Levels-birder

Birds and other wildlife, mostly in Somerset, UK

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August 27th 2013

Our morning walk to Noah’s Lake hide was very successful, for not only did we see the Glossy Ibis and the Curlew Sandpiper again as we passed Meare Heath pool, but after watching the Osprey from the hide for ¾ of an hour, perched on a distant stump digesting its recent meal, it suddenly took flight and went away above the distant tree-line bordering the lake. It then suddenly swooped down towards the tree-tops and dislodged another Osprey from its hidden perch – quite amazing! I managed this very distant record shot of both birds in the air together; one appearing slightly the larger and having a wide slot in its outer LH wing, the result of a missing primary. The two circled together over the lake then one peeled away and perched in a near tall tree for a short time before taking to the air once more, giving us such wonderful views.

 

A distant record shot of the two Ospreys together

 

The larger of the two Ospreys, missing a primary feather

 

Osprey - perched

 

Osprey - taking off

 

Kingfisher

perched about 60m from the hide, closer would have been so much better

 

 

August 26th 2013

 

After a broken night’s sleep, our late-morning visit to Meare Heath shallow pool was met with “A bit late in the day, you’ve just missed the Ibis, it’s flown off towards Ham Wall”. And I couldn’t find yesterdays Curlew Sandpiper either – oh bother!! We then went to the 2nd viewing platform at Ham Wall RSPB, where there was the usual small number of Black-tailed Godwits, 3 Greenshank, at least 3 Green Sandpipers, 6 Ruff, and 2 Great White Egrets in a 20 minute scan, but no sign of anything better. We were on our way back to the car park when a welcome phone call tells me that the Glossy Ibis is back on Meare Heath shallow pool and so is the Curlew Sandpiper (thanks Alan), so we quickened our step and there they were. The Ibis was way out in the middle of the pool, looking good through my ‘scope but really too distant for my lens – just a record shot, but the Curlew Sandpiper was a bit closer. Just then the Osprey decided to pay us a visit, from its perch on nearby Noah’s Lake, and circled over Meare Heath Wood – so three good birds all at once, not bad eh! Also present on the pool were 38 Black-tailed Godwits, 2 Ruff, 2 Greenshank, 2 Green Sandpipers and 2 Water Rails, the later bathing and preening close up to the reed fringe. Finally, just as we were thinking of leaving, everything took flight and the Ibis circled around among a small flock of Lapwings allowing me these flight shots.

 

Glossy Ibis - a bit distant, out in the middle of the pool

 

Curlew Sandpiper - photo over the intervening bank foliage

 

Glossy Ibis - flying with Lapwings

 

 

August 24th 2013

 

Our mid-afternoon trawl by car across Butleigh Moor and King’s Sedge Moor was pretty quiet, the only birds of note were a Trumpeter Swan on the former and a juvenile Marsh Harrier flying west across the latter, where this white-headed pale-phase juvenile Common Buzzard was particularly good to see.

 

Trumpeter Swan

Fast swimming away from me along the Eighteen Foot Drain on Butlieigh Moor

 

Common Buzzard - white-headed, pale-phase juvenile

 

But perhaps the best was this big bird: an Avro Vulcan V bomber, XH558 ‘The Spirit of Great Britain’ and the last of 134 still airworthy; photographed distantly from Butleigh Moor as it flew fairly low across nearby Somerton Moor, presumably heading for RNAS Yeovilton.

 

 

 

August 22nd 2013

A successful morning on the 2nd viewing platform at Ham Wall RSPB Reserve where, after almost an hour of searching, I saw the previous day’s Pectoral Sandpiper; other waders present were 11 Black-tailed Godwits, 3 Greenshanks, 5 Green Sandpipers, 2 Dunlin, and singles of Wood Sandpiper and Ruff, plus 2 Great White Egrets and 2 Garganey. Later there were 27 Black-tailed Godwits, 3 Green Sandpipers and a preening Water Rail on Meare Heath shallow pool and an adult female Marsh Harrier flew low over the main reedbed.

 

Pectoral Sandpiper - my library photo

Digitally reproduced from an old 400 ISO Fujichrome slide.

One of a flock of 5 found by my son and me at Drift Reservoir, Cornwall on 29-Sep-1984

 

 

August 19th 2013

 

Our afternoon drive around part of the Somerset Levels saw very little of note, the best being a gathering of Swallows on overhead wires in the village of Burtle and 8 Common Buzzards, in a variety of colour-phases, on Tealham Moor, all seeking insects behind a tractor towing a grass-rotovator.

 

Swallows - 2 adults and 2 juveniles

 

Swallow - juvenile

 

Swallow - juvenile

 

Swallow - juvenile

 

Common Buzzards

 

 

 

August 16th 2013

 

Yet another abortive attempt to hopefully find a Spotted Crake at Greylake RSPB Reserve, where the only crakes on show were a few Moorhens (photos); and other than this obliging female Mallard the only other birds to come within camera range were a family party of Mute Swans – the male and one of the juveniles allowing these close-up photos.

 

Moorhen - adults

 

Mallard - female

 

Mute Swan - cob (male)

 

Mute Swan - cygnet (juvenile)

 

 

August 7th 2013

 

So far this month I’ve made several visits to Ham Wall RSPB Reserve, where the highlight has been seeing up to 4 juvenile Marsh Harriers on the wing – a very fine sight indeed. Other birds seen included Hobby, but only a single sighting, 3 Garganey (7 were seen on the 6th), 7 Black-tailed Godwits, 3 Green Sandpipers, 3 Dunlin, a Great White Egret, a Bittern, and 2 Kingfishers. I also saw this large, day-time flying moth, showing in flight a rosy-red colour on its hind-wings; although its flight was very erratic I kept it in sight until it disappeared into the tree foliage. Here, after a bit of searching, I spotted it thro’ my bins’ settled about ten feet up on a branch that pretty well much matched its cryptic camouflage pattern.

 

Marsh Harrier - distant juvenile

 

Red Underwing Moth - settled with folded wings

 

I also made two late evening visits to Greylake RSPB Reserve, again hoping to maybe find a Spotted Crake, but no luck – the only crakes on view were a few Moorhens of which I managed to photograph these juveniles. The only other birds of any note were the 3 juvenile Yellow Wagtails, perching very distantly on the wire fox-proof fencing.

 

Moorhen - a relatively young juvenile

 

Moorhen - older juveniles

 

Mallard - eclipse drake hiding away in the shadows

 

Yellow Wagtail - a very distant juvenile