Steart (part of Bridgwater Bay NNR)
Habitat: Extensive intertidal mud flats and river estuaries and associated low and high coastal marshes; coastal shingle and sand; large
Natural England car park: ST275459
The principal feature of the reserve is the extensive mudflats of Bridgwater Bay that at low tide in winter attracts large flocks of Dunlin, Knot, Curlew, Redshank, Golden and Grey Plover. Spring and autumn passage of waders usually includes small numbers of Whimbrel, Curlew Sandpiper and Little Stints. During the breeding season a few pairs of Ringed Plover and Oystercatchers attempt to breed on the coastal shingle and in 2012 and 2015 Avocets have successfully bred in coastal lagoons. The Bay is noted for the late summer flock of flightless moulting Shelduck that, in recent years, has numbered over 4000 birds. An observation tower and a number of smaller hides, the latter now rather old, give views over the mudflats and the area at Stert Point known as the Fenning.
Wall Common attracts wintering flocks of finches, Skylarks and Reed Buntings, and, in most years, provides feeding grounds for Short-eared and Barn Owls. Peregrine and Merlin are regular, and Jack Snipe in the wetter areas. Occasionally Snow or Lapland Buntings may be found along the shingle ridge. Migrants in spring and autumn include regular Wheatears and Yellow Wagtails, and occasionally a rarity such as a Wryneck or Aquatic Warbler.
At high tide, especially in autumn and winter, the neighbouring WWT Steart Marshes reserve attracts large numbers of waders.
Bridgwater Bay NNR extends either side west to Hinkley Point and south upstream in the Parrett Estuary almost to Combwich village, and also includes the estuary of the River Brue and Stert Island.
From Cannington head towards Hinkley Point, follow brown signs to Steart Marshes, and continue past there towards Steart village. Parking (free) off bend at Wall Common or Natural England car park in village. For the hides, from the NE car park take footpath to the coast and head east.
Bridgwater Bay is best visited around high tide, preferably on an ebbing tide. Paths are rough and sometimes muddy/wet, so not suitable for wheelchair users. No facilities on site (though toilets at Steart Marshes are very close by). Nearest shop, pub etc. in Cannington.
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