Apologies but this will just be a very brief update this week. The main reason being is that we felt we should take advantage of the good weather to erect a couple of barn owl boxes around the site. They have been sitting in our workshop for some time waiting for all 3 of us to be available and good weather. They are to replace old boxes which look to be on their last legs and we really didn't want to be disturbing barn owls on a wet day. We made the right choice as a pair flew out of the box at Central Wood near the Avalon Hide as we approached. When they return they should find a lovely new 'des res'. There are two boxes in this area, the second one being used by breeding tawny owls over the last few years.
We also replaced one which fell down in the wood to the west (left) of the Avalon Hide. This box has often been frequented by both tawny owls and barn owls in the past with a second box close by which barn owls use almost every year.
Special thanks must go to volunteer Pete Wood who has made us 3 of these lovely boxes using his own materials and of course his time - now that's giving nature a home!
On the reserve we have started with the revamp of the 3 viewing screens at Waltons. Screen number 3 has been completely dismantled and we have made a start with the rebuild. This area has been taped off but the other 2 screens and the Tor View Hide are open as normal. We aim to keep the hide open at all times during the development of the screens and try to stagger the building and dismantling of screens so that at least one is open at all times.
In terms of wildlife we are still getting reports of firecrests at the road end of the car park and along the first stretch of the main track from the road and reports of the yellow browed warbler by the little footbridge as you enter the wood towards the Avalon Hide. It may just be pot luck whether you see it or not though.
Elsewhere, plenty of great white egrets across the reserve including one fishing in front of the Waltons screens often with a little egret and a grey heron in close proximity. Look out also for great crested grebes who are meeting up again and pair bonding after wintering apart (also can be seen at Loxtons and the first viewing platform (VP1). Cattle egrets are back in good numbers again this week after a drop in numbers. Back with a bang with c155 seen this morning leaving the roost site (a record number I believe).
Other highlights include: bearded tits seen from the Tor View Hide, hundreds of lapwing from VP1 and varying numbers of snipe flying around in tight groups with at least 104 counted on one occasion, 14 redshank flying over the reserve, drumming great spotted woodpecker this afternoon in the sunshine and an increase in marsh harrier activity on the north of the reserve with 4 being seen regularly in close proximity - Avalon Hide a good place to see these.
The starlings are moving around a bit now and the last couple of nights the bulk have been over on Shapwick Heath at the area known as the roughet (beyond Noahs lake). Drop into our car park to ask for further info or phone the starling hotline for the last known location (ie the night before) 07866 554142
Sorry for the brief round up but I've just run out of time this week. I'll leave you with a picture of some great crested grebes getting reacquainted this week and a bittern which dropped into the reeds at Loxtons, courtesy of John Crispin - thanks John:
Thanks for reading what I have managed to get down - have a great weekend!
Well done Pete Wood and thank you.
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