• An update about essential works at Swell Wood and Greylake from Assistant Warden Paul

    Hello All,  

    I’ve got some updates to give you on some essential work the team will be completing in line with government guidance at both Swell Wood and Greylake between the 18 – 22 January  

    Swell Wood 

    Over at Swell Wood members of the team will be working on our programme of thinning out the oak trees that were originally planned as part of a timber plantation. These trees are along part of the woodland trail which…

    • 15 Jan 2021
  • December Wetland Bird Survey - A blog by Site Manager Harry

    We undertook this months Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS) count on December 14. These contribute to a nationwide coordinated count which provides invaluable data on wintering populations of waders and wildfowl across the UK. The Somerset Levels and Moors has been the most important inland sites in the UK in terms of sheer numbers for many years now. Usually this is made up of large numbers of teal, wigeon and lapwing as well…

    • 18 Dec 2020
  • Helping Eels at Greylake - a blog by Site Manager Harry

    This week we have a short blog for you from Harry the site manager for Greylake, Swell Wood and West Sedgemoor about how we are helping eels at Greylake. 

    Helping Eels at Greylake

    European eels were once very common in Somerset’s wetlands (and across the whole of Western Europe) but some estimates have put their population decline in recent decades at 99% and they are now classed as critically endangered. If you talk…

    • 3 Dec 2020
  • Reopening at Greylake and Swell Wood after #Secondlockdown

    Re-opening announcement 

    We’re excited to be able to re-open some of our facilities for you on 2 December at Swell Wood and Greylake!

    We are in Tier 2, so here's a quick summary of what’s available at Swell Wood and Greylake:

     Car parks open 

     Reserve trails open 

     Picnic Areas open

     Hides open

    We love hearing how Swell Wood and Greylake bring you enjoyment and solace in these challenging times and want…

    • 1 Dec 2020
  • An update from Ashley - Estate Worker RSPB West Sedgemoor, Swell Wood & Greylake

    An update from Ashley - Estate Worker RSPB West Sedgemoor, Greylake and Swell Wood

    Hello avid readers, with the departure of Kathryn from our ranks you now have the pleasure (or not, everyone’s entitled to their own opinion of course) of reading whatever ramblings I choose to dispense upon you. The good thing about working in nature conservation is there is always something ‘interesting’ going on, and with the very noticeable…

    • 20 Nov 2020
  • The last blog

    Yes, the time has arrived. It's hard to believe I have been here at West Sedgemoor for nearly a year. And what a strange year it has been. I'm so glad that I could sit down each week and share my experiences with you all. I hope it brought some light in the dark days of lockdown.

    Before I descend into reminiscence of my time here, I'll give you a wildlife update for the week. With the departure of the last of…

    • 13 Nov 2020
  • A forest full of fungi

    Well, a wood anyway, Swell Wood to be exact, and perhaps full is an exaggeration but I did find quite a few different types when I was walking round on Thursday.

    I've had a bit of a focus on Swell Wood this week, to put those signs back in and get the scarp trail opened, which has been done now.

      The egret and nuthatch signboards are back in on the path to the hide, now made of recycled plastic so they won't rot.…

    • 30 Oct 2020
  • Fruitful, yes... but there's little sign of mellowness.

    It's been one of those weeks here at Greylake, West Sedgemoor and Swell Wood, where a lot of things haven't gone quite as planned. The tractor at Greylake broke down on Tuesday, meaning we lost two days of topping and with the winter weather looming, there won't be many more good days left. Wednesday was pretty miserable, in fact the weather generally has been rather unpleasant, although our volunteers soldiered on through…

    • 23 Oct 2020
  • Autumn bites as lapwing return

    As promised, I've got a little more to give you this week. Although Monday and Tuesday were a bit depressing weather wise, the rest of the week has been a lot more pleasant, if a tad chilly in the mornings. Indeed, on Wednesday you could have been forgiven for thinking we were back in the summer (almost), as this view out over the blue skies above the moor shows.

    I was working with my volunteers finishing tidying…

    • 16 Oct 2020
  • Rainbows and muddy puddles

    After last weekend, the moor is a very different place. Tracks and gateways have turned into quagmires and many of the fields are covered in a sheet of water. I took a picture of part of the South Drove, but I don't think it really gives the full impression of how wet it is now.

    You can see the shadow of my on the ATV, because despite the mud, we still have to get out their and check on the cattle twice a day. Indeed…

    • 9 Oct 2020
  • Greylake hides open and other news

    We did it. It was a big piece of work considering how nature had taken over, and the measures we had to put in place to make the hides covid secure, but both hides at Greylake are now open to visitors. And just in time for the winter, when the migrant ducks and waders will start to appear. As at Swell Wood, there are some precautions we are asking you to take when using the hides.

    Please read the information on the hide…

    • 1 Oct 2020
  • Heronry Hide open and other news

    So I'll start with our big news story of the week. The Heronry Hide at Swell Wood is open! On Thursday I cleared the path (including a large fallen tree), put up the new signs, cleaned the hide and took down the barrier. There are of course some restrictions on how you can use it. 

      Please read the signs at the entrance

      Please use the hand sanitiser and wear a face covering in the hide

      Please don't sit in the middle…

    • 25 Sep 2020
  • Summer's End... Or is it?

    Well it depends on your perspective I suppose. The weather this week has certainly felt pretty summery. It's been very warm and dry. The fears we had that the moor would start becoming inaccessible a couple of weeks ago are gone. However, if you look at things with a more careful eye, you'll see that Autumn is beginning to take hold. 

