There have been lots of great sightings on the reserve this week, so we 'll plunge straight in and get on with it.

Water is being lowered slightly in front of the second viewing platform (VP2) and shallow water and small areas of mud are appearing. Last week this attracted a ruff which has since been seen every day this week - it even made a brief appearance at the first viewing platform (VP1) on Tuesday. Thanks to John Crispin for his shot taken this week:

Ruff: John Crispin 

Plenty of lapwing are being seen here each day too (around 30 seems to be a common count) and sometimes the ruff will take off with them so worth studying any lapwings in flight to check. John Crispin did just that and managed to capture this image - thanks again John. 

Ruff in flight with lapwing: John Crispin  

Groups of lapwing have also been seen over the car park during the week and from the Avalon Hide. Thanks to Mike Pearce who sent in this shot of lapwing with Glastonbury Tor as a backdrop:


Lapwings in flight: Mike Pearce 

Other waders have been spotted here too. Snipe are present but often hard to see unless of course they are disturbed or in flight (they have also been seen at the Avalon Hide). Common sandpiper has also been spotted along with black tailed godwit and as many as 8 green sandpiper. Both John Crispin and Graham Wagner have sent me shots of green sandpiper this week. Many thanks to both:

Green sandpiper: Graham Wagner 

Green Sandpiper: John Crispin 

As well as waders is a good place to look for great white egret - you can often see 3 or 4 in this area along with little egret and grey heron. it's also thrown up a couple of other goodies this week. A whooper swan was seen here on Sunday as well as a common tern. Water rails are also being seen as well as a sparrowhawk on several occasions. Look out also for groups of greylag geese who often roost in this area. Thanks to Mike Pearce for his shot:

Greylag geese: Mike Pearce

VP2 is also a great place to hunt for marsh harriers, although they have been seen all over the reserve this week, this seems to be a hotspot. Most likely because along with all the waders there's plenty of wildfowl here too: gadwall, shoveler, teal and 30+ wigeon can be seen. 

Thanks to John Crispin for his marsh harrier shots including one being hassled by a carrion crow and to Graham Wagner for his shot of wigeon:


Marsh harrier: John Crispin 

Marsh harrier & carrion crow: John Crispin 

Wigeon in flight: Graham Wagner 

Bitterns have also been seen quite regularly from here with 3 different birds being spotted here on Sunday but there have been some fantastic views had from VP1 this week. On at least 3 days this week an individual has been seen walking around in the open on the islands (on Wednesday I'm told it was for about an hour and a half). It's well worth stopping here a while and taking a look along the edges of the reeds to see if it's there. Thanks once again to John Crispin for his shots of the bird in question:

Bittern: John Crispin 

As mentioned earlier it can always be a good place to see great white egrets too. If your lucky they may perch up for you on the rails there like this one with a cormorant taken by Mike Pearce this week - thanks Mike:

Maybe in this shot they are daring each other to stand in the very middle - it is looking a bit rotten - i think we will have to get out there and change it at some point soon:

Great white egret & cormorant: Mike Pearce 

I've mentioned in previous weeks about the autumn feel that is beginning to arrive (although some days like this Wednesday still feel like summer) and there are certainly changes to the species on the reserve - more waders for example and wigeon and teal arriving and we've also had records of redwing (Avalon Hide on Weds) and lesser redpoll (a couple of occasions along the main track). We're also seeing late migrants like the 3 sand martins which flew over on Sunday along with 6 house martins and 6 swallows. Willow warbler and chiffchaff have both been heard singing this week and hobbies are still being seen on most days. 

Dragonflies are still on the wing - the first real frosts usually make a difference here although it's not unusual to see ruddy darters on the wing in early November. There are also still plenty of migrant hawkers and common darters being spotted too. Thanks to Mike Pearce & Graham Wagner for their common darter photos:

Common darter: Mike Pearce 

Common Darter mating: Graham Wagner 

Another of our star species has been seen quite a lot this week by visitors. Bearded tits have been seen at several different locations this week - even 6 at the car park pools on Sunday. 7 others were seen at VP2 the same day but this was eclipsed by the 14 reported from there on Wednesday. They have also been seen from VP1, the Tor View Hide, the Avalon Hide and at the far end of the main track through the reserve this week. Obviously the weather does tend to make a difference to the number of sightings - warmer, stiller days are often better. Let's hope it's a good day for the next bearded tit survey at Ham Wall this coming Thursday.

Thanks to John Crispin for his interesting shot of a bearded tit inverted in flight. It's the second time we've had a shot of on flying almost upside down. It must be twisting over in flight or something and John's just caught the shot right - I don't think you'd notice this with the naked eye!

Bearded Tits: John Crispin  

Also this week: Great spotted woodpeckers seen and heard daily, the same buzzard hanging around on gates on the way to the Avalon Hide this week (allowing you to get quite close),another otter sighting from the Avalon Hide on Wednesday morning, ravens seen over the car park and VP2, great crested grebe from the Tor View Hide along with little grebes (9 seen on Sunday), Jays seen collecting acorns along the main path, pochard recorded at the Tor View Hide as well as water rail - these have also been seen from VP2 and the Avalon Hide, kestrel from the Avalon Hide on Sunday and kingfishers seen at the Avalon Hide, Tor View Hide & VP2 this week.

Also listen out for the croaking of the Iberian water frogs. You can still hear and sometimes see them in the pools around the car park area - particularly in sunnier spells. Thanks to Graham Wagner for his photo:

Iberian water frog: Graham Wagner 

If you are new to all this and would like to learn more why not join up on one of our Bird Watching for Beginners walks. There are still a few paces left on the next one which is coming up on Saturday 20th October. Just click the link for details and joining instructions.

On another note, many of you may be aware but the road is closed between Westhay and the Avalon Marshes Centre. It is however open from the other direction (Shapwick Village) and you can reach the Avalon Marshes Centre quite easily. Somerset Crafts and the cafe are open as normal but business is down and they would really appreciate your support while the works are being carried out on the road. Thank you.

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