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Somerset Levels

27TH To 31st August 2019

Back down to the Southwest to a very unique area of the UK. All guests on his trip were from Lincolnshire so we travelled as a party. But getting there for lunch time allowed a few hours at RSPB Ham Wall reserve. It was a great introduction to the area with many hirundines taking advantage of the mass of insects at the site. A few late season Reed Warblers were also seen no doubt packing on the weight in order to sustain them over the migration.

Mobirise

Staying on the Levels for the second day the Shapwick Heath site was visited this is managed by Natural England. Teal, Gadwall, Little and Great White Egrets, Snipe and an Osprey on passage made for an enjoyable morning before weather intervened for a couple of hours. But finding our way to Somerset Wildlife Trust reserve at Catcott Low a couple of late season Hobbies, numerous Buzzards, and a swathe of 40+ Cattle Egrets now a local breeding species in this part of the world., made for an enjoyable afternoon, oops! forgot to mention the scrummy cake at rain time.

Day Three saw us head off to the Environment agency site at Steart Marshes managed by the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust. The high tide had beaten us as we were held up in traffic, so we had a walk around some of the tracks and pathways for the morning. On the salt marsh / mud flats were Curlew, Ringed Plover, and Shelduck by the hundred a local post breeding moult site of international importance in Bridgewater Bay. It was really satisfying to connect with a Lesser Whitethroat and several small groups of Yellow Wagtails some of which were feeding at the hooves of a herd of English Longhorn cattle. 

An afternoon with a difference followed with a return trip on the West Somerset Steam railway from Willerton to Minehead with Buzzards and a mass of Corvids being seen from the train. Returning in good time we returned to Steart to catch the rising tide so giving us close up views of the waders we had been hoping to catch in the morning. It also gave us time to look at the various plants growing in the different zones of the saltmarsh.

Mobirise

"close up views of a juvenile Water Rail and after being given some local knowledge ,views of five Grass Snakes ( two adults and three juveniles), add in a couple of Water Voles and it was a very productive session. "

So to the final full day, first on the list was RSPB Greylake this place always throws up a surprise on every visit. Again plenty of Yellow Wags, a solitary Wheatear, Kingfisher, Willow Warbler, a wren that virtually came in the hide, close up views of a juvenile Water Rail and after being given some local knowledge ,views of five Grass Snakes ( two adults and three juveniles), add in a couple of Water Voles and it was a very productive session. 

Mobirise

A return visit to Shapwick and Catcott produced similar species but finishing off in late afternoon light (perfect for Photography) at RSPB Ham Wall we had bit of a Duck fest with Shoveler, Teal, Gadwall, Mallard, and Tufties. Several Great White Egrets, Herons and a couple of Marsh Harriers quartering the reeds made for a great conclusion to the trip. It was so pleasing to see how nature in this part of the world had responded and recovered to the severe flooding of some years earlier.
Our next visit to this area is in January 2020 and again in May 2020 when we hope to catch up with the elusive Bitterns.