Sunday, 4 January 2015

A day out on the Somerset Levels


At this time of year I eagerly scan the weather forecasts for upcoming fine days and try to ensure that I am free to get out with my camera. I find Winter sunlight to be very sympathetic to the creation of clear, serene images. I love it and there are no better subjects on these crisp days than the wildfowl that over-winter in their tens of thousands on the Somerset Levels.

Recently I have been favouring the RSPB reserve at Greylake. The new "Treetop" hide gives good views over the main lagoon and is well orientated to take advantage of any sunlight. Actually, "Treetop" is a strange choice of name as there are none, trees that is, as long as you discount the row of small willows which are currently threatening to grow up to block the view. I have faith that the RSPB volunteers will keep an eye on this.

On this visit, the ducks were unusually close to the hide allowing some portraits to be taken. This drake Shoveler for instance.




 And here he is scratching his ear.



 My usual aim is to catch birds in flight, so here is a Shoveler doing just that.



I always look out for Swans in flight, not that you can easily miss them. The whistling of their wings gives an early warning.



 So after about two and a half hours sitting in the howling wind coming through the open hide window, and thoroughly chilled, I set off for Westhay reserve to see what was brewing there. Whereas Greylake had thousands of ducks, plus Marsh Harriers and Peregrines to boot, Westhay seemed initially devoid of life. However, after an hour or so, the birds started to show themselves. Gadwall were present and you could not wish for a more beautiful bird.



Here is a particularly serene shot of a drake Gadwall glimpsed through the reeds.



And here are few shots of the same species in my more usual style. This landing Gadwall has only just touched the water and there are no ripples yet to be seen - just the slightest splash.






And  Westhay would not be Westhay without the patrolling Marsh Harriers. They never come near enough to the hides for a real portrait, but I felt myself lucky to get this shot. I live in hopes of a better one - actually, there are a few on my website.





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