Monday, 11 July 2011

Somerset Level's Walk

Saturday 9th July 2011

With what promised to be a dry and mostly warm and Sunny I headed for one part of the Somerset levels I love to visit. 

Ham Wall and Shapwick Heath provide a rich and diverse mixture and wildlife and wildflowers a stunning wetland habitat.

It was still quite early in the morning, but the Butterflies were very active and it looked like it was going to be a good day for counting the different species.

I disturbed a Grey Heron which took off and circled overhead before noisely dropping into a nearby field, and sat hunched up looking pretty fed up at being disturbed...

 With the weather now warming up over the last week the insects have really come out, over the last few days I have seen plenty of Flying Ants, and now the Soldier Beetles (below) are out in force I have become quite attached to these small insects.

Along with my camera gear I carry a small magnifying glass to study them at close quarters. They also fly so if you get to close they  become rather attached to you as well as I kept finding out.

With all the rain over recent weeks the wildflowers have really exploded into life since my last visitit, the Meadowsweet (photo below) has really brightened up the walk along Ham Wall.

Now that the Summer is in full swing and most birds have completed breeding or possibly having further broods, there is not much bird song now, but there is the odd Reed Warbler announcing himself, and the Marsh Frogs burst into life all of a sudden then qo quiet on you.

While walking along the reed lined path I found this Moth (below) and managed to get a few shots without disturbing it. I understand this is 'Silver-ground Carpet' Moth.

Red Admiral Butterflies were everywere, along the walk today, really good to see so many after all the damp weather of late. There were also many Ringlets on the wing. Managed to get a close up of a resting Gatekeeper. (Click on image for larger image).

A pair of Jay's were making a racket flying between tree's in the wooded section of Shapwick Heath, managed to get to the Decoy Hide just in time as a heavy shower suddenly appeared. Good time for a lunch stop and just enjoyed the tranquil peace and quiet, just the sound of rain falling on the lagoon, something very theraputic listing to the sound of rain.

Glastonbury Tor is a rather special place to visit, and there is something very special about the place, not sure what it is, it keeps pulling me back. I took this while waiting for the shower to clear and turned it into a B&W image, looks better than in colour. A stunning female Marsh Harrier quartered the reeds before climbing and drifting out of sight. Two Hobbies rested on a dead tree in the distance.

I caught this image of a Blue-tailed Damselfly just after the rain cleared, there were not too many Damselflies or Dragonflies seen today, I was expecting to see quite a few.

The rain seemed to have an effect as it suddenly got very warm and although for a while sightings dipped there was the odd Butterfly sighting, This Small Copper clearly enjoyed the warm sunny moment to 'dry off'.

Purple Loosestrife is at it's best now and could not resist a photo moment with one of my favourite wildflowers. On the return walk a Peregrine flew low overhead carrying prey it had caught.

Ok, now that Red Admiral Butterflies were everywere today I could not resist in the end, and got this shot of this sunning male. A Green Hairstreak rested on a blade of grass, very nearly walked on it... Last sighting was of a Scarlet Tiger, sadly it took off as I got my camera ready...shy !

Spotted this Dandelion seed head, blowing in the strong breeze, not easy to take a good close up with the breeze blowing..

The final tally of Butterflies seen today was impressive:

Red Admiral's           48
Ringlet's                    18
Small Copper             2
Small Tortoiseshell    14
Small White's            12
Large White                6
Green Hairstreak         1
Speckled Wood          9
Gatekeeper                 4

Silver-ground Carpet   1
Scarlet Tiger.

Could not resit one last photograph of the Soldier Beetle's....then it was off into Glastonbury for a cool drink.

Hope you enjoyed my sharing the walk and some of natures wonderful gifts. I shall in the course of the weeks ahead post more Wildlife and Landscape's as well as tell you of my sightings.


  1. This was a delightful walk today. I am wondering why the picture of the Small Copper from you previous post is so different from the picture in today's post. ~karen

  2. Hi Karen,
    Thank you for the kind comment. The first photo of the Small Copper, was taken on the brightest late morning of the Summer, and I am positive it was a 'Fresh Adult' I remember thinking how striking it was. John