11 January 2016

somerset levels

The Somerset Levels have a close association with the sea through the rivers which discharge from these low-lying pastures, marshes and fens. The water world of the Levels this winter is not as extensive as it was two winters ago. We are able to get to places and do not need to go the long way round.

The Parrett river is just overtopping its levĂ©e this afternoon and pouring into the adjoining meadows; the bridge we walk over to cross the river is scraping the top of the water heading seaward.  The short winter day wears on so we take minor roads from Muchelney across to Grey Lake Bridge and visit the bird reserve nearby. It is satisfying to find it deserted although very recent reed and coppice cutting is in evidence.

Our walk along the King's Sedgemoor Drain to the far-most hide is heavy going and surprisingly quiet as far as wildfowl are concerned.We return and branch off to the main hide, negotiating a pair of mutes and their seven adolescent cygnets who have settled on the edge of the reed cutting that has been in progress hereabouts. As we reach the hide, the sun gets out from under the cloud edge and the whole area is gold-lit. This is where they all are.

From within the hide we watch the reserve regulars present in numbers. They are flighty, performing flocking manoeuvres, fly-pasts and evasions specifically it seems for our delight. All the usual suspects are represented but widgeon and lapwings are in particular abundance. The whole scene is briefly re-orchestrated by a marsh harrier after which there is a general settling down as the light levels dip and dusk arrives. Late starlings pass by to get to their roosts on the other side of the ridge.

I've made a short album of the few pictures I made: flickr january somerset
There's another album from january 2014 here: flickr wet levels