Monday, 20 May 2013

19 May at Ashcott Corner

WONDROUS WARBLERS AND BLASTS OF BITTERNS

How to pick out the highlights of a special day on the Somerset Levels?

0800 Sunday 19 May at Ashcott Corner. Eight of us in total assembled for Lucy Delve's Bird Song Skills Improvement Group. Without even leaving the car park, there was plenty to hear and focus on, and as we progressed firstly into Meare/Shapwick Heath and then Ham Wall, the warblers did all we'd hoped they'd do. They warbled, they flitted, they showed themselves and so very nicely illustrated their varying songs.

All our target birds were co-operative. We heard explosions of Cetti's warblers. We were able to compare songs of willow; garden; reed and sedge warblers. We got some great views.

Blackcaps put in fine performances, singing and showing well. We saw and heard whitethroat also.

We had clear views of marsh harriers and saw plenty of hobby activity as both they, and the swifts, circled and swooped to catch prey.

All this against a backdrop of cuckoos constantly calling. Oh, and intermingled with everything else, we were treated to what for me was probably the highlight of the trip - the deep booming of the bitterns throughout the day. They reminded me of distant foghorns. Someone commented that they sounded like didgeridoos. On one of the loop walks at Ham Wall, Lucy said that they'd seen bitterns there before. On cue, two bitterns flew over and did several circuits above us. That was to be the first of several excellent sightings we had of bitterns flying. How lucky were we? You could almost become blase about bitterns! (Only joking!)

Thanks for a great day, Carole. 

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