Sunday, 19 October 2014

Noah's Hide

While we're still in that slightly strange autumnal period when all of the breeding birds have left and the winterers are only starting to arrive, the resident species of the Avalon Marshes are quietly putting  on a show to visitors. 
Noah's Lake is one of the oldest and largest patches of open water on the marshes, and with its established aquatic communities is a a favoured feeding spot for wetland birds. Over the last few weeks, herons, bitterns and egrets have been fishing close to the edge of the lake, providing some great photographic opportunities.

Unfortunately, the hide overlooking Noah's Lake is rather small and this weekend I arrived a little too late to get a seat (distracted by a late Garganey on Meare Heath on my way down) and so I had to take my photos from the back of the hide which was slightly awkward.

Great White Egret and admirers

At least 3 Bitterns gave nice fly-bys

Kingfisher on a favourite perch

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Jack Snipe

The highlight of the last few days on the Avalon Marshes was a Jack Snipe that I was surprised to see feeding out in the open on the drained lagoon at Shapwick Heath NNR. This smaller cousin of the Snipe is much rarer, and in Somerset usually only seen in flight when flushed from coastal marshes in the winter, so it was a delight to watch in the evening sun.

Jack Snipe on the right, note the dark central crown, a useful feature if no
Snipe are present for size comparison
Natural England have down a great job of keeping water levels down on the lagoon and there are loads of waders making use of the mud and shallow water, mostly Lapwing and Black-tailed Godwit, with several hundred of each present, also 7 Ruff and c30 Snipe at the moment

Lapwing and Snipe

Grey Heron, Ruff, Lapwing and assorted ducks

The Great White Egrets have been feeding in front of Noah's Hide a lot recently, giving great opportunities for close up views, the best i've had of this species in Somerset.


landing gear down

And Little Egrets showing similarly well
The big story on Avalon Marshes each winter is of course the Starling murmurations. On Saturday evening there were about 10,000 birds present, but as they arrived in small groups they simply dropped straight in to the Meare Heath reedbed to roost, without their famous aerial display. As numbers build we should get more of a spectacle, I can't wait!!