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Post Info TOPIC: Somerset


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RE: Somerset


Spent the late afternoon at Ham Wall RSPB and Shapwick Heath NNR.

The Starling murmuration is currently at the latter reserve and we were treated to a spectacle of at least half a million coming to the roost site between 5.15 and 6pm.

In attendance were minimum 5 Marsh Harrier, Sparrowhawk, Common Buzzard and Raven.

9 Great White Egret roosted too, with a Bittern booming from 6pm

4 Cettis Warbler, Stonechat and 7 Redwing were also seen.



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Steart Marshes WWT yesterday morning provided a spectacular wader fest which I can thoroughly recommend. At high tide 1000's of waders were roosting and sheltering on the reserve. 

Mainly Dunlin, but large numbers of Knot, Grey and Golden Plover and Curlew. As the tide receded they flew over the seaward trail within meters of our heads, in a 'Snettisham esq' manner. Quite something. 

Other birds seen: hunting Peregrine Falcon ( missed the reported kill of a Leach's Petrel), 12 Stonechat, Raven, 2 Kestrel, 3 Little Egret, singing Skylark, 4 Reed Bunting, 15 Linnet, 2 Kestrel, 2 Pintail.



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Staying in Bridgewater for a few days. Nipped to Greylake RSPB this morning and had excellent views of the Baikal Teal from 12-13:00.

Also present were 4 Great White Egret, 2 Marsh Harrier, 5 Common Snipe, Pintail, 1000's of Golden Plover. 

In the afternoon at Shapwick Heath were 2 Redpoll, 2 Siskin, Stonechat, 3 Marsh Harrier, Little Egret, 2 Goldeneye and 6 Pochard. 

Vicky's image of the star attraction attached 



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Saturday 15th we set out at 06.00 heading for Weston-Super-Mare. The weather was cold with -5C being recorded in the car along the M5, we arrived at Morrisons at 09.20 for a pit stop and breakfast.  The breakfast turned out to be very poor but with little time to complain we headed to the old airfield just out of town.

We came prepared and changed our footwear to wellies which was a great move as the short walk to the site where the Penduline Tits were being observed was wet and slippy (clay) underfoot. Questions were asked about any recent sightings and the news came back that all three had been seen at around 09.30 but had flown easterly over the banking. So as per usual " you should have been here forty minutes ago" and that awful Morrisons breakfast had cost Cath a lifer. No good crying over spilt milk, we agreed Cath would stay where the birds were last seen and I would walk down to another area with the Reed Mace abundant. Around thirty pairs of eyes scanned the adjacent area but by around 13.00 there was no sign of the quarry.

I stood and chatted to a chap from Wolverhampton and we exchanged tales of our success and failure over the years. Cath was further down and was informing newcomers of the state of play. We found Water Rail, Kingfisher, Reed Bunting,  Common Snipe and further down the observation line a Chiffchaff.

By 15.20 there were only half a dozen of us left and by this time we called it a day and headed to our accommodation. 

Sunday morning 07.30 I was scrapping the car and off we set, back to the airfield at Weston, approaching the first patch of Reed Mace we saw a male Sparrowhawk, not really what we wanted to see we scanned the area but no sign of the stars that had been seen for several weeks.

We cautiously approached the area that Cath had been posted at on Saturday, I for a change heard a bird call, I headed off with great gusto along the clay path and promptly fell flat on my arse, with my usual tenacity I just got up with binoculars scanning the Reed Mace.  Within mere seconds I saw some old seed heads falling and the culprit was a little masked bandit. Cath was promptly on the bird as I beckoned the only two other birders from up the path with just hand gestures and luckily the young couple who had both been there on Saturday saw me and made their way down.

Cath had a good minute or so on the bird before it flew off with no sign of its mates. Sadly by the time the couple got to us it had gone.  We really hope they got on it later that day when all three were on show. So over five hours on Saturday and barely five minutes on Sunday and a great success with the Penduline Tit ticked.

