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Catcott Complex Nature Reserves

At Catcott Lows you can enjoy stunning views across the marshes to Somerset’s iconic Glastonbury Tor. One of the lowest parts of the Brue Valley, Catcott Lows is a Mecca for birds that come to breed in spring and take refuge from freezing temperatures in winter. Catcott Heath is alive with dragonflies in the summer and toads, newts and frogs make their homes in the wet fen meadows.

Please support our appeal to open up this wildlife haven

At Catcott we have restored thirty acres of former industrial peat-diggings to create rare wetland habitat which has attracted reed bed birds including reed warbler and water rail, bittern, bearded tits and marsh harrier. Now we're launching a £30,000 appeal to enable local people to enjoy one of the county’s best wildlife and bird watching nature reserves on the internationally important Somerset Levels.

Read more about how your donations will support our work at Catcott Nature Reserve.

Download the Access Statement for the Catcott Complex here.

Nearby Reserves

Westhay Moor
Aller & Beer Woods

Wildlife

What to See

 

Otter

 

Lapwing credit Darin Smith

 

 

Pintail

 

peregrine90


Catcott is made up from a number of former reserves: Lows, North, Heath, South and Fen now managed together.

In the winter the fields are used by large numbers of lapwing, mallard, wigeon and important numbers of teal, pintail and shoveler. In spring, nationally important numbers of roosting spring passage whimbrel, as well as passage greenshank, ruff and black-tailed godwit may be seen.

Rare dragonflies and great-crested newts can be seen, together with breeding populations of common frogs and toads. Nightingale and many other woodland birds have been recorded here, while roe deer are frequently spotted as are bats in the summer months.

Going east down the drove you pass a series of flower rich meadows to the north and on to the original 'Catcott Heath' reserve. Purple moor grass, devil’s-bit scabious, marsh and meadow thistles are common here. A number of rare or threatened plants are cultivated on site, including saw sedge.

From the tower hide (due autumn 2012) look out over the great fen; restored peat working with reed beds, open water and islands. This is your chance to see some of the reed bed birds found throughout the Avalon Marshes. Throughout the year you should have a chance to see mallard, gadwall, coot, kingfisher, Cetti’s warbler, reed bunting, little egret and grey heron; in summer sedge and reed warblers. In the winter these will be supplemented with wintering wildfowl particularly teal, shoveler and wigeon. Look out for passing birds of prey and if you are lucky an otter. At dusk listen for the harsh screech of water rails.

About

About the Catcott Complex

Lying on the western edge of the Avalon Marshes, Catcott sits within a Site of Special Scientific Interest and Special Protection Area. The reserve consists of a number of seminatural habitats and some still under restoration.

Access is zoned to prevent disturbance, damage and to protect the safety of visitors. The lows, north, south and great fen can be viewed from droves or the hides. Go to the car park and Glastonbury Tor provides a fantastic backdrop to the Lows from the viewing screen and hide. In the winter and spring this is framed by flooded grassland teaming with wildfowl and waders. Former carrot fields have been converted to grazing marsh which gradually dries supporting breeding and passage waders.

The water level on site is carefully controlled. During the winter, the reserve floods naturally; through spring and early summer the water is lowered; then, in summer, the fields are kept dry so that cattle can graze the fields before the cycle begins again.

Grazing and topping are vital to maintain conditions for wintering and breeding birds. The Catcott Reserve is made up from a number of former reserves Lows, North, Heath, South and Fen now managed together.

The Catcott Complex is part of our Brue Valley Living Landscape Project to restore, recreate and reconnect important wildlife habitat in the valley. The beautiful wetlands of the Brue Valley are rich with wildlife but if we don’t link up these islands of habitat and create highways our wildlife can move around we risk losing some of our most valuable species.

You can find out more about how our Brue Valley Living Landscape project is working across the landscape to protect wildlife on the Somerset Levels by clicking here.

You can download our Catcott leaflet here.

Location

Location & Access

Map

Download a map of Catcott Complex

Please do take care when visiting Catcott - here are some things to be aware of.

Parking

Catcott Lows has a car park at the reserve entrance.

Coaches and Minibuses for school parties are advised to drop passengers on the road at the entrance to the reserve, not in the carpark.

Wheelchair access

One of the two hides has wheelchair access.

Opening

Both sites are open to the public throughout the year. Access is along rights of way or reserve paths only. Please beware of deep drainage ditches and floodwaters in winter.

