Booming and sharming, sharming and booming

25 Mar

If we give nature a chance, with some well managed areas which are designed to encourage whole ecology’s, it’s really quite stunning what can be achieved in just a few years .

A very cold Saturday was spent at Ham Wall and Shapwick Heath nature reserves, which adjoin one another. They are basically reclaimed peat extraction site in the Somerset Levels and, with other adjoining and local reserves, have become home to many scarce and rare birds, animals and plants which have recolonised the area.

There are now some 35 male Bitterns calling (they make a booming noise – incredibly distinctive) and these locations are probably the easiest place to see these very secretive birds. Bitterns only started breed here in about 2009 so having a population of this size is a fantastic result and the teams at all the local reserves in the Somerset Levels should get lots more recognition for what they have achieved.

Another bird, which is there in good numbers, is the Water Rail. This small reed loving bird makes an incredible ‘sharming’ call – which us also very distinctive.

If you would like a really special day out, and are willing to make an effort, chose a dry day in say mid April, and get to Ham Wall for first light – about 5am. I heard an interview on the radio with Alison Moyet (Yazoo etc) who had a wonderful quote – ‘ ….. special minutes that hang in the years’ … there will be some very special minutes during a day here.

To give you a very small flavour of what you may see here are some residents – taken last summer.

Bittern in flight

Bittern in flight

Swans in flight

Pair of swan’s in flight

Water Stick Insect - didn't know they existed until today!!

Water Stick Insect – a predator on tadpoles and small fish

The Starlings were out in some number mumering away (if that’s what you call a mumeration of Starlings), with thousands flying just a few over my head before swooping, turning and twisting.

…. and OK I did a little bit of twitching and saw the Pied Grebe that has been hanging around for a few weeks!!


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