Saturday, 13 February 2010
Somerset Levels' delights
Popped down to the Levels today for a Starling Bonanza with Stephen Moss, family and friends. Was a brilliant afternoon on Shapwick - lovely February sunshine despite the chilly temperatures. Amongst the waterfowl I got to see a striking male goldeneye, a whooper swan (usually upending) and the great white egret. Over on Ham Wall the starlings showed off incredibly well, literally coming down into the reeds in front of us. This was one of the best displays I've seen in many years. The presence of a few sparrowhawks, a marsh harrier and a peregrine (more distant) helped to produce some great twirls and sudden twists in the floating swarm. As most settled, some of the trees looked like burnt logs. There were at least two albino starlings - I spotted one! Just as it couldn't get any better Stephen shouted glossy ibises - flying over the reserve were three of these heron like birds with down-curved beaks. Awesome! The starlings meanwhile were still zooming around with more flocks coming in and others behind. Slowly, the light faded, the birds settled and it was time to head back to Mark for some dinner and socialising.