Tuesday 21 January – Meare Heath and Ham Wall

 19 members met in the Natural England car park on an overcast and breezy afternoon. We first walked down to the viewing platforms overlooking the Ham Wall reedbeds. A couple of members were really lucky on the way down to have a brief glimpse of an otter swimming in the adjacent South Drain; a rare sighting during daylight. The open water areas contained a good variety of birds including Mallard, Gadwall, Teal, Shoveler, Wigeon, Teal, Tufted Duck, Pochard, Mute Swan, Great Crested Grebe, Greylag and Canada Goose. A female Marsh Harrier drifted over the reedbed and Sparrowhawk and Buzzard completed the raptor list. We had a couple of views of a Great White Egret and it was nice to compare size with a nearby Little Egret. We then walked through part of the Meare Heath reserve as we had heard that the starlings had roosted there on the previous evening. On the way a few Redwings and Fieldfares flew over and a Water Rail “squealed”. Groups of Starlings, some of several thousand in number began to swirl in from every direction. Unfortunately, they chose to roost in a part of the reserve that was partly obscured by trees and they were not in the air for long. The spectacle, therefore, was not as impressive has had been hoped. 45 species however was a respectable total for the afternoon.