What does the Group do and how can I get involved?
As part of Somerset Wildlife Trust, we aim to promote and support wildlife issues in the widest sense, from climate change to food production, bio-diversity on land and ocean through to local wildlife walks and talks.
We are particularly excited about the development of the Taunton Living Landscape and the Routes to the River Tone project where the local Area Group was heavily involved as one of the partners with other bodies such as Taunton Deane Borough Council and the Environment Agency. The project brought together the community to enhance and connect green spaces with the River Tone and its tributaries so creating a network of places where wildlife can thrive and people feel alive. The project is particularly important because of the proposed housing and employment developments in Taunton up to 2028.
We are very grateful for all the hard work put in by Nick Tomlinson, Rose Gater, Claire Mountjoy and Olivia Dullaghan who have done so much to make the Project a success. We thank them for what they have done and wish them well for the future. They have made a significant impact on the local community and have worked closely with local schools, including 9 primaries. They have also trained a team of teachers in the necessary skills to carry on their work. In addition, teams of volunteers carried out bat surveys across the town and gathered significant amounts of data which has been analysed and will now form the basis of ongoing discussions with the local Planning Authorities about where and how future development should take place, particularly bearing in mind the designation of Taunton as a "Garden Town".Further information can be found on the main Wildlife Trust web site and the dedicated Routes to the River Tone web site. We are now closely involved in how to follow on with the legacy of the project to ensure that the benefits of the project are sustained.
Our annual Wildlife Week is closely linked to the Routes to the River Tone project and a range of activities take place usually in May or June each year, linking with the very successful annual Somerfest. Over the next couple of years we will be working closely with other environmental groups in Taunton such as the Friends of Hamilton Park and a "Green Forum" has been established to bring together like-minded groups from across the town. This is particularly important with the award of "Garden Town" status to Taunton..
One element of the Living Landscape project is Longrun Meadow. A number of organisations including Friends of Longrun, Somerset Wildlife Trust, Taunton Deane Borough Council and the Environment Agency have come together and are preparing a plan to manage and develop the area. More and more people are making use of this wonderful facility which is so close to the town centre.
We have provided support to local communities who wish to be involved in Neighbourhood Planning, a Government initiative aimed at making local communities feel that they have a greater say in the Planning process in their area. We hope that they will use the opportunity to make space for wildlife as well as address the issue of Sustainability.
Could you help to make a difference to wildlife in Taunton Deane? We urgently need more members for our Committee. The duties aren't onerous, we meet every 2 or 3 months to organise future events and help to support other acitivities organised by Somerset Wildlife Trust. We also attend the events that we organise to ensure that those attending are properly looked after and have an enjoyable and interesting time. If you can help or want to know a bit more about what this entails, please get in touch
To support the Taunton Living Landscape Project, we have established a group of volunteers to carry out a range of practical conservation tasks, concentrating initially on Longrun Meadow. Meetings are normally Thursday morning starting at 10am at the Willow Cathedral and you can do as much or as little as you wish. Please email Helen Lawy if you would like further details.
Click here for a full update of Taunton Area Group's recent activities
We have a number of different events planned over the next few months.
All the talks are held in the School Hall at St George's Catholic School, The Mount, Taunton. TA1 3NR unless indicated otherwise. This is close to the centre of Taunton and there is plently of free parking on site. The normal charge admission charge is £3.00 and for Somerset Wildlife Trust members the charge is £2.50. This includes tea or coffee and biscuits in the interval.
NB our talks are normally on the 2nd Tuesday of the month but some are on a different Tuesday because of the Hall availability
- Westcountry Rivers Trust. Scott West from the Trust will outline some of the projects he is involved in around Somerset to preserve, protect and improve rivers, streams and watercourses. Come along and learn more about our County's beautiful rivers. Tuesday 12th March, 7.30pm to 9pm.
- RSPB Reserve at West Sedgemoor and Swell Woods. Damon Bridge, Conservation Officer, Somerset Levels and Moors, will talk about the Reserve at West Sedgemoor and the woodlands at Swell Woods - the bird, plant and animal species and how they are managed. Tuesday 2 ndApril, 7.30pm to 9pm.
- The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Well-known fungi expert Michael Jordan talks about the different types of fungi and answers those important questions such as Can I eat it? and What's the difference between mushrooms and toadstools? Tuesday 8th October, 7.30pm to 9pm.
- Fungi Foray. Michael Jordan will lead a walk in a wood on the Blackdown Hills to find and identify fungi. Saturday 11th October 10.30am to 12 noon. Booking essential, please contact Simon Briggs, 01823 270529.
- WWT Steart Marshes. Alys Laver, the Steart Marshes Manager will talk about this fantastic example of landscape scale habitat creation and the wildlife that can be found there. Tuesday 12th November, 7.30pm to 9pm.
