Thursday, 28 February 2013

Around the Somerset Levels

With the absence of good weather here at the moment, I'm posting my wanderings around various parts of the Somerset Levels a few weeks ago. No wonderful shots particularly, but it was a lovely blue sky day which is what I've been missing!

Catcott Lows is a Somerset Wildlife Trust Reserve (I think) which boasts a reasonable hide overlooking wet meadowland. This dries out in the summer but is at its best right now. 
The ducks weren't playing ball on that day, they stayed pretty distant. Ok for using a scope, but not for my camera! There were Wigeon, Teal, Shoveler and the odd Pintail.
 There's a nice view over to Glastonbury Tor from the hide.
Enough of distant Ducks. Onward to Tealham an Tadham moors. This is another area of wet meadowland which hosts a few breeding Lapwing and Redshank, though they're both decreasing fast! In the distance are the start of the Mendip Hills.
I did come across some Lapwings that weren't 1/2 a mile away, though they always seemed to be slightly behind a tuft of grass! (-:
It was lovely to stand and watch them do their crazy dancing flights with their wonderful pew-it calls.
After leaving the moors, I went on to Ham Wall RSPB reserve. Here I twitched the Pied-billed Grebe that had been reported there a few days previously. 
While there I managed a dodgy shot of a lovely male Marsh Harrier hunting over the reeds. (the Grebe was way too distant to try for a shot of that).
 My final stop of the day was at Westhay National Nature Reserve where the reserve is gradually being enlarged from old peat diggings.
I'll finish this post with two dodgy photos I'm afraid. One of a female Kestrel searching for food from a handy phone wire and a Redwing flitting along the hedgerow in front my of my car.
 I'll be off to Cornwall at the weekend for a few days birdingwith friends, so hopefully I'll be able to post about that when I get back later next week.

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Ramblings at Rodden Reserve

Here are some photos I took over a couple of days down at my local reserve which I help manage.

It was that time of year to check over and clean out the next boxes in time for spring. Here's our chairman Mick cleaning out a open type box suitable for Robins or Flycatchers.
Some of the bird boxes are up higher and so I went up the ladder to check out the next one. This with a hole at the front suitable for various members of the Tit family.
 A frosty path leading to the end of the Reserve. Beyond is pastureland for cows.
I was chuffed to find a group of Lesser Redpolls feeding on one of their favourite foods, the seeds of the Alder tree.  The only trouble was that the tree was across the River Frome, so these shots were taken from a distance and are heavily cropped. 
There are signs that spring is on the way. The Pussy Willow (Salix cuprea) is just starting to show.
The Hazel catkins have been out a while but are still giving a good display. I love the sunlight showing through them here.
Winter is still very much with us though and the skeletal Teasel plants are obvious at this time of year. In the early morning mist.......
I can almost never pass Bullrushes without taking a photo. (-:
I'll end with a couple of general shots from around the Reserve. The one below is a smaller lake area closer to the supermarket. I don't often walk around this part. 
The main lake looking towards my favourite part of the Reserve. 

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Edford Woods

Edford Wood is a private wood that is managed by the Somerset Wildlife Trust. Each year, part of it is opened up to the public from February to May so that people can enjoy the spectacle of the wild daffodils and bluebells here. I thought I'd visit a bit earlier this year to see whether the wild daffodils are up yet. Here's  what I saw as I ambled around the loop walk.

This wood is situated in a valley and always seems like quite a damp wood to me. There are lots of moss covered trees and stumps and logs throughout the whole wood. 
Apart from wanting to see if the daffodils were up yet, I was also on the lookout for Dipper while walking along the Mells stream that runs through the wood. Unfortunately it was running quite high and muddy so I wasn't in luck on this occasion.
There was evidence that the daffs were on their way, but really only just emerging. Another few weeks and I'll come back for the full spectacle.
There were some flowers out. The ever dependable Snowdrops, showing the first signs of spring.

I noticed a couple of fungi as I walked around. These Elf Caps were hard to miss with their brilliant red cups surrounded by the lush moss.
Elf Caps grow on decaying branches and logs on damp woodland floors. The fruit is usually produced during the winter and early spring.
The next fungi was something I'd never come across before. It was attached to a fallen Birch tree. So, when I got home, I put up a couple of photos of it on Somerset Wildlife Trust's facebook page to see if anyone could help with the ID. They soon came back with an answer. It a Birch Bracket (Piptoporus betulinus). Betula is the Latin name for Birch. 
This fungi was approximately 9 to 10 inches across and around 1.5 inches thick.
According to one of the people who ID'd the fungi, one of the uses in the past was as a blade stropper.  I need to get myself a decent fungi book!
I wasn't doing very well with birds as I walked around, but towards the end of my walk, an obliging Treecreeper performed for me while searching out food on a mossy tree trunk. 
On the way back to the entrance of the reserve, I pass a stagnant pond. I liked the reflection on the still water.
I'll look forward to coming back to this peaceful wood in a few weeks time to see the daffodils and anything else that has popped up in the meantime!