U Tern

Well, it has been a while.  Whilst Andrew has been tracking down all sorts of good stuff.  I have been cooped up with work commitments.  The only birding I have done is trying to get footage of a woodpecker in the back garden.  That’s a story in itself, but I digress...

It was time to get out and about with great haste! I hopped into my car with thoughts of Marsh Harriers and Bitterns in my head.  Turned the key,... dead.  

My heart sank.  After much wailing and gnashing of teeth I pulled out the bike (at this point I probably should have gone to the garage rather than birding... but you only live once)

On my way to Westhay I caught sight of a Kestrel hover hunting.  Always a pleasure to see as these falcons are struggling a bit.  Moments later he was gone.  I carried on, only to see him reappear on a post.  Whipping out my camera I managed to get some footage.

What a greedy guts!  Apologies for the shakiness.  I was knackered.

At Westhay I made a bee-line for the raised platform.  A Water Vole hurtled into a ditch, obviously rather nervous of a giant wheeled frame bearing a loft a hairy, panting human.
The platform is a solid spot for Hobby watching. Except there weren't any.  

I text Andrew to have a moan.  As I hit send, the first Hobby swooped across.  Then it went a bit mental.  A Buzzard flew low over the reeds, harried by a female Marsh Harrier.  Above a second hobby appeared.  Then a Cuckoo flew in front of the hide, followed by another 2 cuckoos (a flock!).  Then a Kingfisher flew onto a tree not 20 feet from the hide.  I raised my camera... In a flash he was gone.  I was really annoyed.  I had missed pretty much everything with only the Harrier on film (and it was pretty poor quality)

I decided to drown my sorrows with a bottle of coke and a ham sandwich.  It went quiet for a bit with just an over enthusiastic Cetti’s warbler for company.  Then the Hobbies returned 5 or 6 darting about the place.  Let me tell you, Andrew did well to get pics of them.  They are fast and very wiley!
A much slower target emerged.  A beautiful Harrier flew quite close to the hide and provided some outstanding views.
But it wasn't over just yet.  Tracking one of the Hobbies I noticed it descend and... land!
What a great bird.  Sat quietly on a dead tree.  He didn't do a lot so i just admired.  At that point I noticed another, slightly odd looking grey bird in a nearby tree.  A fourth cuckoo!

I got both into the frame (just).  I thought it might be interesting..

On to Shapwick.  A Kingfisher zipped across the track.  Meare Heath was a bit quiet with just a few GC grebes and a few Lapwings.  At Ham Wall I halted at VP1.  I was full of expectation as Andrew really has done well around here in the past few weeks.  I wasn't disappointed.  2 Bitterns were flying reasonably high and interacted briefly before vanishing from sight.
I wheeled my bike down to the new hide.  I saw precisely nothing and wheeled back again.  It was then that i noticed two very smart looking Common terns on the little floating island.  They looked like a pair of star crossed lovers gazing into each others eyes and making the odd high pitched call to one another.  Then the romantic scene was shattered.  A grumpy heron decided that the island belonged to him.  His greater size and strength quickly overwhelmed the dainty birds and off they scattered.  The heron, obviously pleased with himself stood proud on his new bit of land.  His victory was short lived.
The terns re grouped and exacted swift retribution.  Dive bombing the hapless Heron.  He squawked and complained as the terms streaked into him.  Unable to take anymore the old fisherman admitted defeat and fled.  The scene ended with the terns returning to their floaty island.  A happy ending then.

Back on VP1 I met two very nice chaps and between us we managed to spot a Female Marsh Harrier and 4 separate Bitterns.  Most pleasing!

For reasons unknown I decided to perform a u turn and go back through Shapwick heath.  I am glad I did.  Just before reaching the exit to Ham Wall I very nearly squashed a large Grass snake sunning herself on the path.  I screeched to a halt, grit flying everywhere.  The snake did an awkward spin like a dog chasing its own tail.  Once it had sorted itself out, it slithered into a nearby bush. 
Back through Shapwick another Kingfisher flashed in front of me and two GS woodpeckers flew over head.  As I peddled past the freshly ploughed fields at Westhay I noticed a large brown rabbit... Wait it was a hare!
Andrew and myself have often lamented at the lack of hares around.  It was great to see this one and I feel lucky that I managed to get a photo of him.

Looking a little startled!

When i got home I tried the key in the car ignition just one more time.  This time it worked.  I must have made the wrong tern last time round :-)

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