Monday, 31 October 2016

Somerset Saunter and Bearded Bonanza!

I returned yesterday evening from a lovely weekend away with the family. We stayed near Wells in Somerset for a short break predominantly to go sightseeing and spend some quality time together. However I did still manage to fit a couple of short birding sessions in!

A short drive away was the Westhay Reserve, a 261 acre reedbed and wetland. It was such an easy reserve to navigate around and was signed well. More information and directions can be found here:

I went with my dad and young niece and we all enjoyed the facilities. I had gleaned some information from Adrian Langdon before my trip and he had pin-pointed a species that I was hoping to catch up with whilst in the area! But first we ambled to the nearest hide that impressed my young niece and me! I have never been in a hide so beautifully decorated and it was a real credit to Avalon Marshes. It was lovely that not only did it look good but she was able to interact with it making the impact even greater.
Is there a better decorated hide anywhere else in the UK?

Even the amazing hide wasn't enough to keep hunger at bay and my little nieces belly could take it no longer! Faint from her physical early morning stroll Grampy needed to carry her back to the car and we needed to get her home for sustenance fast! Oh to be that age again :-). After a bite to eat Dad and I decided to head back and try for our intended species. We made our way to the recommended spot and joined the small crowd that had assembled to cast their eyes on our intended quarry. After a whispered conversation with one of the party I was a little worried as our target species had been seen half an hour before but not since! I settled myself and concentrated and was rewarded a few minutes later with a distant ping-ping call that started to get closer and louder. The reeds started to jink and rustle in an unorthodox fashion! Then just a few meters away a pristine female Bearded Reedling bounced on to the boardwalk and started to fill up on the grit provided.

Little did I know that the morning was going to get even more glorious! Whilst enjoying the perfect female a stonking male came and joined her! I am not sure if there are words that can describe how amazing these birds look. I only wish I concentrated on getting some better photos rather than looking at them through the bins.

The most stunning of birds!

Sunday morning I decided to head up to Shapwick with my Dad and again have a wonder around. You can find more information here:

This is a vast reserve and you could easily spend a whole day here exploring and it has many facilities too. We spent a lot of time walking through the woods and then around the reed beds and water ways. There is a huge variety of bird life to wet the appetite and the short time spent here did it no justice at all. However we did manage to find a couple of good birds in the form of a Firecrest and a Marsh Harrier. It was lovely to see that the Wildfowl was represented in good numbers and we also enjoyed views of Kingfishers flying near the hide.  I would definitely recommend that anyone who is passing or staying near any of the Avalon Marshes reserves takes the time to go and experience them, they really are a delight and everyone of them has something to offer.

View from the Decoy Hide at Shapwick

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