Apologies once again for a missed blog last week. I had been working up at Greylake all week with our reed cutting machine and had a few mechanical issues which took up a lot of my time. Fortunately it's all fixed now and back home at Ham Wall. Some great stuff at Greylake during the week though with 10's of thousands of lapwings seen at one point with good numbers of golden plover mixed in. Peregrines flying over putting up all the plovers and wildfowl (which will most likely build now with all this wet weather), an appearance by a hen harrier and several sightings of bearded tits in the reed beds and fly overs by marsh harrier and raven and sightings of great white egret too.

Apart from the golden plover we've had those birds at Ham wall this week too. A ringtail hen harrier flew over the area in front of the 1st viewing platform (VP1) on Sunday but didn't stay long as she drifted off northwards - she would have been seen from the Avalon Hide too. 

Lapwings have been evident in this area too this week with varying numbers being reported the highest being over 400 on Wednesday morning. Thanks to Andy Collins for sending in his lapwing shot taken last week: 

Peregrines at least 2 have been seen around the time of the starling roost. The birds are still ore or less roosting in the same area. They have moved between the Loxtons and Waltons sections of the reserve this week (back in Loxtons last night) but these are adjacent so head for that area unless you hear otherwise from the starling hotline 07866 554142 or from staff/volunteers in the Welcome Building in the car park. 

Loxtons has been taking a bit of a hammering by them as it did 2 years ago when fish populations began to struggle to the the ammonia levels in the water increasing from starling droppings. Several great white egrets have been in here regularly this week - as many as 8 yesterday by my count as I passed by. You can also spot great white egrets regularly from both VP1, VP2 and the cut island in Waltons &the Avalon Hide. Thanks to John Crispin for this amazing shot of a great white egret taken this week. It almost looks like it's dancing. This is a ringed french male bird often seen at Ham Wall: 

  

Also over Loxtons as many as 5 different marsh harriers have been seen in the mornings quartering over the reeds looking for carrion (dead starlings) - thanks to John Crispin once again for his shot (and the close up) of a bird with its find - marsh harriers have also been seen from both platforms, the Avalon Hide and even over the car park on occasions this week:

Ravens have been seen and heard on a daily basis this week, often from VP1 - try the dead tree in the distance - one quite often perches here.

As for bearded tits - sightings this week from the Avalon Hide as well as some of the parts of the reserve not open to the public - but good to know they are around.

Perhaps the best surprise of the week was the appearance of the Glossy Ibis - our old bird returning perhaps or a new bird?. Always welcome here at Ham Wall whatever the case. John Crispin's shot is most welcome too - thanks John!. This bird flew up out of the area in front of VP1 on Sunday at 7.50am and flew south and from the same area on Monday at 7.55am and flew south west. Unfortunately no further sightings yet this week:

The VP1 area has been a good place to watch this week. Apart from the lapwing, there have been plenty of snipe with as many as 35 seen flying from here on Wednesday morning but also a good array of duck including wigeon, teal, shoveler, mallard, gadwall, pochard & tufted duck. Duck species are of course also visible from VP2, the Tor View Hide & the Avalon HIde as well as within Loxtons where a number of teal were recorded last week. Thanks to Andy Collins for his teal shots of both male and female which he took last week:

Also from VP1 over the last couple of weeks there have been several sightings of Water Pipits - as many as 9 or 10 have been seen on the reserve over the last week in different areas. Try also the Tor View Hide/Waltons (3 seen), Loxtons in the newly cut areas or towards the far end of the reserve where a neighbour has drawn down water levels (4 seen here) - up to 6 green sandpiper have also been seen in this area. Many thanks to Pat Collins for sending in these Water Pipit shots taken this week:

Along the main path has been interesting too. Always worth taking a bit more time and checking things out - you never know what you might see. A yellow browed warbler is still present, a couple of bullfinches and as many as 3 treecreeper. Siskins (up to 6) and varying numbers of lesser redpoll (up to 40) also seen with 30 of the latter in the birch tree right next to VP1 on Wednesday morning. Look out also for goldcrest (up to 5), a firecrest at the entrance to Shapwick Heath car park yesterday, chiffchaff (4), jay, great spotted woodpecker and even a female blackcap reported.

Whilst walking down remember to check out the main drain for grey herons. There are a couple which use this regularly and will allow you to get quite close for a photo (maybe not a selfie but close to it). Thanks agin to Pat Collins for this heron shot taken this week. Thanks for sending it in Pat:

  

Also this week: keep your eyes open for cattle egret. There have been quite a few seen locally. A group of 25 were seen with cows close to our Long Drove plot near Sharpham on Sunday and then 18 with one little egret the following day, bitterns seen from VP1, the Avalon Hide and over the car park on Sunday, c100 greylag geese in front of VP2 along with several Canada geese (thanks to Andy Collins for his shot which follows), groups of goldrest 20+, mixed tit flocks, kingfishers seen around the Waltons section, stonechats seen around Loxtons and from VP1 and 14 Linnets recorded along the main path during the week. 

Canada Goose: Andy Collins

So lots to look out for on your visit. That's it for this week. Have a great weekend!

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