Spring is an excellent time for birdlife on the Somerset Levels, and this birdwatching holiday is timed to coincide with both the breeding season and spring migration. Congregations of hunting Hobbies, summer-plumaged passage waders, a riot of bird song (including 10 species of warbler!), and breeding Garganey, Bittern and Marsh Harrier may be amongst the highlights at this special expanse of seasonally inundated lowlands that spans 650 square kilometres between the Quantock and Mendip Hills. This ancient habitat, until recently the victim of drainage and other farming demands, but now restored to much of its former glory by the RSPB and other conservation bodies, is a heartening conservation 'success story'!
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Présente le mardi et vendredi toute la journée
Fri 8th May - Sun 10th May - 377€
-Accommodation: All en suite rooms.
-Food: Breakfasts and evening meals are included in the holiday cost beginning with the evening meal on Day 1 and finishing with breakfast on Day 3. Lunches are not included in the cost of this tour.
* These tours are operated by Naturetrek (ABTA Y6206) for which Nature et Terroir acts as agent.
“Many of the flights and flight-inclusive holidays in this brochure are financially protected by the ATOL scheme. But ATOL protection does not apply to all holiday and travel services listed in this brochure. Please ask us to confirm what protection may apply to your booking. If you do not receive an ATOL Certificate then the booking will not be ATOL protected. If you do receive an ATOL Certificate but all the parts of your trip are not listed on it, those parts will not be ATOL protected. Please see our booking conditions for information, or for more information about financial protection and the ATOL Certificate go to: www.atol.org.uk/ATOLcertificate”
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-Le prix de ces séjours est sous l'influence directe du taux de change de l'US Dollar et de la Livre Sterling... NATURE & TERROIR se réserve le droit, selon ses conditions générales de vente, de revoir son prix en cas de fluctuation importante des devises ou des tarifs de transport.
-Le prix affiché est majoré de 10 euros pour frais bancaires.
-En cas d’inscription à moins de 70 jours de la date de départ, la totalité du montant du bon de commande est dû dès inscription. A plus de 70 jours, un acompte de 30% est dû, le solde étant à verser dans les 70 jours précédents le départ.
Dave has been a keen naturalist for over 35 years and loves nothing more than sharing his knowledge with others. His interest in birds started at a very young age and before long he wanted to learn more., so he trained to become a bird ringer. Dave was soon the youngest ringer in the country and found that it gave him an insight into the close-up world of birds that many never get to see. A keen ear ensured that the world of birdsong was Dave's next passion. Working in the travel industry for many years, Dave has taken over 75 foreign trips to 54 countries and this experience is invaluable every time he raises his binoculars, wherever he is! Dave developed an interest in butterflies and dragonflies many years ago. He also has an infectious enthusiasm for moths, and Dave now takes his moth trap with him on many of his trips. Dave has an Honours Geology degree so is well qualified to advise on rocks and geomorphology as they affect both the landscape and wildlife. As a keen visitor to many bird observatories, Dave has a particular fascination with sea-watching - he was the first to start watching from the now famous Sheringham seafront in the 1970s. Conducting Breeding Bird Surveys, being the county Glow-worm co-ordinator and organising the Atlas Survey are just a few of the activities Dave is involved in. Somehow he also finds time to be an active member of his community, being on the Parish Council, Chairman of the Village Hall Committee and Governor of several charities.
Your tour leader(s) will meet you in lounge area at the Swan Hotel at 6.30pm and before dinner you will have a short introductory talk outlining the programme for the next couple of days and some of the birds we will hope to see.
Days 2 & 3
The Somerset Levels
We will deliberately keep a flexible programme in order to make best use of the prevailing weather conditions and to maximise our chances of seeing key species. Our time will be divided between two main areas, within easy driving distance of each other and our hotel. However the whole area is good for wildlife and there is every chance of ‘bumping’ into a hunting Barn Owl or a feeding Hobby elsewhere. Our tour leaders know the area extremely well, and will make decisions on the day as to exactly where we will go. Some of the areas we are likely to visit are described below.
Willow trees and the now converted flooded peat-diggings are characteristic of the landscape here, and the resulting wetland pools and reedbeds provide superb habitat for wildfowl, waders, and herons. There are tracks running alongside many of these habitats, and there should be plenty of bird activity as we stop at a scrape, viewing point or a lakeside hide. Indeed, spring is an excellent time for birdlife on the Somerset Levels, and our visit in late May is timed to coincide with the breeding season and peak migration. The number and variety of passage waders depends on water levels, but we can expect small flocks of waders, and we may see migrating summer plumaged Black-tailed Godwits, as well as a few Ruff and Little Ringed Plover among other commoner species such as Lapwings and Redshank.
May is also one of the best times to watch one of the area’s special birds, the Hobby. These exquisite falcons congregate over certain lakes to take advantage of the abundance of prey – in particular the vast numbers of dragonflies which are emerging at this time of year – and it is possible to see over 40 in the air together. It is worth keeping a careful eye out for Bitterns – their cryptic plumage never makes them easy to see but our chances are good as they make frequent feeding flights across reedbeds at this time of year. The large winter congregations of wildfowl which assemble in the lakes and pools have gone by spring, but we can hope to find Garganey. Little Egrets can be seen throughout the year, and Marsh Harriers are often seen patrolling the reedbeds and marshes for prey. As we bird the levels and moors we’ll be constantly on the alert for the explosive call of the Cetti’s Warbler, one of the most distinctive and easily recognisable bird songs of the Avalon Marshes and we will listen out for the characteristic ‘squealing’ of Water Rail as well as Cuckoos, which are still doing well here. We can expect up to 10 species of warbler to be present by late May including Reed and Sedge Warbler, Blackcap, Garden Warbler, Whitethroat and Lesser Whitethroat, Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler, and there will be a chance for those interested in learning some bird song to practice their identification skills – either during the day or as an optional dawn chorus walk.
West Sedgemoor is one of England’s largest remaining wet meadow systems. This is excellent habitat for woodland birds such as warblers and Spotted Flycatchers. Marsh Tits and other tit species are present and in May newly fledged youngsters should be apparent, as well as open meadow grassland birds such as breeding Lapwing and Redshank. We’ll also keep a look-out for newly fledged Grey Herons and Little Egrets from the nearby heronry. This is also a good place to watch for Hobby as large numbers of dragonflies are emerging from pools and Curlews may be calling and displaying at this time of year over the wet meadows.
After dinner on Day 2 there may be an evening slide show with your leaders giving an informal, half-hour
presentation on a topic of their choice.
On our final day (Day 3) we will finish birding in the late afternoon, in time to arrive back to our hotel in Wells in the early evening at around 5.30 -6. An extra night can be booked at the hotel and please let me know if you would like this and I can get back to you with a cost for either Bed and Breakfast or Dinner Bed and Breakfast.
NB. Please note that the itinerary below offers our planned programme of excursions. However, adverse weather and other local considerations can necessitate some reordering of the programme during the course of the tour, though this will always be done to maximise best use of the time and weather conditions available.