Just before 09.00 we were off to Ham Wall, Shapwick and Westhay in that order.

Ham Wall and the journey over produced all three Egrets with around thirty or so Cattle Egrets in one field a Cetti's Warbler showed nicely and within seconds a single Bittern landed in the reedbed facing the Tor View Hide. In the same hide we soon put people onto the Ring-Necked Duck on the walk back we picked up the Siberian Chiffchaff.

Shapwick  produced a Water Rail and a Chiffchaff from the Viridor Hide.

At Westhay we were greeted by an irresponsible dog owner but our expectations came to fruition when Cath heard something in the reed bed near the Island Hide. As I turned around and looked at a small disturbance coming off the water through my bino's confusion set in as I thought I could see the rusty tail colouring of a male Mandarin Duck then finally it came into view - a stunning male Bearded Reedling.  Quick as a flash Cath was directed onto it and we had another target for the weekend. On the journey back to accommodation more Cattle Egret in the fields.  Somerset claims around 400 or so of these lovely birds.

Monday was to be an easy day with breakfast at Manor Farm and the whole day around the magnificent Chew Valley Lake. We soon ticked off Goldeneye and a single Egyptian  Goose at Herriot's Pool. By 10.30 we were parked in the car park at Stratford then making our way to the hide along the walkway has been good for Bearded Reedling.  Some grit trays have been added both at the back and front of the hide which helps to attract these stunning birds. Suddenly a BOOM ( in January) was heard and we both said "Bittern".  Since 2015 we have been to CVL numerous times but never seen a Bittern despite them being observed on lots of occasions.  We heard the boom a few more times but it ceased by 11.00 am.

Common Snipe were sat in front of the hide but amongst them we could not find either of the Jack Snipe that have been around for a while. Cath was keen for another Reedling fix so was in and out of the hide.  Whilst she was out on one occasion I managed another Cetti's close to the hide and on another occasion I picked up a female Reedling near the front grit tray !!

Noon approached so we set off for Moreton Hide to have a brew and managed to pick up two female Greater Scaup but no males which had been seen the previous day.

An hour or so later we were back at Stratford hide.  By this time another birder was checking out the Snipe - sadly still no Jack but we were entertained by a female Kingfisher plying her trade by catching at least four small Roach then dispatching them on a post within fifteen yards of us. A Cetti's was back working its way through a reed bed and another Chiffchaff flew across.  Two more birders arrived for the Jack Snipe - same story a no show by Jack. By 15.30 we were on our own and then out of the blue a Reedling flitting across.  We waited and watched and then a pair flew from one bed to another. A skittish Water Rail distracted us as it ran across our line of vision and then the Reedlings flew back across again. We had had a great day in the field and headed back to try and catch the male Greater Scaup in Herons Green Bay.

At the Bay we had twenty or so Common Gull amongst the Black-headed.  Another birder turned up saying he was there to photograph a regular Barn Owl. Roosting Gulls were coming in all the time and landing on Roman Shallows and in front of Woodford Bank - we were not getting involved in counting but were given a figure of 10,000 by the photographer. Our birding day was over, the Barn Owl did not show,  all three of us left. We headed to a lovely old pub at Blagdon called the New Inn! Faggots, mash and peas......

In summary the weekend produced a modest 71 species with the obvious star being the wonderful masked bandit in the form of the Penduline Tit which I have been lucky to see at two different sites in England. We had one of our favourites in the form of the Bearded Reedlings and lots of other good sightings.

Finally the book, Birds of Chew Valley Lake is well worth a place on any bookshelf.

