Obviously its a very difficult time for everyone at the moment with what's going on in the world. I'm not going to talk too much about it - only to tell you that currently Ham Wall remains open to the public and the parking is free. The visitor building and toilets however remained closed now until further notice. 

It's still okay to visit our wonderful reserve but it doing so follow government advice on social distancing (2m apart from others) and hygiene etc. Should government advice change we will update you as necessary. The situation is changing rapidly and what I say could well be obsolete within hours so please keep yourselves informed with all the government advice.

Most staff will be doing their best to work from home where possible - myself included. As things stand it is possible for me to undertake some tasks such as survey work where I will be alone and away from other people. During this time we will do our best to keep you up to date with things at Ham Wall as best we can. If you visit and take photos why not tag us in and share your experiences. I will do my best to keep this weekly blog going and if possible add some extra posts. I originally started this blog on Friday and have tried to alter dates/days where possible - sorry if I missed anything - it will explain why something doesn't read quite right. 

So, what's been happening on the reserve the last week or so? A few noticeable changes that's for sure. Some big groups of sand martins are arriving on our shores. Last week it was 2's and 3's, this week 30's and 40's and some groups of 100 or more such as this morning at the first viewing platform (VP1). On the walk down several people remarked on hearing blackcaps in song with at least 5 males spotted along with one female.

Chiffchaffs are also in song along with great tit, robin, song thrush, blackbird, wren and many others including this dunnock photographed by John Crispin this week. Thanks John:

 Having mentioned wrens - they are not only singing but nest building too as discovered by our administrator Sandie Andrews who took these shots and sent them on to me. Thanks Sandie:

Other birds too are nesting - some well underway such as the grey herons - at least 4 nests within the Waltons reedbeds.

Visitors have also asked about the nesting great crested grebes in front of VP1. I think I mentioned in last week's blog that they could well hatch this week. Guess what? They have.  It's hard to determine just how many young there are at the moment but they are there as both John Crispin's and Sarah Robbins photos show. Thank you both for sending them in - wonderful news:

  

Other birds showing signs of nesting are the marsh harriers with the Avalon Hide or VP2 probably the best places to see them although they do travel across the rest of the reserve. This one photographed (first photo) over Waltons by John Crispin with others on the north of the reserve in the photos which follow show interactions between birds with sky dancing and presenting on nesting material. Thanks John:

Another star bird is of course the bittern, with plenty of booming being heard around the reserve during the day. Sightings from the Avalon Hide, Loxtons, Waltons and VP1 this week,

A bittern was seen from VP1 on this morning (Friday) along with marsh harrier and great white egret but also: pintails (5 males and 4 females seen this week), 7 black tailed godwits and a redshank. Black tailed godwits have been seen on a few occasions here this week including these photographed by John Crispin. Thanks John:

Other egrets are being seen too, including cattle egrets with 12 seen from VP1 on Friday (20th) with still many more roosting on the reserve each night although numbers have dropped- most likely because some have moved off to breeding grounds. Over 60 have been counted in the last week however. These perched in trees taken by John Crispin last week. Thanks again to John:

Little egrets are seen too, although less frequently. This one enjoying a meal taken by Sarah Robbins last week. Thanks Sarah:

It's not just birds showing us the signs of spring, a few flowers are in bloom and there are butterflies taken advantage of this early nectar source. Comma, small tortoiseshell, brimstone and peacock all seen this week with the latter of these photographed by John Crispin:

It's an interesting time on the reserve to see the new migrants arriving but also with the overlap of wintering birds still here. I've heard a few fieldfare this last week although didn't see them on this occasion and there are still teal and wigeon present on the reserve. No Garganey yet (our summer visiting duck), although one has been reported at RSPB Greylake recently.

Other ducks on site include: mallard, tufted duck, shoveler,gadwall and pochard of which plenty in Loxtons at the moment. The Loxtons screen is accessible but from the Waltons side only now the the large fallen oak has been cleared. The shorter path up to the screen on the eastern side is still flooded. Thanks to Barrie Shaeff who sent in his shot of gadwall in flight from his recent visit. He was also luck enough to catch a sighting of an otter but unfortunately couldn't get it on camera. Better luck next time Barrie!

Other recent sighting include: ravens flying over, a treecreeper calling and flitting in the alders by Loxtons on the main track, bullfinches also on the main track, sparrowhawk from VP2 on both Wednesday and Thursday and plenty of bird song to enjoy and what's more the sun is shining

That's it for now. I'll try to keep posting blogs when I can. I don't have access to my back catalogue of photographs but I do have access to my e-mail so those of you who contribute sightings and photographs regularly please continue to do so for as long as you are allowed or feel safe enough to do so. Stay safe everyone and look after each other

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