Other Nature Reserves

Other Nature Reserves

Westhay Heath reedbeds
Westhay Heath – AMLP Staff

Westhay Heath

The reserve is a mosaic of wetland habitats on an area previously extracted for peat. It has areas of tall fen vegetation, marshy grassland, willow scrub, alder carr, small ponds and ditches. Bittern, marsh harrier, water rail and bearded tit have all been recorded.

The moss and reed peats were originally four metres thick, overlying alluvial clays. In some areas all of the peat has been removed, in others varying thicknesses remain.. Since Somerset Wildlife Trust acquired the land in 1981 the area of deep peat digging has been sculpted to create a curving open water channel running through varied reedbed habitats, very similar to the landscape thousands of years ago!

In 2015 a successful public appeal allowed the Trust to acquire further land from E. J Godwin (Peat Industries) Ltd, now known as Godwin’s Reedbed. Fortunately this area of reedbed and open water had already been restored for wildlife with the help of the Trust.

Information

Access – Due to difficult access and the site’s sensitive nature access is only allowed by permit.
Managed bySomerset Wildlife Trust

 

Yarley Fields

Pyramidal Orchid / Bee Orchid
Pyramidal Orchid / Bee Orchid – Joy Russell

Yarley Fields lies on the slope of Yarley Hill looking south over the Avalon Marshes. These small fields look out across Godney Moor to the Polden Hills in the distance. They are mainly unimproved grassland best seen in spring and summer.

Bee orchids may be seen here from June to July. The flower of the bee orchid is the culmination of up to eight years growth – its shape has evolved to attract male bees and it produces a seductive scent like a female bee.

Look out for the pink flowers of common centaury, the vivid yellow-wort and pyramidal orchids which grow in profusion! Herbs to be seen here include St John’s-wort, wild carrot, hoary plantain, bird’s-foot trefoil, salad burnet and ladies bedstraw.

The hedgerows are rich with elm, hawthorn and field maple and together with the grasslands attract many butterflies in spring and summer including the marbled white. Dormice and weasel have been recorded. Look and listen out for the great green bush cricket too!

Information

Opening – Open all year round
Location – Grid ref ST 497 448 (no post code) – Location map
Parking – None, you are best to cycle or walk and gain access from the bridleway on the north side of the reserve.
Managed bySomerset Wildlife Trust

 

Street Heath

The reserve consists of carr woodland, wet and dry heath, with bog plants on the very wet peat. The reserve is one of the few areas of mire within the Avalon Marshes which are of national importance. These are the habitats where bog plants survive; these plants would have been found in the area’s vast raised bogs which extended from the Isle of Wedmore to the Polden Hills in pre-historic times.  However, today’s reserve is only small being 8 hectares (20 acres).

History of the reserve

The reserve has an interesting history. It is a former “turbary and estover plot for the poor of the parish” (turbary is the legal right to cut turf or peat for fuel on common ground or on another person’s ground).  The ownership of the land was unknown and it was formally declared as Common Land in 1972 with Street Parish Council taking it under their jurisdiction. A year later it was declared a Local Nature Reserve and Somerset Wildlife Trust agreed to manage it on the parish council’s behalf. Just under ten years later it was declared a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI)..

Information

Access – Access is possible but can be difficult. Contact Somerset Wildlife Trust for location and advice
Managed by – Somerset Wildlife Trust