Saturday 12 June – Westhay NNR Leader: Jenny Vickers

All eleven people who signed up turned up – thanks, everyone.  It was a hot and sunny day with a light wind.  We started birding in the car park with a Reed Bunting and Whitethroats popping in and out of the bushes, then headed out along the main track.  An excellent find was a Hobby sitting on a dead branch and staying put long enough for us to get a telescope on it for a good view.  We turned off the track to follow the shady grass tracks looping through the wooded section which was cool and pleasant.  At the first hide there wasn’t much to see on the small pools, so we strolled on picking up singing warblers, particularly a Willow Warbler showing well in a tree top.  The “tower hide” overlooks a good stretch of reed-bed but sadly we couldn’t find the Bearded Tits that can often be seen from it.  Turning onto the London Drove we checked the much larger pools there to find families of Great Crested Grebes with the youngsters riding on the parent’s backs, a Great White Egret, Mute Swans, Mallard, Coots and Moorhens, and a delightful family of Long-tailed Tits.  A Water Rail called in the deep vegetation, and of course there were Cetti’s Warblers in the wet thickets. We listened to a distant Cuckoo and two singing Garden Warblers amongst the many Blackcaps.  Overhead were Cormorants, Swifts, at least two Marsh Harriers, a Buzzard and a Kestrel.  Back on the main track, we could hear a Bittern calling regularly but it refused to show, staying hidden in the reed-bed.  We added Grey Heron and Little Egret to the list for four heron species and checked another hide where Reed Warblers were singing. The group enjoyed trying to identify the damselflies and dragonflies which were numerous. It was a pleasant walk with 37 species – largely the same ones that you would find at Ham Wall but without the crowds, bicycles and dog walkers.  Many thanks to Jenny for leading. Jane Cumming