Friday, 18 November 2016

Noah's Hide - Shapwick 16/11 Bittern, Marsh Harrier, Water Rail etc

We arrived at Ham Wall at around 7:15 with the sun just breaking through and the mass assent of 1000's of Starlings. What a stunning sight together with some Starlings heading for the ' Super Moon' what an awesome start to our visit.
Our reason for the early start was to get to Noah's hide at Shapwick in the hope of seeing Otters but alas once again we were unlucky however our visit to the hide didn't disappoint- far from it.
Duck numbers are increasing with good numbers of Tufted, Wigeon,Teal & Shoveler seen. A couple of Marsh Harriers around with one female flying fairly close to the hide.  At least 3 Bitterns were seen coming and going as well as a couple of Great Egrets. 
A Water Rail skulked about the reeds in front of the hide and made a brief appearance as it swam from one reed island to another, Kingfishers flew past fairly often 'piping'as they went and again landed fairly close a couple of times.  One of the highlights had to be watching a Cormorant trying to swallow a very big fish, we are still not sure if the fish got away or was eaten. Other birds of note were Cettis Warbler, Little Grebe, Snipe, Buzzard, Gadwall.
We spent just over 3 hours viewing from Noah's hide with top class wildlife watching all the time as there was just so much going on. You just can't beat watching natures story unfold in front of you! 
Great also to meet Robert Balch, Andrew Kirby & friend who provided great banter and entertainment whilst we were there. 

Starling sunrise - stunning skies and 1000's of Starlings


                   Incredible amounts of Starlings kept lifting from the reeds

   Heading for the 'Super Moon'


    Only view we had of the 'Super Moon' was this morning

                   Sunrise shining up the Great Spotted Woodpeckers face

   Rich Autumn colours around the scrape


   Marsh Harrier out on Noah's lake

                   Bittern flying in

   Headless Bittern!

                  Crashing into the reeds but quick to disappear and quite agile

Grey Heron 

    Marsh Harrier (female) very active over Noah's this morning


   Wonderful to watch Marsh Harriers glide over reed and lake

                   Kingfisher would occasionally land fairly close for a minute or two

   Female Kingfisher - note the red on the lower mandible 

                  Marsh Harrier 'putting' the ducks up

   Female Wigeon

                   Master of disguise the Bittern

   Little Grebe

                   Another Bittern flying off - we saw at least 3 this morning

                  Amazing claws!

   Mute Swans


    Autumn Bittern

                   Shoveller female -  check out that bill

   Wigeon flypast

                  Cormorant with catch

                   Down the hatch ..... Or not?

    That's one big fish! Didn't quite see if the Cormorant ate this or not

                    Water Rail - a couple were seen in the reeds

   Great to see the Water Rail swim

                Marsh Harrier landing gear

    Marsh Harrier watchful eye

                   Great Egret

                   Usual sighting of a Water Rail

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Westhay & Greylake 15/11 Beardies to Merlin

The weather forecast wasn't good, dull and overcast with possible rain afternoon. So once again we left in the dark to travel across the Somerset Levels to arrive at Westhay at 07:30.  Our main aim was to try and see Otters so we set ourselves up at the Island Hide as we had heard that they had been seen in this area. Unfortunately after a couple of hours we saw no Otters however being based at the Island hide the area didn't disappoint. Bearded Reedlings once again appeared on the boardwalk for their grit, their 'pinging' alerting us to their arrival. From the hide itself we had great views of a Snipe, Water Rail, a couple of Grey Wagtails, Gadwall, Teal, Marsh Harrier, Kestrel, Reed Bunting.
We took a walk to both the Virador and Tower Hides and there was absolutely nothing to be seen. The reeds need to be cut back to form islands and we were surprised to see that they had not been cut.
Next stop Greylake and the cloud was even thicker! Good to see the area start to flood and bringing in more duck species. The highlights had to be spotting a Merlin and watching it 'zoom' across the reeds, a Peregrine hunt and eat its kill, not forgetting the female Marsh Harrier sat still on its post the whole time.
All in all not a bad mornings birding despite the heavy cloud, not too good for photography but the memory of a Merlin whizzing over the reed tops will live with us forever.

   Gadwall male

                  Gadwall - female

   Kestrel hovering over the Bearded Reedling area - all birds hid!

                 Agile Kestrel


                  Can you see me?

                 Water Rail - mean face

   Losing ones head

                    The stare!

   Mr & Mrs - Bearded Reedlings (aka Bearded Tits)

                   A fine looking moustache 

                   Subtle colours on the female


   My good side!


    Pied Wagtail


                  Merlin eyeing up lunch

    Merlin zooming by over the reeds - they are fast!

                   Like a bullet!



Peregrine on the hunt - later observed eating its kill on a post

                 Duck numbers increasing at Greylake

Snipe - one of three fairly close to the hide at Greylake

                   Duck numbers increasing at Greylake