- After meeting in Wells in the early afternoon, we make our first birdwatching trip onto the Somerset Levels.
- Accommodation: Swan Hotel, Wells, 3-nights on half board basis.
- We have two full days to explore the abundant wildlife of the Somerset Levels with Mike Dilger. Historic wet grassland is drained by ditches, known locally as rhynes, which in early summer are busy with dragonflies including hairy dragonfly, four-spotted chaser, red-eyed damselfly and large red damselfly.
- In recent years the Avalon Marshes, which lie under historic Glastonbury Tor, have been host to seven breeding heron species, including the UK’s only breeding little bitterns and black-crowned night herons. We pay special attention here to regular breeders including bittern and great egret. They are accompanied at this time of year by sedge, reed and Cetti’s warblers and bearded tits, while marsh harriers display overhead.
- The Somerset Levels are the home of the Great Crane Project which has successfully reintroduced the common crane to the southwest of England. With 23 pairs of cranes in the region in 2018, we are likely to see these magnificent birds at some of the sites we visit.
- Late spring is the finest time to visit the Somerset Levels for their flowers. Specialist species of lowland wetlands which we may see here in May include water violet, marsh pea, frogbit, milk parsley and tubular water dropwort. The marshes and rhynes which support them are also home to grass snakes and to the UK’s three native newt species.
- We enjoy a final morning of birdwatching with Mike on the Somerset Levels, targeting any notable species we may have missed, before taking lunch at a pub and returning to Wells where the tour concludes. A transfer will be provided to Wells Railway Station.
All prices are per person and include:
- Services of the naturalist leader
- Breakfast & dinner
- Guided activities
The Swan Hotel, Wells, occupies an historic building close to Wells Cathedral and is conveniently located in the centre of the town, but close to the south side for easy access to the Somerset Levels.
Breakfasts and dinners taken at the hotel are included. Lunches are taken at a pub in the Somerset Levels and are not included in the price.
In spring the Somerset Levels are alive with bird song and display. Bitterns boom from the reeds, where reed and sedge warblers chatter. Overhead marsh harriers yelp and tumble in display.
- Bearded tit
- Great egret
- Marsh harrier
May is the perfect month to enjoy the year’s first flush of butterflies and dragonflies on the Somerset Levels. In damp meadows orange-tips visit the blooms of cuckoo flower. Ditches known locally as rhynes are busy with broad-bodied and four-spotted chasers, hairy dragonflies and several early species of damselfly.
- Hairy dragonfly
- Four-spotted chaser
- Red-eyed damselfly
Late May is a wonderful time to experience the unspoiled flora of the Somerset Levels. Among the notable species found across this vast and timeless wetland are water violet, marsh pea, marsh fern, royal fern, frogbit, milk parsley and tubular water dropwort.
Many of the most important sites for wildlife in the Somerset Levels are ancient peat diggings. Together these form the Avalon Marshes which lie in the shadow of historic Glastonbury Tor. They are surrounded by wet grassland, criss-crossed by drainage rhynes, and plantations of willow, in a landscape which has changed little in hundreds of years.
With birds in full song and display in late spring, this is the perfect time to capture them with a camera. Weather permitting we should also see a range of early dragonflies and damselflies in crisp condition.
Easy walking, covering short distances on lowland nature reserves. Some ground may be wet underfoot.
Minibus driven by the tour leader.
Your tour leader can meet you at Wells Railway Station. Alternatively you can drive directly to Wells to meet him at the hotel.