It seems that the Met Office forecast for today was optimistic. We woke to grey cloud and not the promised sunshine. Never mind, if we English waited for the perfect day before we went out we wouldn’t achieve much.
So, off we drove to Ham Wall, the RSPB’s reserve on the Somerset Levels – just six miles or so from Castle Farm campsite. As expected, we weren’t able to park in their carpark but managed to squeeze in just off the road on the approach to it. There were plenty of cars already parked and we set off to the reserve, about half a kilometre away. The first viewing platform was pretty busy with the usual giant lenses but we managed to get a space by the benches. The view was magnificent with a large gang of Lapwings, some Black-tailed Godwits and some Shovelers, amongst the usual Swans and Coots.
There were several Cormorants, one looking almost gothic with its wings spread out to dry in the weak sunshine.
At one point nearly all of the Lapwings rose in the air causing quite a kerfuffle but they soon settled down again.
We walked around to three other viewing areas but there wasn’t much going on so decided to walk back to Bessie to have some lunch. When we got back to the reserve we discovered a new attraction at the main viewing platform – a Great White Egret. I had read that they had started to breed recently nearby and this was possibly a youngster.
We have only ever seen the Little Egret before so this was a first for us. Afraid some of the photos aren’t up to our usual standard today as we were quite some distance from most of the birds and the light wasn’t brilliant. I guess we need some of those giant lenses!
These Shovelers (male and female) were happily swimming around near one of the smaller platforms.
together with three rather large Cygnets.
A pair of full grown Mute Swans (possibly the parents) were mooching about in another area of water.
One thing we were keen to witness was the famous murmuration of starlings at dusk. The starling hotline said they had been gathering over Ham Wall but I overheard one of the old hands saying that they had been seen over Shapwick Heath the night before. This wasn’t far from where Bessie was parked so we made our way there. Quite a few other people were heading that way too and there was a tangible air of expectancy.
While we were waiting we saw a little flock of Goldfinches come swooping past us to land in some teazels not far away. Peter managed to get this photo of a pair of them munching away happily.
Meanwhile, eyes, binoculars and cameras were trained skywards and we were suddenly rewarded with the first wave of starlings flying overhead towards the village of Meare. They got to the horizon and then dropped like a collective stone out of sight.
Wave after wave of them came over. It is reckoned that there are about 10,000 of them in all. An amazing sight. Suddenly, just as one lot came directly overhead, I felt a cold sensation on my right hand holding the camera. Yes you guessed it!
And then, as suddenly as it had started, the show was over for another night. A successful day out, all in all. We are hoping to go to yet another reserve tomorrow – weather willing. 🙂
The murmuration photo’s are magnificent – what a fantastic experience!
Is gang the collective noun for lapwings? I think not! He-he.
As for the cold sensation on your hand – it is said to be lucky and I for one would suggest you have been very lucky with the weather and to see such sights today. It was a small price to pay.
Yes I agree Sean – it’s been a great little break and more successful than we dared to hope. Maybe the bit of “luck” will prove significant on Friday with the Euro Lottery! 🙂 Hope you’re all having a good half term holiday. x
The cormorant stretching its wings looks like it’s about to entertain an audience!