It's been another busy week on the reserve with plenty to report. One of the most notable sightings this week came via one of our volunteers, who was on the first viewing platform early on Saturday (12th Nov) morning. He reported 6 different bitterns in front of the platform - 3 sitting on the ground sunning themselves and another 3 flying in different areas. This area seems to be a favourite haunt for bitterns early on warm, clear mornings. Apart from this, there have been regular sightings throughout the week. It's worth scanning the reed edge in front of the platform with binoculars as they have often been spotted here - but it's difficult with the naked eye.
Facing the other direction from the first viewing platform into Waltons has also proved to be very fruitful this week. Water levels have been brought up following reedbed mangement work and the cut island on the right is now nice and splashy. On Thursday a count of 70+ Lapwing, 37 Snipe, a Redshank and several Wigeon and Mallard were seen feeding and loafing on this island. Elsewhere in the Waltons section good numbers of Shoveler are still present up the channels and the small group of Dunlin present last week have been seen on a few occasions, flying quickly in tight formation. A Green Sandpiper has also been reported this week.
The extra water in the Waltons section has been pumped from the Loxton's Marsh section its left (east). The lowering of water in here has created a nice muddy spit to the left of the viewing screen on the Loxtons trail (this is marked on the reserve map). A Great White Egret was seen feeding on the mud on Thurdsay morning and then later in front of the first viewing platform. Staff & volunteers have cut the reed at the other end of the muddy spit and really opened it up. With a bit of luck some waders will soon find this area and offer good views from the screen. Also seen from the Loxtons screen this week: water rail seen on both Tuesday & Thursday (and very vocal at other times), Kingfisher, Great Crested Grebe, Jay & Great spotted Woodpecker. A Green Woodpecker was also heard calling on the reserve this week.
Marsh Harriers (both male & female have been observed throughout the week often over Waltons or in front of the first viewing platform and it was here that a juvenile was sighted on Thursday afternoon to the right of the flooded section. Also in front of the first viewing platform, around the same time, a female Hen Harrier was observed and she eventually flew to Shapwick. However, 15 mins later she reappeared flying from the right (east) and also flew to Shapwick (this could of been the same bird or a second female). Buzzard and Sparowhawk have also been seen this week.
Large mixed groups of Redpoll & Siskin have been seen on several days this week following the tree line down the railway line or around Waltons & Loxtons. Good numbers Long tailed tits can also be seen showing similar behaviour often with Blue tits and Great tits mixed within the flock. Elsewhere on the reserve this week: Treecreeper seen and heard from the old railway line by the Loxtons section (they have often, in the past, been seen feeding on the large Alders on Loxtons bank), Chiffchaff, male Blackcap, several Goldcrests (up to 6 seen together), good numbers of fieldfares (easily seen and heard - listen for the familiar call in flight), a few Redwing and 250+ Teal reported from the Emery's section - this is the last section on the left past the 2nd viewing platorm before you reach Sharpham. Red Admiral butterfly and several darter dragonflies (either common or ruddy darter) have also been noted over the last few days.
The Starlings, of course, are still present and have been showing well. The majority have still been favouring Ham Wall as their roost sight, with the first viewing platform still the best location currently. This of course can change at any time, so give the Starling Hotline a call (07866 554142) to give yourself the best chance of catching up with the roost.
Apart from reed cutting and scrub cutting work this week staff and volunteers have also erected 3 Owl boxes this week. These were kindly and skillfully made by one of our volunteers and have been put up at various locations around the reserve. 2 of the boxes have been made specifically for Tawny Owls which are often heard at Ham Wall and then third is for Little Owl which have been seen very close to the reserve in the past. These boxes should complement the 9 Barn Owl boxes we already have out across the reserve, which have already proved a success.
Hope you are finding the blog useful and informative. If there's anything else you want to know about just let me know and please don't be afraid to post your own wildlife sightings and other observations. Thanks.
Hi Stephen,think this is probably the most informative blog on the forum,think it is just what a lot of us infrequent visitors could wish for.Thank you.