Somerset Ornithological Society - Bird News
This Forum is Locked
Yellowhammers on the Somerset Levels!

Whilst there are Yellowhammers dotted about on the Quantock Hills, the farmland in South and East Somerset and a few other places in the County, I rarely ever see them on the Somerset levels!
Until today!
I went with Nick Stacey to a private small holding near Westonzoyland and watched 4 or 5 male Yellowhammers at close quarters! Fantastic!
We spent 2 hours sat in the same spot and saw an impressive 22 species, including Chiffchaff, Kingfisher, Reed Bunting, Stock Dove, Great Spotted Woodpecker and Fieldfare!

Pics on my blog!

Re: Yellowhammers on the Somerset Levels!

I've had a pair in my garden near Ilminster this morning. Another first.

Re: Yellowhammers on the Somerset Levels!

Interesting - we normally see plenty later in the year in the hedges around.

Talking of yellow birds, here is a question: back in early Feb we had a pair of what I now realise were prbably European Serin in and around the garden for a week or so. Colour was intense and patterning was very distinctive. I watched them though binos a couple of times, but busy prepping for a trip, I did not check the guide.

Is this feasible? The obvious confusion species is Siskin, but these were definitely not.


Re: Yellowhammers on the Somerset Levels!

Nick - Serin is a very very rare spring passage european overshoot usually seen in southern and eastern counties. The odd one does show up in the winter but usually in the Kent/East Anglia area - I can't remember when the last one was seen in Somerset - very unlikely your birds were Serin - most likely Siskins, Yellowhammers or escaped Canaries.

Re: Yellowhammers on the Somerset Levels!

We`ve always had several yellowhammers at Cossington levels

Re: Yellowhammers on the Somerset Levels!

They are regularly seen, by me & others, on Compton Street, Butleigh. Yellowhammers that is, not Serin!

Re: Yellowhammers on the Somerset Levels!

Yes, Yellowhammers are a regular around here later in the year.

Appreciate the well justified scepticism about Serin and cursing because I did not unpack the long lens and film them. The boy first picked up on the ultra-bright colouring and queried them.

At 10m with binoculars there is quite a difference between Serin and Siskin. Having checked and re-checked all the photographic material on the web and the detail on the RSPB and BTO site, I will stick with a pair of Serin - the song nailed it


Nick, I am always a great believer in people see what they say they have seen - but no-where in your posts do you actually say whether your garden is in the SOS recording area.

Where is your garden - I see from your website that your photographic studio is in the Avon bird recording area. A record of 2 Serins feeding together in a garden in this country in the winter is rare enough to merit formal documenting in a county record, so it would be interesting to see whether your record, with supporting documentation, needs to be submitted to the Avon bird recorder or the SOS one. For the SOS, Serin is a full description species as detailed by the SOS Rarities Committee.

Re: Serins

And Serin is just as much a description species in Avon!

Yellow-fronted canary is a confusion species.

Re: Serins

Thank you Ash, unfortunately the garden is about a mile north of the SOS recording area (WNW of the A38), so just in Avon.

The birds appeared in the mornings for a week or so and surprised me by being less timid than Chaffinches / Greenfinches. Quite content to feed together on the small seeds, but not with other birds.

This evening I put three pictures in front of 'the Boy' - Yellow Hammer, Siskin and European Serin as a cross-check. He immediately identified the Serin.

Re: Serins

Rich, correct, it is a confusion species, but the ring around the eye on the Serin is too distinct, especially at close distance

Re: Serins

Have a look at

and scroll down to 1st march for what Serin looks like at this time of year.

Rich M