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Post Info TOPIC: Somerset


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RE: Somerset


On our way to Cornwall on our latest SW holiday we also stopped off in Somerset when one message popped up on my pager. Parking was surprisingly easy and we headed onto Berrow beach near Burnham on Sea. After a short search we relocated the juvenile Sabine's Gull feeding along the strand line down to 10 feet. The bird gave stunning views as it flittered along restlessly picking through the washed up detritus. Other species of note were Sanderling and Knot, but the gull was the star!

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Another local day in Somerset starting at Ham Wall RSPB. Birdwise relatively quiet albeit a few Great White Egrets seen as well as a Bittern in flight. A feeding flock of birds in the reedbeds included 12 Long-tailed Tits, 2 Reed Warblers, a Whitethroat and 2 Chiffchaffs as well as Blue & Great Tits. Next we headed to Westhay Moor NR where the highlight was a Bearded Tit. Several Cetti's Warblers were heard and another Bittern was seen. A Water Rail was watched at the edge of the reedbeds too. Another Reed Warbler was seen and then that was it, retire to the Ring O'Bells pub in Ashcott for a fab meal & a couple of pints, and our holiday had come to the end! A fantastic time has been had & I would wholeheartedly recommend this part of the world to anyone. Somerset is often passed through on the way to more fashionable holiday destinations but is a great place in its own right!

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Stayed local today, starting with a Crane hunt a few miles from our B&B. 23 Common Cranes in total were seen, 16 on Aller Moor and 7 on West Sedge Moor. These are from the Great Crane Project and always great to see, especially so today as they included young birds born in the wild this year. Next we visited Greylake RSPB where 3 Marsh Harriers and calling Cetti's Warblers and Water Rails were recorded. We finished the day at Shapwick Heath/Ham Wall. Here 8 Great White Egrets together were a splendid sight on Meare Heath Scrape. Several Little Egrets and 7 Snipe were also here. Another Great White Egret was at Ham Wall from Avalon Hide.

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Back in Somerset on holiday this week & had a cracking first half day at Ham Wall RSPB and Shapwick Heath NR. Top bird was a Glossy Ibis which we refound on the scrape at Shapwick at 6.15pm after it had been missing all day. 3 Great White Egrets were here too whilst a fourth was over on Ham Wall. A close flypast Bittern was seen at Ham Wall too. Other highlights included Marsh Harrier, Water Rail & 15+Little Egrets. All this on our first afternoon, sunny too, loving it!!

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A short holiday in Somerset (17th-23rd July, 2016) included the following highlights, sorry for late post but the sites & sightings may be of help to other birders:

Ham Wall RSPB - Little Bittern (male) heard calling & seen once in flight (details of recent locations on the reserve on the Somerset Birds web page), a Glossy Ibis (near viewing platform 2 most of the time but elusive), up to 5 Great White Egrets showing very well, at least 4 Marsh Harriers (males & females), a Green Sandpiper, lots of Little Egrets, Water Rails & a few Cetti's Warblers.

Collard Hill - Hobby, Green Woodpecker, Redstart.

West Sedgemoor - Common Crane (pair).



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6th April 2016.

with Ian Lyth.

Tealham Moor.

Good views of a White Stork from about 40 yards ..... stood in a field at 14.00 hrs.

Shapwick Heath.

Glossy Ibis.
Gargany drake.
Greenshank.

Roger.






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Unbelievable day at Ham Wall yesterday with multiples of great birds.

9 Bitterns all in flight
10 Great White Egret mainly in flight
1 Common Crane
9 Grey Heron
9 Hobby
3 Marsh Harrier

Also 2 Hummingbird Hawk Moths

Stunning sight and stunning weather

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Late post for Tuesday visiting Shapwick Heath and adjacent Ham Wall RSPB.
Undoubted highlight were 3 Bittern in flight, with 2 together at the former site giving prolonged views. Many others booming away too.
The reported Wryneck remained elusive, but many others showed well.
2 Great White Egret
3 Marsh Harrier
7 Cettis Warbler
Hobby
Water Rail
3 Cuckoo
Many Reed Warbler
Spotted Flycatcher at entrance to Ham Wall
4 Little Egret

Add to this all the 'usual' wetland birds and migrants and a fantastic wildlife experience.

