What a great year for Wildlife in Somerset
2017 has been an exciting year for the Trust, and we have made some great gains for wildlife. But none of it would have been possible without YOU. So as we end the year, we want to say a big THANK YOU. Thank you for sharing our news, supporting our appeals, getting involved in our campaigns, coming along to our events and so much more. There are many highlights from 2017, but here’s just a few we want to share with you to reflect on the year and say a huge thank you to all for your ongoing support – it really does make a difference. Here’s to an amazing 2018!
Our reserves on the Somerset Levels, Catcott and Westhay, have been full of great news throughout 2017. Thanks to the combined efforts of all our partners in the Avalon Marshes and YOU, we won the National Lottery Award for Best Environmental Project. Local born comedian, Bill Bailey, returned to Somerset to reveal the news, appearing as if by magic out of a Catcott reedbed, surprising many volunteers and colleagues!
We also had some special wildlife celebrity guests too as there was the first recorded sighting of breeding Night Heron in the UK at Westhay in the summer, causing a wave of excitement for birdwatchers in the county and further afield. We were also delighted to have our first Great White Egret nest on Westhay too, with 3 chicks fledging, not to mention two Bittern nests! Our Patron, Simon King was on hand. And if you haven’t seen our new North Hide there yet, why not take a visit there this Winter.
The end of many eras
Thanks to the hard work of volunteers and colleagues at the Trust and with the support of members, funders and partners, we have been part of three amazing projects that came to an end this year. Firstly the Avalon Marshes Landscape Partnership, focused on conserving wildlife and engaging people in wildlife of the Somerset Levels; Secondly our Taunton urban community based project Routes to the River Tone, had a finale in March; Thirdly, the Save Our Magnificent Meadows project, the UK’s largest partnership project which worked to conserve the vanishing wildflower meadows, grasslands and wildlife. Our work in protecting meadows will continue next year as a new project will burst into life in 2018 – we’ll let you know more next year.
Thanks to the ongoing help and generosity of our supporters, we are able to continue and develop our conservation work all year round to ensure our wildlife has perfect habitats to survive and thrive in - and we are seeing some incredible results. It’s been another good year for the Large Blue butterfly, with record numbers of eggs laid on sites across the East Poldens in Somerset and the Cotswolds in Gloucestershire. Do you remember our Pollinator Crowdfunding campaign back in August? We are pleased to say that we’ve started the project already thanks the funds it generated. Babcary Meadows will soon be a ‘hive’ of activity. We have repaired some gateways and will be restoring hedges after Christmas, which is a great start to enriching a habitat perfect for pollinators. We are looking ahead to even more pollinator success as we continue to work with our partners to deliver ‘The Blues and Browns of Polden Hills’: a project focused on saving two of the UK’s most threatened butterflies, the Large Blue and Brown Hairstreak in South Somerset. We have seen some success already with this species, as a recent count of the eggs of the Brown Hairstreak butterfly at Netherclay revealed over 50% of them to be using the young Blackthorn that has regrown following our clearance work last winter. And, we must not forget to mention that there were six drumming Snipe recorded at Burtle Moor.
Coastal conservation continues
Since Summer 2016 we have been surveying Somerset’s Brilliant Coast to collect data and information on its special habitats and the species that live there so the right decisions are made for its future.
We have been lucky to have volunteers spend over 120 hours since July to assist with the coastal surveys, and help us discover incredible finds. We have seen the little cuttlefish
at a rockpool in Minehead and the Glaucus pimplet anemone at St Audries
- Somerset’s rarest sea anemone! A difficult spot too, as they are only 10mm across and like to bury themselves in gravel. Areas of Honeycomb Worm reef have been mapped in several locations including Dunster, Minehead and Porlock. Areas of Kelp forest were surveyed too, with keen eyed surveyors spotting the iridescent blue
lines of the blue-rayed limpet Patella pellucida
. You can keep updated with the finds of our coastal survey on our Coastal Twitter page @SWTCoast
and join in with them too if you like – find out more here.
(From left to right) Glaucus Pimplet anemone at St Audries, Cuttlefish, Painted topshell.
It's been eventfull
We have had a year packed with events and thanks to everyone who came along! The year started off with our Snowdrop Open Garden, followed by an array of Open Wildlife Gardens across Somerset filled with inspiration for making us all find a place for wildlife in our own gardens. Val Stones from 2016 Great British Bake Off
joined us on West Somerset Railway for our Steam Tea wildlife train journey. Thank you to our members who came along to our AGM this year, and everyone who supported our major fundraiser of 2017, ‘A Wild Night Out with Chris Packham’. This was an unforgettable event, which left us all inspired and empowered about conservation. We hope to have plenty more events in 2018 – but you can take a look at what we have planned so far, here.
Pictures: Bumblebbe©Chris Maguire, Glaucus pimplet anemone©Nigel Phillips, Cuttlefish©Nigel Phillips and painted topshell©Nigel Phillips