What to see
The Levels and Moors biggest attractions for birdwatchers - millions of starlings arriving to roost amongst the wetland reeds beds - start to arrive in November and stay through to January/February.
Mild or sunny weather is the best time for spotting the starlings, as they tend to go straight to roost on wet, windy or overcast days.
During starling season the local area can get very busy so please be considerate of local residents when parking and avoid blocking gateways and access points.
For up-to-date information on where starling murmurations may be seen call the hotline which will tell you where the birds are roosting - call 07866 554142.
The lakes, reedbeds and woodlands of Westhay Moor provide a winter haven for many species of bird some more unusual than others. Westhay’s waterways regularly play host to diving ducks such as goldeneye and goosander which fly down from their breeding grounds in Scotland and further afield. The males of both these species cut a particularly fine figure on the lakes as they dive for fish. It is also worth a winter visit to Westhay to enjoy the great congregations of mute swans swanning about on the water having moved in from the surrounding areas during cold weather.
The reedbeds provide winter shelter for other important species, including bitterns which have been regular winter visitors to Westhay’s reedbeds for years. You should listen out for the peculiar pinging call of bearded tits, an astonishing looking bird which is hopefully making a welcome recovery on the Levels.
There is more seasonal interest if you move away from the waterside and take a walk through the woods; siskins and redpolls dart around the tops of the alder trees while a lucky few will see a firecrest one of the UK’s smallest but most beautiful birds. Easier to find will be redwings and fieldfares which, having arrived from Scandinavia, will flock between the trees and fields in search of food and shelter. Redwings in particular deserve a closer look, sporting a smart, streaky breast and distinguished eye-stripes.
Keep looking up as you walk out of the woods because you never know what might be passing over. Ospreys are seen each year as they pass through on migration to West Africa, while you might spot a hen harrier quartering the reedbeds or a merlin dashing after the small birds it preys on throughout the colder months
About Westhay Moor
Visitors to Westhay Moor nature reserve can experience the local landscape as it was when the first settlers, Neolithic farmers, made the marshes home - a mosaic of wetlands, lakes and reed beds alive with hidden wildfowl and fish.
Restored peat diggings have been transformed by the Somerset Wildlife Trust into a network of open water, reed bed and the largest surviving fragment of lowland acid mire in the south west.
Westhay Moor is the Trust’s only National Nature Reserve and it is at the cornerstone 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 Westhay Moor leaflet here.
261 acres (106 ha.)
Location & Access
Download a map of Westhay Moor (PDF Size: 77kb)
Please do take care when visiting Westhay Moor - here are some things to be aware of.
Westhay Moor has a car park at the entrance to the reserve. Do make sure your vehicle is secure and remove any valuables from display.
Coaches and minbuses are advised to drop passangers at the entrance to the drove and not in the car park.
Two of the four bird watching hides have wheelchair access via an easy access trail and boardwalk.
The site is open to the public throughout the year and access is along rights of way or permissive reserve paths only. Due to the delicate nature of the site dogs are not allowed on the mire and should be kept on leads on permissive tracks.
How to get there
Westhay Moor (ST 456 437) is north of the village of Westhay in Somerset. The car park is just off the road to Godney, at the junction with Daggs Lane Drove.
A National Cycle Network route runs along a disused railway line, just south of Westhay village.
Grid Reference: ST 456 437.
Tuesday 28 October
Wildlife Rescue, Rehabilitation and Relocation with the staff of Secret World
Secret World Wildlife
Rescue, New Road
Farm, New Road, East
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.
Sunday 16 November
Walk round the reserve and possibly some hide time looking for winter migrants.
Wednesday 19 November
An Illustrated talk: Somerset’s Wonderful Wildlife. The natural year in Somerset, looking at its wildlife and flowers through the seasons by Les Cloutman.
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
Friday 28 November
Join us for an evening of celebration of SWT's 50th Anniversary. Talks, displays, bring & share supper. FREE
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
Click the following link for a full list of Somerset wildlife events