By Kipsie

Avalon, oh Avalon ...........

The weather forecast dictated that today might be a good day to explore the Somerset wetlands/levels, so I'd suggested perhaps we might partake of breakfast at the RSPB Avalon information centre. I'm not sure if I'm up to speed with the highs & lows of staying in a lodge at Chapel Allerton.  Getting lost on our way back from Bristol on Tuesday afternoon due to the incorrect postcode fed into the satnav, the lack of central heating when we arrived, the lack of communication & customer care from the on site owners of our lodge, but I'm guessing you've got the picture.
We arrived at the RSPB Avalon Information Centre, ordered our sausage, & bacon toasties, plus coffees, chatting with the  cafe staff about our visit, where we were staying, they'd not heard of Chapel Allerton, it was only 5 miles away, suggested where we should head for in the afternoon for the starling murmuration which was what we were hoping to experience. The information centre has a wide selection of local artists work on display and for sale. Breakfast hit the spot then we walked along side the South Drain which runs from Avalon to Ham Wall, through  Shapwick Heath National Nature Reserve. We entered the 2 hides, Noah's hide overlooks the lake in the above photo. Lots of bird activity which kept us happy. Tower hide overlooks a 70 acre reed bed, no activity at all until we were just about to head back when a buzzard appeared and began hunting. We left it searching for its meal and headed back to Avalon. We grabbed another coffee then rove around to Ham Wall car park . This is where all the action should be at dusk, today being overcast, lots of cloud and a little rain, the skies were darkening as we arrived at 3.20pm, the RSPB volunteer gave us the info on where to position ourselves, depending on whether we wanted to be in amongst the starlings by the reed bed, or above watching the arrival. We walked to the reed bed area that they should be roosting in expecting there to be lots of people, there were 2 couples, a chap with all the singing & dancing camera equipment, a girl who had gone down onto the edge of the reed bed & ourselves. We chose to watch the action from the path ... Small numbers of starlings came into view, circled then dropped into the reeds, more arrived, circled, dropped, then another flock flew around, joined another flock, circled, dropped, & so it continued the flocks getting larger, the noise aka the murmur getting louder ... the whole spectacle lasted approximately 30 mins. We were gobsmacked. WOW! WOW! WOW! There are approximately 20,000 starlings roosting in this area now in November, in January/February starlings arrive from Russia making the number nearer a million. This was incredible but to witness a million. :- )
Our car journey back to base should have taken about 20mins, we got lost once again, on the Somerset Levels, I've no idea where we went wrong but it got a tad stressful, I sat quietly in the back most of the journey until I noticed how close we were getting to the Mendip hills, I had to speak up then. It took us 45mins to find our way back. Sandy driving,  had stayed very calm, Josie nearly had a melt down ... We were very relieved to see our lodge, Sandy immediately poured herself a very well deserved red wine,  I noticed the lack of warmth in the lodge. No central heating .. ARGH!!! I lit the wood burner & joked that we would be burning all our logs, plus the adjoining empty lodges supplies if needed. Oh yes! The woodburner had'nt been cleaned out either prior to our arrival. I was making dinner tonight. The maids headed for the hot tub to relax. LOL!!

The rich dark peat being of the Somerset Levels, the colours on the marshes, & surrounding area were stunning, even the rusty little shack on the lake was colourful.
Back in the day a map would have been used for directions. I'm not sure we've advanced so much with this satnav malarky. A great day but not without it's hiccups. Hey ho!!

Good, Good, Good, Good Murmuration ..boop, boop! - Beach Boys

Galveston, oh Galveston - Glen Campbell

Avalon - Roxy Music

Thanks to BobsBlips for hosting Wide Wednesday

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