Monday, 23 April 2012

Cheddar Reservoir, Shapwick Heath & Ham Wall 17th April

Day 3 was a non birding day, so on to day 4.
Doing some research on the interweb before going away we decided to look at:
Cheddar Reservoir as it was en route to Shapwick and Ham Wall. It was a very windy day and when we got there the heavens opened so we hung about in the car as there is no shelter and its a 3.5 mile walk to do the circuit.
We set out once the rain had stopped, but the although the views were nice the wind took the fun out of the walk, but we plodded on just in case.
At first it seemed a waste of time, but were treated to more Pied Wagtails then I have ever seen in one place before. We lost count! Initially on the water there was nothing much to see, just loads of Gulls (not a fan!) mainly LBBs and some Herring and a couple of Great Crested Grebes. There were some cute sheep about:
One we had got about two thirds of the way around it did pick up, with 3 Common Sandpiper picking there way around the edges. But the we got a year tick! A delightful female Wheatear who stayed with us for about 15 minutes as we walked on, teasing us by letting us get withing 15 feet or so then flying on and waiting for us to catch up then flying on again, here she is:
Just as she left us we came across some Canada Geese and about 10 more Great Crested Grebe, then the heavens opened and we were left with a 10 minute stride through torrential rain, hail and howling wind, at least it was on our back for the last bit. So time for coffee!

Shapwick Heath: 
Even though we had been to Ham Wall a few times we had never gone the other way from the car park into Shapwick Heath NR, so as we had heard there was a pair of Lon Billed Dowitchers around we gave it ago. We first went to the 3 hides not far down the path. Picking up this lovely Blackcap singing his heart out on the way:

We started with Meare Heath and settled in, but apart from a couple of Mallard and swooping Swallows, there was nothing to see, so we had a bite to eat as the weather looked decidedly inclement! Good job we did as two Bitterns flew across to our left! But that was all there. We left that hide and went across to the next 2 not far away. Nothing to set the world on fire, but we did get the best ever views of a Great Crested Grebe fishing in front of the hide as he dived the fish were jumping out of the water to get away. First time we have ever heard a Grebe fishing! This is the chap:
Some distance in front of this hide were a number of Cormorant nesting in dead trees, we hadn't seen this before:
So we left the hides and walked back towards the car park, this time we paid full attention to the scrape on the left as the sun was now out.
We scanned the 20 or so Black Tailed Godwits that were there, then found the Dowitchers our first lifers of the week, no decent photos though.. sorry!
Two Godwits and a Dowitcher

In addition to these there were also some Spotted Redshank a year tick.

We carried on through the car park and over to Ham Wall, just in case..
Here we manged to see the Cetti's Warbler again, plus our first Willow Warbler for the year, no more Bitterns though! The best here was a small stretch of path just past the Railway Bridge where there are a number of bushes and trees, the songbirds where in full voice, we just stood for about 15 minutes and listened it was magnificent.

The lists:
Cheddar Reservoir:
Canada Goose, Carrion Crow, Common Sandpiper, Coot, Cormorant, Great Crested Grebe, House Sparrow, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Long-tailed Tit, Magpie, Mallard, Pied Wagtail, Swallow, Wheatear and Woodpigeon.
Shapwick Heath:
Bittern (2), Blackbird, Blackcap, Black-Tailed Godwit, Blue Tit, Carrion Crow, Chaffinch, Chiffchaff, Coot,
Cormorant, Gadwall, Great Crested Grebe, Great Tit, Lapwing, Little Egret, Long-billed Dowitcher, Mallard, Mute Swan, Robin, Rook, Shoveler, Spotted Redshank, Swallow, Teal and Woodpigeon.
Ham Wall:
Blackbird, Blackcap, Blue Tit, Cetti's Warbler, Chaffinch, Chiffchaff, Coot, Cormorant, Gadwall,
Great Crested Grebe, Great Tit, Grey Heron, Herring Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Little Egret,
Mallard, Pochard, Sand Martin, Shoveler, Swallow, Tufted Duck, Willow Warbler and Woodpigeon.

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