 

 



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RSPB Ham Wall, Somerset. Saturday 12th June 2021

   When a River Warbler was found about 8 days ago at RSPB Ham Wall in Somerset, it got a few of us thinking about visiting the place again. Last time was the 25th April 2015 for a Hudsonian Godwit! A 5am start was planned with Craig B driving and myself and Bob K making up the numbers. Good progress was made despite the usual road works that nobody is working on? Then the good news arrived about 7am that the River Warbler was singing away at its usual haunt. It was going to be a very hot day so lots of regular coats etc would not be needed, the car park was quite full as we arrived and set off on foot. Lots of singing birds were heard as we made our way out towards the Avalon hide area including: - Bittern, Cettis`s Warbler, Blackcap. After crossing a small bridge we saw an assembled clutch of birders, they were watching something? It was the very obliging River Warbler, not exactly sat out, but belting out its strange song and pulsing its body as it sang. Very smart bird and a lifer for one of us! Despite trying very hard to get a few snap shots of the bird without some growth being in the way, which proved to be difficult, the lads managed some smart pictures. An elderly gentleman from Wales stood near us as we waited for the bird to perch up not 5 yards away, he then began to tell everyone within earshot, that he had lost an end cap by mobile phone, it was annoying and funny at the same time! I had a wander to Avalon hide and saw a few more Marsh Harriers, Hobby, Great White Egret and a couple of Bearded Tit`s. What a well-managed reserve this place has turned into since our last visit. A wander to the area were the Hudsonian Godwit had been seen 6 years ago just made us all think, what a vast area this is for the bird species to prosper in.

Dave O.

 



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The arrival, yesterday, of a River Warbler at Ham Wall RSPB Reserve in Somerset, had me on the road this morning at 4.50am in an attempt to get this bird on my UK list. I had dipped three birds in Bulgaria a few years ago, so it was great to hear the birds sewing machine like song as I approached the throng, assembled on the path to the Avalon Hide. The bird was up and singing and gave nice scope and bins views and continued to show well during the hour or so that I was there. Usually only one or two records each year, sometimes none, so it was a relief to see it, as they tend not to hang around for long. As is often the case with small birds, a bit too distant for decent photos but two are attached.

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Another visit to this productive area produced a couple of lifers and lots of rain......and then more rain and then even more.  

30 Sept - Cheddar reservoir.  Reports had showed that there was a Red Crested Pochard and a Red Necked Grebe.  On arrival around noon, after a very early start, we were met with heavy rain and strong winds from the South.  First observations in the conditions had us looking across the water to what we thought was the Red Necked Grebe.  A quick glance to the left and suddenly the Red Crested Pochard was in full view with all its vivid colouring showing.  

We decided to walk around the reservoir to get closer to the Red Necked Grebe.  This we failed miserably to achieve as in the conditions we were unable to locate the bird.  We headed off to our accommodation.

1 Oct - This Thursday found us afloat on Chew Valley Lake (CVL) angling for Pike.  Unbeknown to us until later that evening, a Lesser Yellowlegs had decided to visit the Lake literally 400 yards from where we were anchored.  

2 Oct - saw us return back to Cheddar reservoir.  Again, it rained heavily and the wind blew even more strongly however on this occasion we successfully located the Red Necked Grebe.  A lifer for us both.  

We retired back to our accommodation.  

3 Oct was to be a full birding day.  We started off along CVL at a layby looking over the Lake and Herriot's Pool.  This area is normally very good for waders at this time of year.  However, with all the rain that had fallen, most of the scrapes at Herriot's were under water.  Across the road the Lake margins produced Grey Plover, Redshanks, Greenshank and a sole Spotted Redshank.  We then headed off for breakfast at Manor Farm.  An hour later saw us at the Moreton Hide at CVL where we had the usual Great White and Little Egrets, Grey Herons, Coots, Moorhens, Tufted Ducks, Pochards, Shovelers, Mallards, Mute Swans and Great Crested Grebes.

We then headed off to the Stratford hide and, again, we walked in the rain!  We walked along the boardwalk to the hide hoping that the Bearded Reedlings may have returned but really knowing that it was at least 12 weeks too early.  We entered the hide to be greeted with the news that the Lesser Yellowlegs had flown West the day before.  Hoewever we added Dunlins, Marsh Harriers and a Rock Pipit to our list along with a very entertaining Ruddy Turnstone which did what it says on the tin and was turning over stones rather than little pebbles.  There were at least 3 Curlew Sandpipers around but, unfortunately, we just could not get on these. 

