Monday, 29 April 2013

Somerset Levels....19th-21st April 2013‏

First stop was RSPB Swell Wood NR to see and hear the Heronry though this had to wait after being informed that Common Cranes had been seen from one of the woodland viewpoints! Distant views were had of 5 Cranes, they seemed so mobile, hardly stopping in one place for long.

We were informed that a count had recently been taken of the Heron nests, 77 being the total number of nests though normally 100+ would be the average count. Good views were had of the chicks as their parents returned to the nest with food. A few of the adults were bill clapping, it reminded me of hearing White Storks in Portugal doing the same thing but the Storks were much louder!


Next stop was RSPB Greylake, Reed Bunting, Lapwing, Coot, Mallard, Mute Swan and Little Egret x3 were the highlight and practically the only birds seen on a short visit. A 'loop' walk around the reed beds in search of Bearded Tits was fruitless though with the wind blowing as it was it was hardly surprising.

 RSPB Ham Wall NR was a real treat today as the sun was shining and the birds were in full voice. Reed, Sedge and Grasshopper Warbler were heard only. Willow and Cetti's Warbler, Chiffchaff, Whitethroat and Blackcap were seen and heard, great to see the Summer migrants back!
Bittern x3 in flight and Bitterns booming throughout the day were a sheer delight to see and also to hear their booming which could be heard from what seemed to be several areas around the reserve! A Great White Egret also Marsh Harrier x3 were seen in flight and to witness a pair of Marsh Harriers performing a food pass was a bonus! Hobby x2, Garganey, Common Sandpiper were also good to see though the main attraction for a lot of the birders present was the Pied-billed Grebe, I heard it call once but did not see it! No matter as I had had a great walk around Ham Wall and had some delightful sightings and heard some delightful calls and song. Late morning from the car park I spotted a Red Kite over the reserve, another delightful bird to see.


Shapwick Heath NNR was visited after lunch and a pleasure to see were 55 Black-tailed Godwits in summer plumage, though distant good scope views were had of these stunning looking birds, one each of Pintail and Redshank were spotted close to the Godwits. Arctic Terns x12 were later viewed from Noah's Hide ( a lovely name for a hide), though cloud cover had arrived the views of the Terns was still good!  

Several Brimstone and  Peacock Butterflies put in fleeting appearances when the sun shone   over the weekend .
On the way home a drive through Cheddar Gorge was made having not visited here before and wasn't it an eye opener! The heights of the cliff faces are mind blowing. One of the car pull-in places had been partly cordoned off due to a land slide, this was a little unnerving to say the least! The caves I will leave for others to explore as they really do not appeal to me.
It seemed quite surreal driving through the Gorge after a weekend on the Somerset 'Levels'!


All in all it was a super weekend in a most delightful County!


  1. Hi Pam :-) A really enjoyable read and lovely photos to accompany it. I can see you had a wonderful time there and saw some great birds too. Even distant views of Cranes must have been very special! Love the GWE showing off its finery.

    When we went to Cheddar a few years ago I remember finding the height of the cliff faces quite intimidating! I was not overly keen on going in the caves but was persuaded and must admit they were pretty spectacular.

  2. Hi Jan, thank you very much for your comments.
    It was the Little Egret showing off its finery not a GWE, an easy mistake to make especially given the size in my photo. My fault there for not labelling perhaps, I am getting lazy! The LE preened for quite awhile, it was lovely to watch.

    You were brave entering the caves Jan! I may consider a visit to them in the future if the occasion arises.

    I hope you are enjoying the 'Spring' weather, good to see the sun shining!

  3. Nice to catch up with your blog again Pam!
    Sounds like a nice trip to Somerset,the depth of the Gorge certainly shows in your wonderful images!
    Nice that you heard the bittern's booming,they'd gone quiet last week at RSPB Leighton Moss for us!
    I love the series of Egret pics....what super hair-do's they have!

  4. Thanks for your kind comments Ruth!

    It was a great trip in a super area! Plenty of walking involved but that's not a bad thing!

  5. Sounds like you had a good few days Pam. I've never been to the levels...I really should pay the area a visit at some point!

  6. I am surprised that you have never been to the Levels Jason! Well worth a visit!