Monday, 11 April 2016

RSPB Ham Wall

Friday saw us taking our daughter and partner down to a small village just outside Bath for a wedding. We planned to make a day of it so after a lovely lunch in the village pub we carried on down to Ham Wall about 50 minutes away.

After seeing a notice on the RSPB web site about building works and no access from the Car Park we opted to park at the Glastonbury side of the reserve and walk from there. As it transpires when we eventually reached that end of the reserve it was all open and accessible.

Anyway it was nice to do it differently! We strolled along the main path seeing our first Willow Warbler of the year and headed off towards the new hide. Of course we soon stopped for a coffee at a bench in front of one of the first observation platform. Highlight from here were some Pintail out on the lagoon, a nice start along with the Shovelers and Teal that were also there.

We carried on towards the hide, when two chaps that we had seen about a little earlier by a small screen passed us and asked if we had seen the Glossy Ibis, we said no and they explained that was what they had been looking at, so we went back just in case:
Only our 3rd sighting of a Glossy Ibis in the UK. Mind you we are going to Lesvos soon, where they are two a penny!

On to the new hide, what a monster! But it offers excellent views over the reserve, giving us some great sightings of:
Marsh Harrier
 Tufted Duck
 Great Crested Grebe
and Gadwall
along with Cormorant, Little Grebe, Wigeon, a Sparrowhawk and Snipe.

We spent a while in the hide as the Bittern and Marsh Harriers were showing regularly. At about 5ish we headed on to the Shapwick side of the reserve, as we left the hide we had a marvellous sighting of a Short-eared Owl, a real surprise!

We went to the next viewing platform and tarried there a while chatting to some nice people and sharing what we had seen. A couple of Bittern showed while we were there as well.

A Grey Heron gave me a nice fly by shot:
From the platform we crossed the track to the screens and the far hide. Plenty of Egrets about here, both Little and Great White! The GW being another first for the year. We walked on to the raised hide and heard a piercing call. A Water Rail walking through the reeds underneath us, no more than 4 feet away. Getting a shot was difficult because of the reeds, it then disappeared for a few minutes before coming back with a fish!

Time was now getting on and we wanted to go to the bridge near the car park as we had seen Barn Owls from here on previous visits sadly speaking to another very friendly and informative local we had just missed one! Always the way. We stayed as long as we could but had a good walk back to the car now and we had to get back to the village pub as we had booked a table.

As we walked briskly back we were stopped by a lady we had seen previously who was in search of a reported Ring-necked Duck. She told us that she had indeed found it, she then took the time to set up her scope for us and so we had our first ever sighting of a Ring-necked Duck, quite distant but a sighting none the less.

We now had to get a move on and get back to the car pausing briefly to add our first Blackcap of the year. A great afternoon, we just love Ham Wall and the area, just wish we had had more time.

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