Somerset Levels in Winter
9 Feb — 12 Feb 2022 | Tour Director: Peter Exley
• Join the RSPB’s Peter Exley on this winter wildlife tour and look out for Somerset’s growing flock of cranes, recently reintroduced after a 400-year absence
• Visit key historical sites including Glastonbury Abbey, and keep an eye out for bitterns, barn owls and marsh harriers at one of the country’s most exciting and beautiful wildlife projects – the Avalon Marshes
• Explore one of the RSPB’s oldest and largest nature reserves at West Sedgemoor, walking along an ancient drove route to view the remarkable winter wildfowl roost
conservationist and ornithologist who works for the RSPB
Tour assembles 1500 at Swan Hotel, Wells, for three nights. Visit to Wells Cathedral followed by welcome and introductory talk.
RSPB Ham Wall Nature Reserve: wetland and reed beds (bitterns, bearded tits, egrets, harriers). Afternoon: Glastonbury Abbey, Glastonbury Tor (optional 250-foot climb to the summit), Museum of Rural Life.
RSPB West Sedgemoor (winter wildfowl roost, birds of prey) and look for the crane flock. Afternoon: Willows & Wetlands Visitor Centre (Somerset osier industry), Isle of Athelney (King Alfred’s hiding place), RSPB Greylake Reserve (swans, snipe, peregrines). Evening: Avalon Marshes (starling roost, birds of prey).
Shapwick Heath National Nature Reserve: pools, reed beds, wet woodlands (including site of Sweet Track Neolithic causeway) for winter wildlife (bitterns, harriers, waterfowl). Tour disperses 1230 at hotel.
9 Feb — 12 Feb 2022
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"Lovely mixture of knowledge and enthusiasm and with a "nothing is too much trouble" approach"
Recent ACE Customer
FITNESS / PRACTICALITIES
This tour requires a good level of fitness, and participants must meet ACE’s usual fitness criteria, as found in our Booking Terms & Conditions. Walks are along mostly level tracks and paths, which can be muddy in places. These vary from half a mile to just under two miles on the final day, with some stops and occasional seats along the way. The longest single walk is around 1.5 miles, over three hours, through Shapwick Heath. While most of the tour is on flat paths, there is a short climb to reach West Sedgemoor, and the optional climb up Glastonbury Tor is around 250 feet on a narrow paved path with multiple steps. The ground can be uneven or slippery, and some hides have steep steps. Please note there is no lift at the hotel.
ACE’s Somerset Levels tour contributes to the local economy during a quiet time of the year, using local cafés and guides and providing income to important conservation organisations in the area.
THE WILDLIFE ON TOUR
Previous groups have enjoyed a rich and varied experience of the local wildlife within the nature reserves. Tour Director Peter Exley writes: “At Ham Wall in 2019 we had excellent views of a wide variety of waterbirds, a bittern out in the open, multiple marsh harriers and a loudly drumming great-spotted woodpecker. At West Sedgemoor we were treated to very large numbers of waterbirds being harried by up to four marsh harriers, a hen harrier and a peregrine. Greylake was also superb with close views of snipe, lapwing, teal, pintail, wigeon and shoveler… The starling murmuration was one of the best I’ve seen. At one point there were three peregrines, two marsh harriers and a sparrowhawk provoking rapidly changing shapes amongst the vast flock.”
Cost of £795 includes: accommodation based on sharing a twin or double bedded room, breakfast, one lunch, dinner with water & coffee, excursions & admissions, gratuities.
Not included: travel insurance, double room for single use supplement £90.