Trip reports

Field Trip to RSPB Ham Wall and Shapwick Heath Nature Reserve

Field Trip to RSPB Ham Wall and Shapwick Heath Nature Reserve
Peter Elkington

Sunday, 15 May 2016

What a great day's birding thirteen of us had at the Somerset levels!

It was a warm and sunny morning when we met in the main car park at RSPB Ham Wall where mute swan and grey heron were seen flying over.

We decided to visit the Shapwick Heath Nature Reserve first of all. So we crossed over Station Road and walked along the footpath to the croaking of marsh frogs alongside the canal. At Meare Heath we noted little egret, cormorant, lapwing, pochard, gadwall, mallard and pied wagtail on the banks and pond.

At the Shapwick Tower Hide a buzzard flew over as we listened to bittern booming as well as the spring call of a cuckoo and the evocative sound of sedge warbler in the hedgerows.

We continued on to the Noah Hide and as we walked to the hide, a male and female marsh harrier were seen flying low over the reeds as well as tufted duck, great crested grebe and hobby. At the Noah Hide we had splendid views of two bittern flying over and then disappearing amongst the reeds and a marsh harrier feeding on the grass area between the reeds.

The Meare Hide was our next stop and again a male and female marsh harrier was noted and a coot on its nest.

Returning to the main car park we were enthralled to see four cranes flying in a mini "red arrow" formation overhead as we ate our picnic lunch.

At the Ham Wall Reserve tree creeper, long tail tit and swift were spotted and some of the group were lucky enough to see two cetti's warbler having a squabble amongst the reeds. As we sat behind the screens looking over the reed beds, two great white egrets came into view as they rose up from the reeds and landed again. This was a first time I'd seen this species in the UK.

A few of us made our way to a viewing area near the new Avalon Hide as one of the wardens had told us that a glossy ibis had been see there. We had splendid views of the glossy ibis as it waded in the shallows and walked along the banks of one of the small islands in the lagoon, another first sighting for me! Also seen were garganey with their prominent wide white eye stripe and again another female marsh harrier.

Other members of our group spotted ruff, godwit and came across goldcrest fledglings using a nest amongst some ivy.

A brilliant day was had by all of our group with one of our members noting forty-eight different species.

Viv Jenkins