In late April the weather suddenly changed from winter to spring and everything started to grow. We decided to take a trip to Somerset for a few days. It ended up very warm but we still managed to see quite a lot as we enjoyed our break.

We stayed at one of our favourite campsites at Thorney Lakes near Muchenely right in the heart of the Somerset Levels. There are some lovely walks down to the fishing lakes and the wild lake in the woods owned by the potter, John Leach. It was especially lovely at dawn, I could leave Rod sleeping and go off with Tilly for an hour or so.

The spring plants were beginning to flower I love the unusual Cuckoo Pint it doesn’t flower for long and you are left with the stem of red berries in the autumn, many people are wary because the plant is poisonous, my mum taught me to respect these plants and I always understand what to touch or not.

Cuckoo Pint - Arum maculatum
Cuckoo Pint – Arum maculatum
Snakes Head Fritillary - Fritillaria meleagris
Snakes Head Fritillary – Fritillaria meleagris

I was really excited to find some Snake’s Head Fritillaries flowering by the side of the woodland lake. I have never seen them in the wild before. I was not sure if they had been planted there or they were wild but it was just lovely to see them in this habitat.

Purple toothwort - Lathraea clandestina
Purple toothwort – Lathraea clandestina

Another first for me was the Purple Toothwort I spotted them from a distance on the bank of the lake and growing in a hollow in an old tree, which was a Poplar. Something in the back of my mind registered that it was a parasitic plant so I looked it up when I got home. It is unable to photosynthesise so relies on the host plant to feed, it is not native and was introduced from Southern Europe, very interesting though.

Male swan watching out for his mate and nest
Male swan watching out for his mate and nest

Every year we have been to this area at this time we have seen the Swans nesting in the woodland lake. The female was sitting on the eggs and overnight the male kept watch, he disappeared in the day but was always back by the evening. The nest is on a small island so it is fairly safe. We didn’t see the young hatch, but I hope they have raised another family.

Female Swan sitting on eggs.
Female Swan sitting on eggs.

On the fishing lakes there is always wildlife to see, very occasionally a Kingfisher flashes by, there are ducks and pair of Canada geese. They’re nesting on one of the little islands and like the swans the male was patrolling the lake watching out for his mate.

Canada goose on nest
Canada goose on nest
Magpie
Magpie

If you get down to the lake early or in the evening you will always see a Heron fishing on the side of the bank, he stays there for a while until you get too close.

While we were there we visited RSPB Swell wood where there is a large Heronry. There is a hid fairly close so you can watch the goings on, although the leaves weren’t out it is still a bit difficult getting a clear view of the herons and Little Egrets who nest alongside them. They were all busy nest building and I stayed for a while watching them and took a few pictures.

Heron with twig for nest material.
Heron with twig for nest material.
Flying in!
Flying in!
Heron preening
Heron preening

As I come from the hideI noticed a little Willow Tit in the tree by the Car Park.

Willow Tit
Willow Tit

We went on to RSPB Ham Wall but when we got there we couldn’t believe how busy it was considering it was mid week, we could only think it was the first time the sun had shone and stopped raining for quite some time. We went for a little walk but decided it wasn’t for us there were just too many people before I left I managed to get a couple of pictures of a Great Crested Grebe, one where he was trying to swallow a very large Roach, but he had to give up in the end!

Great Crested Grebe with fish
Great Crested Grebe with Roach

 

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