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The saga of the Hudsonian Godwit nearly drove me mad. First day present, Saturday 25th April - a work day, then missing on my day off Sunday, missing Monday & Tuesday, the latter a day off again, then present Wednesday & Thursday, both work days!!! This was getting personal! So everything was crossed for Friday 1st May, awake at 6am the RBA Early channel was checked and the bird confirmed as present at 6.30am smile

I sprang into action, q.breakfast, pack-up made and was on the road by 7.30am. The average speed camera sections of M6 and M5 were annoying but good time was made & only 3 and a bit hours later I was at Ham Wall RSPB car park. Having been to these reserves many times (as a relative lives close by) it was great knowing where to go & helped reduce my time getting there. The car park was surprisingly empty so I parked & yomped rapidly to the 'Drained Lagoon' as it is called by locals on the Meare Heath side of the reserve. The godwit flock was at the back of the lagoon but the Hudsonian Godwit was easily picked out through a scope first, but even through bins, due to it's darker plumage, relief, on the list!! Joining Manchester birders Rob Smallwood & Mike Ribbands we watched & were eventually treated to several wing lifts, showing the diagnostic black underwings, but at this stage it was always distant. Whilst watching here I also saw two Great White Egrets, a Bittern, several Hobbies, a couple of Marsh Harriers, two Buzzards, several Little Egrets, a drake Garganey and Cetti's Warblers.

I headed back to the car for lunch and was entertained by the astonishing sight of a feeding frenzy of at least 30 Hobbies over the adjacent reedbeds!! They weren't just near each other, they were in a mass group, aerobatically missing each other by inches as they fed over a small area, fabulous!! These had just dropped in and later had gone, right place, right time! Returning to the Meare Heath side I carried on watching the godwits and was treated to several fly rounds, the Hudsonian Godwit showing off all its diagnostic features really well. The flock then moved in to the closest edge of the lagoon to give fantastic views. This time I managed my best digiscoped shots and even managed the underwing shot that I desired, result biggrin

Happy with all this I left & headed home, hitting the inevitable traffic problems on the way back which added an hour on to the journey, but by now I didn't care, what a day w00t

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Hudsonian Godwit at Meare Heath, Somerset. 25/4/2015


Originally posted by Dave Ousey today:


Getting up early has certainly paid off for me at weekends with regard to rare birds in the past so, at 7-30am, I settled down in the small room with brew & my mobile phone. I decided to check Rare Bird Alert and was very pleased to be sat down upon reading, Hudsonian Godwit in Somerset. A hastily prepared text was sent out to birding mates regarding making up a team to go and see the bird. Bob K rung and we decided to go straight away. We set of at 8-30am and via M60, M6 & M5 and 8 sets of road works (with only one being worked on) along with positive news that the bird was still present. One of our sleepy mates sent me a text as we passed Birmingham to say he would come along!! We reached the A39 towards Shapwick. At this stage we thought we were getting there then a couple of missed turns and an argument with a rather large tractor caused a little distress! We arrived at Ashcott Corner RSPB car park at 12-20pm, 220 miles later, well drove Bob K. The brand new car park was almost full and there were lots of birders present, so the question was asked and a man said, still there and asleep for the last 2 hours. Think I would have been asleep a lot longer after(may be) having flown across the North Atlantic. A confident, hurried walk of 300 yards to Meare Heath followed and a flock of around a 100 Black tailed Godwits were seen. We were quickly directed onto the bird and there it was sleeping! It looked much darker and smaller than its companions with a deep chestnut belly which was finely barred. After seeing a Hobby, Marsh Harrier, Wood Sandpiper and a Greenshank, we watched the godwit stretch open its wings and saw the black under wings and its tri coloured upturned beak. It then flew and a small white wing bar was seen and very distinctive tail pattern. It began to feed in amongst the Black tailed Godwits and the size was apparent. The bird had a greyish head and stood shorter in the pool on grey legs. It did not feed with a sewing machine action, but a more slow probing action was noted. We checked out a nearby hide and heard and saw a Bittern and another Hobby, then Cetti`s Warbler, Great White Egret, Garden Warbler and a cracking Whitethroat. Bob K has been to this area before and everything he said about is true, its a cracking reserve. We managed to miss a Wood Warbler on the car park as a little rain fell. We left the reserve at 3-30pm, the Hudsonian Godwit was still present. We later found out that it was gone by 4-10pm. We managed to see 57 species with a lifer for us both and about 9 new birds for the year. A steady drive home with us calling at Gloucester services farm shop for Bob K to stock up on steak etc (Sue would have killed him if he would have forgotten) We reached home around 8-30pm a great trip to Cider County
Dave Ousey

