Tuesday, 22 February 2011

New camera and The Levels

These are the pics that I promised last time, but they wouldn't upload! I just went for a stroll locally and experimented. I am quite pleased with the sharpness of the results and hope you agree.

Sunday, we did our usual  afternoon walk. We have been trying to get down to the levels all winter to witness the starling murmeations. Yet again, we got it wrong! Em was on her way back from London, so we had a deadline to be home for. Had we been able to stay just a few minutes more, we would have seen them, they were just flying in as we drove onto the main road home! However, I did take some photos.

The history of the levels, as the Somerset wetlands and reed beds are known, is anceint. There is a walkway, built by neolithic man, some 6 000 years ago that was found close to where we walked. The Romans harvested peat, this practice was carried on until very recently/ Origionally, the black material was cut and laid in the air to dry, before being used as fuel.

At present, you can see the reconstruction of a couple of Celtic round houses next to the car park. These would have been a great teaching resource for local school visits, had the site not been closed by the council. (I will climb off mt soapbox now)

The peat was laterly gathered for compost. However, now it is deemed to be detrimental to the ecology of the wetlands. Certain areas look as though the peat has been harvested, but on a much smaller scale. Most people now use more ecofriendly compost, such as that made from shoddy (otherwise known as dags, or the skirt of the fleece which id often the dirtiest, containing plenty of  'vegetable matter' as I heard one pocaster call sheep droppings lately.

There are bits of machinery all over the place, ready to dig out the black peat to mantain the ditches!

The levels is a super area for wildlife. This swan was finding so much food, it nearly toppled over!
All the way along our walk were tranquil pools where the rain had filled the man-made peat voids.

The reed beds attract many rare birds, such as bitterns (11 pairs bred here last year), there was even a single pair of Little Bitterns recorded last year, the only pair to breed in the whole of the UK! We also get several types of warbler nesting in the reeds. Each winter, the reeds have to be cleared to a certain extent to keep the pools from filling with vegetation. This also improves the habitat for rare moths found on the site.

The path through the reserve is the site of a disused railway.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

New Camera!

Sorry I haven't posted here as often as I would have liked recently.

This is mainly due to the fact that I've had my Dad staying for a couple of weeks. There are problems, but much too much to mention here! He is home for the moment and I am on half term! So I am enjoying a bit of me time for a couple of days!

We still plan to walk on Sunday afternoons. So I should have a report for you on Monday. Especially as I now have a new little camera of my own, thanks to Dad!

Steve had a birthday last Tuesday and he now has a new library! I gave him a book on one of his favourite subjects, railway history. My Dad gave him a whole set of HD Westercott's walking guides. They were written back in the 1960's or so, but he had already owned the walker's handbook, written byu the same person, but used until it fell to bits! So now we have many other places to explore! It will be a bit like Micheal Portillo's BBC series where he takes the train and uses a rather ancient Bradshaw Guide, written back in the day when Sherlock Holms and Dr Watson were solving crimes! So as you can imagine, a few things have changed!

Firstly, the camera, I have tried it out, here are a few of my results:
Having trouble loading............. I will post asap