all pictures © robin williams
a local diary
wildlife, pictures & thoughts from the Somerset Levels
as seen by Robin Williams
Local wildlife reserves, some favourites:
We are very fortunate that Somerset is greatly varied in its habitats, from near-neutral Levels to the acid Quantock hills and mainly alkaline Mendip; leading to great variety in its wildlife. Within close reach of our part of the moors are numbers of wildlife reserves, ranging from small local ones to National Nature Reserves (NNR). Some of those I particularly enjoy visiting, and which feature in the diary, include:
Catcott Lows ST400 413. The car-park is right by the main hide, which overlooks a great area of shallowly-flooded rough pasture in the winter. It holds large numbers of duck including Wigeon, Teal, Shoveler and Pintail, while Spoonbills, Whooper swans, Garganey and Glossy ibis are sometimes seen in the spring.
Greylake ST400 347. Entry to the hide is along a boardwalk through reed-beds and water. There are large numbers of ducks throughout the winter, with attendant predators – harriers, peregrines and buzzards.
Westhay Moor National Nature Reserve ST457 437. It holds large numbers of wildfowl, otters, egrets and many predators such as harriers and Hobbys, as well as dragonflies.
Ham Wall NNR ST45 39. A very large reserve based around open water and large reed-beds with Otters, wildfowl, Hobbys and many others. Bitterns and Great white egrets breed there, as well as harriers and other rarities.
Shapwick Heath NNR ST44 39. Many pairs of Bitterns breed here and summer sightings are frequent. Anything might turn, up from Bearded tits to Pied-billed grebes and Otters.
Waldegrave Pool and Stockhill ST548 515. The pool is famous for its dragonflies, sometimes in huge numbers; Stockhill has fine walks through predominantly conifer woods, with many wild flower species, fungi and a wide span of insects, as well as some unusual birds at times, such as Long-eared owls, Crossbills and Nightjars.
Great Breach Wood ST508 325. Entry is through private woodlands, which also gives access to neighbouring reserves on the Polden ridge. Light woodland leads to flowery slopes on the edge of the scarp; notable for its butterflies and wild flowers.