Sunday, January 27, 2008

Ham Wall


Today was a gloriously clear day and we decided to go onto the Somerset Levels to look for the starling roost which we had heard can be a spectacular sight at this time of year. We'd not ventured into the nature reserves on the Levels before but were able to find some useful information on the Somerset Wildlife Trust's website.


The roosting takes place at dusk, so we set out at half past three, drove to the other side of the Mendips and through Axbridge, Cheddar and Wedmore to Meare, then turned off to Hay Wall. The levels are reclaimed land, drained by a network of ditches, or rhynes as they are called in these parts. There are a few small, steep hillocks dotting across these flatlands, of which Glastonbury Tor is the most significant.


There are beds of sedge reeds growing out of the water, and the water is dark where it is not reflecting the sky, because of the peaty soil of this area. Trees grow in luscious clumps and one sported a magnificent crop of catkins.


There is a wonderful feeling of space in this area of big skies, and just before sunset the quality of light was wonderful. On this Sunday afternoon there were many other people who had decided to make this visit, and there was an increasing sense of anticipation as we all made our pilgrimage to see te birds come home.

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