|Lower Milton Farm campsite|
From my perspective, it was a very successful trip. Saturday started at 5am at Ham Wall RSPB in the hope of seeing the Little Bitterns breeding there. Rather frustratingly, one was seen very briefly in flight by someone else at about 6am, and I thought I'd missed my chance as I was scanning in another direction... It then reappeared about an hour later, spotted by the guy stood next to me. By the time I got on it, it was dropping back into the reedbed and I only had a fleeting glimpse of a brown bird - non tickable views. Mercifully, it reappeared above the top of the reeds a few moments later, and I had flight views of the female Little Bittern for about 5 seconds! However, I was very pleased - another person there had taken three visits to see it, and I'd avoided having to get up early the following morning for another try. A British tick! Other nice birds during the morning included 3 Great White Egrets, a (Great) Bittern, several Cuckoos and a Hobby.
|Little Bittern habitat!|
Later that day we went to Collard Hill, after Large Blues. The walk from the carpark (at the youth hostel) produced four species of orchids in the meadow (about a dozen Greater Butterfly Orchids, plus Pyramidal and Common Spotted Orchids and Twayblades). On Collard Hill itself we managed four brief flight views of a single Large Blue - unphotographable unfortunately, but my second tick of the day. Apparently, the blues have yet to emerge in any number due to the weather - the National Trust's blog has a daily update on sightings. Several Marbled Whites also graced the steep slopes - a great place for a picnic. We spent the remainder of the afternoon on the marshes at Shapwick Heath NNR.
This part of Somerset is rather wonderful, with plenty to see - too much for a short weekend visit, that's for sure. It would've been nice to explore the Mendips further, but we got a good taste of the Somerset Levels (aka Avalon Marshes) - fantastic to see such expansive habitat.
|Shapwick Heath NNR|
|Shapwick Heath NNR|