Westhay Moor National Nature Reserve



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At Westhay Moor NNR, north of the village of Westhay, restored peat diggings have been transformed into a network of open water and reed beds, making it one of the top birdwatching locations in Britain. It also has the largest surviving fragment of lowland acid mire in the South West. In summer metallic dragon and damselflies like the banded-demoiselle dragonfly dance among the reeds, and carnivorous sundew plants spread across the lush wetlands. You may also see some of the breeding populations of hobby and reed warbler. In winter birds from all over northern and eastern Europe, including goldeneye, goosander and little grebe, flock to the reserve for its lakes and reed beds. If you’re up early enough you might catch a glimpse of an otter family travelling the waterways that criss-cross the marshes, a water vole burrowing in the dank ditches, or a bittern booming in the reed beds. Every winter the skies over the Avalon Marshes turn black as they fill with millions of starlings arriving to roost among the reed beds.

Westhay Moor National Nature Reserve


About the area

Discover Somerset

Somerset means ‘summer pastures’ – appropriate given that so much of this county remains rural and unspoiled. Ever popular areas to visit are the limestone and red sandstone Mendip Hills rising to over 1,000 feet, and by complete contrast, to the south and southwest, the flat landscape of the Somerset Levels. Descend to the Somerset Levels, an evocative lowland landscape that was the setting for the Battle of Sedgemoor in 1685. In the depths of winter this is a desolate place and famously prone to extensive flooding. There is also a palpable sense of the distant past among these fields and scattered communities. It is claimed that Alfred the Great retreated here after his defeat by the Danes.

Away from the flat country are the Quantocks, once the haunt of poets Samuel Taylor Coleridge and William Wordsworth. The Quantocks are noted for their gentle slopes, heather-covered moorland expanses and red deer. From the summit, the Bristol Channel is visible where it meets the Severn Estuary. So much of this hilly landscape has a timeless quality about it and large areas have hardly changed since Coleridge and Wordsworth’s day.

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