Habitat: Extensive reedbeds, open freshwater, shallow pools, scrub, damp woodland
ST449397, BA6 9SX
Part of the landscape-scale conservation and habitat creation scheme that is the Avalon Marshes, Ham Wall has mostly been developed in the last 20 years from old peat diggings. The success of this has been spectacular: several nationally scarce or rare reedbed species now breed on the reserve. Herons are a speciality – Bitterns, Great White Egrets in the only area in Britain where they nest, reedbed-nesting Grey Herons, plentiful Little Egrets, and (last but only least on size) Little Bitterns have over-summered every year since 2009, with breeding confirmed or strongly suspected in four of those years. Purple and Night Herons have been recorded in a number of recent years too. Add in Marsh Harriers, Bearded Tits, and occasional Savi’s Warblers joining the abundant Reed, Sedge, and Cetti’s Warblers in the reedbeds and it is a very special place indeed.
Garganey, Gadwall, and Pochard all breed, and in winter good numbers of Teal, Shoveler, and diving ducks can be found. Water Pipits are a regular winter feature. In spring and autumn a variety of waders might turn up, and Common, Arctic, or Black Terns can drop in at any time between April and October.
Non-avian highlights include a wide variety of dragonflies and damselflies, the numerous and very noisy Iberian Water Frogs, and of course the resident Otters.
The car park is at Ashcott Corner, between Ashcott and Meare, on the east side of the road south of the main drain (for further details see Shapwick Heath). Car park opening times:
5am–6.30pm (1 Oct–31 Jan), 5am–8pm (1 Feb–31 Mar), 5am–10pm (1 Apr–30 Sep)
Tickets are £3 per car for all day. Access to the reserve trails and facilities are included in the cost of your parking ticket. Entrance and parking are FREE to RSPB members and Blue Badge holders.
Main track is old railway line – mostly flat, wide, and gravel. Other tracks are grassy and uneven on soft peat, but best views from main track anyway. Disabled parking area near first viewing platform is accessible through locked gate using radar key.
About the Site