Rediscover Somerset – that is the invitation being issued to the county’s residents and visitors this autumn.
Somerset Wildlife Trust is inviting people to experience the wealth of wildlife on their doorstep – whether that is by exploring some of the charity’s 72 nature reserves in the county, or simply by taking a second look at the wildlife that inhabit or visit their own back gardens.
Somerset’s wildlife and wild places are among the biggest reasons tourists flock to our beautiful county. But many people don’t realise that Somerset’s appeal isn’t limited to people – the huge diversity of species in the county are boosted by wildlife visitors from other parts of the UK, Europe and further afield.
The charity’s nature reserves are a perfect illustration of wildlife tourism, thanks to their fascinating but often fragile bird populations. As well as being home to ‘staycationer’ species who enjoy life on these nature reserves all year round, places like Westhay and Catcott are international destinations for ‘jetsetters’ who stop over en route, on long haul flights, or, ‘honeymooning couples’ who stay for a breeding season.
With visiting garganey ducks from Africa, pintail from Siberia, black-tailed godwit from Iceland and curlew from Fennoscandia (an area covering the Scandinavian Peninsula, Finland, Karelia, and the Kola Peninsula), Somerset’s appeal is clearly international.
Of course, nature reserves are not the only places that wildlife choose to visit – there are an estimated 124,500 gardens in Somerset covering 19km2 and offering huge potential for wildlife. It is said that, square metre for square metre, Britain’s gardens boast more biodiversity than any other habitat on the planet, so their importance should not be overlooked.
Somerset Wildlife Trust is asking residents and visitors alike to be their eyes and ears this autumn and let them know what wildlife they have seen, and when and where they saw it. Spotters are being offered the opportunity to add their sightings to a wildlife ‘arrivals and departures board’ on the charity’s website, or share what they have seen by tweeting @SomersetWT using #rediscoversomerset.
Sightings will also be monitored by the Somerset Environmental Records Centre, who will use the data to influence nature conservation, development planning, and research, as appropriate.
Somerset Wildlife Trust is keen to make sure that whether wildlife makes its home in Somerset, or is just visiting, a warm welcome awaits. It’s no secret that the county has been through some tough times of late, and wildlife has not been immune to this. Donating to the charity’s Rediscover Somerset appeal will help to ensure that Somerset is open for business – for people and wildlife.
To make a donation, or just find out more about how Somerset Wildlife Trust is managing its 1,700 hectares (equivalent to 1,700 football pitches) of nature reserves for resident and visiting wildlife, please visit www.somersetwildlife.org/rediscover_somerset.
Supported by our members Somerset Wildlife Trust has been protecting vulnerable wildlife and preserving wild places for 50 years. We manage 72 nature reserves, provide wildlife-friendly land management advice, campaign and educate to make sure Somerset remains one most wildlife-rich places in the UK. Our vision for the county is ‘an environment rich in wildlife for everyone.’ The Trust is one of 47 in the UK which together make up the Royal Society of Wildlife Trusts (RSWT). www.somersetwildlife.org