Somerset Wildlife Trust officially opened a new Tower Hide at its Catcott Complex of wetland nature reserves, on Wednesday, September 23. It is part of the largest visitor project the charity has ever undertaken and the hide was officially opened by one the Trust’s founder members Bernard Storer, and Trust President Stephen Moss, in its 50th Anniversary year.
The four-metre-high Tower Hide offers 360-degree views across the 30-acre Catcott Great Fen restoration. From here visitors have a good chance of seeing rare bittern, dazzling kingfisher and grey heron. Secretive water rail may be heard ‘squealing’ from amongst dense cover, roe deer live in the woodland at the back of the hide and brown hare are often seen in the drier grasslands.
Head of Nature Reserves Tim Youngs said: “The new Tower Hide gives fantastic views across some stunning open water and reed bed that the Trust has restored from industrial sites. The project has created important habitat for wetland wildlife and now it can be enjoyed by people too. It is part of the largest visitor project we have ever undertaken and we are delighted it can now be enjoyed by local people and visitors .”
Both the hide and habitat restoration were completed thanks to kind donations from Trust members and supporters. The project has also been supported by the Heritage Lottery Funded Avalon Marshes Landscape Partnership and Western Power Distribution who provided volunteers and materials to help with construction.
The Catcott Complex is made up of the Lows, Heath and Fen all of which offer free, year-round access to visitors who can see a variety of bird-life that visits from all over the world. The nature reserves provide an important fuelling station for migrating birds such as whimbrel , ruff and black tailed godwit, and others that overwinter here such as lapwing from Europe and pintail ducks from Siberia .
The Trust is encouraging visitors to join their reserves team in recording their sightings of migrating and resident birds via Twitter using #rediscoversomerset or on the wildlife ‘arrivals and departures board’ on the website somersetwildlife.org/rediscover.
Visit the Catcott Complex
The Catcott Complex if made up of two areas Catcott Lows (where parking is available) and the Heath and Great Fen. Catcott Lows (ST 400 414) is a mile north of the village of Catcott in Somerset. From there access to Catcott Heath & Great Fen (for the Tower Hide) is on foot, east-south-east from ST 399 405 along the drove (walk to your right at the main Catcott nature reserve sign), about 800 metres to the reserve entrance in a wooded area on the right.