We spent a week away in Somerset staying at Thorney Lakes campsite, see my Diary entry Visit to Thorney Lakes and during the day we visited RSPB Ham Wall nature reserve. Ham Wall is part of the Avalon Marshes a large area of wetland which forms a habitat for many species RSPB Ham Wall. It never disappoints and we always see something new. The weather was kind with dry and sunny bright days; after the changeable weather we have had it was very welcome.
I used my Canon 7D mark 2 with my 100-400mm lens for the pictures and many of them were taken with a 1.4mm converter attached for that extra reach. It is very lucky to get the wildlife really close but I was happy with the images I bought back.
I spent sometime down in the Avalon Hide, right in the heart of the marshes, you never know what will turn up! There is usually plenty of space with views across the reed beds and a lovely view of Glastonbury Tor.
As I walked to the hide I spotted a Barn Owl landing on a fence post, it must have been around 10.30am and after that I spotted it quartering the marshes, obviously a family to feed. A real bonus for me I didn’t expect to spend time watching it hunt for prey. Difficult to get a close picture but wonderful to watch.
My next real bonus were the Bitterns, all the time we were there we could hear them booming on the Marshes, really nice to hear it for real instead of on the TV. It is a bird that I’ve wanted to see close up for sometime all I had taken a picture of so far was a head sticking out of the reeds at a long distance, which I could just about see was a Bittern. So to manage to see two in flight and get images was fantastic this time. They are very quick and you don’t have much time to take a picture, just click and hope for the best.
Always a welcome sight on the Avalon Marshes, the Great White Egret. They are moving around a lot of the time, fantastic birds, so much bigger than the Little Egret. I also saw a Cattle Egret from the hide I took a picture but it was at a distance.
In front of the hide is an area of water and there is always something going on, with Coots, Moorhens, Swans , Egrets etc. I enjoyed watching this family of Great Crested Grebes. Mum stayed in the middle of the water with the chicks while dad fished, he was very busy keeping them fed and it was amazing how they managed to swallow what looked like fish to large for them to eat, but they did! One chick spent most of his time on mum’s back enjoying the ride.
Another bird I love to watch is the Marsh Harriers they were about most of the time, again probably feeding young it is great to see them hovering and hunting across the marshes. I was lucky enough to see a food pass in mid flight from the male to the female.
Some of the time I went to the Tor view hide and there was some more action with a few different species of bird. Gadwall ducks in front of the hide and the beautiful male and female Pochard with the lovely striking red eye.
More common but non the less still nice to see a pair of Swans and six Cygnets.
Another first for me was seeing the Common Whitethroat. I was walking along the path and saw this little bird and took a quick picture, it soon disappeared. I asked a Bird watcher if they knew what is was and she told me it was a Whitethroat.
We had a really good few days I was pleased with the images I managed to get, always room for improvement but the enjoyment is seeing all this fantastic wildlife at close hand. We are looking forward to returning again.