Start your year off with a birding bonanza in Somerset. Why not join us to see up to 1 million birds (99% of them will be Starlings!!!) on this short break to the Somerset 'Levels' which is a winter wonderland where birds abound and miles of flat level marshland hold a multitude of species. Our guest house is warm and welcoming, with a glowing log fire and home cooked delicious meals after an exciting day in the field.
JANUARY 2nd - 5th 2022
The Somerset 'Levels' is the largest area of lowland wet grassland and wetland habitats in Britain covering 35,000 hectares. The ‘Levels’ comprise of a vast area of lowlands sandwiched between the Mendip and Quantock Hills and are what is left of a once wider area of flooded fenland.
The ‘Levels’ have eight rivers and drains running through it: The land here is only a few metres above sea level and is criss-crossed with ditches, rhynes (pronounced reens) and rivers that take the huge amounts of water through the landscape.
Glastonbury Tor is the most prominent landmark in the Levels rising up 521 feet. In days gone by this was actually an island surrounded by sea and later inaccessible marsh hence it becoming known as the Isle of Avalon. The marshes that lie all around Glastonbury and as far west as the coast are collectively called The Avalon Marshes. Shapwick Heath, Ham Wall, Westhay Moor, Catcott Lows wildlife reserves all fall within The Avalon Marshes. Today these wetlands are renowned for internationally important numbers of waterfowl who come here to feed and roost in winter, scroll down to read about the species you are likely to encounter on our tours.
The Starling Roost
Millions of Starling roost in the reedbeds and form vast flock before they settle down for the night, their extraordinary performance is second to none in the avian world and was made famous by the BBC when filmed with Bill Oddie a few years ago. This a spectacular sight not to be missed.
For these tours we are based just outside of Glastonbury and will visit Ham Wall, Shapwick Heath NNR, Grey Lake RSPB, Meare Heath, Catcott Lows, Cheddar Reservoir, and Chew Valley Lake. You will see a great variety of species and may include some uncommon and unusual species such as Great White Egret, Cattle Egret, Glossy Ibis, Great Bittern, Woodcock, Marsh Harrier, Whooper Swan, Merlin, Water Rail, Ring-necked Duck, Great Northern Diver, Jack Snipe, Water Pipit and Goosander. This part of the levels is also very good for finding Otter! We may even get a glimpse of the recently introduced Common Cranes.
These are young Cattle Egrets, a recent addition to the breeding birds of the Levels
Eurasian Siskin, Lesser Redpoll, Firecrest and sometimes Yellow-browed Warbler may be found in the alder hedgerows and with the possibilty of an invasion of Waxwings there may be some in Somerset by January/February time! Bramblings are often encountered on these tours.
Thrushes abound, thousand of Fieldfare and Redwings, join Mistle Thrush, Song Thrush and Blackbirds and there is a chance of finding our very own rarity amongst them. We may see Owls too, Barn, Little, Tawny and a good possibility of Short-eared Owl.
This ia a guideline itinerary only, weather conditions and bird movements will dictate our plans:
- Day 1. lunch Time arrival. (Please note you can be collected from a local railway station with prior arrangement, the nearest station for me is Yeovil Junction on the London (waterloo line ) to Exeter. After checking into the hotel we set off for a late afternoon trip to Ham Wall nature reserve where the Starling roost may be found. We may also see many other wetland species.
- Day 2. An all day visit to various reservoirs including Cheddar, Chew Valley and Barrow Gurney, if time allows we shall return to Ham Wall for a second look at the Starling roost.
- Day 3. Morning visit to Catcott Low and later to Steart Marshes along the coast at Bridgewater Bay, this itinerary depends on tide times and will be arranged accordingly.
- Day 4. Our last morning will be spent locally including Greylake, Aller Moor and RSPB Swell Woods. We may see the reinroduced Common Crane and we can will look for any species we may have missed. Departure lunch time.
The price of £480 includes: 3 nights half board accommodation in a traditional bed and breakfast working Farm. There is just one single room available (with no single supplement), all land transport from lunch time day 1 to lunch time day 4. guiding services, a checklist, evening bird-log and lots of great sightings.
Not included: Travel insurance, drinks, lunches, telephone calls and any items of a personal nature.
Calls us on 01935 - 426152 or email email@example.com to book your place on this tour.