Driving home from work this evening I took the back road from Glastonbury with my daughter in the car eating her Tuesday subway treat having been to after-school hockey. We passed a series of rather desperate sandbags still piled up along the main drain, evidence of the recent flooding, before turning towards Ashcott along the Mere road in the spring sunlight. It's a joy to be driving home in the evening sunshine after months of driving and cycling in the dark and we pulled over by the Ham Wall bird reserve at the end of the long line of parked cars to see if the starlings were coming in to roost. The number of people standing on the path by the reed beds was quite astonishing, with much conversation about the murmerations and a sharing of previous experiences. Watched a marsh harrier dividing one flock as their paths crossed over the marshes and what appeared briefly to be a crow harrying another group a long way away, it could however have been another bird of prey, perhaps a sparrowhawk making the most of the mass of opportunity. There was even a film crew talking to someone who had travelled a great distance to watch but unfortunately the great clouds of starling settled in the reeds far off to the East of where we were standing. We all stood and watched the rivers of incoming starlings streaming in low in the sky and the occasionally well defined ball or arrow of birds, moving as one, to join the others for the relative safety of their collected roost. Through binoculars I watched the pulsing mass of birds settling and then moving in the reeds, black translucent waves of creatures rolling over the distant marsh before all was still in the dying light.
Sat looking out over the still waters of the flooded peat diggings with the water broken by the splashing of fish and the familiar sounds of ducks and calling coots. The smell of the water reminding me of chaotic fun evenings with the sea-scouts in Norfolk many years ago. Listened to a far off and distantly familiar bird sound which we at first thought might be a bittern, but sounded less booming and more like a slow deep sawing breath. I'm not sure I know what a bittern sounds like when it's not booming ?