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Somerset


Visit to RSPB Ham Wall on Friday 31/05/13.

Meeting other members of the Wigan RSPB group at Sedgemoor Sevices on the M5, ( from where departure was delayed to give a Lesser Whitethroat, singing near the entrance slip road, due attention.) we proceeded to Ham Wall on the Somerset Levels.
My first visit here and what a good reserve!

Sightings:
Buzzards...2
Swifts... c30
Cormorants...7
Great White Egret...1
Little Egrets...4
Mash Harrier..2 Male and female
Cetti's Warbler...1 Superb lengthy views at 25 yards of one singing around the front of a bush.Others heard.
Grey Heron..3 plus 1 brood
Hobby...12 (minimum count) ..again close views of a few.
Garganey..3 including 1 drake.
Pochard ..c35
Shovelers...c10
Tufted Duck..10
Lapwing..4
Gadwall..8 including juveniles.
Blackcap..5
Whitethroat...4
Great Crested Grebe...6
Mute swans..12
Garden Warbler...1
Song Thrush..1
Lesser Black-backed Gulls...5
Bittern Heard.
Swallows/ Blue and Great Tits/Chaffinch/Moorhen





-- Edited by keith mills on Tuesday 4th of June 2013 07:46:06 PM

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I have recently been down in the West Country visiting my in-laws & staying down there, so popped along to Ham Wall RSPB to see if I could get a photo of the long-staying Pied-billed Grebe. The bird can be very elusive but is inhabiting one area of reedbed & calling regularly so is q.easy to pin down. If anyone is thinking of going then the info services directions are OK but there is a slightly better place to view from. Walk down past the 2nd viewing platform by c.200m. Turn left & go over the bridge over the ditch & through a gate to the footpath and turn left again. Walk a short distance & you are oposite the reedbeds that it is in. From here you can pinpoint the call much better & then locate the bird even when it is deep in the reeds.

There were also 2 Black-necked Grebes and a Great White Egret on show, although these were on the Shapwick Heath RSPB side of the reserve. Always a cracking place to visit and you can access many of the other reserves on the Somerset Levels form here too smile

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Just back from my 2 week holidays ,well not quite 2 weeks as the clutch went in the car and arrived home on the back of a RAC truck
1st week was spent at Brean sands

3 Willow tits
Great tits
Long-tailed tits
Blue tits
Coal tits
Swallows
Swifts
Wrens
Blackbirds
Robins
Great black backed gulls
Lesser black backed gulls
Herring gulls
Black headed gulls
Oystercatchers
Grey Heron
and 15 Buzzards sat in a freshly ploughed field

Week 2 Blue anchor near Minehead
Pied wagtails
Reed warblers
Goldfinch
Chaffinch
Nuthatch
Rock pipit
Willow warbler
Dipper
35 Canada's with 2 White geese in fields behind camp site
House martins
plus most of week 1s birds

the high light was watching a Sparrowhawk being chased by about 10 Swallows

-- Edited by Ian McKerchar on Thursday 30th of August 2012 05:01:24 PM

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Took the opportunity to dash down to Chew on wednesday.
reasonable views of the Sharpie at Chew then flushed by a Peregrine. Relocated it at Blagdon where slightly better views were obtained at times feeding in close proximity to the two L-b Ds.

Add in a similar supporting cast as Henry it was all in all a good day, slightly marred by capping the evening off at Old Trafford!

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Nice one Henry, only slightly better than an average day in gm then?!

