Shapwick Heath National Nature ReserveShapwick Heath NNR is 390 hectares of wetland reserve forming a large part of the Avalon Marshes. It contains a wide variety of habitats, from traditionally managed herb-rich grassland, ferny wet woodland, fen, scrub, to ditches rich in aquatic plants and invertebrates. Habitats include lush green wildflower meadows; still, dark ditches; damp, secretive fens, shady, wet fern woods; and open water, fringed with rustling reedbeds.
The NNR is made up from former peat harvesting areas. By raising controlling water levels the area has been transformed into a watery wilderness of open water, reed swamp and reedbed.
Highlights: An incredible 64 different species of birds nest at Shapwick, including Cetti's warbler and great-crested grebes while dragonflies and over 27 species of butterfly are abound in the summer. Butterflies include the silver washed fritillary, purple hairstreak and orange-tip, while the path to Meare Hide is the best place to see the large and impressive White Admiral. The reserve is well known for its huge flocks of starling ‘murmurations’ coming into to roost in winter.
The rare lesser silver diving beetle, teal and gadwall, otter, bittern and the hairy dragonfly are some of the more unusual species found here. In mid May there is usually the spectacular sight of hobbys, returning from Africa, hunting dragonflies, damselflies, and even the odd Swift and Swallow.
More than 24 different mammals have also been seen at Shapwick, including water voles, lesser horseshoe bats and, of course, otters. Shapwick Heath is also the location of the Neolithic Sweet Track, the oldest man-made routeway in Britain.
Location: The reserve is 1 km north of Shapwick village and 7 km west of Glastonbury. Access to the site is via minor roads from the A39 and B3151. The nearest car park is at the Peat Moors Centre, 0.5 km north of the NNR's main entrance.
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These maps are intended as a guideline only; you must check the exact location of the reserve yourself. Wildlife Extra assumes no responsibility for the accuracy or usefulness of the information on this website.