The spring invasion has continued at Ham Wall this week with the sand martins perhaps the stars of the show. Most days have seen hundreds arriving and swooping down low over the water to scoop up flies for a tasty snack. This morning they were flying low over my head as I stood near the first viewing platform (VP1) - lovely sight. A few swallows and house martins have also been spotted throughout the week. Thanks to John Crispin & Graham Wagner for sending in their sand martin action shots:
and some slightly more relaxed sand martin shots now. Thanks again to John & Graham>
Other species of course are also arriving. Our first reed warbler was heard from the main path on Tuesday and I heard my first sedge warbler yesterday again from the main path. It was on the left hand side just after the line of trees begin down towards VP1.
If you are walking along here take a few moments to enjoy the bird song chorus. Plenty of blackcaps are now belting out their songs and have been joined in the last couple of weeks by several willow warblers and I think I heard a garden warbler too yesterday morning. Listen out also for the "usual suspects" : blackbird, robin, great tit, blue tit, chaffinch, goldfinch, song thrush & wren along with good numbers of chiffchaff.
Taking a bit more time could bring more rewards such as goldcrest, bullfinch, great spotted woodpecker & treecreeper - all spotted this week. So too was a brambling seen this morning in vegetation just behind the second viewing platform (VP2). Good numbers of redpoll have also been recorded over the last week with a peak of 30 seen by Graham Wagner on Sunday. He also managed to get this shot of one - thanks Graham!
Other, smaller flocks have been seen throughout the week. Volunteer Dean Reeves saw 18 at the end of the boardwalk at Waltons just before you cross into Loxtons on Tuesday and with them a mealy redpoll.
Still some of our winter visitors hanging on. A few wigeon and teal being seen and heard and a short eared owl seen over the section we call Garleys last Friday (too late for the blog). This is the section on the right before the drained down area being worked out by one of our neighbours. If you go this far down check it out for green sandpipers. They have been here a lot recently and one was seen here yesterday too.
Pintail usually appear with us over the winter and a pair were seen from VP1 this morning. Other ducks of course will stay with us to breed. Mallard, pochard, gadwall, shoveler & tufted duck all breed in significant numbers. These tufted ducks were photographed mating by John Crispin this week. Thanks John!
To add to the ducks of course we have garganey arriving. Pairs have been seen this week from VP1 & VP2 so worth looking in both spots (VP2 this morning). Also this morning a red kite flew over the reserve seen from VP1.
VP1 has been an interesting place to see a variety of birds this week: an osprey flew over on Thursday, great white and little egrets have frequented the area, great crested grebes are still nesting (12 were seen on our Long Drove section yesterday) and we've had a few waders popping in to say hello. A single dunlin was seen yesterday, lapwings have been seen again although I've not seen them displaying like they did last week, 2 black tailed godwits appeared this morning and a few snipe have also been spotted. Also 3 otters reported together on Wednesday (another reported from the Avalon Hide yesterday at around 12pm)
At VP2 yesterday a few bitterns were spotted. One pair in a chase which ended up over Waltons & Loxtons area and then a second pair in a chase joined by a third. These birds flew around together for around 15 minutes before dropping down. This is most likely males chasing females. All the time this was going on two further males were booming from the reedbeds below. Plenty of other booming going on now so quite a good chance of hearing one during your visit. One can be heard from the car park over on Shapwick Heath.
The car park can also bring extra rewards with Jay, pied wagtail and coal tit to add to your list and don't for get to check out the nest box cam on the TV in the Welcome Building. The Tawny Owl returned after a couple of days of absence at the end of last and was seen with two mice on Saturday it must have kept back for a daytime feast. It gobbled one for sure during the day. Visitor Experience Manager, Abbie Thorne took this picture with her phone and sent it on to me_ thanks Abbie:
It spends a lot of time asleep obviously but frequently pops its head up and look around or preens. Be nice to see some eggs perhaps at some point. Hope that's not just wishful thinking.
Great white egrets were also spotted sat in the trees at the end of the car park, roe deer seen nearby and a sparrowhawk flew over late yesterday afternoon.
Also this week: kingfishers from the Avalon Hide and around Waltons, active marsh harriers from the Avalon Hide (one male and 2 female) - also from VP2, barn owl seen on Wednesday from VP1, lots of noisy little grebes, plenty of noise from water rails too including a sighting from the Tor View Hide and plenty of vocal reed bunting and cettis warblers around the site.
That's it for this week - have a great weekend!
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