Another week has flown by at Ham Wall. I'm sure you are all starting to feel a bit more festive as we get closer to Christmas. If you feel a visit to Ham Wall coming on we will be open throughout. However, the car park buildings will not be staffed from 24th to 26th. Be aware if visiting for the starling murmuration the period between Christmas day and New Year can be very busy so be prepared to come early or leave it until later in the New Year. The car park can get full and we have had to turn people away in the past.  Please do not park on the road – be considerate of our neighbours and the need for emergency vehicle access at all times. If the car park is full or closed, then the site is at capacity - please return to visit the roost another day or choose a different roost to visit.  If you are planning a visit please read our guidance (click the following link) to get the most out of your experience: https://bit.ly/HMWStarlings2122

The starlings are continuing to use Ham Wall to roost currently. They have moved around slightly so the best advice is to perhaps start at the first viewing platform (VP1) and move to the east if they go that way or perhaps go past VP1 and cross the bridge to the grassy track moving to the right (east) and get closer. Estimates of 350,000 birds currently.

VP1 is a fantastic sight at the moment with hundreds of Lapwing (perhaps even 1000) up to all sorts of antics and offering plenty of noise and action to your day. They frequently seem unsettled and take to the air in large numbers. On Tuesday they were airborne for 30 minutes which is quite unusual as normally they are up and down fairly quickly. On this occasion a peregrine flew across the area although did not attempt an attack and continued East. John Crispin was on hand to take these shots of the fasted bird on the planet. Thanks John:

I was watching them today as we passed in our vehicle. The majority went up but a few individuals were dotted around just sat alone on the ground watching you - either realising that we weren't a threat or brave or perhaps a bit silly but I guess we all have different strategies for survival. 

Thanks again to John Crispin for his Lapwing photos both on the ground and some close ups of an individual in flight:

The area is also great for snipe with up 100 or more suspected to be present. John Crispin counted 76 in one of his photos. You will often see them up in the air too - obviously much smaller than the lapwing and usually flying faster in tight flocks. Thanks again to John for his snipe shots both in the air and on the ground:

Great white egrets, grey heron, and a couple of black tailed godwits have also been recorded in this area during the week whilst 3 whimbrel were spotted in Loxtons this week. The only other wader spotted as far as I know were the 8 golden plover that flew over the car park last Saturday (a couple of hundred flew over West Sedgemoor yesterday whilst I was there - a great sight).

Look out at VP1 too for a stonechat who can often be seen there flitting around and perching up in the brambles. They have also been seen on the way to the Avalon Hide as Mike Pearce discovered this week with this female. Thanks for the photo Mike:

At the Avalon Hide this morning a good selection of wildfowl and a couple of great white egrets. A visitor reported a carrion crow catching and eating what he thought was a frog and up to 3 marsh harriers quartering over the reeds. Up to 4 have been seen together this week. Thanks to John Crispin who sent me this sequence of photos of 2 marsh harriers interacting this week:

Plenty of other wildfowl around the reserve with particularly good numbers sitting in the Waltons section this week. Shoveler are being seen in good numbers but less so numbers of teal and wigeon. Also being seen are mallard, gadwall, tufted duck and a few pochard and good numbers of coot from the Waltons screens.

A visitor reported seeing a very friendly robin here this morning which fed out of his hand. We also have a couple in the car park who are similar. Whilst on the subject of robins you maybe interested in an event we are running at the moment - it's all based around the latest Aardman Animations film Robin Robin on Netflix. Here's some extra info :

Looking for something to do with the family this Christmas holiday? Then why not join us at Ham Wall on a big sneak? Have a go at our exclusive #RobinRobin adventure trail! Find out what’s in store for you and the whole family here and discover your inner Robin! - https://bit.ly/3c7d2XW Available 10 am – 2 pm apart from 24 December to 26th December.

Also seen this week: a sparrowhawk from VP1 on Monday which disturbed all the lapwing and snipe and another seen on Tuesday over the car park, raven over the car park on a few occasions this week, Jay seen form the old rail bridge and nearby a roe deer up the side of the wood, green woodpecker heard in the car park yesterday but spotted earlier in the week, kingfisher seen at Waltons near the screens, great spotted woodpecker daily along with buzzards, siskin and redpoll in alders along the main path where you could also see: chiffchaff, treecreeper, bullfinch, goldcrests and flocks of tits and finches. 

Bitterns have been spotted on a few occasions, barn owls continue to make a bit of a mess in the Avalon hide (I cleared out a few starling carcasses this morning too), water pipits spotted in Loxtons with pied wagtails and redwing and fieldfare both seen from the car park.

Remember, if you are travelling in towards the local reserves to keep your eyes open in fields of cattle for cattle egrets. I took this rather poor shot with my phone out of my car window this morning as I stopped briefly on the way to work having seen well over 100 cattle egrets in fields between Mudgeley and Westhay Nature Reserve. Then another 50 on the edge of Westhay village where the road goes the road goes over the River Brue. So plenty out there. Sorry for the poor photo but it gives you a flavour:

One last thing to add before I sign off is that I need to report another imminent road closure. Ashcott Road (road to the reserve) closed from 4 Jan – 1st April. Access from Meare only. It's due to a water main being replaced as Far as I know) . I also believe the Meare Road from Glastonbury should be back open by then (it's already over run the original deadline). 

Right, that's it for now as I'm running out of time as always. Thanks for reading. I hope to have time for a blog next week, although it will be on Thursday rather than Friday. 

Have a great weekend. 

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