Avalon Marshes, Barrow Mump, Burrowbridge, Ham Wall, King Alfred Inn, murmuration, National Trust, RSPB, Somerset, Somerset Levels, starling
I’ve tried to find a female equivalent of ‘avuncular’, but, although there are suggestions on line, there is no such word authenticated by common, or even rare, usage. Anyway, I had an auntly visit for the two nights either side of Christmas Day, and we fully exploited the lovely day that was to be outdoors.
A short, sunny, very local morning walk, with Glastonbury Tor to our left (on the outward leg) went unrecorded as far as images are concerned, but it made a good start to the day. After a light lunch, conscious that daylight would not last long, we drove across the moors (formerly known as the Somerset Levels, now renamed the Avalon Marshes) to Burrowbridge, where the King Alfred Inn was the headquarters of the unofficial relief operations during the terrible flooding in 2014. We parked at the National Trust car park, and I offered young-in-heart B. the chance to climb up Barrow Mump, a sort of mini Glastonbury Tor.
She was game. (She always is.) I really should have thought ahead and suggested she put on trousers.
It was VERY muddy and even more slippery.
It was not for lack of energy that we decided to abandon our target, but because it just became so difficult and dangerous underfoot. We thought that discretion was the better part of valour. Indeed, we were pretty pleased with our achievement.
The low sun was getting lower , and I was very aware that these were ideal conditions to see the starlings coming in to roost, since it is only in clear skies that they do their amazing murmurations, their swirling and whirling to avoid attacks by birds of prey. (I presume the latter do not hunt in cloudy conditions.) Otherwise they just arrive where they have decided to settle for the night and go straight down to bed.
I had rung the starling hotline, which tells you where our local starlings have settled the previous night. (They come in numbers to feed in my garden during the day!) It is not guaranteed, but likely that they will choose the same place, out of three possibilities, the following night. By a series of questions during the ten-minute drive to what I made a mystery destination, B. managed to work out where, or at any rate why, we were going. We found many people already gathered at RSPB Ham Wall. Ten minutes later the starlings started to arrive. And to murmurate, possibly the best I have ever seen there.
We stayed for about half an hour, and could have stayed for the same time again to see all the stragglers in. The light was going fast and the birds were still streaming in as we left.
I was, as they say, right chuffed, that nature had laid on this spectacle. B. had not visited Somerset for eight years, so this was real treat for both of us.