Tuesday 17 January – Shapwick Heath/Ham Wall Leader: Mark Watson

A very cold but bright sunny day gave us so much birdlife with clear views starting on the Shapwick reserve before crossing to the RSPB Ham Wall reserve. On Shapwick there were many duck including numerous Shoveler, Gadwall, Mallard, Teal, Pochard, some Tufted Duck, Coot and more! Of particular note was the male American Wigeon, showing its eye-catching green “cheek” and continuing to reside with the many other smaller Eurasian Wigeon viewed from the Tower Hide area. Our first Marsh Harrier flew low, its cream head catching the sun as it quartered the reed beds, with its distinctive profile and large slow wing beats. We heard Cetti’s Warbler in both areas and on walking to Ham Wall we saw a darting Kingfisher and heard a squealing Water Rail in contrast to the hollow whistle of a Bullfinch. There was also a Reed Bunting and Lesser Redpoll, several Snipe and a pair of Stonechats. It was interesting to compare the size of a little Egret almost alongside a Great White Egret and a nearby Grey Heron. Also seen were Canada Geese and Mute Swan. A large flock of Lapwings rose to the sky in response to another Marsh Harrier approaching. The trees and shrubs housed a wide variety of smaller birds including a large number of Long-tailed Tits, Goldfinches and a single Siskin. A flying Bittern was a treat for some, before the spectacle of an excellent murmuration of Starlings displaying against a beautiful orange sunset. A large number “swished” back and forth before dropping down to chatter and find their “pecking order” in the reeds for the night. There were 36 species and 28 walkers. Several members only joined us later, in time
to enjoy the theatre of the Starlings. Thanks to Mark for leading. Sue Watson