We enquired about the location of some Cattle Egrets and were kindly directed to an area known as Parklands which is close to the Nunnery hide.  We headed off to that area and were very pleased with ourselves when Cath found 7 rather than the 5 that had been observed by the locals earlier in the morning.  

We headed off for tea to a lovely pub called The Hunters Lodge near Priddy.  Unfortunately, due to the rain and flooding we had to detour about 10 miles.  However, this was well worth the detour as this pub serves a fabulous faggot, peas and half a loaf of buttered bread for just six quid!

Sunday 4 Oct saw us confined to our accommodation as the rain poured, and poured and poured.......  The little brook by our accommodation had come over its banks as had one or two rivers in the area.  By 3 o'clock the rain had stopped, we went for a walk towards the dam at CVL.  We picked up a Common Sandpiper,, Grey and Pied Wagtails and an Egyptian Goose.  We walked to the end of the dam hoping to get a bag of chips but the chippy - Salt and Malt - was closed due to flooding.

Mon 5 Oct was another angling day that produced good numbers of both Swallows and House Martins overhead.

Tue 6 Oct saw us heading to Ham Wall and Westhay Moor.  However, firstly we had to fight out way through driving rain and flooded roads.  We stopped off at our usual haunt of Wedmore where we enjoyed another hearty breakfast.  During this time we discussed the option of turning back given the weather conditions but the waiter assured us that the roads were OK and that the rain would ease up.  By the time we had finished breakfast, indeed, the weather looked like it was improving.  We arrived at Westhay Moor and parked up in their "newly" laid car park.  A quick chat with the warden confirmed what we knew that a Spotted Crake which had been around for a week or more had not been seen since the weekend.  

We walked down the drove towards the Island hide where we picked up Reed Buntings, Stonechats and Wigeons.  We continued down the drove between showers picking up the calls of the Bearded Reedlings however were unable to locate them.  We turned back towards the car to be told that a Glossy Ibis had flown over.  We wandered to a likely looking flooded field full of gulls but alas there was no sign on this occasion.  

We drove back to CVL and parked up in the layby at Heron's Bay.  Here we picked up 3 Black tailed Godwits, a Common Gull amongst the Black headed Gulls and then, best of all, across the road in a field with some cows, we found a total of 22 Cattle Egrets.

Wed 7 Oct.  Before our return home we returned to the Stratford hide at CVL as the previous day the Lesser Yellowlegs had been seen again.  By 9.45 am the bird showed itself by the Lake margin albeit in the glare of the sun, it was again a lifer for us both.  At this point we left the hide and were making plans to head home via Collingham, West Yorks.



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A visit to the area on Wednesday 5th 2020 had to include a visit to Chew Valley Lake and try to catch up with  the Bearded Tits that had been showing well since around October 2019.

Having previously heard them here only I was determined to observe them and a full day had been set aside to the task.

Permit obtained from Woodford Lodge at one minute past opening time I drove down to the hide at the Stratford side of the lake.

Whilst getting ready at the van I was meet by one of the wardens who duly checked my permit and good for him as one of the proud  " Lancashire unwashed" to quote Wordsworth I certainly look ify.

This warden was in fact the one who put some grit trays in place in November to encourage the tits and it certainly paid off with up to eight birds being sighted at one go.

About an hour was spent in the hide before I decided to have a walk to Moreton Hide. I must make it clear that the grit trays are seen from outside the hide and not inside.

I left the warden in the hide and took a few paces down the boardwalk turning to look at the trays to no avail turning back and another few paces suddenly the reed stems shook a little before I could raise the bino's a pair of Bearded Tits were scurrying above the water. I took a few minutes watching the pair within ten feet from me they were very confiding.

I walked back to the hide and informed the warden of the birds. He came out to join me and we enjoyed their flitting around for several minutes. 

