Saturday, 3 June 2017

RSPB Ham Wall :: 29-30 May 2017

Arrived at the Avalon Marshes Centre just as the rain started to fall so decided on an early lunch - interesting as on a "no meat Monday". Easy for me to choose but Charlotte not so sure about the vegan sausages. After lunch took a walk through the craft centre and then decided to head straight over to RSPB Ham Wall instead of walking from the Centre - it turned out to be a good decision as the heavens then opened and we could see others being drenched. We therefore decided to detour and went to Wells Cathedral for the early afternoon and checked into our hotel - a beautiful building which we could see close up from our hotel room!

As the rain began to cease we decided to jump back into the car and head over to Ham Wall. It was still raining gently as we arrived and I had a chat to one of the locals on where on the site would be best for the day - light was poor and he didn't expect the weather to lift. Fortunately he was wrong.

As we got onto the reserve proper we crossed the old bridge and from here we saw a group viewing a female red-footed falcon [#133]. Willow warblerVery (very) distant but visible from the scope. As we watched a bittern [#134] flew overhead. Stayed for a short while then decided to move on. Willow warbler teased but moved on each time I was near to focusing. At the first viewpoint we saw our first little and great white egrets [#135]. We walked all the way to the end of the map (and slightly beyond) until we came across a couple who were waiting and listening for the little bittern - we waited for a short while but decided to give it a try the next day - the couple had waited four hours for their first view and time was getting on. We turned and at the first viewpoint we caught sight of a cuckoo - they had beed quite vocal but were not showing until this point (only a fly-past).

Nothing much to add on our return walk but a small group Great white egretwere still present watching the red-footed falcon, now from the bridge itself.

After breakfast the next day we headed back and joined an even larger group watching the red-footed falcon - it was still staying in the same group of trees. We dropped into the Avalon hide and enjoyed marsh harriers and calling bittern. On the far side of the water I saw movement and after waiting found the birds to be bearded tits [#136] (male and juvenile). We strolled back to the car to pick up our sandwich lunch, sitting in the sun at the reserve entrance to eat them.

We set off to try our luck with the little bittern. BitternOn the way we stopped at a couple of the viewpoints and had good sightings of bittern and cuckoo. When we reached the reed bed we found a small group waiting patiently - unfortunately we had missed the bird fly over just 10 minutes earlier - this could be a long wait - would we have time? We could hear the bird "bark" from the other side of the bushes but it didn't climb for us to get a view. Suddenly it rose from the reeds and we enjoyed a 6 second transit before it dropped into another reed island. What a beautiful little bittern (male) [#137] - it was much smaller than I was expecting but also more dramatic looking.

We were happy with that and returned to the car - some way away - Little bitternnot spotting anything significant on the way. A great decision to visit and we must come back again.

Sightings at Ham Wall (50) included: bearded tit, bittern, black-headed gull, blackbird, blackcap, blue tit, buzzard, carrion crow, chaffinch, chiffchaff, coot, cormorant, cuckoo, dunnock, gadwall, goldfinch, great crested grebe, great spotted woodpecker, great tit, great white egret, greenfinch, grey heron, jay, lapwing, little bittern, little egret, little grebe, long-tailed tit, magpie, mallard, marsh harrier, moorhen, mute swan, pied wagtail, pochard, red-footed falcon, reed bunting, reed warbler, robin, rook, sedge warbler, shoveler, song thrush, swallow, swift, tufted duck, whitethroat, willow warbler, woodpigeon and wren.