Summer wildlife spotting in Somerset

Large Blue butterfly

During the summer our wildlife comes to life and there is plenty to look out for across Somerset. No matter where you are based you are sure to find birds, butterflies and insects buzzing around. Have a look at our top locations for nature spotting.

Quantocks

Willoughby Cleeve, on the Quantock Hills stretches up Hodder’s Combe from the Village of Holford, and is something quite special. As an area of Atlantic oak woodland, it represents a habitat of increasing rarity. The woodland that adorns the steep slopes of the valley contains ancient trees that sprout ferns, mosses and lichens.

Signs of ancient management are there though, in the dense crowns of the oaks that were cut as pollards centuries ago.  The woodland is managed to preserve this fragile state, through holly clearance, opening up the area around ancient and veteran trees, and monitoring the birdlife.

Nest boxes are in place to look at the habits of redstart, something of an old woodland specialist. The name redstart comes from the Anglo-Saxon for ‘red-tail’, appropriately describing the rusty tail of the male bird, which restlessly flickers when it perches. These birds are just one of many hundreds of species that call the trees of this very special woodland home.

Polden Hills

On the Polden Hills at Collard Hill we are preparing for another summer flight season of the large blue butterfly. We have just appointed our annual volunteer ranger, who will be based at Collard Hill for 6 weeks in June and July. They will be meeting visitors and conducting a daily butterfly transect.

Last year’s egg count was the highest recorded since beginning the program in 2000. Why not visit and meet our ranger and hopefully catch a glimpse of the large blue? As well as enjoy the stunning views across the Somerset levels. We will also be updating a blog with recorded flight numbers and other notable sightings to help anyone looking to visit to plan their trip.

All of the Polden Hill surveys will provide accurate ecological information, which feeds into the management plan of the properties. This invaluable data will directly inform our habitat management work at the properties such as hazel coppicing at Walton Hill woods and scrub control on Collard Hill

Holnicote Estate

During the summer we will also be monitoring the local bat populations along six transects and completing lesser horseshoe bat emergence surveys. 

Alongside this we will also be conducting butterfly surveys, heath fritillaries in particular will be monitored and with some new innovative management techniques being trialled we will be hoping for good numbers.  On your next walk along the uplands, why not keep a look out for these rare varieties? Don’t forget that out ‘Big butterfly count’ will also being held on 14 July. Join us to learn about these butterflies, what to look out for and where to spot them.