Another wet and windy week on the reserve has got to be taking its toll on a number of birds and their nesting attempts. However, several species have been seen feeding well or carrying food this week so there's still plenty of good news to spread.
From the 1st platform Blackcaps have been seen carrying food to a nearby nest and the same can be said of Blackbird, Wren and Chaffinch elsewhere on the reserve. Juveniles of several species have been seen, particularly Reed Warbler and large groups of Long Tailed Tits would seem to indicate breeding success here.
Great White Egrets have been seen feeding on a daily basis, with the areas in front of the 1st viewing platform and Loxtons screen particular favourites, before heading off with full crops to feed what has now been confirmed as 3 well grown youngsters - what fantastic news. Congratulations have to go to all those involved at Shapwick Heath for this success - another feather in the caps of our local reserves. Up to 3 birds have been seen together at Ham Wall this week.
Other notable birds seen carrying food this week include: Kingfisher on several occasions around Waltons and close to the rail bridge as you enter the reserve and most fantastically Barn Owls. During a guided walk on Tuesday evening 3 sightings of Barn Owl were had with birds seen carrying food into what is thought to be 2 different locations. We are planning to inspect the boxes this week coming with Chris Sperring from the Hawk & Owl Trust and hopefully he will be able to ring some owlets. More on this a later date.
Interestingly, on the same walk, 5 Cuckoos were seen flying together in the area in front of the 2nd viewing platform - that must of been quite a sight and something quite unusual - 3 is the most I've seen together. Single birds are being seen and heard on a daily basis often flying in front of the 1st platform or perching in the dead trees around Loxtons, as seen this Thursday. The shot below was taken by John Crispin this week on the reserve.
Loxtons seemed to be a little hotspot on Thursday with a Red Footed Falcon twice seen flying over as well as a Sparrowhawk. Great White Egret, Male & Female Marsh Harriers hunting together in front of the screen, a hobby flying in close all day and several Bittern sightings. Marsh Harriers have also been seen hunting this week from the first platform including the sub adult male on Thursday. 3 were reported flying together in this area last Sunday (10th)
There have also been numerous Bittern sightings from the first platform and today was no exception with about 10 sightings in an hour. There is certainly some feeing behaviour involved here but much of it looks quite random and the numbers of active nests currently is much lower than the same time last year. The weather could well be responsible for this. We will keep surveying though and studying our records and hope that things will pick up. Groups of birds are also still being seen including pairs in a chase, but also a set of 4 birds on Sunday and another set of 6 reported the same day from the 1st platform.
Also seen this week: Buzzards, Kestrel in last area of reserve on the left towards Sharpham, Lapwings, 2 Bullfinches in trees by the 1st platform on Thurs, Garden Warblers in the rail path trees (along with Chiffchaff, Willow Warblers & plenty of Blackcaps), Great Spotted Woodpecker, Bearded Tits during Sunday's guided walk but all in non public areas and several Great Crested grebe flights in front of the 1st platform and the Loxtons screen. Linnets have also been seen on Long Drove - a separate plot of land that we manage to the south of Waltons. A shot of one of them here from John Crispin (thanks again for the photos John)