Long-Billed Dowitchers, Shapwick Heath

This species is fast becoming a Somerset speciality. Indeed that’s the only British county where I’ve seen it – first at Chew Valley in 2009, then a pair last year at Blagdon and Chew (again). And the two birds down at the Somerset Levels last Tuesday were highly likely this latter pair. They’ve been on their travels though, to the South Coast and back.

So have I. Since Widewater, I returned from a long weekend with the brothers at Steyning via Selsey Bill, which was quiet apart from the year’s first red-breasted mergansers. I tried without success for the hawfinches at Eastleigh, close to Winchester, before a yomp through Denny Wood in the New Forest in the hope of woodlarks. No joy with them either.

That was all Monday, with an overnight stop in Bournemouth so that I could hit seabirds and migrants the next morning at Portland Bill. Plenty of gannets, guillemots, fulmars, wheatears, a shag and one swallow. It’s summer! Then it was a haul up to Shapwick, which also had a marsh harrier, five ruff, booming bitterns and squealing water rails.

112 species for the month – not bad.

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