Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Super, Smashing, Great!

Yesterday I decided it was time to go for another rarity. The Cream-coloured Courser was tempting, but it was bit far (Herefordshire somewhere) & I had one on the Scillies back in 2004. So, I headed off to Weston-super-Mare for the Great Reed Warbler, which I’ve only seen in Spain before.

It was at the sewage works, which was actually quite picturesque as sewage works go! 
The view from the sewage works banking
When I arrived at about 10.00 there were a few people there, which was handy as I wasn't sure where to go. As I was putting up my tripod the bird flew between 2 areas of reeds, but I had my hands full so didn't get my bins on it. It certainly looked big! It was silent for a while, but then started singing, & boy is it loud! At least the pressure was off as I'd seen it, but I really wanted a better look. 
The Great Reed Warbler was singing near the left hand bushes
Most people left, so for a while there were just 2 of us & it turned out that the other chap was from Exmouth as well! Then a few more people arrived including 2 very casual chaps who arrived and immediately lay down on the bank for a snooze! A couple of chaps saw the warbler climb a reed, but I missed it. It was quite windy, so it was mainly staying low & out of sight. I was in no hurry, which was just as well! At about 11.30 it reappeared & I had a reasonable view, all be it a bit obscured through the reeds. At least I could see it singing. I decided to give it until 12.00 to see if I could get an even better view. At 11.58 it flew out of the tall reeds & was fully visible on the short green reeds in the middle of the channel before flying further down the channel & disappearing. So did I.

Great Reed Warbler spotting
It was a lovely sunny day, so I thought I'd make the most of it. Although I've been to Shapwick Heath a few times  now, I've always started at the East end & never gone beyond the Noah's Hide junction. I decided this was a good afternoon to go a bit further. When I got to the junction there was a Landrover, some chairs, scopes & an enthusiastic man from Natural England. It turned out that they had just announced that Great White Egrets have bred on the reserve & according to the  chap, the male Egret was due to come in to feed the youngster in about 10 minutes! I waited with baited breath, & waited, & waited & made use of the chairs, & waited some more. Luckily I was in no hurry! About 1 1/2 hrs later, in he came, dropped down into the reeds for about a minute & then flew off again. Great!! The wait had been very pleasant & we did see a Bittern fly in then start booming which was rather nice. 
The nest is near the middle tree behind the reeds
The watch point
Dropping into the nest by the twiggy tree
I then walked off to the Decoy Hide, which was quite a way. There was an impressive fly-by of 7 helicopters of various types. It would probably have been better though if it hadn't flown right over the reserve.
The 7th wasn't flying in the formation
 I didn't see many birds, but I had a lovely walk & saw a few other beasties.
Four-spotted Chaser
Four-spotted Chaser
Brimstone butterfly

Horrible huge beetle (about 1 1/2 inches)...a Devils Coach-horse maybe?
It had been a fab day. Year List now on 189 + 2

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