Sunday, 5 June 2016

Late spring in Somerset

THE Levels were heaving with life yesterday; everywhere you looked there were birds searching for food for their young, flitting amongst the lush foliage heavy with blossom or amidst the emerging greenery of the reed beds. Warblers sang heartily from every perch and insects filled the air - we were even dive bombed by a great diving beetle a one point.

However photographing these birds was not so easy - here are the record shots mainly from the day.  The lovely photo of the cuckoo nearby got away as I had the wrong settings on my camera - ugh!

Thank you to the birder on SWT Westhay who alerted me to the male bearded tit before I managed to spot it.

Bearded tit (reedling)

Reed buntings calling from willow branches helped create a unique wetland soundscape.

We headed for a second reserve but pulled over as the area felt perfect for cuckoos and my intuition was rewarded almost immediately with this calling male.

A quick visit to RSPB Ham Wall, yielded this bittern amongst other delights, although I did not realise that there was a rare heron to be seen - oh well maybe Ill just have to go back!

Friday, 3 June 2016

Smooth newts from our garden pond

For Dad: 09/08/26-27/05/16 - who supported my love of natural history from when I was young to the present day.  Thanks Dad. RIP.

Saturday, 7 May 2016

Bunking off work...

A rare day off and I took advantage of the nice weather by going to the Somerset Levels (no surprises there then!).  I was really hoping to see otters but no luck this time.

The summer warblers were on full song although I'm yet to hear a grasshopper warbler.  There were a number of hobbies chasing the newly emerged dragonflies.  The bitterns were generally spending the day stuck to one spot with the exception of one individual who flew so close it felt like it was coming into the hide; no one was prepared with their camera so we all just have to remember the moment.


An incredible noise from the reeds suggested a waterrail, but I noticed this nest with two red headed chicks and realised that it was just a moorhen mother trying to distract me...

This jay was up to no good!  I saw two cuckoos from the same spot and later had a reasonable view of a calling male in the distance.  One of the first pair made that strange bubbling call.

There were a few common butterflies around - this I suspect is a small white.

The levels would not be complete without regular sightings of marsh harriers, such as this one below which gave us quite good views.

Another target species for this trip was a white-throat - I've still not managed to get the shot that I want however but I'll keep trying...

Just taken off...

The grebes and herons were very active, with a couple of heron nests easily viewed from one of the hides.  The heron chick was huge and extremely persistent.

Reed bunting male
As mentioned the bitterns were elusive, although booming regularly; this is the only shot I managed to get - well at least it proves that they are there.

Isn't spring great!