Avalon Marshes (25 November 2015)
Given the recent weather it was a bit risky of the Spotlight Kid and me a while back to arrange to meet on the Somerset Levels but we were lucky. I encountered some rain and mist as I approached the vale of Avalon but it had cleared up by the time we met at the Ham Wall car park.
We had our picnic lunch at a hide on Shapwick Heath NNT, overlooking a lake that had teal, gadwall, mallard, swans, cygnets and this cormorant, who was very busy diving, surfacing, airing his wings and diving again, but seemed unsuccessful in actually getting any fish. Getting a decent close-up of a cormorant has long been an aspiration of mine. This isn't it, as it was taken hand-held from a long distance at 357mm (equivalent of full-frame 2000 mm) on my bridge camera with its small sensor, but it is my best yet.
I was excited to discover that a brown winged raptor that had flown in and landed behind the lake in the reeds was a marsh harrier, a bird I had only caught a distant glimpse of once before. That had also been at Shapwick Heath, behind Noah's Lake, on our previous visit in September 2014.
Later, we moved on to RSPB Ham Wall, which is adjacent, and headed for the newly opened Meare Hide there. We were hoping to see a starling murmuration and there were indeed sky-filling masses of them, flying in from wherever they were in huge batches, but they settled in the reeds without making a display, despite the presence of a peregrine. It flew off with a starling in its bill before they even knew it was around it was so fast. A flock of lapwings suddenly erupted into the air at one point, revealing their presence from behind the reeds. A great white egret flew in and later there were three in the air flying towards the Tor at Glastonbury.
The stars of the afternoon for me, though, were a group of marsh harriers that appeared as the starlings were ingressing, and circled in front of the hide above the lake putting on a magnificent display. There was a male and a juvenile pair among them that came quite close and I had a superb view of them in action through my binoculars. I probably could have got an acceptable image with my P900 but I decided that I would prefer to simply enjoy the rare spectacle. They are beautiful birds, not wholly unlike red kites in their markings.
We plan to return during the winter.
The Extra shot shows Glastonbury and the Tor in the late afternoon light from the Meare Hide.
27.11.2015 (1604 hr)
Blip #1709 (#1959 including archived blips)
Consecutive Blip #000
LOTD #943 (#1067 including archived blips)
A Day On The Somerset Levels, 25 November 2015 (Flickr album)
Lozarhythm Of The Day:
Tammi Terrell - All I Do Is Think About You (recorded 16 December 1965)
I was in the middle of re-organizing my Tamla Motown collection on this day, which prompted the choosing of this, probably my favourite Tammi Terrell recording, but which, like so many Motown classics, was rejected for release by the panel of experts of the time, and first appeared on A Cellarful Of Motown, a CD compilation from 2002. Written by a sixteen-year old Stevie Wonder, it got as far as being pressed up as a promo single before being pulled, and the same fate awaited a revival of the song by Brenda Holloway for the label the following year (unreleased until 2005).
Stevie Wonder finally recorded his own version in 1980 for the album Hotter Than July.
One year ago:
River Avon At Chippenham