Fatbirder's Top 1000 Birding Websites

Monday, 21 September 2015

Ponderosa!! Incredible wildlife potential at secret Somerset site!

On Sunday I briefly visited a private site on the Somerset Levels, one that I never even knew existed!
    My workmate, John Slee, had been telling me about a plot of land that he had access to that he said had great nature potential. I couldn't wait to see this secret place for myself, so finally we met up at a nearby pub, and after a quick half (Thanks John!) we made our way to 'Ponderosa', as he had named it!
  I must admit, I wasn't expecting to find this secret haven as exciting as it was!
We drove down a lane by a river and immediately saw a Heron. I dropped the window and grabbed some pics.

It was yet another overcast day, but I had my camera with me, just in case!
    We walked to the paddock alongside a small river. John showed me where he had put a stick overhanging the river to attract Kingfishers. It had proved instantly attractive to the brightly coloured waterbirds and he'd even taken a couple of great photo's of one on the stick that very morning!
  There was birdsong all around, we walked along a tree lined track and arrived at the little paddock, It was an open grassy area surrounded by trees and wild hedges. There was a small shed with a part open front, just like a hide! In front of this John had placed some dead old branches and attached bird feeders with fat balls and peanuts. We sat In the shed and once we were out of view, Blue Tits and Great Tits came down to the feeders!

^Above^ - Blue Tits.

^Above^ - Great Tits.

After a few minutes, John showed me around the adjacent field that he also had permission to use. We had to walk past the river again, and up ahead we saw a Kingfisher on an overhanging branch! We were to see it or another one a further 2 times in the next 20 minutes! Clearly a great spot for Kingfishers! I didn't have time to hide and wait for a photograph unfortunately. Next time!

^Above^ - Young Mute Swans on the 'Kingfisher' river!

    Alongside the field was an overgrown pond, the owners had told John that there were Otters here and that they had raised a family earlier in the year! As we stood peering over the reeds to the water we heard a Cetti's Warbler belting out it's loud call! I'd never heard a Cetti's away from the normal nature reserves!
    We walked back to the paddock and the 'shed hide' and John left me there for a few minutes whils he walked his dog. Within minutes a flock of Long Tailed Tits flew in to visit the feeders!

^Above^ - Long Tailed Tits.

^Above^ - Robin.

 I could have sat in that shed with my camera all day! The bird potential for 'Ponderosa' is scary! 
     A Willow Warbler came up in the undergrowth beside me but I wasn't quick enough to photograph it! Other birds I wasn't able to photograph but were buzzing around in the bordering trees and hedges as I sat in the 'shed hide' included a Bullfinch, Nuthatch and Great Spotted Woodpecker.
    Ravens deep calls rang out overhead.
I couldn't help thinking about the birds that could be tempted here with the right foods in the Winter...Sunflower hearts are a big draw for many species!
      John returned after about 20 minutes and told me about Roe Deer seen in the paddock before, plus Foxes and Badgers.
    As we got in his car and left I felt very excited about this secret wonderful nature haven, the potential for many bird species is almost limitless! I'd seen and heard enough in my brief hour there to know this!
   As if to confirm my thoughts, a Buzzard on a sign on the lane out of 'Ponderosa' didn't fly away as they would normally do at an approaching vehicle and posed just long enough for me to get these shots through Johns drivers window!

All in all, a fantastic visit and an even more fantastic place!
   I can't wait to visit for longer next time..... hint hint John!! 

If you enjoy my blog you can 'like' my Facebook nature page here;

I am also on Flickr here;