Swellegant elegant


I was struggling to think of somewhere to go on Saturday. I didn't fancy the usual then didn't fancy going too far. How about Swell Wood over near Curry Rivel. It's years since the EFRS has ventured over there. I put dusted off my party frock walking gear etc and drove out. It was a bit cold and windy so the wood would be a nice sheltered place for the afternoon.
There's one thing I should point out about the EFRS. We don't do easy, well not often anyway, so we tend to wander off into random areas and places you shouldn't. When you go off into the wilds you really want to get away from the norm, the cars and people. That's what I did here. Striding out to the Heron Hide and walking right past the multitude of small birds in the car park. I entered where a couple from South Wales where visiting and pointed out a Gold Crest in the puddle conveniently created. I managed to bag it

Gold Crest

Gold Crest in a muddy puddle

Sitting there for a bit I looked above for the beginning of the nesting season for the Herons. There were a few about being a bit lazy and chillin'

A bit of high society looking down on the mere mortals

A very bad shot of a pair of Nut Hatches

That was enough for me I needed to get out and away from it all. The walk round was pleasant enough but there was a dearth of birds or anything else for that matter. Never mind I enjoyed the wander all the same. So where's this party at then?

Returning to the car park I found it. I was scornful though. The Welsh couple were aiming their lenses at the feeders hanging by the parked cars. "That's cheating" I joked. They responded with points of "Nut Hatch on the feeder". Oh how can I betray the EFRS moral of not doing feeders. There's a big wild wood over there and I'm standing in a car park six feet away from feeders.

I have to say readers that I did succumb to temptation. I'm not proud but hey if I didn't prostitute myself like this you wouldn't be seeing or reading this blog. I hope you can sleep at night.

Nut Hatch on a feeder!

Very nice Chaffinch

I do like the wing colours on a Chaffinch. It's not all about the front

Blue Tit

Coal Tit

Another Chaffinch

Greater Spotted Woodpecker in the wild

Well actually two foot from the feeder in the carpark

There he goes off into the wild

The sweet little flitty things occasionally all disappeared on the screech of usually a Black Bird. The reason being a couple of Buzzards that were hanging in the breeze with a quick circle around to see what's what.

It was a bit of a pleasant shock to see such big rough things even if it is 'just' a Buzzard after the cuteness of the little ones.

How cute!!! (Well to us anyway. To most other things it would be food)

There they go again

Looking for little brown things flitting around the trees and bushes is a very different concept to the big stuff lazily wafting around the wide levels. You have time with those even if they are a million miles away. In the woods and in particular if there are a lot of them it can be dizzying to say the least.... "What was that? Where? Ah? Hold on was that? Its over... no there, there, Is that it? what was that? I've got i.... oh its gone, quick it just flown ov...... AHHHHH! bloody auto focus" Ad infinitum. You've been there.
Out the corner of my eye I saw in the gloom of the canopy a strange looking bird. It was sitting on  a large branch. I couldn't quit make it out. It looked different to anything I had seen before. Ooh! Have I got a coupe? Have I spotted something uber rare and a first for Somerset. I snapped and snapped just to make sure. Twenty shots of this strangling later I had a quick look....

Female Black bird looking left

Female Black Bird looking right

The remaining eighteen pictures are available upon request.

I stayed by my car in the carpark for some time enjoying the melee of the feeding party of a multitude of small cuties. There was one bird, however, that I was missing. Possibly my second favourite small bird, a Tree Creeper. Their shape and sleekness, there plaintive call and their ability to climb down a vertical surface is all very attractive but nothing compared to their plumage. Those water marked patterns like a good old book are fascinating to me. For a flash of a second I saw one beneath a feeder and managed to get a few shots.

Tree Creeper

Blurry Tree Creeper

Female Chaffinch

Robin looking a bit shagged

Can't see me

Male Black Bird

With my head spinning from trying to keep up with the Brownian motion at Swell Wood I needed something a little more familiar. So with the usual scenario of 'Fast Response' the EFRS was a little late to the party with some proper close up shots of the Cattle Egret at Westhey. I parked up on the side of the road and sat in my car next to the field and began snapping at it a few dozen yards away. Who you calling a hypocrite!!!!

A pair of Pied Wagtails were in the mud just dredged from the dyke

Best of friends

The Cattle Egret in all its back lite glory

Little Egret in the dredges

Perfect example showing the differences between the two Egrets

Erm Cormorant just passing through


When a cyclist went passed they got spooked and where off to the other side of the field

Three legged Egret. You can just see the Cattle behind the little

What a day! and what a party was had by all. It didn't seem it at the time but it was a pretty good result all round. So not to be a party pooper I'll say I thoroughly enjoyed it. I don't need an invitation again. The EFRS are twenty four hour party people!


  1. A great party!

    It has been a few years since I visited Swell Wood, you have brought back some lovely memories of the Heronry and the feeders with umpteen birds on around them!! The Herons were feeding young when we visited.

    A great set of images especially the photobombed Egret!

  2. as one half of the Welsh couple , it was nice to meet you and i enjoyed your pics. Shame you didn't get the Willow Tit......
    We took your advice and headed over to Greylake where we got some nice close ups of snipe and lapwings and a distant view of a Marsh Harrier keeping the ducks on their toes (or wings).

    1. Willow Tit Jackie?!
      I've seen plenty of Marsh Tits there, but no Willows, though I must admit they're almost impossible to tell apart unless you're a Tit expert....

    2. Hi Jackie great to meet you and really glad you popped into Greylake and bagged a Marsh harrier. As for the Willow Tit.... I'm staying out of that one!

    3. i must admit my first thought was marsh tit, but on getting home, studying the form books and cropping my shots until they were almost but not quite unrecognisable, i could see a pale panel on the wing which is apparently the difference between the two.

  3. Lovely shots.....still the only place in Somerset where you are guaranteed to see Nuthatches every time you visit! :) I was there last week!

    1. It's a lovely place isn't it. The EFRS don't go often enough. I'll get James up there soon.