Local Nature Reserves and Wildlife
Whilst Meare may be locally famous for the Fish House, nationally, the region of the Somerset Levels is famous for two things: The first is that during some years the area is on the news for being extensively flooded. And the second is that the wet and flooded region attracts a lot of wildlife such as wintering ducks and large groups of Starlings.
The parish contains, or is bordered by, some of Britains largest national nature reserves. Around 3/4 of the land around the parish is designated as a site of special scientific interest.
The hamlet of Stileway butts up on the Northern side of the RSPB reserve of Ham Wall.
Meare butts up on the Northern side of the Natural England reserve of Shapwick Heath.
Just North of Westhay is another large reserve run by Somerset Wildlife Trust called Westhay Moor.
Along with some more large reserves only a mile or two away such as The Hawk and Owl Trust reserve of Shapwick Moor and Somerset Wildlife Trust’s reserves of Catcott Complex, there is a centre to coordinate all of their activities. The Avalon Marshes Centre has offices for all of the reserves management as well as public areas containing information, maps and leaflets for visitors.
Many activities and special events are put on by these organizations and the ones relating to the reserves in and around the parish are included in the calendar.
Starlings gather and form the sweeping clouds called a ‘Murmuration’ as they come into roost at twilight only during the winter months (Nov – Feb). From late October to early March the Avalon Marshes / RSPB run a Starling Hotline on 07866 554142 where you can ring up and find out where they roosted the previous night. If you arrive at the Ham Wall car park during the daytime then an RSPB member at the visitor hut can also advise the best place to see them.