Hopefully the sharp tailed will do the decent thing and stay till the weekend.

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23/11/2011 - Popped down with Phil Owen to the huge, but very birdy, Chew Valley Lake this morning. It took all of 2 minutes to see the star bird we were searching for producing a feeling of relief and joy at the same time! Stuff seen at the southern part of the lake:

1 Sharp-tailed Sandpiper - a smart first winter bird seen from Herriot's Bridge, only a smidgen larger than the Dunlin it was hanging out with
2 Long-billed Dowitchers - flew over and were later reported on Blagdon Lake
1 Spotted Sandpiper - showing very well across the road from the Sharp-tailed twitch on the wall of Herriot's Bridge
c40 Dunlins
2 Black-tailed Godwits
3 Common Snipes
500+ Lapwings
8 Bewick's Swans
3 Pintails
Pochards, Tufted Ducks, Gadwall, Shovelers, Teal, Wigeon, Mallard etc
1 Goosander
3 Water Rails
1 Sparrowhawk
c20 Meadow Pipits
1 Cetti's Warbler
1 Goldcrest
8 Siskins
2 Lesser Redpolls
c20 Linnets

-- Edited by Henry Cook on Wednesday 23rd of November 2011 02:52:24 PM

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What a coincidence. I was on a few days hols down there and was at Ham Wall the same afternoon!!

The falcon was rather distant on the Wednesday, but did a close fly-by on the Monday on my first visit. Absolutely splendid. I didn't see the ring-neck either (didn't try too hard to be honest), but did see a much rarer Yankee duck beginning with the letter 'R'. Shushhhhhh.

You're right though, it is a great place, and you haven't even mentioned the zillions of four-spotted chasers. Greater Manchester seems very dull after this (and before in truth).



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24/05/2011 - A few hours spent at Ham Wall RSPB with Phil Owen in search of a certain falcon at one of my favourite spots. Stuff seen/heard between us in sunny but windy weather:

1 RED-FOOTED FALCON - 2cy Fem seen distantly over Loxton's Marsh from 1st viewing platform
1 Great White Egret
1 Little Egret
4 Bitterns - brilliant views of several birds and a couple of boomers, one flew low right over our heads making for a memorable experience
3 Pochards
1 Gadwall
3 Hobbies
2 Marsh Harriers
6 Buzzards
1 Sparrowhawk
100+ Swifts
1 Cuckoo
3 Cetti's Warblers
1 Garden Warbler
2 Blackcaps
1 Chiffchaff
4 Willow Warblers
1 Sedge Warbler
3+ Reed Warblers
2 Common Whitethroats
1 Goldcrest
1 Bullfinch
3 Reed Buntings

dipped a male Ring-necked Duck but together with Shapwick and Meare Heaths, this is a wonderfully huge area of marshland and bog, it would easy to spend a week here!

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Steve

The link below should provide you with info when the Hobbies start to arrive. I believe they have had up to 180 Hobbies on the reserve at one time though it is a big reserve!

http://pub13.bravenet.com/forum/static/show.php?usernum=1065729998&frmid=14&msgid=0

Cheers

Mike

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many thanks for your reply Henry, I will be down there in late april so should be some Hobbies about, although maybe not up to full numbers by then. I will post report on my return with hopefully some nice pictures.

steve.




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Shortly after the Hobbies arrive (late April) can be the best time of the year with whole flocks flying over Ham Wall. I think a few stay on to breed and are visible for most of the summer but not in the numbers seen during spring migration. Sounds like your visit might just coincide with their arrival Steve but by the first week of May there can be over 80 birds in the air together!

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Shapwick Heath

Does anybody have any infomation of when the best time to visit is to see the Hobby's.
Heard reports good numbers can be there in spring and late summer.

Got a few days off in late April, so was thinking of making a trip before quick look around Forest of Dean.

