Somerset Wildlife Trust

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Wildlife to see in August

Trust volunteer Chris Chappell takes a look at what to see and do in August.

Enjoy a guided walk with the experts this month

The breeding season for most birds and animals is all but over, and it is generally a quieter time in the countryside.  However this is an ideal time to take advantage of the various events and walks hosted by the Trust.  The walks are led by experts in their various fields, and are an ideal opportunity to improve your knowledge under the guidance of an experienced volunteer.  There are nine Trust events to choose from in August, with subjects from bats to glow worms, or a general introduction to a reserve such as Langford Heathfield Nature Reserve by the Trust reserve officer.  These guided trips are always fascinating and informative, and it is always good to meet like-minded people whose aim is to protect and enjoy wildlife.  Those leading the events are enthusiastic volunteers, giving up their time for the cause.  Many trips are free, or at a nominal charge, but contributions are always helpful. 

Visit the events page for walks, talks and family activities this month.

Birds begin to flock on the Levels

Flocks of young starlings are already gathering in the fields and  on the levels, they are noticeably different from the adult birds having plain brown plumage and black bills. Groups of goldfinches can be seen feeding on the thistle heads.  Juvenile buzzards are on the move, their plaintive cry is often heard hidden in the foliage of a large tree, waiting to be brought food by the adults, as they are yet to master the skills required to catch their own.  The swifts are now on their way back to Africa, and swallows are starting to line up on the telephone wires, their summer is nearly over and they too will soon be heading south. 

Visit Catcott Nature Reserve

Whilst Catcott Reserve is mainly known for wintering ducks and waders, it is however, a very special place to visit in the summer.  It has a very different character now, the reeds and grasses are tall, and the open water has disappeared.  Hobbies may be seen swooping high over the trees at the back of the reserve.  Herons stalk the rhynes for frogs and fish. Roe deer feed at a distance, always on the alert. Buzzards circle overhead, searching for carrion or an unwary rabbit. Marsh harriers hunt over the reeds, always magnificent, both male and female have striking plumage.  Taking the track around the reserve on a sunny day you will find hordes of butterflies, feeding on the brambles and numerous wild flowers bordering the drove.  You may expect to see most of the common species of butterfly; red admiral, peacock, meadow brown, ringlet, small and large white, comma, speckled wood and more.  In addition there are great numbers of dragonflies, the small common darter, and larger migrant and common hawkers.  And the very pretty common blue damselflies abound on every thicket.  To the southeast of the main site there is large patch of bog myrtle, wonderfully aromatic on a warm day, mixed with a variety of  flowering plants. Find out more more about Catcott Nature Reserve

Catcott is the site of The Great Fen Restoration project, whereby 30 acres of peat workings are being transformed into reed beds and lagoons, thus considerably extending the exciting wildlife habitat. There is an open day to hear more about this project on Sat, Sep 9. Read about the project and see event detail.

South Cadbury Castle

South Cadbury Castle is a hill fort near Sparkford in South Somerset. Dating from Neolithic times (3000BC), with occupation in the Bronze Age and the Iron Age, followed by the Romans, and unusually the fort continued to be occupied well after the Roman withdrawal. It occupies a unique site with stunning views over the Somerset and Dorset countryside. There is a car park at the bottom of the steep track leading up to the fortified ring on top, and it makes a good afternoon's walk, climbing the hill, and walking around the rim of the fort.  Whilst admiring the countryside, you will hear the call of green woodpeckers echoing through the valleys below.  Ravens and buzzards patrol the skies above, while linnets sing in the hillside scrub.  Above all it provides an opportunity to enjoy the beauty of the countryside that we treasure.


Photos by Chris Chappell 


Colourful peacock butterflies may be seen along the tracks at Catcott on a sunny day


Herons stalk the rhynes for frogs and fish


 Greater Willow Herb


There are stunning views from Cadbury Castle