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Biggest Twitch
Biggest Twitch
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Of marshes and models!

When our great friend Maria of Country Innovation, the clothing company for birdwatchers, asked us for help of course we said yes. The drive down to Somerset was very slow indeed, the roads jammed with holiday traffic. We arrived too late to do much except enjoy an evening with Maria and Chris, very nice too and the gin and tonics went down very well indeed!

Marsh Harrier juv July 2014 2

After a less than early start and some great bacon butties we all headed out to the Somerset Levels, or the "moors" as they are known here. First we visited Shapwick Heath NNR, a vast area of reed swamp and pools. Marsh Harriers floated over the reedbeds as Great Crested Grebes fed their stripy-headed young and Common Terns swept overhead. Two Bearded Tits hurried through the reed tops. Alan spotted a Kingfisher perched above a channel in the reeds, and we all enjoyedwonderful views through the Leica scope. Then Ruth noticed a second Kingfisher below the first. Wow! What stunning little birds and always a thrill to watch.

Lackford Lakes King 3

A lunch break then we visited the adjacent RSPB Ham Walls Nature Reserve, another huge area of reed and open water. At the second viewing platform, an area of shallow water had pulled in plenty of birds. A snake-necked Great White Egret stalked slowly through the water, its long neck extended waiting to spear a fish or frog. These once very rare birds now breed in small numbers in the UK, here on the Somerset Levels and it was brilliant to have such good views in the excellent light. A large brown bird flapped slowly over the reeds, a Bittern! Always a tough bird to see and not long after a second Bittern skimmed the reed tops. A second Great White Egret dropped in amongst the Lapwings scattering the waders into flight, though calm soon returned. Two Hobby were hawking for dragonflies over the pools and nearby willows. We don't see many Hobby at home in North Wales so we soaked up the views of this streamlined falcon. More Marsh Harriers cruised and plenty of Little Egrets and Grey Herons probed, you would not want to be a fish here!

Grey Heron Conwy August

We were very impressed with the network of reserves in the amazing area and we are already planning to run birdwatching trips to this area, so watch this space! Maria made us a wonderful meal in the evening - eaten outside in her lovely garden, what a perfect end to a great day!

We had agreed to help Maria with her new website and clothing catalogue and now the time had come! Oliver Smart, of Smart Images, arrived with his pro-camera gear and we all set off for Cheddar Gorge and a photo-shoot. Maria had selected a number of outfits she wanted us to model and we spent the day changing and posing,all very different from our normal day in the field! With Maria and Oliver along we had a lot of laughs and even found time to pop back to enjoy lunch in the sunny garden and endulge in superb Key Lime Pie, home-made by Maria. We just hope some of the pictures Oliver shot are good enough for Country Innovation to use. It is surprisingly hard to relax in front of the camera even with friends in charge but Oliver, with Maria directing, did a great job with some lovely shots in great locations. We look forward to seeing them go live and featuring in the new catalogue!

Of course Country Innovation will be at the Bird Fair at Rutland Water do pop over to their stand, in Marquee 2 stands 5-9, they have great clothing designed just for birdwatchers. We love their products and always pack them for all our birdwatching adventures.

Ruth Country Innovation Aug 2014

Ruth Alan Country Innovation Aug 2014

Do check out the Country Innovation website, including a great offer here...

We will be calling in at the Country Innovation stand at Bird Fair so we hope to see you there! If we don't bump into you there, do come and say hello on the Leica stand in the Optics Marquee every afternoon, we would love to see you!

We are giving a talk "Our Birding Year - Birdfair to Birdfair" on Saturday in Lecture Marquee Two at 12.30pm, be great to see you there too. It is a fast paced talk with lots and lots of photos, sure you'll enjoy it!


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