Saturday, 2 May 2015

Meare Heath and Ham Wall RSPB, Somerset

Thirty two years almost to the day after seeing my first Hudsonian godwit at Blacktoft Sands RSPB in 1983, today we headed down to Meare Heath, Somerset to see the third for Britain, and a very nice year tick it was I must say. On the way down we were worried that the bird may have gone for good following a message yesterday at 18:45 that it had flown off high to the west and not been seen again for the rest of the day. We were very pleased therefore to get positive news shortly after dawn that the bird was back, at which stage we were just 50 miles away. We got there at about 8.30am and the bird showed really well through the scope for a couple of hours, walking around and feeding. A bit distant for good photographs perhaps, but still a great sight. It flew a couple of times to allow us to see it's dark underwing. Nice!

After a walk around adjacent Ham Wall RSPB we went back for a second look and found the bird asleep in the middle of a pack of godwits. It didn't look much like waking up so we called it a day.

What a great place though. I reckon we had at least 8 great white egrets, saw 2 bitterns plus heard 3 others booming, at least 10 hobbies, drake garganey, several marsh harriers and lots of other goodies such as several cuckoos, garden warblers and zillions of cettis warblers. My kind of twitch!

Year: 205 (Hudsonian godwit, Garganey, Cuckoo)

Notice the grey head and neck of the Hudsonian and the dark underparts when compared to the summer plumage black-tailed godwit on the left. In many respects Hudosnian is like a cross between black and bar-tailed.

Unfortunately this photo is out of focus, but you can clearly see the dark underwing of the Hudsonian godwit in the middle of the photo.

This is how it would have looked if it had been in focus! Thanks to Dave Owen for the photo.

Great white egrets displaying. Notice the black bills. I've never seen great white egrets in full breeding plumage before, and in non-breeding plumage they have yellow bills which I am more familiar with. Great white egrets breed at Ham Wall and nearby Shapwick Heath.


Garden warbler.

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