Somerset Levels – Day 2 – Tealham Moor

Breakfasted on Tealham Moor, less of a moor in the traditional sense and more of an extensive area of wet grazing meadows with a good number of ditches throughout, but not a common sight today.

It’s an SSSI and managed for both farming and the wildlife. I was hoping to see the Yellow Wagtail, a bird I think is as  good as it gets in this country. Speaking with a couple of local birders the previous day I had been told that the numbers were declining and it was not easy to get regular sightings now. This was confirmed when on the moor I stopped to have a word with a local farmer. He had seen them about three weeks ago but not since, there had also been recent reports of  Wood Sandpiper and hopes that they may attempt to breed. As with the wagtails they hadn’t been seen for a while.

It was a good morning and as I brewed up a Roe Deer eyed me watchfully from a distance and then a Great-spotted Woodpecker came into the small number of trees near the van. I had initially thought I would walk the area, but it seemed a better idea to use the van as a hide and to slowly drive around the perimeters in the hope of catching a glimpse of the wagtail. It reminded me a little of the Hebrides, with the nesting Redshanks using the fence posts on the side of the road.

The lanes are narrow but it was a week day and apart from a few locals pretty quiet. On the second trawl round the circuit I pulled in by a gate to let a car past and noticed a Skylark on a clump of dry manure. I was photographing it when out of the corner of my eye I was aware of a bright yellow flash that landed and lifted again very quickly. Initially thinking Yellowhammer, I realised it was in all probability the Yellow Wagtail. Well, at least they were around, but maybe that was it! I waited for about 15 minutes before checking out the rest of the moor again. Nothing, so I decided to wait at the same spot in the hope it may be a favourite feeding area, as it had come down once. In the next three hours it visited twice and on both occasions for about a minute. On the second visit it popped up beautifully and on the prime spot. It’s almost tropical in it’s brilliance and mirrored beautifully the colours of the moor. In the afternoon I went back to Shapwick in the hope of a good Bittern flypast.

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1 Comment

  1. Can you tell me the name of the yellow flower which grows in such profusion along the waterways of the Somerset Levels?


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