Tuesday 09 January – Ham Wall Leader: Mark Watson

The weather was cold and misty as 15 of us gathered in the RSPB car park at Ham Wall, not ideal conditions to see the Starlings coming in to roost later. After a brief period before Christmas roosting on Shapwick Heath the Starlings had returned to Ham Wall after the festivities. Blue Tit, Great Tit and Chaffinch were on the feeders and fliting back and forth to the hedgerow, where Wren, Dunnock and Robin were also found. A pair of Pied Wagtails appeared and a single Mute Swan serenely paddled along on the pond next to the car park. Moving along to the first viewing platform we heard a Cetti’s Warbler and passed Mallard, Coot and Gadwall on the pools to the right. At the platform Shelduck, Tufted Duck, Gadwall, Great Crested Grebe, Little Grebe, Pochard and a Great White Egret were before us. A Snipe flew over the reed beds and a male Marsh Harrier quartered the beds giving excellent views of its brown, pale grey and black tipped wings despite the poor visibility. We were also able to see a female and male (probably the same one) further on at the Avalon Hide. On the way to the hide Reed Warblers were heard and a flock of Linnets flew over and a few Goldfinches were in the hedgerow trees along with Jackdaw and a Carrion Crow towards the woodland across the Marsh. After a brief stop for tea/coffee we moved on towards where the Starlings had been recently roosting, well down the old railway track towards the far end of the reserve. After a slow start it was apparent the at least three roosts were in use; one near some of our group at the end of the reserve, one further away beyond trees across the marsh and another beyond the first viewing platform where we passed chattering Starlings when leaving. The best murmuration was distant but there were several thousand starlings dropping onto the nearby reeds next to the track and passing just over our heads. A single Bittern was flying low over the reeds. In between Starling arrivals, a Bullfinch flew across the track and a small flock of Fieldfares also passed by before we headed home. In all 41 species were seen and we had a reasonable show of Starlings even though conditions were not ideal. (Thanks to Mark for leading) Mark Watson