Somerset Nature Reserves
Somerset Wildlife Trust protects some of the county's most threatened habitats and precious species within its nature reserves. They are great places to enjoy and explore the amazing wildlife and landscapes we have on our doorstep. There are many opportunities to get close to nature and see some very special wildlife.
We manage 72 nature reserves across Somerset, which cover an area of 1,720 hectares (roughly equivalent in size to 2,000 football pitches). Some of our nature reserves are very large and link to adjacent sites to create a complex, while others are a cluster of fields or woodlands. Our largest nature reserve that we manage is Yoxter (228 hectares) and the smallest is Wadbury Bat House in East Mendip.
Now is a great time to check out the starling murmurations on our reserves, especially Westhay and Catcott. For up to the minute updates call the hotline on 07866 554 142.
With so many Somerset Wildlife Trust nature reserves to choose from, you are never far away from one of these special places.
This winter, some of our nature reserves are alive with winter wildlife, especially those that support large flocks of wintering birds. In addition, why not try exploring some new reserves you may not have been to before?
- Catcott Complex in the Avalon area is one of the best places to see large flocks of wintering birds at relatively close range from the bird hides. Large flocks of pintail, teal, wigeon and lapwing are a common sight and visits from patrolling raptors such as peregrine falcon and marsh harrier are common. Pintail duck travel from as far as Russia to spend a (relatively mild!) winter in the UK: their chocolate brown heads and elegant tail streamers are distinctive.
- Westhay Moor is a special place to visit at any time of year, but in the winter it is a magical place with swaying reeds and mysterious noises from the reedbed including a loud ‘squeeling’ noise that the water rail makes.
- The views from our Mendip plateau grassland nature reserves is stunning: Cook’s Fields, Lynchcombe and Draycott are well worth a visit and on a clear day, the Bristol Channel and much of Somerset can be seen. The Polden ridge nature reserves also provide dramatic views looking west, so visit Gilling Down and New Hill & Tannager.
- We have two new nature trails at Harridge Woods (East Mendip near Frome) now that will enable visitors to find out much more about why the woodlands are special and what we are doing to conserve them.
- The Blackdowns nature reserves are great for blowing away some cobwebs and walking through woodlands, grasslands and wetland habitats, often adjacent to each other. Look out for hazelnuts chewed by dormice and for wintering snipe on our wetter sites.
Please contact us on 01823 652400 for more information and to get the most from your visit. We welcome your feedback and your wildlife sightings.
Where to visit?
Our nature reserves are maked on the map below or an A-Z list can be found to the left. You can also download our Nature Reserves Guide.
Did you know?
- In the Mendip area alone, volunteers contributed over 2104 hours of their time to help manage our nature reserves from April 2014-March 2015.
- 8755 hours of ‘organised volunteering’ activities took place on our nature reserves across Somerset last year. This equates to 1167 days!
- Corporate volunteering has clocked up 937 hours, or 125 days of conservation action.
- We have around forty grazing contractors and provide employment for many other local contractors.
- That 55,000 visitors per year visit our Black Rock reserve (Mendips).
- We provide 1,110 hectares of open access for people to enjoy our oustanding nature reserves.
- 682 school children got their hands dirty on our nature reserves in the 2012/13 academic year.