Friday, 28 October 2016

Glastonbury Tor, Ham Wall, Cheddar Reservoir and a WHITE TAILED EAGLE!

Hello all,
This post is somewhat of a jumble of sightings, ranging from a dipped local mega, to an American wader that showed absurdly well, and a few bits in between. Despite the end of Autumnwatch for this year (it hasn't suffered the fate of the Bake Off!) there was still plenty of wildlife locally, some of which was also seen on the programme. I have yet to take the liberty of placing a bucket on my head to listen for migrating birds, however.

Glastonbury Tor and Ham Wall
As it is half-term, we decided to visit somewhere fairly local that I have seen but haven't been to. Glastonbury Tor has fantastic panoramic views over the Somerset levels, with a limestone batholith (although this usually applies to igneous rock, you get the idea) forming the hill, due to it not being eroded. There was one bird of note on the top: a Kestrel.

After the Tor, we stopped off for an hour at the nearby Ham Wall, which was very quiet. 30+ male Shoveler, in smart winter plumage, were nice, as were three Wigeon. 10 Teal and 50 Mallard were the other ducks on show. A Cetti's Warbler was quite nice, if a little startling, and a Water Rail was also heard. A Marsh Harrier flew over, but otherwise, little else.

Cheddar Reservoir and LESSER YELLOWLEGS
At Cheddar Reservoir, there was a Lesser Yellowlegs. This is a very elegant wader that is a vagrant in America. With between 5 and 10 records a year in Britain, it is certainly a rarity. This bird is definitely Lesser, rather than Greater, due to a) the bird is the same size as a redshank, not larger, b)the bill is, relative to the head, small and c) the bill is straight, with no upward curve towards the end. The Lesser Yellowlegs showed very well at the edge of the reservoir, just a few metres away, at times. It probably had never seen a human before, and showed almost TOO close at times!

Also present at the reservoir were large numbers of Mallard, Teal and Gadwall; Shoveler and Wigeon were also present. A Great White Egret and a female Mandarin was of note as was a Red Breasted Merganser, which I didn't see, but had been reported.

The local mega
At 11:30 today, I noticed an unbelievable sighting on RBA NewsMap Lite and on Birguides: White Tailed Eagle, Blagdon Lake!!!! This is the fifth record for the area, but the most recent was in 1927. The bird was a juvenile, and probably from the East, helped here by the recent Easterly winds. I arrived at the lake at 13:35, but, alas, it had long gone. The bird was either a) in trees, but out of sight nearby or b) had headed off. After many fruitless hours, it emerged that the bird was last seen in the Mendips, at Black Down. Once I heard this news, it was dark. However, few birders could connect with the bird, so if it remains, it will be very popular indeed. Scaup,  6 Great White Egret, 4 Little Grebe, 4 Buzzard, 10 Great Crested Grebe and a Kingfisher were all present at Blagdon, whilst we waited!

Hopefully the Eagle will land!

Below are some more Lesser Yellowlegs images...

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