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A mega alert came out on my local WhatsApp Group, quickly followed by a phone call from Guy Campbell. A very rare Tern had appeared at Sutton Bingham reservoir and I was advised that I needed to see it.

Forster's Tern is a great shout for my local patch and thanks to Peter Ackers for finding it. The last time I saw this species in the UK I was wearing short trouser in 1998!! Ha!

first winter - FORSTER'S TERN

Showing off its balancing ability?

Dawn dropped me down on the causeway and left to go shopping, ther causeway was crowded with twitchers, both local and travellers, I have never seen so many cars parked there in my life.

The bird showed well, a first year FORSTER'S TERN, a vagrant from North America that should be wintering in the Caribbean (so should I)!

The bird showed very well on and off but it only perched on middle-distant buoys, the cameramen got great flight shots of it but I had to be content with it sitting on a buoy. 

Guy gave me lift home an hour or so later as twitchers were turning up in their droves!


A beautiful spring morning with lots of sunshine and a light breeze was enough to drag me away from the desk and join Dawn and her sister Celia on a long walk on the Levels.

hand held phone shot - a Blackcap

We parked next to the bridge over the main drain at Shapwick Heath and followed the path towards Glastonbury. The air was alive with bird song, it really did feel like spring! Blackcaps, Chiffchaffs, a single Garden Warbler, several Willow Warblers, Cetti's Warbler, Robin, Blackbird, Chaffinch, Wren, Goldfinch and Song Thrush were all giving it large!

the view from VP1

As we progressed up to Noah's Lake and Meare Heath we heard our first 'booming' Bitterns, at least three were calling. we also saw all the 7 common species of duck:- Mallard, Gadwall, Teal, Wigeon, Shoveler, Tufted Duck and Common Pochard as well as a small number of Great Egrets, Little Egrets, Marsh Harriers and Buzzards.

these metallic blue Beetles are called Alder Leaf Beetles, they overwinter and come out in large numbers on a warm spring day. There was hundreds of them on one tree.

We stopped at Ham Wall Visitor's centre for a coffee and a flap-jack before walking along to viewing platform (VP) 1. I hadn't taken my scope so with my bins I picked out a pair of Garganey, a flock of some 50+ Black-tailed Godwits, Common Snipe, Lapwings and a lot more ducks. A Sparrowawk flew over and a Barn Swallow hawked insects over the pool. A Spotted Redshank was called but all I could see was a Common Redshank (I even scanned the pool with a scope borrowed from a guy called Mike (who incidentally was at the twitch at SBR on Friday and saw the Forster's Tern through my scope, ha, favoured returned).

digi-bin shot of the male Garganey and several Black-tailed Godwits

Walking up to VP2 and beyond produced very little more, we heard 'booming' coming from the reedbeds but I never heard a single Reed or Sedge Warbler!

Highland Cattle are a Scottish breed used for maintaining nature reserves throughout the UK

We ate our picnic lunch on a bench not far from Glastonbury and then we set off back the way we came. On the way back I added Ruff from VP1 but still no Spotted Redshank. We heard four Bitterns on the way back, saw more Marsh Harriers, a second Sparrowhawk and we had views of an Otter!! Wow! The Otter swan across to our side of the drain (canal) and came up onto the path, it ran towards us but then disappeared into the grass.

We recorded 13,000 steps and I added 5 species to my UK year list.