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Nature Reserves in Somerset

As a county rich in wildlife, Somerset unsurprisingly has a huge number of nature reserves. These are great places to visit. Most are open all year and many allow dogs.

With such a diverse landscape, Somerset’s reserves encompass meadows, cliffs, hills, downs, woods, waterways and wetlands.

Somerset Wildlife Trust looks after 70 of the County’s reserves and they are listed on its website: www.somersetwildlife.org along with a range of events throughout year organised by the Trust.

Among the top places for birdwatching in Britain are The Avalon Marshes. Its reed beds attract summer visitors, are home to booming Bitterns and host the amazing starling roosts in the winter.

The marshes are not just water and reeds. There are wonderful meadows and small woodlands, most of which enjoy special protection. They offer opportunities to see some of the UK’s rarest creatures.

More information about this area can be found on the website: www.avalonmarshes.org

Giving nature a home in Somerset, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB), has four reserves.

They are: Swell Wood, an ancient woodland on the edge of the Blackdown Hills; West Sedgemoor and Greylake on the Levels and Moors and Ham Wall at Avalon Marshes. Directions to them can be found on the website: www.rspb.org.uk

Natural England has several National Nature Reserves in Somerset, including Shapwick Heath on the Avalon Marshes and Bridgwater Bay, an internationally important roosting site for waterfowl and wading birds, with around 190 species of bird.

Find out more from www.naturalengland.org.uk

Of The Hawk and Owl Trust’s three reserves in the UK, one is in Somerset. At Shapwick it is creating permanent wet grassland and fen to support owls and other birds of prey.

A guide to the reserve can be found at: www.hawkandowl.org

A new salt marsh being created on the Steart Peninsula along the Bristol Channel is the largest wetland habitat creation scheme in England. It is expected to boost many species of birds as well as benefit fish. Over time it will become a fully-vegetated Atlantic salt marsh.

Owned by the Environment Agency, it is managed by the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust (WWT). Open all year, there is access for people with disabilities, horse riders, cyclists and walkers. New panoramic viewpoints, wildlife observation hides, information points and sign posts have all been installed.

See more at: http://steart.wwt.org.uk

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