In Somerset on a nature trail!

Published on 22 July 2023 at 18:35

I visited friends, Simon and Jan, in Somerset who happen to live on a small hill in a small village overlooking the huge Avalon Marshes, also known as the Somerset Levels. Simon was my ringing trainer and we catch moths, listen for bats and ring together when I'm there. This time we visited another ringer, Brian, in the hills south of Porlock, a very lucky man with 40 acres of farmland and a wonderful old farmhouse and cottage facing south. On his doorstep are moors and forests. I'll be going back there!

I was too busy to take many photos this time but the ringing involved many house sparrows and starlings, birds in short supply at home and on my sites. One place we visited, I've been meaning to go there for a long time, was Steart Marshes, a WWT Reserve, a wetland recovery project funded with compensation for the building of Hinckley 3 nuclear power station on the doorstep. From a bird perspective our visit was not at an optimum time but we found avocets, black-tailed godwits, curlew, little egrets, yellow wagtails, reed warblers and linnets.

Nearby to Simon's house are Cheddar Gorge and the Mendip Hills, Chew Valley Lake and miles of nature reserves. This area is well worth a visit with nature highlights and places to visit all year round. At this time, butterflies and dragonflies, in my opinion, are the top attractions although there are always things to find.

My next visit will be to see starling murmurations at Ham Wall, the RSPB reserve, although we will find them above Simon's house for part of the time. Two days was not long enough!

(This young starling is just moulting into adult plumage. You can see the black feathers, spots and first sign of the beautiful sheen on the emerging feathers.)

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