Today was a visit to the wonderful wetlands of the Somerset Levels in the UK - this is my key birding area as its local to me and its rather special.
It is a large area of low land supporting peat, some of which has been dug out making lots of lakes fringed by reedbeds, so loved by birds. Waders, ducks, raptors, herons and warblers are plentiful. Summer sees the arrival of lots of dragonflies and damselflies, but also mozzies (yuck).
If you know where to go there are otters too, that can be seen during the day. In additon there are many interesting plants in a wonderful landscape of small fields, bounded by ditches ("rhynes") plus thick hedgerows with old willows and oaks...I LOVE IT!
My Visit to the "Levels"
Saturday proved to be a lovely Spring day: not only sunshine, but reptiles, amphibians, mammals, butterflies and birds.
The "Levels" provide lots of sites worth visiting, but amongst the best at the moment that are easily accessible are Catcott Lows, Ham Wall and Shapwick Heath.
Birds seen and heard: Booming bittern, great white egret, little egrets, singing chiff-chaffs in flowering pussy willow, singing Cetti's warbler, possible marsh harrier, black-tailed godwits in summer plumage, redshank, sand-martins, tawny owl calling, winter ducks (teal, wigeon & shoveller) and dancing grebes:
The great crested grebes were very active with their courting dance - they face one another bobbing heads for a while then both dive for weed. They then surface, swim together, then rise majestically out of the water, treading water for some distance - just spectular. What romantics.
Massively exciting were the corrugated iron sheets lying around - and its impossible not to peak. There were grass snakes, slow worms and adders, virtually intertwined, sucking up the warmth - just mind blowing!
Snakes...but best of all, whilst sitting in the sun resting lazily on a lakeside, there was a commotion amongst the fish and a few yards away AN OTTER!!!! (see image at the top of the blog)
It swam straight towards me and quite close before it noticed me. I only have a 10x magnification SDLR camera so the picture is quite poor, but who cares!
As I said...what a day!.