Tuesday 12 May – Shapwick Heath and Ham Wall

 On a dry but overcast morning 26 members assembled in Natural England’s car park for a day’s birding on the Somerset Levels. We were not disappointed; whilst waiting for the group to assemble we were entertained by Song Thrush, Greenfinch, Cetti’s and Garden Warbler, and Blackcap singing. On the way to the first main pool Swifts were overhead, with Whitethroat and more Cetti’s Warblers in the undergrowth. Our first major bird was a male Marsh Harrier displaying over the reed bed giving good views to all watchers. At the pool the water level was higher than normal with only a single Little Egret to be seen. Although ‘Big John’ advised that more waders were under the bank, at last they moved producing a small flock of Black-tailed Godwits, a Ruff and a Curlew Sandpiper – our second major bird. It was then on to the hide at Noah’s Lake where again the water level was high. In the distance were ‘comic’ terns, and Hobbies catching prey and eating on the wing. It was almost lunchtime so it was back to the cars with another stop at the wader pool to see a small flock of Whimbrel which had flown in to join the Godwits. After our picnic lunch the party crossed over the road into the RSPB Ham Wall reserve but we soon split up into small groups to explore. From the Tor View hide in the middle of the reed bed Great White Egrets and Bitterns were the highlights. This was a brilliant day producing 49 species seen or heard with at least four major birds. Regretfully, Otters were absent again this year.(Thank you for leading this walk Peter)  Peter Holbrook