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30th March 2019 – Avalon Marshes, Somerset Levels

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When we set off this morning it was very foggy but by the time I dropped Wendy off for a Textile Art Workshop at Midsomer Quilters in the Mendip Hills it was very sunny. However, to my disappointment as I dropped back down on to the Somerset Levels the fog returned and stayed with me until midday when, fortunately, the sun burnt through the mist.

MT1D0502I was lucky to get a photo of this dunnock as it was really misty – the magic of editing.

RSPB Ham Wall and Shapwick Heath National Nature Reserve (which are adjacent to each other but run by different bodies) are usually abundant with birds and are my favourite local birding areas;  but it was much quieter today. Surprisingly there weren’t many people around either.

MT1D0518Great crested grebe

MT1D0527Great crested grebe

MT1D0530Shoveler

MT1D0538Shovelers

MT1D0571Pochard

However, I did manage to see a blackcap, which the Nature Notes in today’s Times newspaper described as “the king of the warblers” and which are coming back in to the country in their hundreds of thousands: the article stated that there are over a million nesting pairs in Britain. This one certainly lived up to its reputation with a very cheerful and loud song.

MT1D0632A very melodious blackcap

MT1D0625I was so dazzled by the pinkness of this bird’s breast that I couldn’t work out if it was a bullfinch or a chaffinch but sure it’s a chaffinch

MT1D0638I was surprised how much pink there was in this wood pigeon too

MT1D0639I saw several butterflies but only managed a photo of this one – a Green-Veined White

The other highlight of the day was seeing great crested grebes courting, although I didn’t manage to see them dancing!

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MT1D0669

MT1D0674These two great crested grebes started the courting in the open and then coyly disappeared behind the reeds

Another joy was hearing bitterns booming across the reserves; they didn’t show their faces though.

There were plenty of sightings of great white egrets but I only saw one little egret.

MT1D0588Great white egret at RSPB Ham Wall

MT1D0598Great white egret and little egret at RSPB Ham Wall

MT1D0683This great white egret flew overhead at Shapwick Heath as I walked back to the car

From Noah’s Hide at Shapwick Heath I could just make out in the distance my first swallows of the year; but I didn’t manage to see the glossy ibis that had been reported.