It's been a hot week at Ham Wall - not surprisingly a drop in activity in the middle of the day when the temperatures are so high. 

All the usual suspects are there though - hungry mouths are still demanding food. Bitterns are still being seen from all over the reserve, with the first viewing platform (VP1) one of the best places. Some of the flights from around the site are a little more random, perhaps suggesting that youngsters are a bit more mobile and getting close to fledging. The semi fledged birds in front of the Avalon Hide of last week were seen again on Sunday but not since I think so perhaps that's mission accomplished for that parent.

This bittern strayed too much into this marsh harrier's territory and got into a bit of an argument - think I would steer well clear in future. Thanks to John Crispin for his photo:

Marsh harriers are also pretty busy every day and quite easy to see too. Either platform or the Avalon Hide good places to see them. Thanks again to John Crispin who snapped this photo sequence of a food pass this week:

There have also been some interactions between marsh harrier and lapwing from VP1 again this week. Lapwing are undoubtedly nesting in here - 2 pairs we think - along with a pair of redshank (both are seen regularly). Lapwings will often chase off all comers if they get close to the nest. Thanks again to John Crispin who took these shots of the two interacting:

More marsh harrier action with this male hovering taken this week. Thanks John, great shot: 

Another bird of prey making itself quite obvious has been the barn owl. There have been a lot of sightings over the last few weeks at all times of day. On Wednesday I found out why. I went out with Chris Sperring from the Hawk & Owl Trust to check the boxes (Chris has a licence). We discovered that 3 of our boxes have young birds in. Unfortunately we couldn't access 2 of them over safety concerns for either us or the owlets but one box we did. 

3 healthy looking owls at about 6-7 weeks old very close to leaving. We managed to ring one but with concerns the others might bolt (this would put them in danger) we decided to leave the others alone - the animal must always come first. Great news though that we have 3 nests. Another bird was also seen carry prey past VP2 to the east (no boxes here) - there is one more location I could keep an eye on in this direction to discover whether we have a fourth nest. Thanks to John again who caught this adult carrying food this week and thanks to Chris for his help and advice during his visit:

Hobby are also being seen although not that regularly - seem to have been less than usual. One did fly past VP2 this morning. I have heard one story that Kevin from Somerset Wildlife Trust witnessed a hobby taking a swift this week - I have heard of this happening but not sure it's witnessed that often. If that wasn't interesting enough it then got mugged by 3 peregrines and lost its catch. Wow! that must of been quite something to see. 

I do know that the Peregrines from St Johns Church in Glastonbury, have just about fledged but not sure given the timings that this could be them. There are 2 fledglings from this nest ang both have blue leg identifiers with black lettering. The male WV and female WT. Let us know if you see them around anywhere. Thanks to Steve who has been monitoring/filming these birds right the way through. Here's the latest photo taken - thanks Steve:

Other young birds can still be seen out on the reserve. A pochard with 2 young reported from the Avalon Hide yesterday, broods of mute swan, Canada Goose, Moorhen and coot seen at various locations, a pair of little grebe with young at the Avalon Hide and great crested grebes with young from the Tor View Hide. Other parents can be seen out feeding such as the song thrush I saw this morning smashing snails on the main path near VP1. 

John Crispin saw the same thing this week and was on hand to get some photos - thanks John:

Also this willow warbler was seen carrying nesting material this week - a late nest perhaps?

Other birds can be seen gathering just a few of the multitude of insects we have at Ham Wall. Lots of smaller flies of course but lots of more obvious insects such as the fabulous butterflies and dragonflies. Plenty of small tortoiseshell in particular but I've also seen painted lady (in the car park), red admiral, speckled wood, meadow brown and green veined white. There will be more besides these of course - these are just ones I have noticed on my travels this week. 

In terms of dragonflies and damselflies look out for the mighty emperor - our biggest dragonfly (pictured), four spotted chaser, black tailed skimmer, broad bodied chaser, brown hawker, variable damselfly, red eyed damselfly, azure damselfly, common blue damselfly and blue tailed damselfly.

In terms of mammals - these are a lot harder to come by. No muntjac reported this week but they are in the local area, roe deer is your most likely mammal too see (apart from perhaps a vole hanging under a barn owl of course). On Wednesday a doe with a very small fawn was seen as we went to check out the owl boxes (very cute). other deer have been seen around some of the trails or in fields to the north of the reserve.  Here's a fine looking buck from our archive: 

Reptiles and amphibians might be slightly easier. Iberian water frogs are still calling - more so in the evenings, hundreds of froglets were crossing the Waltons trail yesterday - seen by some visitors, a grass snake was seen swimming from the Avalon Hide earlier this week and another seen this morning basking on the old rail bridge along with a common lizard - they soon disappeared when some visitors passed.

Also this week: garganey seen from the Avalon Hide, swifts and swallows seen flying overhead. Swallows seem to still be inspecting the shelter at the car park but not nest building, whitethroat has been seen from VP1, Kingfisher seen at both Tor View Hide and VP2, water rails heard at Tor View and Avalon Hides, Bearded tits from the Avalon Hide but also VP1, cuckoos still calling - even this morning, siskin seen at the car park, bullfinch along the main path along with the usual warblers: blackcap, chiffchaff, willow warbler and garden warbler.

This garden warbler seen in full song - thanks to John Crispin again for his shot: 

I'll leave it there for this week I think. Thanks for reading and have a great weekend!

Anonymous