Friday, 18 November 2016
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
Great to see the Water Rail swim
Tuesday, 15 November 2016
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 - female
My good side!
Peregrine on the hunt - later observed eating its kill on a post