A full bus (with others meeting us at RSPB Ham Wall) headed of early from HQ at Hayle on 14th May for a full day on the Somerset Levels. We arrived at the fantastic RSPB Ham Wall at 09.30am and after a few introduction and a toilet break we headed onto the reserve. We were immediately greeted to a blast of Cetti’s Warbler song, followed by Reed and Sedge Warbler, Whitethroat and Garden Warbler. A red Kite flew slowly overhead escorted by a couple of Swifts and the trees nearby held Robin, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Blackcap and Goldfinch. All this within 10ft of the car park!
Leaving the reception area we headed down the main track following the Glastonbury Canal. As we approached the old railway bridge our first Bittern of the day glided in to the reedy pool edge nearby and stayed long enough for great scope views. We continued to get some great flight views of Bitterns throughout the day, with another in the reeds in the afternoon and birds ‘booming’ from most areas. More Cetti’s and Garden Warblers and Blackcaps were seen and heard en route to the first viewing area and were joined by our first Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs. Great-crested Grebes, Pochard, Tufted Duck and Gadwall were abundant on the open water and Lapwings were our first waders of the day.
A small flock of Black-tailed Godwits were us entertaining at the viewing area when we heard that the Great Reed Warbler had been seen again nearby. This was a lifer for all but one of us, so we headed straight for the reed bed where it had been reported. Fortunately the huge warbler was on view on our arrival, blasting out its unmistakable song and giving great views. Great Reed Warblers are the largest of the European Warblers and breed throughout mainland Europe and the west Palearctic, but not in the UK, yet! Ham Wall would be an ideal place if they did though.
After a bit of time photographing the Great Reed Warbler we went back to the first viewing area. A Great Egret showed well and we saw numerous Marsh Harriers quartering the reserve. As the day warmed up the first Hobbys started to show, hunting dragonflies overhead. We saw about 25-30 birds in all!
After visiting the Avalon Hide, the rest of the day was spent covering our tracks back to the car park for lunch then out to Tor View Hide where we saw more Marsh Harriers, Hobbys, Great Egrets and a fly by Cuckoo! In all we saw and heard 60 species, adding another half dozen on our way home! Another fantastic day at our favourite day tour destination, loads of birds, butterflies, dragonflies and other wildlife. Lifers and year ticks for everyone! Back again next week for another tour and we also have plans to do a winter trip to include the Starling murmuration! Keep an eye on the website for that one!
Many thanks to all our guests today, some great wildlife experiences and wonderful company.
Paul and Brad