Reasons to visit Glastonbury #100
Just outside Glastonbury is one of the finest bird reserves in the West of England. Ham Wall Nature Reserve, is a wetland teeming with birds and other wildlife. The old peat diggings were allowed to fill with water and today are home to some very rare birds. I’ve often heard, but never seen, the shy bittern, now happily nesting and breeding. The male’s booming sounds like a low bass guitar note being twanged through a big speaker; once heard, never forgotten. The swooping marsh harrier, one of the largest of the harrier family sweeps majestically from high stands of trees. Tiny kingfishers flit along the shadier banks, and if you’re very lucky, you might see an otter.
Other easy to spot residents are the many herons, swans, ducks, and the very beautiful Large Egret, now a common sight. Ravens have been seen in the big trees at the Sharpham end, and several cuckoos have been spotted recently.
But one of the main attractions at Ham Wall is an ordinary bird: the starling. Not very exciting on its own, but in thousands, swooping aerobatically through the evening sky as if following a choreographed dance sequence, they are one of the most entrancing sights.
Even if birds are not your passion, the landscape is starkly beautiful – huge sky with golden reeds to the horizon, and an amazing view of Glastonbury Tor across the levels. Lovely for walking, enjoying the open air, and cloud-watching.
Nearby Shapwick Heath, Westhay Moor and the Avalon Marshes Centre form the remainder of the group of nature reserves preserving our beautiful wild Somerset places.