With the exception of last weeks trip to Watlington in the Chilterns for the Red Kites I've not been out birding other than to local patches for ages.So when I found out that the weather for Friday was going to be decent I decided to make the long trip to the RSPB reserve at Ham Wall in deepest Somerset.
I'd never been there before but had noticed it gets some decent birds breeding there including Great White Egrets,Marsh Harriers,Bitterns and Hobbies.These would form my target list for the day.
Set out early and had a decent journey there (120 miles) except for the last 3 miles were I got lost in the narrow lanes of rural Somerset.I got to the car park eventually arriving at 9.00 AM and noticed you have two choices of which way to go : westwards the path leads to Shapwick Heath NNR and the path eastwards leads to the Ham Wall RSPB reserve.
As I chatted to another birder in the car park getting advice where to go he spotted a Great White Egret that flew over not that far above us.Good start but no pics.In fact I did very well with seeing my target birds but not so good with getting decent shots as they were generally to far off.
I took the path to the Ham Wall reserve and I must say I was very impressed and I would put it right up with my favourite sites.There is a old railway track paved path that leads through the reserve that you can stick to because there are several viewing platforms,hides etc you can get to easily or if you like you can walk round the scrapes along grass tracks.
I spotted a distant Great White Egret at the end of a broadwalk that led off the main path.Not great shots too far for my lens but great to see.
There were loads of Warblers in the hedgerows and reed beds and I have solved where all the Brandon Marsh Cetti's Warblers have gone they are here.Although there were loads of them about I failed to get a decent shot they were too quick for me.
After having a very early lunch on a bench at the east end of the reserve and hearing a Bittern booming so close but not seeing it and listening to the Marsh Frogs making a hell of a racket calling out to each other I went back on the main path and sat down at an excellent viewing point that overlooked a large scrape.
I was hoping to see the Marsh Harriers and thought I'd got one pretty quickly but it was a Common Buzzard.A bit later one of the Marsh Harriers did appear but it was miles away and all I could get was a couple of crappographs.
Three Hobbies were also showing from this viewing point but in this warm weather the dragonflies (there were loads of them about first I'd seen this year) were high in the sky and so were the Hobbies.Only once while I was there did one come lower down and then it was on the side that was against the sun so no really decent shots.
It was nearly 1.00 PM when I got back to the car park to grab another drink.After a short rest I decided to head westwards and have a quick look at the Shapwick Heath nature reserve.After no more than 300m down the path you get to a scrape on the right hand side.Although distant there were well over 50 Black-tailed Godwits,a Little Egret and a pair of Garganeys there.
Whilst wasting my time trying to get shots of the Garganeys that were much to far away I spotted something in my eye coming from the right.Having learned to take shots and worry about the ID later I managed a few shots of this chap.
Completely knackered by now I set off home at 2.00 PM hoping to beat the traffic on the dreaded M5. Did I beat the traffic ? Did I hell it was horrendous and it took me ages to get home.
Great reserve that I plan to visit again soon but this time I will stay in the neighbourhood and not travel there and back in a day which is too much if you are an old goat like me.