Monday, 30 December 2013


I've mostly been away from the Avalon Marshes lately due to work, but being back for a week of intensive birding over Christmas was most enjoyable. The water levels across the Somerset Levels are extremely high at the moment, making the landscape look very different, and with winter visitors very much in abundance.

Catcott Lows is probably the best spot for winter birding, as large flocks of ducks and waders have filled the flooded meadow close in front of the hide. Wigeon and Teal make up the majority of the numbers, but other duck species and a few waders are also present. Raptors like Marsh Harriers and Peregrines are frequently making visits to try and pick off a straggler, and every time they arrive, the air fills with noisy panicking wildfowl, a real spectacle.
Black-tailed Godwits


Wigeon and Shoveler
On Shapwick Heath the changes are more subtle. Noah's Lake is holding good numbers of ducks, swans and geese, with up to 10 Whooper Swans being particularly nice to see. The deeper water is not as good for fishing herons and egrets as it was in the summer, with these birds moving out and spreading over the wet fields nearby. The resident Great White Egrets, so easy to see earlier in the year are now only offering fleeting glimpses.
Whooper Swans
Great White Egret
 Kingfishers are as abundant as ever:

I should be more active again next year, and hope to get a program of guided walks up and running, i'll post more details here in due time.