Trip report: Somerset Levels (10th January 2012)

The prospect of the Somerset Levels starling roost attracted 37 members to Ashcott Corner on a dry but overcast afternoon. We first walked down the track to the viewing platform at Ham Wall and soon encountered over a dozen passerines in the willows, alders and surrounding scrub including Reed Bunting and Chiffchaff. Two lucky members also had a good view of Siskin and Lesser Redpoll. There was a good variety of water birds on the lagoons and islands including Pochard, Tufted Duck, Wigeon, Teal, Shoveler, Gadwall, Little and Great Crested Grebe. A Great White Egret flew over the reed bed and a female Marsh Harrier was seen perched in a small willow tree. Both Water Rail and Cetti’s Warbler were heard. We then walked along the Meare Heath track hopefully to view the Starling roost. At first several small flocks flew in the direction of Ham Wall and we wondered whether the roost was to relocate that evening out of our view. Suddenly the first of several enormous flocks of thousands of birds filled the sky directly in front of us and we were then treated to a spectacular display as they cascaded into the reeds. The display was enhanced by the sight of a Hen Harrier in the middle of one of the flocks.

Mike Johnson