Somerset Nature Reserves
Winter is here! – get out and about and visit some of our special sites.
The mornings are getting crisper, the days shorter, and it’s time to get out all the winter woollies! It can certainly be more of a challenge to feel inspired to go outside this time of year, but here are some ideas of what you can do and where you can go this Winter – and what to look out for too.
Visit Westhay and Catcott to witness amazing winter wildlife
Wintering ducks and waders will now start arriving en masse on our reserves, and will be busy feeding on the marshes and moors. As water levels rise during the autumn turning summer grazing land into shallow meres and wetland fens. Look out for thousands of wigeon, Lapwing, Teal and Redhank as Catcott and Westhay becomes a safe haven for them over the Winter months.
From as early as September and as late as February you can see the amazing, annual aerial show of Starlings, as they fill the skies to do their captivating, choregraphed dance, often best seen over the Somerset Levels. To plan your visit at the right time to make sure you don’t miss them, you might like to call the Starling hotline on: 07866 554142.
While the male bitterns are not booming now, they do have a call, a harsh sound rather like that of a grey heron. As the reeds die back, and are battered by wind and rain, this may make the bittern easier to spot.
Take one of our Winter walks
Our landscapes appear at their most fragile and magical at this time of year, and if you venture onto our reserves you will notice that they are more bare and quiet, highlighting the transformation that the changing season brings. Even though there might not be as much activity this time of year, they is still plenty to see if you look in the right places! To help guide you and inspire you to embrace the great outdoors, we have put together some winter walks across five of our reserves for you to discover.
listen out for the distinctive calls of Buzzards, Kestrels and Ravens at Velvet Bottom
Look out for Tree Creepers, Goldcrests, and Long-tailed tits in the woodland of Langford Heathfield
Take a moment to look out for Fieldfare and Redwing feeding on berries on nearby scrub at Great Breach Wood – and also, if you are really lucky, you might see a roe deer launch across the distance
See suggested Winter Walks here
Here’s a few things closer to home you can do to help wildlife this Winter
As many of our much-loved mammals will be looking for a place to hibernate this Winter, there are things that you can do to help them have a safe place to snuggle up. You could build a hedgehog house or hibernaculum in your garden, or you perhaps put a bat box on the side of your house or fence. More information on how you can do this can be found here
Its important to feed our feathered friends over the winter, and also to give them different types of seed and feeders. For example, Goldfinches prefer small seeds like Niger seed, and other birds such as Blue Tits will feed from a hanging, upturned coconut half full of fat. Other species might struggle to compete for food, so ground feeders are useful too, for birds such as Robins and Dunnocks - just make sure the feeder is not too near any platforms where you think cats can spring from, like garden furniture, and sheds ect. To find an extensive range of feeders and food for our garden friends, please visit Vinehouse – 10% of sales go to us too.
If you have a pond in your garden, by adding a ball it will stop it from freezing over, meaning it will still be a habitat for frogs, toads and other pondlife.
As the weather turns colder, birds will increasingly be drawn to feeders in the garden, and provide a chance for you to watch them close up. A large range of species will come to most gardens, and local parks
Also, it’s a great opportunity to be a lazy gardener, so if there are piles of leaves in your garden, leave them there, as they are a great habitat for small mammals and insects
Pictures: Robin & Westhay Moor - Andrew Kirby, Dormouse - Danny Green