Swell Wood

Habitat Swell Wood is a mix of Ancient Woodland and an abandoned oak plantation which is more than 100 years old. The old oak plantation is where the herons nest up in the tops of the tall spindly trees. Elsewhere the woodland has a fantastic ground flora with bluebells and dog mercury carpeting the woodland floor and plants such as yellow archangel and herb paris scattered amongst them in the spring. A shrub layer of hazel provides habitat for the nocturnal and elusive dormouse and the old trees provide homes in cracks and crevices for many species of bat.
Grid ref/postcode for main car park ST360238, TA3 6PX 
Toilets None
Directions Swell Wood is 11 miles east of Taunton. It is accessed from the A378 Langport road between the villages of Fivehead and Curry Rivel (brown signage one mile east of Fivehead). From Taunton, take the A358 towards Ilminster, turn left onto the A378. Take the first turning on your left after leaving the village of Fivehead village to access the reserve entrance.
Accessibility 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.

Useful documents to view or download:

Helping you find your way around. PDF, 1.3Mb:   Swell Wood Trail Guide     [Note that this link will take you out of the website – use your browser’s ‘back’ button to return]

Visits

April 2019.  We had a good day with 31 species seen and a further 9 heard.  As well as visiting the Heronry we also were searching for the recently re-introduced Cranes and were lucky enough to have several sightings and were all able to have good views through the telescopes. 

Species seen Apr 2019 Swell Wood 

Description

The ancient oaks of Swell Wood are part of a continuous strip of woodland extending some 10 miles (15 km) along the ridge from Langport to the Blackdown Hills. 

Between March and June nesting herons and little egrets provide our largest wildlife spectacle and in the autumn, with the right conditions, see a fantastic fungi display, while throughout the year woodland birds, such as nuthatches, woodpeckers, and tree creepers, can be seen feeding on the car park bird feeders.

Swell Wood is a mix of Ancient Woodland and an abandoned oak plantation which is more than 100 years old.  The old oak plantation is where the herons nest up in the tops of the tall spindly trees.  Elsewhere the woodland has a fantastic ground flora with bluebells and dog mercury carpeting the woodland floor and plants such as yellow archangel and herb paris scattered amongst them in the spring.  A shrub layer of hazel provides habitat for the nocturnal and elusive dormouse, and the old trees provide homes in cracks and crevices for many species of bat.

Conservation

Management of the woodland is focused on providing habitat for the dormouse.  This involves coppicing the understorey of Hazel in parts of the woodland where we have found evidence that they are using it.  Elsewhere we look to leave things largely as they are, so we don’t remove dead standing and lying wood as this provides fantastic woodland habitat.  We have recently renewed our heronry viewing hide using green building techniques to reduce the physical and visual impact on the woodland.  We hope you like it, we do. 

Other Comments  [Cranes]

If you have not seen any Cranes around the Swell Wood area there are other local places where they can often be seen.

West Sedgemoor RSPB - where to look for cranes

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To begin, you might like to survey the area from the red brick railway bridge just north of Oath, as it’s the only high ground in the area.   Assuming you’ll be coming from the direction of Curry Rivel having visited Swell Wood,  drive just over the bridge and park where you can on the right hand side.   From the top of the bridge, the locations marked on the map will be in your 12 to 1 o’clock, but look too from the other parapet of the bridge as they are frequently seen in that direction.   From the other locations marked on the map the cranes can be obscured by trees and shrubs so drive into Stathe and you’ll see an iron bridge on your right side.   Stop there (there’s space to park at the roadside) and scan from the bridge.  There are quite often raptors perched along the lane in front of you and little egrets in the fields.

  • Check out the West Sedgemoor section for more details of the Crane Project. 
  • Watch the U3A’s presentation about these Cranes by Cherrie Temple [To be added]

Useful links

https://www.rspb.org.uk/reserves-and-events/reserves-a-z/swell-wood

Contact: RSPB Swell Wood, A378, Taunton TA3 6PX  email: swell.wood@rspb.org.uk  Tel.:  01458 252805