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!!

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