Steve


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Shapwick Heath / Ham Wall RSPB today

Guestimate between 2 and 3 million Starlings coming into roost with spectacular displays - truly amazing
1 Great White Egret
1 Bittern - had a brief half-hearted boom as though clearing the pipes ready for spring
1 Little Egret
2 Bewick's Swans
1 Marsh Harrier (juv)
1 Peregrine (prob male - had a tiff with a Buzzard and was very vocal about it)
4 Buzzards - birds seen on three occasions enveloped in the Starling flock
1 Sparrowhawk (dive bombed onto a tree full of Redwings)
2 Tawny Owls
4 Cetti's Warblers
5 Water Rails
1 Woodcock
1 Snipe
7 Lesser Redpoll
1 Great Spotted Woodpecker
130+ Redwings
40+ Fieldfares

plus a Roe Deer

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Ideal habitat for Barn Owls all over to be fair, but I was looking out over the mudflats and sea most of the week and didn't see any in the evenings where I was staying. Nice day today though, which ended my week in sunshine surveying.

The following seen between 07:00 and 13:30.

Great Crested Grebe 1
Little Grebe 1
Little Egret 14
Grey Heron 2
Shelduck 70+
Peregrine (adult female)
Marsh Harrier (adult female)
Kestrel 2
Buzzard 2
Ringed Plover 20
Turnstone 4
Dunlin 160
Bar-tailed Godwit 16
Whimbrel 40+
Curlew 14
Green Woodpecker 1
Cuckoo 1
Skylark 8
Meadow Pipit 8
Rock Pipit 1
Tree Pipit 2
Yellow Wagtail 14
White Wagtail 4
Pied Wagtail 2
Grey Wagtail 1
Swallow 200
Sand Martin 6
House Martin 24
Wheatear 6
Whitethroat 4
Blackcap 2
Chiffchaff 8
Reed Bunting 1

A cracking week ,shame no time to explore round the area a little more, but back there for a week in September for 5 more days, so hopefully will get out and about locally a bit more in Somerset then and find some autumn migrants!?!?

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Any sign of barn owl, my sister lived further west than you are for twenty years and it was always a hot bed for them.

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I must agree with you Dave, it's a beautiful County, especially in a week this this one, sunshine galore. Unfortunetely with no rain not much has dropped down from the skies in terms of scarcer migrants, but still plenty passing through. Today had 20 ringed plover, 34 bar tailed godwits, 10 curlew, 50 whimbrel, 200 dunlin, 7 common sandpiper, 26 turnstone, 1 cuckoo, 20 meadow pipit, 4 tree pipit, 10 yellow wagtail, 1,000 swallow, 100 house martin, 8 sand martin, 4 blackcap, 2 willow warbler, 20 chiffchaff, 1 lesser whitethroat, 8 whitethroat, 1 raven and a few others bits and bobs! One more day, co early visit from 530 to 12 tomorrow morning, then home, has been great down here so far though!biggrin.gifsmile.gif

-- Edited by Sean Sweeney on Thursday 22nd of April 2010 06:13:43 PM

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sean i am so envious somerset is one of my favourate places in this country.

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I'm down in Somerset completing 5 days of surveys 1km east of Hinkley Point nuclear plant. Lots of migration on show down here, particularly as i'm sat in on place on the beach doing intertidal bird surveys. So far i've seen the following: shelduck 70 little egret 40, buzzard 10, merlin 1, sparrowhawk 1, marsh harrier, dunlin 300, bar tailed godwit 2, curlew 30, whimbrel 250, ringed plover 60, oystercatcher 45, turnstone 40, arctic skua 4, green woodpecker 2, gs woodpecker, swallow 300, sand martin 100, house martin 30, wheatear 45 (at least 5 greenland race), white wagtail 40, yellow wagtail 12, meadow pipit 200, tree pipit 2, rock pipit 2, linnet 30, blackcap 5, whitethroat 12, lesser whitethroat 4, chiffchaff 40, willow warbler 12, linnet 45. Highlights have included watching merlin pursuing dunlin over the exposede mudflats, a mash harrier flying out to sea only to return after being mobbed by gulls, yellow wag feeding around me and over 60 whimbrel feeding within 20 metres of me then all flying up, then circling upwards and heading overland east to continue their journey, cracking to watch and record. Will keep those interested posted. Unfortunetely i have no time to get to other sites as not on holiday, but lots of other migrants about as you can gather. All's well, keep smiling, Sean.

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