Trip Report August 2014

When I woke up this morning and looked out of the window, my heart sank - it looked totally dreadful. By 8.15 it was scarcely any better and I set off for Ash Lane convinced that nobody would pitch up and that I would be returning home after a few minutes, not going out birdwatching.

How wrong can you get! Three optimistic U3A birders arrived and we decided to try and fit in both Catcott NR and Shapwick Heath, both of which had had quite encouraging recces in recent days. We first went to Catcott where a new hide has recently been opened, and we set off to explore it. It is very well sited with 360 degree visibility overlooking woodland, open water and agricutural land. We saw 3 families of Little Grebe in the open water, and also had superb and prolonged views of a male Kingfisher, which obligingly perched for several minutes in full view only 30 metres from the hide. In the agricultural land we saw two perched Buzzard, which took off to go hunting at about 10.00 am. Sadly the woodland did not yield the expected family of six Spotted Flycatcher which I had found on the recce, but on the way back to the car we did find several songbirds including Chiffchaff, Coal Tit and a family of Long-tailed Tit.

Off to Shapwick Heath, where the main attraction was the Osprey which had arrived for a fishing holiday about ten days previously. Not only did we get excellent views of it on its favoutite perch, but we also witnessed a successful fishing trip where the bird plunged into the water, emerged two seconds later with a roach in its talons, flew back to its perch and started eating the fish at the head (while its tail was still flapping!). At the same place we also had good but distant views of a perched Hobby. On one piece of open water which had been partially drained to make a wader scrape during autumn migration season we found Dunlin, Green sandpiper, Black-tailed Godwit and (hundreds of) Lapwing, plus around 20 Little Egret, Mute Swans and several species of Duck.

So successful a morning was it that we didn't get back to Wells until 1.30 !