Seasonal Somerset

Wildlife

Seasonal Somerset

Autumn leaves - Katrina Martin / 2020VISION

Something to explore every season

Visit one of our amazing nature reserves, and experience the wonder of Somerset's wildlife and wild places.

With over 1,700 hectares of nature reserves to explore, Somerset Wildlife Trust can offer something for everyone through the seasons. Go for a stroll through crisp autumnal woodlands, enjoy the blooming gorgeous displays of spring flowers, listen for the dawn booming of Bitterns on our wetlands or watch the flitting butterflies and bees dancing at our magnificent meadow reserves. 

Spring

After a long, dark winter, celebrate the arrival of spring with a walk through a Somerset Wildlife Trust woodland to enjoy displays of spring flowers such as bluebells, primroses and wood anemones, accompanied by birdsong.

Best bluebell woods

Bluebells are widespread in Spring and are perhaps one of the most famous and unmistakeable woodland flowers. One of the best reserves to view these beautiful little flowers is Long Wood, part of our Cheddar Complex reserve. Another reserve that is a good place to spot Bluebells is Harridge Wood reserve, as well as Kings Castle Wood, find out more below.

Long Wood Harridge Wood Kings Castle Wood

Spring birdsong

Many of our reserves are a wonderful place to listen to spring birdsong, but a few ones worth mentioning include: the wonderful Catcott Lows and Westhay Moor NNR reserves both boast a range of birds that you will hear throughout Spring. However, don't forget reserves such as Green Down and Velvet Bottom for equally pleasant spring birdsong.

Catcott Lows  Westhay Moor NNR Green Down Velvet Bottom

 

Booming bittern

The best places to hear the deep boom of the Bittern is without doubt our Westhay Moor NNR reserve and our Catcott Reserve. Come along February to May to hear these amazing birds. 

Westhay Moor NNR  Catcott 

Spring arrivals

A range of birds migrate to the UK in the spring to breed, including the Chiffchaff, Swallow and Swift, and there are also varying places to spot them. Velvet Bottom is a great place to see Wheatear and Chiffchaff, Cooks Field is a great place to see Swallows and New Hill & Tannager is good for Blackcap and Whitethroat!

Velvet Bottom New Hill & Tannager

Summer

What better way to enjoy a summer's day than in an ancient meadow full of wild flowers and shimmering butterflies, with the soundtrack of crickets and grasshoppers, humming bees and the song of skylarks? 

Best wildflower meadows

Wildflowers are a beautiful sight to see, they are bright and colourful and can be found at a number of our reserves. These include the lovely Babcary Meadows, the remote Bickham Wood and Cheddar Wood Edge.

Babcary Meadows  Bickham Wood Cheddar Wood Edge

Where to see orchids

Orchids are a diverse and widespread family of flowers with often colourful and fragrant blooms. Yarley Fields and Draycott Sleights are particular spots for the exotic looking Bee Orchids whilst Thurlbear Wood is a good place to see the striking Greater Butterfly Orchid and the Common Spotted Orchid.

Yarley Fields Draycott Sleights Thurlbear Wood

Dragonflies and damselflies

Summer sees these beautiful insects return to many of our nature reserves, glistening above the water. To spot some of these lovely creatures, pop along to Green Down, or the stunning Westhay Moor NNR, or the worked out clay pit of Suttons pond.

Green Down Westhay Moor NNR Suttons Pond

Swifts, swallows and housemartins

A common sight on a summers evening, there are a few particular spots to visit to see these little birds. Cooks Field is a lovely place to see Swallows soaring about, whilst Hollow Marsh Meadow also provides a good viewing spot.

Hollow Marsh Meadow

Large Blue butterfly

The Large Blue Butterfly is a stunning insect that was reintroduced in the 1980's and small populations are now surviving in the South of England. Our Green Down reserve is home to one of conservation’s great success stories with the biggest number of large blue butterflies, anywhere in the world.

Green Down

Autumn

You will find some of the most stunning displays of autumn colour on Somerset Wildlife Trust nature reserves. Look more closely and you will also see hundreds of varieties of fascinating fungi from the Scarlet Elf Cup and colourful waxcaps to King Alfred's Cakes.

Woodland walks full of colour

Nothing beats a walk through a beautiful woodland in Autumn when the leaves have begun to crisp and fall to the ground. If this sounds like a good afternoon well spent, then why not head to Aller and Beer Woods, part of an SSSI, Harridge Woods, or Great Breach Wood.

Aller and Beer Woods Harridge Woods Great Breach Wood

Fascinating fungi

Fungi are interesting and exciting and can be found in a number of our reserves across the county. A stunning reserve that has had over 600 species of fungi recorded is Great Breach Wood, or take a trip to our second largest reserve, Langford Heathfield and see if you can spot the Fly Agaric Fungus. Lynchcombe is also an option to look for Waxcap Fungi.

Great Breach Wood Langford Heathfield 

Arrival of winter migrants

As the autumn draws to a close and the weather turns even cooler, flocks of winter birds take shelter in our reserves, such as Wigeon or Pintail. A great place to see some winter arrivals are our Westhay Moor NNR and Catcott Lows reserves.

Catcott Lows Westhay Moor NNR

Winter

On a crisp winter's day, wrap up warm and head to a Somerset Wildlife Trust nature reserve. Some of our wetland sites are host to impressive numbers of overwintering birds!  

Winter waders

Lapwing, Snipe, Grey and Gold Plovers, and Black-tailed Godwits are all waders that find themselves in our reserves for winter. These waders are attracted to our wonderful Westhay Moor NNR and our Catcott reserve.

Westhay Moor NNR Catcott

Delightful wintering ducks

You might think of ducks as common place, but some of them are rather special! Our best know wintering duck spotting reserves are Westhay Moor NNR and Catcott Lows, there you will see ducks such as Wigeon, Pintail, Shelducks and Tufted Duck. 

Westhay Moor NNR Catcott 

Stunning starling murmurations

Our amazing starling murmurations are centred around our beautiful National Nature Reserve, Westhay Moor at dusk and dawn.

Westhay Moor NNR  

Get more information by reading our 'Wildlife to see' blog by local photographer and wildlife enthusiast, Chris Chappell. 

Read the 'Wildlife to see' blog

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