As the mild weather continues the number of duck on the reserve is still pretty low, as presumably they are choosing to spend more time further north and east currently. If the weather turns colder we should see an influx across the levels and moors over the coming weeks.
Song birds are still happily singing in the warmer weather, noticeably Song Thrushes, which have been singing along the old railway line that runs through the reserve this week - having not seen or heard one for a while this was most welcome. Mixed groups of tits (Great, blue & Long tailed) have all been singing and feeding along the tree lines, particularly along the rail track and around the Loxtons trail this week. Again, showing similar behaviour, have been the mixed flocks of Siskin and Redpoll, the latter of which have been reported at the feeding station in the reserve car park at Ashcott Corner.
Firecrest had been written on the chalk board in Loxtons screen this week by a visitor although none have been seen by staff. They are seen most years, especially around the car park area and the tree line along the railway line leading down to the metal gate at the main reserve entrance, so it's always worth a scan along here. Goldcrests have been seen and heard on the reserve every day this week. Treecreeper was also heard but not seen along the railway line close to the Loxtons section - always worth trying the large alders on Loxtons/rail track edge at the far end.
Parts of the Loxtons trail have been closed this week due to the reed cutting work on the spits close to the screen, so sightings in this area have been a little scarce here. However, a common sandpiper was feeding out on the muddy spit on Monday before being disturbed by the reed cutting machine and on Thursday a snipe was seen being chased by what looked like a female Merlin right in front of the screen - the outcome of this chase was not witnessed, so will remain a mystery. Several groups of snipe of varying numbers have been seen in several sections of the reserve, with 25 or more on occasions. A male stonechat was also seen on the reed fringe of the cut spits at Loxtons, while a pair of stonechats have been seen on a few occasions in the area in front of the second viewing platform. Work has almost been completed in the Loxtons area and should fully re-open early next week - apologies for any inconvenience caused while this work has been carried out.
A great flurry of activity occurred on Monday, when within a few minutes of each other a Short Eared Owl, Great White Egret, Bittern and several bearded tits were seen in and around the Phase 3 area of the reserve - this is diagonally left of the second viewing platform or up beyond the wood which is diagonally right of the first viewing platform if that makes it any clearer. Bitterns have also been seen in Waltons, Loxtons and in front of the first viewing platform this week. Marsh Harriers have also been seen every day this week disturbing small flocks of duck as they were hunting.
Barn Owl was spotted at the Tinneys section this week. This is an isolated plot of land at the Sharpham end of the reserve. Turning right at the end of the rail track it's about half a mile up on the left hand side opposite Durstons Office. There are a couple of parking spaces at the far end by the gate and a public footpath runs around it for a short walk. A kingfisher was also heard , unfortunately not seen, here on Wednesday.
Migrant Hawker Dragonflies have been seen on several occasions this week as well as a red admiral butterfly just hanging on as the mild spell continues. Mammals are often hard to see at Ham Wall, although there are plenty here. Roe deer would be your best bet and they have been seen frequently of late, in the section in front of the second viewing platform grazing on the high banks and drier areas within it.
Also sighted on the reserve this week: large groups of Lapwing in the fields adjacent to the reserve (particularly to the north) and Tinneys section but they have also settled at times along the cut island in Waltons, on the right side as you face it from the rail track, Kestrel in the last section of the reserve on the left of the rail track, Sparrowhawk, Jay, Buzzard, Little Grebe, Great Crested Grebe, Water Rail (still very vocal), Fieldfare and Meadow Pipit. Both Great Spotted and Green Woodpecker have also been seen on the reserve this week. On one occasion a Green Woodpecker flew from Ham Wall and over the Car Park into Shapwick Heath offering great views.
Starlings continue to grow in number and yesterday (Thursday) there seemed to be a large number going into Meare Heath area at Shapwick Heath Reserve but a huge flock was also flying in front of the first viewing platform at Ham Wall. It could be that the flock is split to it's probably best to phone the starling Hotline 07866 554142 or speak with Chris or Jen the Starling information wardens who are usually on hand to help at the Car Park for some time before the flock arrives.