What to See
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 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 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 & Access
Download a map of Catcott Complex
Please do take care when visiting Catcott - here are some things to be aware of.
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.
One of the two hides has wheelchair access.
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
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.
A National Cycle Network route runs through Catcott village
Wednesday 5 November
Eve Tigwell (Chair of SWT Trustees and BTO Regional Representative) will present an overview of the valuable data included in the new Atlas and the field work that contributed to it with special reference to key species of importance in Somerset.
Tuesday 11 November
Dr Anne Bebbington, field naturalist, will give an illustrated talk on one of the UK's most intriguing and beautiful group of flowering plants.
Sunday 16 November
Walk round the reserve and possibly some hide time looking for winter migrants.
Thursday 20 November
Somerset has a wide collection of habitats for birds. They give a wonderful opportunity for ornithologists to study them. James Packer describes his exploits.
Saturday 22 November
Practical Conservation Work withThe Hawk & Owl Trust
Shapwick Moor Car park
Tuesday 25 November
Master beekeeper Meg Seymour, travels widely as seasonal bee inspector for FERA (Food & Environment Research Agency.) She is in charge of the bee project at Mendip Hospital Cemetery. Her talk “The bee species of Britain” will talk about the various types of bee, the contribution they make to the environment, the problems that face them, and how they can be helped
Saturday 6 December
Christmas Starlings, Christmas craft activities and a walk to see our star visitors roosting on the reserve.
The Avalon Marshes
Centre, Westhay, BA6 9TT
Sunday 25 January
Alys Laver, WWT Senior Conservation Warden, will lead a walk around the new salt marshes and fresh water wetlands
Tuesday 27 January
Local bat expert Dave Cottle will talk about “The history and natural history of King's Castle Wood”
Wednesday 4 February
Jake Chant will look at some of the valuable and historic meadows of Somerset and explain the efforts to conserve and develop these, by collecting seed from SWT’s Coronation Meadow and spreading it on other sites
Click the following link for a full list of Somerset wildlife events