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