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Somerset Levels

Somerset Levels
Join us for this winter/early spring break to explore one of the finest wetland areas in the UK, home to Bitterns, Cranes and Marsh Harriers.

The Somerset Levels is one of the largest lowland wetlands in the country – a land of lakes, reed beds and farmland fringed by water-filled ditches and rhynes. There was largescale drainage in the 1800s, but more recently huge areas of abandoned peat workings have been flooded, creating ‘new’ wetlands which attract an abundance of birds and other wildlife. Bitterns are well established, along with Great Egrets, Marsh Harriers and Bearded Tits, and winter sees the massed gatherings of Starlings which form unforgettable murmurations, swirling around against the dusk sky. The combination of thousands of dabbling duck and waders which gather on the pools attract raptors such as Peregrine Merlin and Hen Harrier. We also have a chance of seeing Common Cranes which have resulted from a successful release programme. Over the three days we will explore a cluster of reserves including Shapwick Heath, Shapwick Moor, Ham Wall, Westhay Moor, Catcott Complex and RSPB Greylake.

The next event is scheduled for 5 - 9 March 2018 and is already fully subscribed. Accordingly I have put another event on for 19 - 23 November and first priority was given to anyone on a waiting list. As a result, this too is now fully subscribed. If you are interesetd in coming on this event, I have already put another date in: 11 - 15 march 2019. March.

5 - 9 March
4 nights
19 - 23 November
4 nights
11 - 15 March
4 nights
Four nights dinner bed and breakfast, picnic lunches on three days, transport and the services of the leader.
Travel insurance, transport to and from venue and during event, items of a personal nature such as drinks, laundry and phone calls.
HOTEL: Meare Manor is a historic house situated in the village of Meare, much of which was owned by the monks of Glastonbury Abbey. Rebuilt in 1802 and fully renovated in 2001, Meare Manor - now a four star guest house - is located in the heart of the Somerset countryside, perfectly positioned for exploration of the Somerset Levels. It only has 9 rooms so we are sole occupants. A warm welcome awaits us from our hosts, plus nice home-cooked dinners in the evening. For more information and directions see www.mearemanor.co.uk
Day 1
4.00 p.m. onwards check in to hotel.
7.00 p.m.Welcome reception.
7.15 p.m. Dinner in restaurant
8.30 p.m. Coffee followed by introduction and plan for the week.

Day 2
8.00 a.m. Breakfast.
9.15 a.m.Depart for Westhay Moor NNR where vast reedbeds, lakeland pools, wet woodlands and raised bogs provide our first chance for Bittern, Great White Egret, Water Rail, Kingfisher and Otter.
We then head for the nearby Shapwick Moor which is being restored by the Hawk and Owl Trust from farmland to permanent wet grassland and fen. Wintering raptors such as Peregrine, Merlin, Hen Harrier and Barn Owl regularly hunt the reserve. We finish the day at Ham Wall RSPB reserve for the Starling roost. Packed lunch or café – depending on weather.
5.00 p.m. Return to the hotel.
7.00 p.m. Dinner
8.30 p.m. Coffee and re-cap of day.

Day 3
8.00 a.m.Breakfast.
9.15 a.m.Depart for Catcott Complex - the Lows, Great Fen and Heath, managed by Somerset Wildlife Trust. This one of the best places for internationally important numbers of duck including Teal, Wigeon, Gadwall, Shoveler and Pintail plus waders such as Lapwing and Snipe - all viewable from excellent hides.
We then visit the excellent RSPB Greylake reserve which provides further opportunities for wildfowl and waders plus raptors such as Hen harrier, Peregrine and Merlin. We will also scan for the possibility of Common Cranes which have been successfully released in the area. Packed lunch or café – depending on weather.
5.30 p.m.Return to the hotel.
7.00 p.m.Dinner
8.30 p.m.Coffee and re-cap of day.

Day 4
8.00a.m. Breakfast
9.15 a.m.Today we will focus on the adjoining reserves of Shapwick Heath NNR and Ham Wall RSPB reserve, both offering further chances for wetland species.
The Huntspill River forms a major waterway through the whole area and we will explore the many trails which branch from this. Marsh Harriers are a common sight, cruising over reed beds where we may also see Bearded Tits. Kingfishers and Otters also regularly occur here. We will, once again, finish the day enjoying the starling roost along with any attendant raptors. Packed lunch or café – depending on weather.
5.00 p.m. Return to the hotel.
7.00 p.m. Dinner.
8.30 p.m. Coffee and re-cap of day.

Day 5   
8.00a.m. Breakfast
9.15 a.m.Depart

If you are a member of RSPB please bring your membership card(s). Weather permitting we will be spending as much time out of the minibus as possible, exploring, on foot, the network of trails which take us to the best habitats and hides. The ground is generally level and walks will normally be around 3 – 4 km.  The programme may need to be altered according to weather conditions.

TRANSPORT: Comfortable minibus.

PRICE: The price of £520 includes four nights dinner bed and breakfast, three picnic or café lunches. There is a single supplement of £100 per person for the event. A £100 non-refundable deposit per person is required at the point of booking, the balance being due 2 months before the event.  This price does not include personal insurance. The group size will be limited to a maximum of 12.

LEADER: Keith Offord
01691 718740