A beautiful, still evening last Saturday provided us with great opportunities to listen to curlew trilling out their bubbling display call. We had ten visitors in attendance, and most of them saw at least three curlew during our walk. We were also able to hear the short but sweet song of the Lesser Whitethroat, with two different birds heard during our walk. We also stumbled across an abandoned nest of a pheasant with several bluish eggs still visible.
Our hay meadows were awash with yellow - cowslips by the thousands! And just emerging with their delicate flowers were tiny Green Winged Orchids, amongst the swathes of cowslips. This flower is purplish pink and gets its name from the two petals that fold out either side of the main flower, and have thin green, striped veins across them.
Green winged orchid - Photo: Max Thompson
Photo by Max Thompson, one of our very own Somerset Reserves volunteers, which he took on the walk on Saturday evening! It is a close up of the green veins on the Green Winged Orchid. He took a close up macro photo once I had pointed out the identifying features of this orchid, ie the green veins on the side petals.
A badger also trundled across our path briefly, as we approached another field brimming with cowslips. We also had some great views of a roe deer buck, keeping a safe distance from us, then disappearing swiftly across the fields.
The climax of the evening was the haunting, bleeting sounds of displaying snipe, high above us at dusk. They came so close to us, their display was easy for everyone to hear. Male snipe fly high in the sky, then turn and dive downwards, opening out their outer tail feathers, and as they plummet, their feathers vibrate, creating this wonderful sound! It seems to work for the females! West Sedgemoor is a very important place for breeding snipe, and in some years we have had over 90 pairs breeding here.
Becky Thorpe, Assistant Warden - RSPB West Sedgemoor, Swell Wood and Greylake Reserves.