Three Kings

Phew where to begin! I'm not going to remember all of this but James will hopefully fill in a few blanks. Finally a good day with bright sun and no rain. The EFRS where in their element. There was initial debate about going down to Portland Bill or Huntspill but it was decided to not waste the opportunity and do what the EFRS do best and cycle our territory.
So the day began nice and early, provisions were gathered and off we went. First stop was VP2 at Ham Wall. A Kingfisher flew past as often it does and the first Bitterns of the year were spotted flying purposefully across the reads. There was a bit of a disturbance with two reed cutters driving about. James had spotted two bitters go down at the same spot. The reed cutters drove past and we waited with scopes and cameras at the ready to see them flushed out........... Nothing. Even when the cutters came back there was no sign. Where they trampled under the tracks, to stubborn to move or did perspective play tricks? You decide.
After a pleasant hour at VP2 we carried on with a brief stop at VP1 which hasn't been the best for quit some time. The water is still way too deep to attract much of note.
So on we went cycling towards Shapwick. Now I'm sure a few of you would have heard tales of a Penduline Tit in these parts recently. Well a fellow cycling birder who had cycled on ahead of us came puffing back when finally he caught his breath explained that he had heard on over Shapwick way. Well we headed straight off, well cycled there anyway but it was a nice day so didn't rush too much. When we did get to the crossing point of Noah's and Mear Hides we scanned the trees with gusto giving it our full attention, not a branch was left un-surveyed and not a leaf was.................... Ooooohh look a Stone Chat.............

Stone Chat

James; and another for good measure!

Yes I'm afraid it didn't take long for us to be distracted. These little chaps were flitting about close to the path and where very obliging. Almost Robin like in their bravado. But the day was still ahead of us and on we went. Today was a full patrol so Canada Farm had to be done. We don't regularly go there. Its a nice hide but not a lot is regularly seen there. Except for one particular bird that always catches your eye. We heard the calls and one darted past. Then finally we were rewarded with one of the most flamboyant if a little comical birds we have. The Kingfisher. Up it popped and sat at first amongst twigs. Then flew around calling. Sure enough it was not alone. Its mate was here and they flew together across the waters, low and direct as only they can. This one stopped for a breather and a look for lunch on a branch across the way.

Male Kingfisher

Off they flew again as a pair but the final volley was accompanied with a surprise. Three Kingfishers zooming across and away. Excellent sighting.

James: What a great Shot by Andrew!  

I have some good ones of the Kingfisher but I have to say that Andrew's pic is better.  I zoomed right in where as with the bridge cameras it is better to zoom out a touch as more detail seems to be retained then.

James: We did also see a GC Grebe close to the hide

Well after all that excitement we had to chill and recover. A hot chocolate at Eco Bites did the trick. While there James took this Reed Bunting pic with my camera. A lot of stuff happens here while you have refreshments. Woodpeckers being one of them. We were quite expecting the Penduline Tit to appear.

Reed Bunting

James: That turned out nicely!

Only half way through the day! What more could possibly happen.................

Well not a lot. We dropped off at Tealham to check out the Heronry but little was happening. A few Herons going back and forth. Then it was to West Hay. Now I have an issue with West Hay. There is very little to see there. The water is too deep for waders and the reeds are too tall to see anything that is there. I'm aware that there are a few Bitterns and Marsh Harriers there but nothing else. Its only really good for Merlins during the summer. The most exciting thing was nearly running over a fish on my bike as we went through the flooded paths. We never got to the raised hide it was flooded.
This Kestrel kept moving along the wires as we cycled but I did manage to grab a few decent shots.

James: Managed a quick heron shot...

The return trip was a retracing our steps through to Ham Wall. The feeding frenzy for the Penduline Tit had subsided and we stopped off for a chat and hello with Mike 'The birdman' at the Shapwick car park.

James: 1 Great White at Meare heath hide

Spotted one bird I haven't mentioned yet? The ever present Marsh Harrier. No one had seen one all day but they never fail us. A very splendid male hunted at the back of VP2. Possibly the best Ive ever seen. He was in his prime with vivid white, black and tan markings. It was a bugger to take a picture of though!

James: It was but I did get this... serviceable I suppose.

James: To finish off we were treated to a Kestrel sat on the peat, dong a good impression of a Merlin and a single Roe deer.

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