Monday, 26 May 2014

Somerset Levels in late spring

ANOTHER trip out to the Somerset Levels and some off-track exploring meant that the ticks had a field day.

The May blossom is fading and the cow-parsley in the hedgerows is certainly past its peak.  The meadows are now high with maturing grasses and with them yellow flag irises and thistles line the damper areas.  These cattle were doing their best to chomp through the vegetation.

My efforts to photograph a singing reed warbler took another small step forward - at least I had one in my line of sight this time, but more effort required I think...


On many of the lakes the water lilies are in flower.  The leaves flick up as the breeze whips across the water and makes it quite hard to spot other movement - such as the elusive otters.

Bitterns, little egrets, nesting cormorants, hundreds of swifts and two scything hobbies were the highlights of the birding day.  The great-crested grebes were very active - pursuing the fish in their underwater sorties only yards from where I was watching.

Anything edible about?

There are clouds of insects out now.  This interesting pied moth alighted on a cow parsley - only when you examine the image do you start to notice how many other wee beasties there are around.

My wanderings lead me to a chattering tree - the sure sign of a nesting woodpecker; usually a great spotted woodpecker.  The male and female took it in turns to feed the noisy young, who were ecstatic when they heard the adult in the near vicinity.

The less disturbed waterways (rhynes) are brimming with aquatics, damselflies and dragonflies.  This dainty water violet produced an impressive miniature forest of pale flowers rising out of the water.

Some small areas of bog exist still, where the peat has not been extracted.  The example in this small field (below) supports a large colony of cotton grass, but as a habitat this is rare in the area.

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