- Steart Marshes walk. Alys Laver and her colleagues will lead a walk around the Steart Marshes so that you can see the incoming tide and its effect on the wildlife there. Saturday 30th November, 9am to 11am. Booking essential, please contact Simon Briggs, 01823 270529.
- Somerset's Otters. Come and learn more about how these wonderful creatures are coming back to the waterways of Somerset. Tuesday 10th December, 7.30pm to 9pm.
- Wildlife Gardening. Come and learn from Eve Tigwell, local wildlife gardening expert, about how to look after the wildlife in your gardening without turning it into an untidy jungle. Tuesday 14th January, 7.30pm to 9pm.
- Bats, myth, magic and mystery. Meet our old friend and bat expert Nick Tomlinson and learn how these wonderfull creatures live, thrive and survive and how much human beings benefit from them.Tuesday 11th February, 7.30pm to 9pm.
- Indigenous Birds of Prey and their Super Powers. Alan Wills will explain (hopefully with the aid of some of his rescued and rehabilitated birds0 how birds of prey use their super powers to hunt out their prey to survive. Tuesday 10th March, 7.30pm to 9pm.
- Discovering Marine Wildlife. Staff from conservation charity Marine Life will talk about the whales, dolphins, seals, seabirds and other marine life found in UK waters , particularly in the South West. Tuesday 21st April (please note the later date), 7.30pm to 9pm.
Further details in the left hand column, now or shortly.
From time to time we organise walks around local Nature Reserves to help you to appreciate the beauty of the Somerset countryside all the year round. Every one is welcome but please be aware:
- These are rambles organised by the Taunton Area Group, not guided walks let by Wildlife Trust staff. We don't claim to be experts on wildlife so if you know a Blue Tit from a Buzzard or a Daisy from a Dandelion, your input on the walk will be much appreciated.
- Most of the footpaths on the Reserves are unmade, may be uneven and muddy and may also be steep in places. Please wear appropriate clothing and footwear.
- Car parking at most of the Reserves will be limited. If you know other people who are going on the walk, please share transport if that is possible. If you can car-share all the way to the Reserve that would be excellent but if not please consider meeting up part way and car-sharing for the rest of the journey.
If you really want to get your hands dirty as well, then contact the Taunton Midweek Volunteers who carry out a range of tasks on the SWT reserves in the area. Contact Margaret Palmer on 01823 337570 or email her at for further details. The Longrun Volunteers (see further details above) also provide an opportunity for a range of practical activities, close ot the centre of Taunton.
Younger wildlife enthusiasts may be interested in the Taunton Deane Wildlife Watch which provides a wide range of activities. Although these are aimed at families with children between 5 and 12, children of other ages are always welcome. Contact Olivia Dullaghan at ;
What else can we offer?
The Taunton Deane area has a small number of surprisingly varied sites, from the limestone scarp of Thurlbear to the lowland heath of Langford Heathfield, managed by the Trust to give wildlife the protection it deserves. These Reserves are right on our doorstep and are great places to enjoy and explore the wildlife and landscapes that we often take for granted. Click on the links below for more details of some of our closer Reserves:
Langford Heathfield: (ST 106 227)There is much to explore at Langford Heathfield, Somerset Wildlife Trust's second largest nature Reserve, at 226 acres. It is the Reserve's varied landscape, which includes ancient woodland, heathland and ponds, that makes it a Mecca for such a variety of wildlife. For a sheet giving directions for a walk of one or two hours, click here.
Netherclay Community Woodland: (ST 207 252) Netherclay Community Woodland is a Taunton Deane Local nature Reserve which borders the River Tone in Bishops Hull. With support from the Forestry Commission and the help of the Parish council and local volunteers, 5000 native trees of oak, ash, black poplar, dogwood and hazel have been planted there. The Somerset Wildlife Trust has since bought the adjoining site and also planted it up with native trees.
Thurlbear Wood: (ST 273 213) At Thurlbear Wood you can enjoy walking the woodland paths dotted with colourful flowers, such as greater butterfly and spotted orchids, wild dog violets, bluebells and primroses. The wood takes in part of the circular Neroche Herepath, which starts at Staple Hill on the top of Somerset's famous Blackdown Hills.
Dommett Wood (ST 278 139) A reserve with mature beech and oak woodland with small areas of heath. Dommett Wood is close to Buckland St Mary, around half a mile off the A303, near the Eagle Tavern junction.
What areas does the Group cover?
The Group is based in Taunton but covers the whole of the Taunton Deane District Council area including Wellington, Wiveliscombe and Milverton.
Where does the Group meet?
During the winter months we normally meet on the second Tuesday of each month at St George's Primary School, The Mount, Taunton, TA1 3NR. Summer throws up different events so each year is very different.
How can I get in touch for more details?
To contact the Taunton Deane Area Group Chair, Simon Briggs, call 01823 270529 or use the Contact Form below.
All our local events are shown in the left hand column - just click the green links to find out more.