Tuesday, 14 June 2016

White Stork at Steart Mashes

White Stork
Superb White Stoke
Welcome to Steart
Just behind the ear
Ready for take off
Stork in flight

Inside the hide
Reserve map
Little Ringed Plover
Peregrine watching down from the pylon
One of the superb hides

 Video clip taken with bridge camera

White Storks have been a real blocker on the life list of British birds as every time they appear they are always out of reach. I noticed late on Friday a bird was reported at Steart Marshes in Somerset. I'd been wanting to visit Steart for a good while so I decided if the bird was reported on Saturday morning I'd give it a go. Sadly no early report so I did my normal early shift at the gravel pits.

A confirmed sighting came up on RBA just before 10am and so I headed south and made good progress despite some poor weather and plenty of traffic. The reserve was well sign posted and I was very pleased to find clean toilet facilities on the car park.

Steart is part of a wetland habitat created with £21m of public money that opened along the Somerset coast. The reserve was created after the Environment Agency flooded about 400 hectares (988 acres) of the Steart Peninsula, near Bridgwater and built flood defences for nearby homes. The new habitat is owned by the Environment Agency and is being managed by the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT) it has around 13km of paths as well as some superb modern hides and viewpoints.

Steart Marshes is WWT's first big Working Wetland. It's home to a vast array of wildlife and it's a place that people love to visit. But as well as that, it's 'locking' away carbon from the atmosphere that would otherwise contribute to climate change. The development of new saltmarsh is a rare opportunity so WWT is supporting academic research to measure how much carbon is absorbed. Steart Marshes was once arable farmland and it continues to be farmed with livestock by local graziers who are able to market saltmarsh lamb and beef for a premium because its flavour is valued by food lovers. The tidal creeks that run across Steart Marshes shelter fish fry. The fish attract herons and egrets but they are also from commercially important species such as sea bass.  Another feature of the site is that waste water from the public loos goes through a treatment wetland, a more natural way to treat waste and itself creates additional habitats for wildlife

The White Stork is very common in the Mediterranean where thousand's migrate over the Straits of Gibraltar to breed in towns and cities of Spain, France, Portugal, Switzerland, Poland, Germany and stretching across to their stronghold in Eastern Europe.

With climate change you have to wonder if White Storks will be added to the breeding species list here in the UK like Little Bittern, Little Egret, Great White Egret, Common Cranes however it is hard to estimate how many birds are actually genuine wild birds due to a high number of escapees.

This Crane looked to be an immature bird that had most likely overshot Spain on it's migration. I'd never seen one before however the bill appeared a dull red without a dark tip.  The bird walked slowly and gracefully towards the lookout giving the small audience some super views. After around thirty minutes the bird took flight harassed by a Grey Heron & a Buzzard. As the bird rose it looked like it was heading off east but after a number of graceful circles showing its long neck and wingspan the bird returned to marsh but much further back.

From the same view point there were two Little Ringed Plovers, many Shelducks, Grey Herons, Oystercatcher, Peregrine and a Heron.

No comments:

Post a Comment