Tuesday, 25 April 2017

Somerset Magic - Spring on the Levels 24th & 25th April

Two days back to back spent on the levels and both days didn't disappoint. 
Monday was a cloudy but bright day which saw us heading off to Ham Wall first. We had not walked far when overhead flew a couple of Cattle Egrets, wow what a start to the day. Very good numbers of hirundines including our first Swifts of the year. A Cuckoo was in fine voice and we did in fact see 2. Whitethroats are now present as well as Reed Warblers. 
Superb as well to see our first Hobbies of the year at both Ham Wall and Shapwick. Bitterns were seen all over the reserve with several flyby's, not forgetting to mention great views of Marsh Harriers. More Whitethroats and Hobbies were seen on the Shapwick side and apart from some Greylags with goslings the scrape was very quiet until 11 Cattle Egret flew in.  What a grand finale to a top day! 
Tuesday saw us starting at the Shapwick side, sun and cloud plus a freezing strong wind joined us today. At the scrape were Black tailed Godwits, Dunlin, Ringed Plover & a single Little Ringed Plover, Hobbies and Swifts overhead & a few Great Egrets etc.  We stayed in the tower hide in good company for 2 hours hoping to see the Otter which is often seen at the Scrape.  Unfortunately we did not see it. Heading back to the carpark we spotted a Garden Warbler in the undergrowth, it flew high up to a tree opposite and at last we had a great view of a singing Garden Warbler a lifer for us.
Great to see dragonflies and damselflies emerging plus Orange Tips &  Peacock butterflies where the sun shone.
In summary a cracking two days on the levels with a total of 56 bird species seen. It is beautiful out there with everywhere coming alive and greening up and the place is just bursting with flora and fauna plus you just can't beat hearing the song of the cuckoo!  

   Wow! Cattle Egrets flew overhead


  Bullfinch along the path seemingly feeding on the Dandelion seed heads


   Plenty of booming Bitterns, we spotted this one before it took flight

                   Grebe pair still sitting tight at the Avalon hide

   Fingers crossed that both eggs hatch

                 Little Egret flies into the reed edge

  Male Marsh Harrier from the Avalon hide


   Love the way that Harriers hover over the reeds


   Harrier flyover - love that stare

                  Good numbers of Orange Tips all over Ham Wall reserve

   Female Orange Tip

                  Lots of Damsel flies making an appearance 

                 Another of the Grebe nests at Ham Wall

                   A 'grebelet' on its own for a minute, fingers crossed a Harrier doesn't see it

    Lovely to watch the adult feeding the young grebe


   Tor view 

                   Whitethroat, the first of the year for us

                   Keeping a sharp eye overhead

   First Hobby of the year at Shapwick 


                  Brilliant to see this beautiful falcon return to the Levels

   11 Cattle Egrets flew into the Scrape, how many?!!!


   Stocky little Egrets, most un egret like when they walk almost like a chicken

                  Great White Egret

Day 2 - Tuesday 

   Chiffchaff - singing his heart out

                  Great White Egret 

                   Green lores and red legs the Great Egret in breeding plumage

   Black tailed Godwits back on the scrape

                   One of the 2 pairs of Greylag geese plus young on the scrape 

   Godwits and 3 Dunlin at the very back of the scrape

                   Proud parents

    Protective stance as another couple of geese 'outsiders' flew in


   Stay away flap of the wings



                   Black tailed Godwits in a flutter

   At last! A Garden Warbler very high up in the trees but a 'lifer' for us


   Garden Warbler, you little beauty!

                   Brimstone butterfly on Campion in the Ham Wall car park

   More Hobbies, at least 20 hunting over the reeds near the bridge at Ham Wall


    Reed Warbler, a five second view as it came to the top of the reeds

                 Gathering nesting material

   What a nimble acrobat

    We have noticed that there are good numbers of Pochard at Ham Wall this year


   Still sitting tight, any day now!

                    Red Admiral

   Orange Tip, a beautiful Spring butterfly


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