Habitat: Shingle and sand beaches, sea, short turf (golf course), damp grazing marshes
Parking/access points West Quay: SS970472 Golf course end: SS984465
Minehead is usually thought of as the gateway to Exmoor, but it has year-round bird interest of its own too.
The West Quay area is a favoured spot for sea-watching year round, being easy of access and more sheltered than other watch-points further west in rough conditions. Early morning in strong westerlies or north-westerlies is best; high tide helps, but is not essential. Winter watches may produce divers (chiefly Red-throated, though Great Northern and Black-throated are annual), while in summer feeding parties of Manx Shearwaters and Gannets predominate. Skuas (particularly Great and Arctic) and sea-duck (most frequently Common Scoter) occur in spring and autumn. As ever with sea-watching, you never know what might fly by on any given day – most seabirds on the Somerset list have been seen from here at some point. A Mediterranean Gull regularly winters here, and Rock Pipits are usually present.
The other main area of interest is the golf course. The course itself is private, but a footpath runs east along the seaward edge to Dunster Beach. The fairways are good for Wheatears, Skylarks, pipits and wagtails in spring and autumn (including once a Black-headed Wagtail), and Wryneck (autumn) or Snow Bunting (late autumn/winter) have occurred several times along the shingle. Rarer visitors have included Isabelline Shrike. The beach does not hold many waders, but Ringed Plover, Dunlin, Sanderling and Oystercatcher are all possible. Viewable distantly behind the golf course is Minehead Marshes, where occasionally other wildfowl join the resident Canadas and wintering Wigeon flock.
For West Quay take the turning opposite the station and drive to the end. Seafront parking (P + D); watch from shelter there or first one along the Culvercliff Walk.
For the golf course use the seafront P + D car park opposite Butlin’s and walk left past the clubhouse.
No accessibility problems with West Quay (you can even sea-watch from your car). Soft sand and a short, steep slope at the start of the golf course walk.
Public toilets at West Quay and all other facilities available in the town.
About the Site