Habitat: Salt marsh, brackish and fresh marshes, estuary, adjacent farmland and hedgerows
Grid ref/postcode for main car park ST252442, TA5 2PU
Steart Marshes is a new and extensive site, still maturing; interesting all year, it is best in winter, especially around 2 hours either side of high tide. Large numbers of a variety of wildfowl and waders feed and roost. Merlin, Peregrine, and Short-eared Owl are all regular, and Marsh and Hen Harriers are seen most winters. Rarities/scarcities so far have included Pallid Harrier, Purple Heron, Spoonbill, Whooper Swan, Water Pipit and Lapland Bunting; one or two Great White Egrets are now regular.
The variety of paths, hides, viewpoints, and parking areas mean you have plenty of choice. Along the south side are Mendip Hide, overlooking the main tidal marsh, and the viewpoint overlooking the brackish Otterhampton Marshes, which provides more opportunities to see waders and raptors, and good chances of Short-eared and Barn Owls. A much longer walk to the south side of the breach in the Parrett estuary bank gives more opportunities to see waders (including Avocets) on the estuary and winter thrushes in the hedgerows.
Along the west side are Polden Hide and various blinds. Steart Gate car park provides easy access to another vista across the marshes, including some shallow, muddy pools. Further on, the north side of the breach is a good spot for viewing waders as they commute to and from the Parrett estuary.
South of the main car park is the freshwater Stockland Marsh, which is also well worth a visit: Cattle Egret, Garganey and Wood Sandpiper were all seen here in 2015.
From the A39 west of Bridgwater go north through Cannington towards Hinkley Point and follow brown signs to reserve. The main and Steart Gate car parks are along the road to Steart village, with the Natural England car park (for north side of the breach) just beyond. All are free.
Open all year (except Christmas Day). Wide gravel paths, flat or on gentle slopes, and spacious hides are designed to be wheelchair-friendly. Toilets at main car park are open 9am–4.30pm. Nearest shop and pub are in Cannington.
About the Site
Simon Fairweather has kindly allowed us to include a link to his map of tracks at Steart - please click here.