Another busy week at Ham Wall - they all seem to be like that these days. But it gives me plenty to write about. I am aiming to write a blog next Friday but then of course it will be the Christmas break so the blog will be absent for a couple of weeks. I'm hoping it will return on the first Friday of January (the 5th I think it will be - by which time who knows what will have dropped in).

Back to this week and there has been plenty of action. I'll start with the Starlings for a change. They have continued to roost in the Loxtons and Waltons areas all week so best to try there until you hear differently. The hotline will be updated as and when necessary so you always phone that to make sure : 07866 554142

Sunset is at about 4pm at the moment so you need to be in place well before then. They have been coming in as early as 3.15 to give you an idea. In the mornings sunrise is about 7am so again arrive well before this to witness the take off. Thanks to John Crispin for his lift off picture taken this week:

After roost has left it's worth waiting around as the clean up operation starts with a few marsh harriers often appearing to gobble up any dead starlings that didn't make it through the night. A peregrine has also been seen on several occasions this week but not just around starling time. One individual has been seen from both platforms and the Avalon Hide hunting the many snipe (which are often hidden from view to us) which then take to the air. One flew high over the first viewing platform (VP1) on Wednesday initially distinguished by it's high wing flap rate. 

As many as 50 snipe have been counted this week. Thanks again to John Crispin for his snipe shot taken during the week:

As well as snipe good numbers of Lapwing have been reported throughout the week with around 400 from VP1 on Monday 300 at Waltons on Thursday, 540 on the same day at VP1 and around 1000 seen flying over the car park on Tuesday. 

There have also been one or two green sandpipers spotted but for a better chance of these you will need to go past VP2 to almost the end of the main path and look in the drained down area on the right. As many as 8 have been counted there this week (2 up on last weeks count). Look out in the same area for water pipits with 3 sen here but you may be lucky enough to see these at either VP1 or the Tor View Hide. Look out also for black tailed godwits. A couple were recorded from Monday from VP1 although spent most of the time asleep. There must have been more than two as some point as Mike Pearce's picture shows - thanks Mike:

The platforms are also good places to find great white egrets - they can be seen hanging out here most days but also check out Loxtons where the starlings have been roosting and where there are newly cut areas. I certainly saw several here last week and had similar reports this week. 2 ringed birds have been noted this week. One was the french bird mentioned and photographed in a great pose in last weeks blog. Well, not to be outdone our very own homegrown ham wall bird (red ring AAC) has decided to perform a Christmas miracle and attempted to walk on water. Thanks to John Crispin for his great photo once again:

This bird was feeding regularly in the cut area in front of the single screen in the south east corner of Waltons. It took offence to another great white egret coming close and flew off to intercept it. This is actually the moment it came back in to land - captured at just the right time by John!

Look out also locally for cattle egrets. Many seen in local fields close to the reserve including one to the south of Waltons and Long Drove (just beyond) in the Sharpham area. As many as 37 seen here with 32 roosting within the reserve boundary on a few evenings this week - Welcome Home!! 

The platforms (VP1 & VP2) are home to good numbers of duck including shoveler 102 seen at VP1 on Sunday, wigeon, teal, tufted duck, gadwall, mallard and even a pintail seen from VP2 on Wednesday. Look out also for little grebes with as many as 7 being spotted.

VP2 has also played host to a number of geese this week with 96 greylag counted on Sunday but Canada geese in there too. Thanks to Mike Pearce for his shot of a Canada goose making a splash on the reserve this week:

Also this week - along the main path: siskin, c35 lesser redpoll, bullfinch, chiffchaff, great spotted woodpecker, goldcrest, treecreepers & groups of long tailed tits. Stonechat and whinchat both reported opposite VP1, Ravens seen over VP1 and over the car park (3 on Thursday), 2 otter spotted in the Loxtons section - also a good place to spot kingfishers this week (as has the Tor View Hide), 50 redwing over the car park on Tuesday and 20 fieldfares from VP1 on Monday, Bitterns spotted from VP1, the Avalon Hide during the week, a merlin from VP2 on Monday, a female hen harrier from VP2 the same day and sparrowhawk from the car park and VP1 on a few occasions this week. 

Thought I'd leave you with a nice couple of swan shots taken by Mike Pearce this week - who doesn't like a picture of a swan - so elegant. Thanks Mike:

That's it for this week. Have a great weekend!

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