Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Starlings at Shapwick Heath

This weekend we were down on the Somerset Levels visiting  Musgrove Willows in Westonzoyland to buy some cut Willow (Flanders Red for me - beautiful, waxy, straight 4' withies) and new basketmaking tools to start work on some decorated hearts for Mothers Day and Easter for the Farmers Market at Whiteladies in April.   Westonzoyland is where the Battle of Sedgemoor was fought in 1685, the last battle of the Monmouth Rebellion.  All quiet there tho' this weekend.  This is low marshland with drainage ditches around the place and pumping stations. It feels slightly surreal, not helped much by the farmer at MW loading a wicker coffin into the back of a vehicle as we arrived (empty, we think).


We then headed off to Shapwick Heath to watch the starling murmurations.  As dusk fell hundreds of thousands of starlings flew into the Heath from every direction and settled in the reed beds to roost for the evening a couple of fields away from where we were watching.  Brilliant.   This used to be a regular feature of city life in Bristol where they would come to roost under the bridges making the most amazing patterns in the evening sky over the City Centre where I worked. I would watch them out of my office window during the winter months during the late 1980 and 1990s thinking that this happened in every city.  Sadly, there are very few starlings in Bristol and no evening spectacle any more.  Maybe something to do with the declining starling population - but today, at least, I was happy to think that they had all got fed up with doing battle with the seagulls and pigeons and had decided to head for a better life here in the wild, wet Somerset countryside.

I am now weaving this lovely willow and snipping away with my new sharp, sharp little basketmaking snips.  Will post some pics once I am happy with the prototypes.  Not quite there yet.. :)     


1 comment:

  1. Love the starlings! Saw some the other day as I was driving along the A38 but they're not quite as magical when you're grappling with the traffic on the dual carriageway! No wonder they all headed south to Somerset....