Although not the rarest bird in the UK  these elusive little birds will always bring a smile to my face'.

The warden informed me of other birds to be seen on site but the talk of Scaup, Black Necked Grebe,Water Rail and Egrets meant nothing as I basked on this lovely still morning with my Reedling success. 



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Four days near Chew Valley Lake allowed me a few visits. Usual waterfowl observed highlight being four Red Crested Pochard on Monday 4th at Herons a fleeting glimpse of a Water Rail from Moreton Hide, a female Scaup and several pair of Goldeneye.

Other observations were the huge numbers of coot c400 sadly on this occasion I didn't see a white one.

Of concern to me was the lack of Great Crested Grebe which I'd previously observed in past years to c250 on this visit it was just one observation in four days. Speaking to a local birder he commented that Cormorant numbers were c400 on some occasions in recent years, on my visit I saw two. Lets hope the Grebes return soon.

Next visit will hopefully include a visit to Ham Wall. 



-- Edited by Ian McKerchar on Saturday 9th of February 2019 08:17:52 AM

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Just returned after 3 weeks holiday in Somerset based in Watchet on the West Somerset coast.N
Not really a birding holiday,more awalking holiday with birding thrown in.83 species seen,with 11
new year ticks. Mostly on the Quantocks and Exmoor with some coastal walking.
New ticks.
Gannet
Shelduck
Linnet
Yellowhammer
Rock Pipit
Whinchat
Marsh Tit
Goshawk
Avocet
Red Kite
Grasshopper Warbler

Best of the rest:
Swallow
Swift
Sand Martin
Meadow Pipit
Skylark
Raven
Greylag Goose
Oystercatcher
Pied Flycatcher
Kingfisher
Hobby
Little Egret
Garden Warbler
House Martin
Peregrine Falcon
Spotted Flycatcher
Tree Pipit
White Wagtail
Iceland Gull
Willow Warbler
Stonechat
Reed Bunting
Redstart
Common Gull
Goldcrest
Blackcap
Sparrowhawk
Kestrel
Nuthatch
Reed Warbler
Lesser Redpoll
Merlin
Curlew
Greenfinch
Lesser Whitethroat
Little Gull






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On our last full holiday day today we stayed local at Ham Wall RSPB & Shapwick Heath. The best bird by far was a buzzard-sized raptor spotted high & a long way off over Ham Wall. As it came closer we could see downturned wings, a long tail and a prominent head - Honey Buzzard, one of many seen recent in an influx commented on, only tonight, by Lee Evans!! At Shapwick we had close views of a smart Hobby, always great to see. Other birds included Bittern, Marsh Harrier & lots of Great White Egrets, as usual! A great day to finish the holiday, we may just squeeze in half a day tomorrow!

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Had a whole morning looking after an orphaned kitten & then used the sunny afternoon to pop up to Haddon Hill on Exmoor. Here we had mainly come for invertebrates but found a really nice family party of Common Redstarts. Not much else bird-wise. Just a few Buzzards up on a cloudless sky.

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Not a very birdy day today, but saw a couple of Common Cranes at West Sedge Moor. Bittern & Marsh Harrier were at Greylake RSPB too.

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First day of our holiday down in Somerset, with just an afternoon to fill. No brainer really, we visited the closest reserves to where we are staying, Ham Wall RSPB & Shapwick Heath. As usual this proved to be a good decision. Highlights included a Bittern showing really well, up to 10 Great White Egrets and 4 Marsh Harriers. A Barn Owl was over near the wood beyond Avalon Hide. A handful of Black-tailed Godwits were around too. Hundreds of Swifts overflew the reserve but not a single hirundine, which the wardens had noted too for the past week. There were lots of Reed Warblers and several Sedge Warblers, as well as a couple of Garden Warblers. Other notable birds were Water Rail, Snipe and Cetti's Warblers. A great start, 62 species in a short afternoon at a single site, roll on the rest of the holiday!

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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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