Shapwick Heath National Nature Reserve – Somerset

21 October 2011


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Shapwick HeathShapwick Heath

Situated at the foot of Glastonbury Tor within the ancient landscape of The Avalon Marshes lies SHAPWICK HEATH.  This major wetland reserve covers over 500 hectares of the Somerset Levels and is one of the most diverse nature reserves in the South West.  A visit at almost any time of year will be rewarded with incredible wildlife experiences. From early February until June the huge reedbed areas echo with the sounds of Bitterns booming and as summer approaches, an ever increasing chorus from the  migrant warblers that nest on the reserve..  By May flocks of Hobbies can be seen hunting dragonflies – sometimes more than 40 of these magnificent  birds can be seen in the air at once. 

The summer months bring out the butterflies to our wet woodlands – the rare Argent & Sable Moth is joined by White Admirals and the huge Silver Washed Fritillary.  As Autumn approaches large numbers of migrating waders drop into out specially created scrapes for a last feed before completing their journeys. 

Argent & Sable © Bill Urwin

The Otters at Shapwick have become famous due to their habit of being active during the day and the winter months are often the best time to see them.  By November huge flocks of starlings roost in the reedbeds each evening – these flocks are amongst the largest in the UK and have appeared on many TV documentaries.  The exact location of the roost varies and for up to date information telephone our ‘Starling Hotline’ on 07866 554142 before arranging your visit.

Throughout the year numerous activities are organised for people of all ages & interest, for further information about Shapwick Heath  and events on the reserve, please visit the Natural England website or email simon.beard@naturalengland.org.uk and ask to join our mailing list.

Posted by Simon Beard, Natural England

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