The final push to complete the work in Phase 1 (the section in front of the 2nd viewing platform) has enabled us to complete the works and we are now allowing water levels to rise in this section. As the levels rise, albeit slowly, the habitat should become suitable for wading birds at first (with several snipe already using this area) and then for dabbling ducks and larger wading birds at a later stage. It would be well worth keeping an eye on this area over the next few weeks, as it could well attract a good number of birds. An aquatic reed cutting machine should be on site in December and open up the front pool as long as the water levels are sufficiently high for it to work effectively.
Good numbers of pied wagtails are still using the area as well as a few Meadow Pipits, and Snipe. A Great White Egret favours the pool to the left of the 2nd platform and Bitterns have been seen flying over this area. The male Kestrel also hunts daily and has been seen to perch on the remains on the old wind pump to the right (east) of the area, but was also snapped by John Crispin perching up on the contractors tractor as he worked in the area.
Kestrel inspects our work from his temporary vantage point
Work has now moved to the Garleys section of the reserve - beyond Loxtons & Street Heath on the rail path where we have been pumping lately. This is the next section of the reserve which has to be restored
and we need to prepare the banks/ditches ready for restoration and access. Large groups of Redpolls were seen in this area on Thursday c100 - there are some large Alder trees nearby where they like to feed.
Staff and volunteers also saw groups of Redwing fly over 30+ and small numbers of Fieldfare were seen and heard chattering close by. In the open area opposite 2 Marsh Harriers were making a nuisance of
themselves sending up the duck in this area. A sub-adult male and an adult female were seen on this occasion, but sightings have picked up a bit lately and Marsh Harriers are once again a daily sighting. A
juvenile male and adult female were seen hunting together on Weds also beyond the newly cut area in front of the 2nd platform.
A female Hen Harrier was reported from the 1st platform on Sunday. We often get them at this time of year and usually the females - identifiable from the obvious white rump.
Female Hen Harrier
The 1st platform still offers great views of Lapwings c100, Snipe c30 (although small groups and individuals are in several different areas), Wigeon, Teal, Gadwall and Mallard. A large group of ducks 100+ are
also in the section on the right before you get to Waltons (mostly Gadwall and some Wigeon). A Great White Egret continues to feed for long periods from the 1st platform and as last week up to 4 individuals at
least are using the site. On the boundary of this section and Waltons a pair of Bramblings were seen last Sunday and some have also been seen at Greylake this week.
One surprise on Monday was a Red Admiral flying around the screens at Waltons. I guess these sunny spells snap them out of hibernation temporarily (Comma & Peacock also noted locally this week).
Tuesday saw a brief glimpse of what we believe was a Merlin close to the north of the reserve. A scattering of Goldfinches followed by a small bird of prey flying very low helped lead me to this conclusion - we do
get the odd sighting this time of year.
Also this week: Kingfishers every day (particularly Waltons) but today 2 which flew from Waltons as I watched the ducks in the adjacent section I mentioned earlier which flew up towards the old rail bridge, 17
Little Egrets which flew over our office & workshop on Monday at the Avalon Marshes Centre, Green Woodpecker heard close to Street Heath (next to Loxtons), Raven on the north of the reserve on Monday and
Great Spotted Woodpeckers in many a section of the reserve - heard calling today at Loxtons & Garleys and flying in front of the 2nd platform.
Finally, Starling numbers are still climbing - the usual guessing/estimating of numbers has begun - your guess is as good as mine but 200,000+ is what I'm getting back from people at the moment - but with
such large numbers it's always difficult. You could always count the legs and divide by 2 if it helps.
The flock is split at the moment although this can change from day to day. Good numbers still coming in to Ham Wall and Shapwick Heath yesterday. Staff and/or volunteers should be on hand this weekend to
advise of the best vantage point or ring the Starling Hotline to find the last known location 07866 554142
Have a great weekend!!!