It's been a slightly unusual week for me. I was at work on Monday and then found out that my daughter needed to isolate for the rest of the week due to a classmate testing positive for Covid. It means I haven't been in much at all this week so I am flying slightly blind today but I will do my best.
Perhaps one of the most obvious spectacles you will see at Ham Wall at the moment will be the fledged marsh harriers. They are now very active and very noisy with constant calling to parent birds and each other. The two fledged birds from the nest in front of the first viewing platform (VP1) seem to have been joined by another bird. We believe this to be the single bird spotted in front of the Avalon Hide recently. Look out for their more gingery brown coloured heads when compared to the more creamy coloured female. Thanks to John Crispin for his photos taken over the last week:
Thanks also to Johnathon Cuttle who sent in his photo taken last week of the male in front of the wind pump visible from VP1 and the Avalon Hide.
Other birds of prey spotted on the reserve this week includes the barn owls seen from VP1 and the Avalon Hide, hobby seen from VP1 and VP2, sparrowhawk from VP2, buzzards on a daily basis and an osprey seen flying over the reserve at the weekend.
These may be hunters in the air but this splendid hunter in the water was spotted by Graham Wagner this week. A wonderful otter sighting - thanks Graham:
The waters are home to a variety of fish including rudd, eels and pike. You can often get good views of fish from the old rail bridge along the main track. Look out for grass snakes in this area too with one seen swimming here on Monday. I had one cross the path just in front of me on Monday too.
Also in the water this week (apart from the wonderful range of birds) include the Iberian water frogs - you can usually hear them croaking during the day - try the car park pools or around Waltons & Loxtons. This one was photographed by Graham Wagner around the Waltons section this week. Thanks Graham:
Also look out for froglets and toadlets (pictured) on the move around the reserve too. Thanks again to Graham:
The frogs of course form part of the diet of many birds - particularly the heron species we have around the reserve such as the very beautiful great white egrets which are an easy spot these days. We will soon give you a full total for the number of nests and fledged egrets this year - I think it will be quite an impressive figure.
Thanks to Johnathon Cuttle for his great white egret photos taken late last week:
Another beautiful bird to catch sight of is the great crested grebes. There are two nests from the Avalon Hide with one still sat on eggs. The other is busy feeding young birds, as well as themselves, and is fascinating to watch them (they can also be seen quite easily in the Waltons section). Some good action shots here of the grebes from John Crispin and Johnathon Cuttle. Thanks to both for their images:
First swallowing a large fish - actually whilst almost completely submerged (John Crispin):
Then feeding youngsters at the nest (John Crispin):
Coming in to land (Johnathon Cuttle):
..and a wings out pose (Johnathan Cuttle):
Other beautiful creatures to look out for are of course butterflies: brimstone, small skipper, green veined white, meadow brown, speckled wood, peacock, small tortoiseshell and red admiral all seen by me on Monday - in fact a red admiral has just flown in my house as I write this - must have known I was talking about them.
Dragonflies are also an interesting draw for a lot of visitors: brown hawker, emperor, southern hawker, four spotted chaser, common darter and ruddy darter all on the wing. Thanks to Johnathon Cuttle for his four spotted chaser shot:
There is still plenty of bird song on the reserve, although perhaps it is quietening down a bit now as the breeding season begins to draw to a close. The main path has always been a good place to listen to birds or get sight of the smaller of our feathered friends. Look and listen out for: chiffchaff, willow warbler, blackcap, garden warbler, song thrush, blackbird, robin, bullfinch, goldcrest, treecreeper, whitethroat, blue tit, great tit, long tailed tit and chaffinch.
The busy wood pigeon by VP1 was still busy on Monday - obviously I haven't seen him since but he must have a pretty fine nest by now given all the toing and froing he was doing. Thanks to John Crispin for his photo:
In the reedbeds look out for reed bunting, sedge warblers, reed warblers, cettis warblers and bearded tits (most likely nearer to the Avalon Hide or at least on that side of the reserve from the footpath. Thanks to Graham Wagner for his shot of a cettis warbler taken at Waltons and Johnathon Cuttle for his reed warbler shots:
Out on the water many ducks are now moving into eclipse making them a little harder to identify for a short time. The male mallard here identifiable by its bill colour which has remained a greenish yellow - thanks again to John Crispin:
While these coots are still occasionally squabbling out on the water. Some lines (even invisible ones) you just don't cross. Thanks again to Johnathon Cuttle:
Also this week from my limited info: 12 sand martins over the reserve on Saturday heading south, great spotted woodpecker at the car park, a raven flying over the reserve cronking loudly on Monday, swallows feeding on the power lines at the car park (thanks to Graham Wagner for the photo), bullfinch seen at the car park and water rails heard from the Tor View Hide.
I'll leave you this week with these lovely images of some roe deer on the reserve from John Crispin. First the male (buck) and the the female (doe) with its fawn:
Finally....I almost forgot....the bridge at the end of the Ham Wall Loop (the long circular red coloured trail on the map) has been closed by the Environment Agency, while they inspect it for potential repairs to its structure. I'm afraid we have no idea at present how long this may take and can only apologise for any inconvenience caused. A map is attached for your information:
That's it for this week. I hope I have given you some flavour of the reserve despite being absent for most of the week. Back to normal next week hopefully! Have a great weekend.
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