The Avalon Marshes, Somerset

The Avalon Marshes, Somerset

RSPB Ham Wall and Shapwick Heath NNR

Tour Leaders: Paul Freestone and Brad Dallas

Cost – £80 per person (7 places available)

New dates to be confirmed for 2021

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We will aim to leave our Hayle HQ early in order to experience a full day in Somerset. A 6.30am start should see us arrive at Ham Wall before 9am. Ham Wall is a 265-hectare site at the heart of the Avalon Marshes. Previously owned and worked by the peat industry Ham Wall was born in 1994 when the land was passed to the RSPB. The objective was to re-create vital reedbeds and help the struggling Bittern population in the UK. The land was sculpted by machines, RSPB volunteers and staff grew reed from seed. All this hard work and further land acquisitions over the years paid off when Bitterns first bred at the site in 2008. It is now one of the best places to see Bittern in the UK and we have (so far!) never failed to see and hear these amazing herons. The open water and surrounding reedbeds are also home to numerous other birds and we hope to

Bittern (Avalon Marshes Tour)

see Bearded Tit, Garganey, Water Rail, Marsh Harrier, Barn Owl and Cetti’s Warbler. On previous trips the highlight for many has been the sheer number of hunting Hobbys. We have been lucky enough to see up to 30 birds in the air at one time often giving close prolonged views! A Red-footed Falcon amongst them was a welcome sight on one occasion.

Ham Wall is important for new species colonising the UK and our day will be filled with superb views of Great White and cattle Egrets and possibly Little Bittern, all of which have bred on the reserve in recent years. We have also seen Glossy Ibis and Purple Heron here on previous trips.

The afternoon will be spent at Shapwick Heath National Nature Reserve which is managed by Natural England. This 500 ha reserve adjoins Ham Wall and has extensive red beds, pools and wet woodland habitat where we can see Black-tailed Godwit, Ruff, Kingfisher, Reed and Sedge Warbler, Reed Buntings and often Cuckoo. The larger water bodies here hold wildfowl like Great-crested Grebe, Pochard, Shoveler and Garganey and possibly Common Terns. Osprey have also been seen passing overhead.
Both reserves are a haven for other wildlife with plenty of Butterflies (including White Admiral), Dragonflies and Damselflies and mammals such as Roe Deer, Water Vole and Otter.

This is a full and long day so plenty of food and drink is advised. Lunch is not provided so please bring your own packed lunch and snacks to last the day. (We do have bottled still water for sale on the mini-bus!) The RSPB visitor centre should be open and if staffed usually sell drinks and snacks, but best to come prepared. If there is enough interest, we are happy to stop en-route for a breakfast of some description.

Parking is free at our Hayle HQ or pick-ups can be arranged along the A30/M5 corridor.
For further details about the reserves see:

**Please note, there is a £50 non-refundable deposit should you cancel after booking. If we cancel the trip due to unforeseeable circumstances then you will be fully refunded the £80.**