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.

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