Monday, 25 April 2016

First's Of The Year!

Date: 25th April 2016
Location: Westhay > Ham Wall > Shapwick Heath - Somerset Levels
Weather: Cloudy, Sunny Intervals, Showers + Windy
Other Species: 8+ Blackcap, Little Egret, Cetti's Warbler, Great-Crested Grebe, Reed Warbler, Gadwall, Cormorant, Reed Bunting, Willow Warbler, Bittern, Chiffchaff, Sparrowhawk, Song Thrush, Barn Swallow, House Martin, Sand Martin, 6+ Swift, Goldcrest, Pochard, Shoveler, 1 Brambling, Siskin, Sedge Warbler, 1 Glossy Ibis, 12 Greenshank, 4 Marsh Harrier, 2 Great White Egret, 1 Garganey, 1 Common Sandpiper, 1 Buzzard, Teal, 1 Hobby, 1 Whitethroat - Of Note - 62 Species Total

Observation: A visit to the Somerset Levels was in order, in the hope of seeing some spring migrants. We stopped off at Westhay first, the hides were pretty quiet but there were plenty of birds in song around the Reserve including Willow Warbler, Blackcap and Chiffchaff. There were also a few booming Bittern's.

On exiting Westhay, there were approx 200 Mute Swan present in the nearby fields, gave quite a backdrop with Glastonbury Tor distant.

We arrived at Ham Wall for around 11am, so the car-park was nice and quiet, there were plenty of House Martin, Sand Martin and Barn Swallow filling the skies around the reserve.

We also counted a group of 6 Swift but there were singles numbers about aswell so the possibility for a few more.

Walking around Walton's Heath, the highlight was a female Roe Deer, who stopped for a few pictures before she returned eating.

A pair of Great-Crested Grebe's were close into the footpath, they looked stunning in the brief sunlight.

As we were joining the main track back at Viewpoint 2, a surprise find was a female Brambling, with a singular Siskin, who was fluttering from tree to tree before moving across the path where we couldn't relocate.

Plenty of singing Blackcaps also, we only seen 1 female, but around 10+ male Blackcaps.

At Viewpoint 2 (VP2), the long-staying Glossy Ibis was still present (first seen 13th September!).

A male Marsh Harrier spooked all the birds including the Glossy Ibis.

Just as we were leaving VP2, a Bittern took off and gave us some good views and photographs (for once!)

On returning along the new path towards Avalon Hide at the new screens, we spotted a male Garganey who was feeding approx 60 foot from us. We then got distracted by a male Sparrowhawk who flew within inches of us, then a Common Sandpiper landed in front the new screen. Excellent new screens by the RSPB, good job!

At the new Avalon Hide, a sudden flurry of action, we had a group of 4 Bittern following each other flying along the reeds and then a low-flying Marsh Harrier attacking a Crow, who came in quite close at times.

A quick visit to Shapwick Heath, was worth it as a fly-past Hobby took us to 60 species!

At Meare Heath Scrape, there were plenty of summer plumage Black-Tailed Godwit and a flock of 12 Greenshank flew in as the sun re-appeared.

The wind was picking up so we started heading back before hearing a Whitethroat and 2 fly-over Black-Headed Gull's taking our total for today to 62!
An excellent day as usual on the Somerset Levels and a new species count record for us !

Thanks For Looking !

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