Shapwick Heath & Ham Wall RSPB, Somerset

Saturday 28th March 2009

A superb morning with Andy and Mark was spent on the Somerset Levels (photo above of Shapwick Heath). The showers coming in on the brisk westerly wind mostly missed us, and the sun shone for just about the whole time, although that wind kept the temperatures chilly. We managed to note 61 species between us, the highlights being:

Shapwick Heath

Photo above from Noah Hide, Shapwick Heath

Marsh Harriers - three in the air at the same time (poor record shot below!)
Sand Martins - c30
Swallow - two, my first of the year

Meare Heath

Photo above of Little Egrets at Meare Heath

Garganey - a lovely drake
Little Egrets - 12

Ham Wall RSPB
Bittern - this was the star bird, Mark caught a snatch of booming at midday, though distant, and after a little wait I had a glimpse of the bird moving a short distance in the reed-bed. We walked round to get closer, and soon the bird performed by giving several bursts of its booming call, each several minutes apart. This is the first time hearing booming Bitterns, for both Mark and myself, and this alone made the whole trip worthwhile.

Other highlights
Cetti's Warbler - all over the area, 16 singing males heard in all
Shoveler, Teal, Wigeon, Pochard, Gadwall - waterfowl not in the numbers you would see in the Winter but still a good variety

Another photo below looking towards Glastonbury Tor:

Other news from the week
Two Hawfinches were still present around the Dimore playing field in Quedgeley on Thursday morning (26th March) at 6.30pm.

A wait at Court Lake, Frampton, on Friday evening (27th March) hoping for the Cattle Egret to come in to roost was unsuccessful, although 17 Little Egrets did arrive. Earlier in the day I had seen five Little Egrets at Castlemeads, Gloucester.

A morning in the Forest of Dean last Sunday (22nd March) did produce three Goshawks from the viewpoint at New Fancy View and the Great Grey Shrike at Boys Grave clearing, but not much else of note around some of the other usual sites, e.g., Cannop, Brierley.


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