Then this Carrion Crow perched itself on a post. So thought I'd post these as a selection of preening photo's, plus the one botom right shows how birds like Crows position themselves, into the wind, crouch down slightly to take off. Notice how it's almost ready to "spring into action" compared to the preening position.
And I was also thinking how does one show the "panorama" out of a hide. If one takes a photograph from the hide opening, doesn't give the impression of the panorama, so why not frame the view from inside. All a bit arty, but I'm happy. (1 Catcott hide north, 2 Catcott hide east, Glastonbury Tor in distance, 3 North hide Shapwick/Meare NNR)
After Catcott, popped over to Shapwick/Meare Heath NNR. It was about 5pm, but still time to have a mooch about. Reports of a Great Egret here, not seen but did get my first Swallow (123) of the year and Marsh Harrier (124). There were a good number of Cetti's Warblers singing, poss 7, and another first for me, I had the briefest of glimpses of a Cetti's as it sang, flew then sang again out of view. The whole area was covered in Hirundine's too, must have been 3-4oo. 2 Little Egrets and 3 Chiffchaffs singing....no Otter, but.....
THE BEST TILL LAST - STARLINGS :
I was watching Jackdaws coming into roost, when a flock of about 2000 Starlings flew into the reeds. This area is well known for the massive Starling displays in the winter, but the end of March is usually way past anything worth seeing. Quite nice to see "winter" and "Spring" colliding, Starlings and Martins. 2 or three flocks of similar size came in as I walked back (photos 4 & 5 below). But one flock was trapped by a Sparrowhawk and a Peregrine (125).
I'd seen the female Sparrowhawk earlier flying over the reed beds, but this one seemed to be circling a small copse. Then above me a spied a female (I think, it was getting dark) Peregrine. the effect of these 2 hunters was that a flock of about 5-600 Starlings were trapped in trees by the reeds. The Sparrowhawk then flew at speed into the tree causing pandemonium (photo 6 and video below). As the mass of starlings left the tree, the Peregrine dived into the mellee from above. It was unsuccesful and I lost sight of the Sparrowhawk, until it returned again about 2 minutes later as did the Peregrine, to once again have a go at Peregrine - Sparrowhawk hunting co-operation. Was it co-incidence or opportunistic behaviour or have these two species learnt to co-operate in an area where huge numbers of Starlings overwinter? I'd welcome any suggestions as I don't know. But it was a fabulous end to the day.
Second mass exodus from the trees. Sorry about the quality, it all happened so fast, and this was on my compact camera.... hope no one's watching from the NHU!!
And finally, just before 7pm, stopped briefly at a place where Barn Owls are quite numerous. Nothing tonight, but this colourful picture, reminded me why I absolutely love the Somerset Levels. Nowhere else like it in the UK.