A trip up to Somerset was planned for Day 6 (Saturday 16th May) with Los Angeles birder Steve Dexter. We set of at 5am picking up the very American sounding Brad Dallas en-route! Another pair of eyes to pick out birds for Steve’s UK list!

Very light traffic enabled us to reach Ham Walls reserve in Somerset just before 7am and the first bird we saw as we pulled into the car park was a Great White Egret flying over! This was to be the first over more than 6 individuals we saw throughout the day. Ham Walls is an amazing reserve and probably the closest thing to some of the big European reserves like Donana and S’albufera we have in the UK. Before long we were treated to booming Bitterns, Marsh Harriers and over 20 Hobbies. The open water produced new birds for Steve such as Shoveler, Pochard, Water Rail, Greylag and Common Tern. Everywhere you looked there was birdlife, hundreds of Swifts, Black-tailed Godwits, Great Crested and Little Grebes, Cuckoo, etc etc…..Oh and a distant Egyptian Goose!

A superb reserve and definitely worth a trip again in the near future as the breeding Little Bitterns had yet to return.

Great White Egret
Male Marsh Harrier (and Swift!)

After a liquid lunch (the Railway Inn doesn’t serve hot food!), we headed south to Devon for food. Fish and Chips in the appropriately named ‘Barn Owl Inn’ at Kingskerswell was well received by all and once re-fuelled Brad and I decided to treat Steve to another rarity. After some dodgy directions from Brad we finally found the very peaceful Beesands Ley in South Devon where the reported SQUACCO HERON was expertly picked up by Brad. We scoped the bird for some 30 minutes whilst it fished successfully time after time from the reeds on the far side of the pool. Too distantly for photos I’m afraid!

Male Cirl Bunting

At this point we were only four mile from Prawle Point, so it seemed rude not to drop in for the resident Cirl Buntings. A short walk from the car park found a superb singing male, which was fortunate, as we didn’t see another! So another excellent day adding 19 new birds to the trip list! Birds seen today were:

Ham Walls, Somerset: 6+ Great White Egret, 3 Little Egret, Grey Heron, Water Rail, Shoveler, Pochard, Mallard, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Lesser Black Backed Gull, Marsh Harrier (3 males and 3 females), 20+ Hobby, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Cetti’s Warbler, Reed Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Gadwall, Garden Warbler, Whitethroat, Coot, Moorhen, Egyptian Goose, Greylag Goose, Shelduck, Cormorant, Mute Swan, Reed Bunting, Bittern, Cuckoo, Common Tern, Chiffchaff, Black-tailed Godwit, Lapwing, Redshank, Spotted Flycatcher, Long-tailed Tit, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Chaffinch, Pied Wagtail, Blackbird, Dunnock, Robin, Wren, Canada Goose, Herring Gull, Swift, Swallow, Goldfinch, Carrion Crow, Jackdaw, Starling, Goldcrest, Tufted Duck, Woodpigeon, Turtle Dove, Buzzard.

Beesands Ley, South Devon: SQUACCO HERON, Sedge Warbler, Mallard, Gadwall, Tufted Duck, Mute Swan, Swallow, House Sparrow, Canada Goose.

Prawle Point, Devon: CIRL BUNTING, Yellowhammer, Peregrine, Carrion Crow, Dunnock, Stonechat, Woodpigeon, Whitethroat, Herring Gull, GBB Gull, Gannet, Cormorant, Little Egret, Shag, Wren, Robin, Blackbird, Buzzard