HAM WALL - SHAPWICK HEATH (MERE HEATH AND NOAH'S LAKE)
WEATHER: horrendous to start with!! High winds and rain all morning, then brighter, with dry spells with some sunshine and lighter winds.
It was a good job that the tour started at 1pm, because it would have been a complete wash-out if we had started mid-morning. Luckily for us the rain stopped around 12:30 and we had a relatively dry afternoon. A couple of light showers later and the wind died down around 2pm.
from the garden of our BnB Farmhouse we scanned the nearby fields and farmyard buildings. We found: Common Starling ( about 1,000), Great egret 3, Little Egret 4, Chaffinch, Magpie, Jackdaw, Pied Wagtail and Wood Pigeon.
It was 1pm when we pulled onto the car park at Ham Wall the wind was still very strong with gusts up to 50 mph!! I never expected to seen much but surprisingly we found many sheltered spots along the main track and around the car park. We started listing common garden birds such as Blue and Great Tits then on the main track we added Siskin, Chaffinch, Redwing, Goldcrest, Goldfinch and Dunnock.
A view from near the Tor Hide
From various viewpoints along the main track we found all seven common duck species: Mallard, Gadwall, Teal, Wigeon, Shoveler, Tufted Duck and Common Pochard. We added Cormorant, Mute Swan, Little and Great Crested Grebes, Marsh Harrier and Lapwing.
All the hides were closed due to flooded access so we only ventured as far as VP1 (View Point), on the way back we searched for Ring-necked Duck in the Tuifty flocks, we sacnned from the huimp-backed bridge and found distant Common Buzzards, a couple of Roe Deer and a pair of Stonechats, Vanessa found a Kingfisher and more Redwings. Near the car park we found the star of the visit, a Common Firecrest.
With renewed vigour after the Firecrest find we set off for Noah's Lake, the sky was much brighter and the wind was dropping. At Mere Heath we scanned the 1,000's of duck for anything unusual, all we added was Greylag Goose!! Bullfinches were calling in the hedgerow but they never came out to see us. More Marsh Harrier appeared but nothing else until we got to the hide at Noah's Lake.
Noah's Lake around 4pm
The sky began to darken, it was approaching 4pm but we scanned the huge lake, in very poor light. About a dozen Pintails were added to our list but nothing else of note except for the sheer numbers of Wigeon! A couple of thousand were out there, with Shovelers, Gadwall, Teal and Tufties.
On the way back the wind picked up and it started to rain. Thousands of Starlings were flying over heading for the roost at Ham Wall. At one point they circled above us and were looking to roost at Mere Heath, we some spectacular 'Murmurations' but they all cleared off in the end.
Starling flocks gong to roost in the reedbeds
More Harriers were gathering near a roost site and we saw a Sparrowhawk before we got back to the car in the fading light. Day one over, bird of the day Firecrest, weather.....pants!