Friday, 26 April 2013

Thurlbear, Swell Wood & Greylake

It seems ages since I went on the last DBWPS meeting, and that's probably because it was nearly a week ago. Last Monday, in fact, but I haven't had time to download my photos before now. I'm actually typing this sitting on board our canal boat Muriel in the evening sunshine, lovely!

Back to the birds....

Six of us met up at Thurlbear, making it the smallest gathering I've been to. We had an excellent day's birding, and even the weather stayed fine for us.

We could easily have started the day with a disaster had David not noticed that I'd inadvertently attached him to my tripod. I couldn't do it again if I tried...
Good thing David noticed before walking off
We were soon listening to the song of Nightingales, and even had a brief glimpse of one. We think there were probably at least 3 of them, although it's difficult to be sure.
I think Jonathan was praying for a Nightingale to show itself!

An interesting habitat. We found 27 species including the Nightingales
We then moved on to Swell Wood RSPB for lunch in the car park. We spent a while in the hide watching the heronry, which was pretty busy & noisy, not surprisingly as according to the notice there are 77 nests in use, with a few Little Egrets in amongst the Herons. Afterwards we walked down the lane to the Levels, stopping to scan as we went.
We soon spotted two Common Cranes on the Levels below.
A large bird on a post caused a bit of debate, as it was doing a pretty good impression of a Marsh Harrier. Jonathan however was adamant that it was a Buzzard & when it eventually flew he was proved to be right. It also took a while to figure out a distant bird, which turned out to be a lovely male Whinchat. At first I missed a Whitethroat - was a bit disappointing as I hadn't seen one yet this year - but luckily it was nice enough to give us all a good look on our way back.
I wonder why they call it the Somerset Levels?
We headed off towards Greylake, stopping a few times to scan the surrounding countryside. We were glad we did as we found 36 Common Cranes. I know they're all part of a release project but they're still pretty amazing to see. There was also another Buzzard doing impersonations, this one was so white it looked more like an Osprey.
There were about 30 Cranes one way & 6 Cranes & 2 Hares the other
Jonathan, Ian & Jeff then headed for home whilst David, Libby & myself carried on towards Greylake. We did stop one more time on the way and were treated to the fantastic sight of about 28 Cranes flying in to join a few that were already on the ground. When we finally made it to Greylake it was getting quite late. There wasn't much from the hide just some Mallards, a gadwall, 5 or 6 Redshanks & a pair of mating Buzzards! However, we did finish on a high during our walk back to the car park with a singing Cettis Warbler & a fleeting glimpse of a Sedge Warbler.
Greylake from the hide

It really had been a great day, with quite a few firsts for the year...Nightingale, Whinchat, Whitethroat, SedgeWarbler & the Common Cranes.

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