Trip Report: Shapwick Heath and Ham Wall (6th May 2012)

Fourteen members met up at Ashcott Corner car park for this visit to the dual reserves of Shapwick Heath and Ham Wall. Early highlights included a singing Garden Warbler in the bushes near the car park as well as Common Whitethroat, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Willow Warbler, and other common species on the walk towards Meare Heath lagoon. Overhead, Swallows and Swifts were joined by House Martins. The water held the usual Great Crested Grebes, Coots, Moorhens and common duck species. Bitterns boomed unseen, and distant Cuckoos called, and the explosive song of the Cetti’s Warbler was a constant accompaniment to the chattering Reed and Sedge Warblers in the reedbeds. Some of us were lucky enough to catch a glimpse of a Cetti’s before it disappeared into the undergrowth. The lagoon itself held Lapwing, Redshank, Black-tailed Godwits, two types of Alba Wagtail and a Little Ringed Plover and overhead Buzzards, Marsh Harrier and Hobbies were competing for attention. The walk towards Meare Heath Bridge produced good views of displaying Whitethroats, more Hobbies, Cormorants and a Grey Heron in flight. Whilst the whole group did not continue to Noah’s Hide, the members that did reported Marsh Harrier and Bitterns in flight views. The return to Ashcott Corner produced more of the same species and the entrance to Ham Wall produced good views of a Great White Egret, and then a Kingfisher for some observers. Lingerers were rewarded with good views of both Garden Warbler and Cetti’s Warbler. Moving on to the first viewing platform, a definite highlight of the trip was a view of two Bitterns chasing each other in flight, intentions unknown! A third Bittern appeared briefly in the reeds at the back of the pool. A Little Grebe was present on the water, and a stunning male Whinchat posed for all in front of the platform. The rest of the walk added several more common species to the list, a second Great White Egret, a Little Egret, a very obliging Garden Warbler and more Hobbies. In all 54 species were seen on a surprisingly fine spring day! Thanks to Mike Johnson for leading.

Stuart Matthews