gull.

At the last little hide we had fantastic views of another male marsh harrier, as well as one of his females and a male reed bunting singing from a willow.

The last bird of the day was an elusive Treecreeper in the wet woodland.

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

Saturday, 7 April 2018

A trip to Arne

Today saw us at the RSPB  Reserve of Arne on the Dorest coast.

Behind the small information centre they have a feeding station which attracts several species into feed. Several chaffinch, blue tit , great tit are the main birds but nuthatch, siskin and coal tit were all seen.

Both green and Great spotted woodpeckers were heard and then seen flying around the treetops.

On our walk to the marsh several Chiffchaff were seen and heard singing along with a single willow warbler all newly arrived for the summer breeding season. We also had a fine view of a treecreeper feeding in the trees.

Out on the marsh several Curlew were found along with oystercatchers, shelduck, teal, little egret and Great Crested Grebe out on the water. Before we moved on a Fox ran across the marsh putting up a few birds as it went.

Moving onto another area we saw a couple of Sika deer hiding in the foliage very common here at Arne.

From our next viewpoint around 600 black tailed godwits were feeding on the mud all in various stages of plumage with some showing off their fine rich red bellies.

A couple of buzzards drifted slowly along the back tree line making the godwits fly up giving a fantastic view as the wheeled around in front of us.

On our walk around the Heath we picked up a single wheatear along with a few displaying meadow pipits.

Looking out again over the marsh a few swallows and martins moved through at a fast pace not looking at stopping, also a few sandwich tern were plunge diving out in the bay. Several gulls were loafing around on the sandbanks which included black headed, lesser black backed and a couple of greated black backed gulls picked out.

With the weather closing in we returned to the car and called it a day.

Not the best of conditions for a spring day but still a lot going on and well worth being out and about at this fantastic reserve.DT