One of Visit Somerset’s ambassadors, naturalist and broadcaster Simon King has visited some of the top spots for wildlife in the world but is happy to come home to Somerset which he says displays ‘astonishing natural riches’. Another leading nature writer, Stephen Moss, is president of Somerset Wildlife Trust which manages more than 1700 acres of reserves across the County. In his book Wild Britain, Stephen writes glowingly about Avalon Marshes on the Somerset levels which he regards as pretty close to paradise. Then there is Exmoor which has an astonishing range of habitats supporting some of this country’s rarest creatures.
There are many ways to watch wildlife. You can go on safari with a guide who will have all the tips on where to go and what to see or you can visit one of the many reserves where there are often helpful volunteers and information boards. Or you can strike out on your own and see what you can find. One thing is for certain, you will not have to go far. You can choose from woodland and chalk downs, coastal and lakeside, salt marsh and moor. Don’t overlook the urban setting or our award-winning parks.
We are particularly fortunate in Somerset to have some species that are rare elsewhere. The common crane has been re-introduced to the Somerset Levels and you might be lucky enough to catch sight of some flying overhead. Ham Wall has more bittern than anywhere in the UK and Swell Wood sees the most nesting heron in the south west. Then of course there are the Exmoor ponies and red deer.
The beauty of wildlife watching in Somerset is that there is plenty to see in every season.
In winter you see vast flocks of ducks and waders and the famous starling murmurations.
In spring you can see nesting herons, blue bells and boxing hares
In summer you can see meadow flowers, grass snakes, butterflies and hobbies
In autumn you can see marsh harriers, cranes and kingfishers.