Sunday, 3 May 2009

Somerset Levels again

Another morning spent on the Somerset Levels (it is one of my favourite local birding spots).
This photo is taken at Shapwick Heath. Shapwick Heath is one of the best places in the country to come to see Hobbies. This charismatic falcon is one of the fastest birds of prey, specialising in taking dragonflies on the wing and also Barn Swallows and House Martins on occasion. At its peak, up to 70 can be seen in the air at a time. As I watched between 20 and 30 Hobbies on this particular day, it brought to mind a WW2 film of the battle of Britain. They looked like they were having dog fights up there! An amazing sight.
This is a path to one of the several hides at the reserve. In the winter, you can sometimes see Marsh Harriers and Bitterns from here. It is also a very good place to see Otters which have made a welcome comeback to the Levels.I was surprised to see both Beautiful and Banded Demoiselles on the wing. It is pretty early to be seeing them. Here is a male Banded Demoiselle with its amazing iridescent blue sheenI think this is a female Beautiful Demoiselle as the wings have a brownish tinge rather than the green of the female Banded Demoiselle.A pair of Southern Damselflies just about to get it together.In the last week or so Common Whitethroats have come in to the country to breed here. They winter down south of the Sahara desert and only stay with us for the summer. Their scratchy song is often sung from the top of a small tree or shrub or during a brief song flight.A Grey Heron making its way across Tadham Moor.Several Mute Swans on a rhyne at Tadham.I just liked the colours in this photo of lily pads in one of the acidic rhynes, again on Tadham Moor.That's all for now from the Somerset Levels.

9 comments:

Steve B said...

A very special place and nice images.

Wow, I saw the movie, Battle of Britain in the theater when I was eight years old. Now it's an old classic.

Roy said...

Great images of the Hobbies Jen (well done) and you have found some damselflies already.

Eve said...

What a beautiful post Jenny! This is a very lush place, no wonder you love it there. Thanks for taking us.

Mary said...

I can see why you like this place! The Hobbies have beautiful wings and you did a great job photographing them in flight! Love the damselflies....I'm ready to start looking for dragons and damsels here, if it every stops raining. The swans coming down the river is beautiful.

Jenny said...

Hi Steve, those old ww2 films are great. Love 'em. That really is the sense I got when I was watching all those Hobbies in the air together.

Hi Roy, I wasn't so surprised with the Southern Damsels, but the Demoiselles are certainly several weeks early.

Hi Evie, it is a lush place and I think your new place is lush too! ('lush' over here is used by the younger generation to say 'fab'!) (-:

Hi Mary, you seem to be getting an awful lot of rain over there. Is this usual for spring where you live? I hope it dries out for you soon!

Quiet Paths said...

Such a varied and beautiful post, Jenny. An ode to winged things.... super shots of the water insects.

Chris said...

Hi Jenny,
This looks like a very nice place if you love to take nature pictures. Congrats you have very nice shots there, and I love the damselfly!

Jenny said...

Hi Christine, thanks, I was so surprised to see those demoiselles, it was a lovely bonus.

Hi Chris, it's funny I feel much more comfortable taking photos when I'm on my own. If I'm birding with friends I feel much more self conscious (I know that isn't spelt right!) (-:

Shellmo said...

Such a beautiful post jenny! I was amazed at that Heron's size! And those swan looked so pretty dotted along the water.