    When I arrived back from my week away, one of the first things I noticed was…

    • 17 Sep 2020
  • Close up cranes and flighty cattle egrets

    The first week of Autumn has arrived and actually, it hasn't been a bad week. Yes, there have been a few brief splashes of rain, but not enough to really get you wet, and we've had some pleasant (not too hot) sunshine. Just right for working. I took this picture out on the moor on Friday morning because it looked so lovely out there.

    I've got some good sightings to bring you this week as I've had my camera out…

    • 4 Sep 2020
  • Close encounters of the cricket kind and a buzzard bonanza

    I'm not even going to go there with the weather this week. Let's just say I got drenched to the skin twice and I'm actually having to sit under a blanket in the evenings. It's still August!

    In better news, I've been enjoying the wildlife coming to me this week, which has meant some better photos to share with you all.

    Just outside my living room window there is a buddleia bush still in flower (the…

    • 29 Aug 2020
  • Relaxed swans, stinky beetles and spiders that aren't really spiders

    Things are getting very busy here at Greylake, West Sedgemoor and Swell Wood. For us, rather than the wildlife. We take advantage of this time of year, after the breeding season but before the wintering birds arrive, to do a lot of our management out on the moor.

    Although we have cattle grazing to control the vegetation growth, they don't eat everything. There are some types of plants they don't like, and would take over…

    • 21 Aug 2020
  • Topsy turvy weather... and woodpeckers

    I don't know why I bother mentioning the strange weather anymore. At the beginning of this week we were melting in blazing sunshine and temperatures above 30 degrees but by the weekend this gloomy drizzle had set in. I would like to have shown you some contrasting pictures, but my brain was too fuzzy from the heat to remember to take them, so you'll have to put up with just the one's I took this morning of the grey skies…

    • 16 Aug 2020
  • Mighty swallows and giant wasps

    Greetings from Greylake, West Sedgemoor and Swell Wood. Thanks for stopping by this week.

    I thought I'd start this blog with our amazing swallows. With two broods successfully fledged already (perhaps nine or ten chicks), they're back on eggs again. I hope that means that there's plenty of food out there for our flying invertebrate eaters as we know that this is becoming more of a problem for them in general. Levels of…

    • 6 Aug 2020
  • A trip to Aylesbeare and a bevy of butterflies

    Hello and welcome to another blog from Greylake, West Sedgemoor and Swell Wood, with a guest appearance from RSPB Aylesbeare in Devon.

    Yes, this week I spent three days down at Aylesbeare learning how to drive a tractor. That way I can contribute more to the essential work programme here, which involves quite a bit of tractor work in the late summer and early autumn. I'm pleased to say I passed the course but there will…

    • 31 Jul 2020
  • Fritillaries at Fivehead and hay in the meadows

    Welcome to another blog from Greylake, West Sedgemoor and Swell Wood after a week's break. I enjoyed my time off, being able to switch off my mind and body for a little while. I'm always surprised by how tired I feel the first week back after a holiday. You get used to relaxing very quickly! So I'm looking forward to the weekend (writing this on Friday) and I'm sure next week will be easier.

    They say make…

    • 24 Jul 2020
  • A flurry of fledglings

    Welcome to this week's blog from Greylake, West Sedgemoor and Swell Wood. It feels to me that our seasons have got all confused. Spring was more like summer, with soaring temperatures through April and May, and very little rain. Then June was very wet and July is grey and windy so far. There's a sense of Autumn in the air, even though we haven't even quite reached midsummer in meteorological terms. I wonder if summer…

    • 10 Jul 2020
  • Snakes, fungus and bugs. What more could you ask for?

    So we move into July and the weeks seem to be passing more and more quickly. It feels like I just post one blog and here I am writing the next. It's a good job I enjoy doing it. Yes, welcome to this weeks update from Greylake, West Sedgemoor and Swell Wood.

    At the end of each month, we collate the rainfall data and see how much we've had in total. In February (the wettest on record I might add), we had a total of…

    • 3 Jul 2020
  • A walk on West Sedgemoor at dawn and other news

    And the sunshine is back, and stronger than ever. Yes we've been sweltering this week here at Greylake, West Sedgemoor and Swell Wood, as I'm sure many of you have been.

    We had a couple of early morning surveys to do this week and even at seven o'clock on Wednesday and Thursday, it was extremely hot walking about out on the moor, not to mention the horse fly bites and soaking wet, thigh high grass to wade through…

    • 26 Jun 2020
  • Did I say we needed rain?

    Hello from a very, very wet Greylake, West Sedgemoor and Swell Wood.

    We've been suffering this week from what I like to call 'apocalyptic rain'. The sort of rain that can knock you off your feet, cause flash flooding and general destruction. I was driving on the A303 on Tuesday when it came down and had to pull over in a lay by for 10 minutes because I couldn't see the road and I wasn't the only one. I was luckier on…

    • 19 Jun 2020
  • Greylake reserve open, eggs on the farm and chicks on the moor

    Hello and welcome to this weeks blog from Greylake, West Sedgemoor and Swell Wood, where we’ve had yet another swing in the weather. We had a pretty wild and windy end to the week, with a bit of proper rain to help the plants grow.

    The big news is that Greylake reserve is now open. Thank you for your patience as we've taken a little while to get there. I finished late on Thursday and Friday to power through the…

    • 12 Jun 2020