STEPHEN’S TOP 5 SOM­ER­SET SPRING SPE­CIALS

Bird Watching (UK) - - Bird The World -

1 GREAT WHITE EGRET: Our star species – and the proud logo of Som­er­set Bird­watch­ing Hol­i­days – is one of Bri­tain’s great­est con­ser­va­tion suc­cess sto­ries. Hav­ing ar­rived on the Avalon Marshes less than a decade ago, these stately herons now breed in large num­bers – sight­ings are guar­an­teed.

2 BIT­TERN: Or ‘toasted heron’, as one lo­cal school­boy named it. One of Bri­tain’s most elu­sive species, it has made an ex­tra­or­di­nary come­back, from 11 boom­ing males in the 1990s to more than 50 now on the Avalon Marshes alone! We’ll keep a sharp eye out for them on the edges of reedbeds.

3 CRANE: Eu­rope’s tallest bird – and one of its most spec­tac­u­lar – can be hard to track down in this huge wet­land, but we’ll check out the lat­est re­ports and hope to con­nect with flocks in the fields around West Sedge­moor.

4 HOBBY: This el­e­gant fal­con re­turns from Africa in late April, when flocks gather over the marshes. We’ll keep a con­stant eye out for these speed mer­chants as they hawk ac­ro­bat­i­cally for in­sects.

5 CAT­TLE EGRET: Eu­rope’s small­est egret first bred in the UK in 2009 in Som­er­set! Now flocks of more than 50 have been seen. We’ll visit a heronry where they breed.

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