Saturday 21 April – Ham Wall Leader: – Alastair Fraser

I have only been to Ham Wall once before to see the Starlings so I was looking forward to going there again to see the place in its springtime splendour. I was not disappointed. Nine of us met in the RSPB car park on a sunny morning but with a hint of mist, which complemented the beautiful setting of reed beds and marsh land. We set off on the Ham Wall loop stopping at the rail-bridge to spot our first of many Marsh Harrier sightings, five in all, and listen to the Chiffchaff and Cetti’s Warbler. Three Great White Egrets appeared to be nesting in the nearby reed beds and a Cuckoo was heard. Further on, the Cuckoo flew over our heads and perched in full view on a bare branch. Those with ‘scopes helped everyone admire our first Cuckoo of 2018. With new leaves just appearing, there were good chances to spot those birds often heard but difficult to see. We had good views of a pair of Blackcaps, Cetti’s Warbler and Chiffchaff. In the reed beds we saw Reed Bunting and had an excellent view of a Sedge Warbler singing away and showing its bright red mouth. A Reed Warbler was sighted further on by the Tor View hide. We heard Bitterns booming and eight were counted in all, (which was pretty good from a reported total of 19). I had not heard Bittern boom before which was one reason I wanted to participate in the walk so I was delighted to hear so many. Garganey were spotted twice as well as other wildfowl including Teal, Shoveler, Wigeon, Tufted Duck and Pochard. Alastair spotted three Common Sandpipers standing on a drowned tree trunk looking at water that seemed too deep for them. Robert and Ann saw two Whitethroats and Lesser Redpoll, which sadly the rest of the party missed. Nevertheless a highlight for me was seeing two Great Crested Grebes courting with head nodding and gifts of weed to each other and another pair who were past that stage because one had some tiny young perched on its back. My thanks again to those with ‘scopes who picked this out. I think we had a very successful day birdwatching, and thank you to Alastair for leading, and to the group for sharing their knowledge and making the day so enjoyable. Alison Hooper.