Birds and other wildlife, mostly in Somerset, UK

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August 30th 2016


At the Huntspill Sluice and Seawall on the 24th apart from a few Ringed Plover the only waders of any note were a single Common Sandpiper and a small flock of 38 Avocets, the latter on the Steart bank of the Parret Estuary. Another visit to Steart Marshes on the 26th failed to find a Curlew Sandpiper, but 2 juv Black Terns off Stert Point were good to see. I spent some time over the past two days at Meare Heath Scrape and nearby Noah’s Lake, both part of Shapwick Heath NNR, where I had excellent views of the 2 Glossy Ibis, watched the perched Osprey eating a fish and was lucky to glimpse an Otter dive-fishing. Others seen included a congregation of 10 Great White Egrets and 18 Little Egrets (together with the Ibises) hunting for fish in the rapidly shrinking water as the scrape was being mostly drained to attract passing waders, a Bittern – stood out in the open sunning its self, c.90 Black-tailed Godwits, and singles of Greenshank, Green Sandpiper, Ruff, Water Rail, Kingfisher, Marsh Harrier and Hobby.


My short, 3-min video of the Glossy Ibises can be seen here https://youtu.be/BKBOmxlxfUc


An early-evening visit to the high-water wader roost on Wall Common shingle-beach in Bridgwater Bay finally found at least 2, probably 3, Curlew Sandpipers, mostly asleep with heads tucked-in among a small flock of Dunlin. There were some 100 Dunlin in all, plus c.250 Ringed Plover and 30 Turnstones. I squatted down below the shingle ridge but the only waders to eventually feed close were these…


Ringed Plover - Wall Common beach


Turnstone, juvenile - Wall Common beach


Dunlin - Wall Common beach



August 21st 2016


On the 16th, I again saw the Osprey catch a small fish on Noah’s Lake and also saw a lone Hobby. On the 17th we went to Chew Valley Lake, where this time the long staying juv/1st-winter Yellow-legged Gull was showing very well on the shoreline at Herons Green Bay. Not a plumage I’m over familiar with, so good to see.




The 19th found me at Steart Marshes, looking without any luck for a Curlew Sandpiper, but the only birds of any note were 2 Greenshank and 2 Yellow Wagtails. Today we went to the Brue Estuary at Burnham-on-Sea to scan the high water wader roost, where a single juv Spotted Redshank among c.600 Common Redshank, plus a few Turnstones and fewer Ringed Plover and Dunlin, but still no Curlew Sandpiper. As it was blowing a stiff westerly we were soon at the seawall along Burnham Esplanade and in an hour saw an adult Gannet and 3 Storm Petrels – 2 fairly close-in.


August 10th 2016


A visit to the second view-point at Ham Wall RSPB on the 3rd gave me the expected birds, including the 2 Glossy Ibis, 3 Great White Egrets, 2 juv Marsh Harriers, and a single Hobby. I heard the male Little Bittern, barking briefly, on nearby Street Heath and saw a Green Sandpiper on old peat workings at Sharpham Corner. Having missed the adult Common Sandpiper at Sutton Bingham Reservoir on the 4th ( I saw 3 or 4 Common Sandpipers and a Peregrine) I returned the following day and this time I was lucky getting reasonable ‘scope views as it fed along a small beach towards the southern end of the reservoir. A smart adult still showing lots of blackish spots on its underparts – my photo shows a less spotted adult taken in Sep-2011.


Spotted Sandpiper - adult in September


A visit to Berrow Beach on the 8th didn’t turn-up my hoped for Curlew Sandpiper, in fact a lone Sanderling was the only small wader present, but 12 Whimbrel were good to see. Today (10th) I saw the usual adult Osprey, that stops off on Noah’s Lake at Shapwick Heath NNR as it has done each August since 2004 – although a little earlier in the month than usual, and watched it catch a small fish.



(my library photo)


Osprey, adult - Noah's Lake, Shapwick Heath NNR