Saturday 16 September 2023

RSPB Ham Wall and Westhay Moor, Somerset

Wednesday 13 September

A day off dancing whilst down in Somerset so chance to visit RSPB Ham Wall and nearby Westhay Moor reserves.  Gorgeous warm and sunny weather but somewhat quiet as the birding season gradually changes and, unfortunately, did not see any of the resident Great Bitterns.  But, nevertheless, a great day's birding.

Distant Glastonbury Tor seen from RSPB Ham Wall Reserve

On the other hand, not too many birds about until the end of my Ham Wall walk as I crossed the road to the first water on the Shapwick Heath reserve and discovered not just a pair of sleeping Shoveler but a score of newly-arrived Wigeon.  The morning had started well with a House Sparrow foraging outside the feeding enclosure and the latter hosting Blue and Great Tits along with both Chaffinch and Goldfinch.  However, perhaps the most obvious sightings were the the two nest boxes which had both been taken over by respective colonies of Hornets - and still active they were as I kept calm and took a couple of Photos!

The Hornets Vespa crabro have taken over!

With the reeds standing high and proud very little room left for any waders and most, if not all, of the wintering ducks had yet to return save for the resident Mallards and numerous Gadwall.  On the stretches of open water still available a plentiful supply of Coot along with almost a core of Mute Swans spread around the reserve.  Just a couple of Little but far more Great Crested Grebes.  In addition, the first viewing point revealed a Great White Egret feeding alongside a Little Egret.

Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis

But there were some rewarding sightings including a singing/calling Reed Warbler as I set off and a later Cetti's Warbler.  The second viewing area produced a female Marsh Harrier and a pair of distant, calling Raven.  Also, resting on the water, Mallard, Teal, Cormorant and a Moorhen. Above the water a quintet of feeding Barn Swallows and, in the distance, both Woodpigeons and Carrion Crows. Nothing different to add on visiting the Avalon Hide but a pair of Blackcaps observed in the adjacent trees.

The homeward journey included a brief stop at the relatively nearby Westhay Moor reserve, mainly to check out the site with regard to a future visit. Nothing new to add but certainly more Little Grebes and Moorhens plus, once again, many Gadwall.

Lovely to see a number of Red Admiral Vanessa atalanta butterflies

Birds seen:

Mute Swan, Gadwall, Wigeon, Mallard, Shoveler, Teal, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Cormorant, Little Egret, Great White Egret, Marsh Harrier, Moorhen, Coot, Black-headed Gull, Herring Gull, Woodpigeon, Barn Swallow, Wren, Robin, Blackbird, Cetti's Warbler, Reed Warbler, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Magpie, Jackdaw, Carrion Crow, Raven, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Goldfinch.

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