How to get there

By road

Catcott Lows (ST 400 414) is a mile north of the village of Catcott in Somerset. Access to Catcott Heath is on foot, east-south-east from ST 399 405 along the drove, about half a mile (800 metres) to the reserve entrance in a wooded area on the right.

By bicycle

A National Cycle Network route runs through Catcott village

Events

Events Nearby

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Thursday 24 July

This is a 12 mile (19km) road route starting at the “island” of Burtle and then over the moors to “Gold Corner”.  We then explore some of the communities which lie on the high ground of the Polden Hills. There will be plenty of stops en-route where your guide will tell you about the landscape, history and wildlife of the marshes.
 

Part of the Avalon Marshes Festival: Bringing the Landscape to Life.

One of a varied series of events in the Avalon Marshes during July.
 

For the full list of festival events click here.   For more information about this event click below.

Discover how the wardens at the Church of St George in Edington have been caring for wildlife in the churchyard. See what’s living there, with activities from Butterfly Conservation and the wildlife recorders of the Avalon Marshes.
 

Part of the Avalon Marshes Festival: Bringing the Landscape to Life.

One of a varied series of events in the Avalon Marshes during July.
 

For the full list of festival events click here.   For more information about this event click below.

David Leach of Somerset Wildlife Trust will give a talk on the relationship between man and nature and how this created the landscape of the Avalon Marshes. David is the trusts’ Living Landscape Manager for the Avalon Marshes area and has a wealth of knowledge of the work being done to conserve its diverse wildlife.
 

Part of the Avalon Marshes Festival: Bringing the Landscape to Life.

One of a varied series of events in the Avalon Marshes during July.
 

For the full list of festival events click here.   For more information about this event click below.

Friday 25 July

As part of the Avalon Marshes Farmers Market there will be guided walks onto the nearby Shapwick Heath National Nature Reserve. These will be led by staff from Natural England and the Avalon Marshes Landscape Partnership. The walks will be a great opportunity to find out more about this wonderful reserve, its wildlife and archaeological heritage.
 

Part of the Avalon Marshes Festival: Bringing the Landscape to Life.

One of a varied series of events in the Avalon Marshes during July.
 

For the full list of festival events click here.   For more information about this event click below.

Sample the food and drink of the Avalon Marshes and the Levels and Moors of Somerset, at the renowned Levels' Best Farmers Market. There will also be guided walks on the nearby Shapwick Heath National Nature Reserve, an open day at Somerset Crafts and the Images of Avalon exhibition and prize giving.
 

Part of the Avalon Marshes Festival: Bringing the Landscape to Life.

One of a varied series of events in the Avalon Marshes during July.
 

For the full list of festival events click here.   For more information about this event click below.

See art in the making at the Somerset Craft Centre Open Day. Meet the artists and find out about their techniques and inspiration. There will also be guided walks on the nearby Shapwick Heath National Nature Reserve and the Avalon Marshes Farmers Market.
 

Part of the Avalon Marshes Festival: Bringing the Landscape to Life.

One of a varied series of events in the Avalon Marshes during July.
 

For the full list of festival events click here.   For more information about this event click below.

Yoga is great for both mind and body. The outdoors, wildlife and water also provide these benefits. Bring these together through this very special spiritual outdoor yoga experience at Ham Wall National Nature Reserve!
 

Part of the Avalon Marshes Festival: Bringing the Landscape to Life.

One of a varied series of events in the Avalon Marshes during July.
 

For the full list of festival events click here.   For more information about this event click below.

Experienced guides from Somerset Bat Group and Natural England will lead this walk around Shapwick Heath National Nature Reserve to find these elusive, fascinating creatures using bat detectors.
 

Part of the Avalon Marshes Festival: Bringing the Landscape to Life.

One of a varied series of events in the Avalon Marshes during July.
 

For the full list of festival events click here.   For more information about this event click below.

Saturday 26 July

A day for the whole family. Join Somerset Wildlife Trust for a wide range of activities including wildlife activities, nature trail and guided walks with reserves staff.  Discover the secrets of Westhay Moor with pond dipping and a minibeast hunt. Challenge yourself to achieve the Hedgehog award.
 

Part of the Avalon Marshes Festival: Bringing the Landscape to Life.

One of a varied series of events in the Avalon Marshes during July.
 

For the full list of festival events click here.   For more information about this event click below.

Wednesday 10 September

An opportunity to visit the SWT reserve at Catcott & look at the rhynes.

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Click the following link for a full list of Somerset wildlife events

 




Videos of Catcott