Birdwatching with John
Photos by John Rivoire
June and July nightjar walks
Only active after dark, nightjars are hard to spot but an absolute pleasure to see and hear. Famous for their distinctive ‘churr’ call, these ground nesters come over to Somerset from Africa in early June. John knows where and when to see these rare birds in June and July. This tour sets off at around 9.30pm from North Hill, allow two hours in total. £40 per group.
A springtime morning on North Hill
Who could resist a morning spent spotting the cheeky Dartford warblers on our heathland, or summer migrants including stone chats and tree pipits? As well as the chance of spotting these stars of the bird world on this walk, you may also see more common species such as nuthatch, woodpecker, kestrel and buzzard, not to mention the occasional red kite and peregrine falcon. John’s route will give you the best chance to find these birds and other wildlife. This is a morning tour, from 10am to 1pm, so you’re back in time for lunch. £60.
John’s Favourites: Early May to Mid-June
Nestled in Hodder’s Combe in the Quantock Hills have the chance to spot migration birds like the beautiful redstart, or warblers – the wood, blackcap and garden variety. If you’re very lucky you might spy a pied fly catcher! After the walk we’ll stop at the Plough Inn at Holford for lunch.
Horner Woods is another of John’s all-time favourite walks. Here you can spot creepers to warblers, woodpeckers, and everything in between. This is a damp area, so expect to see dippers and grey wagtails, as well as the occasional kingfisher and heron. You’ll walk through a magical forest alongside a tranquil river and finish for lunch at our much-loved farm house tea room.
Each of these walks lasts three hours, from 10am to 1pm. If you wish to stop for lunch, please note this will be at your own cost. £60 each per group per walk.
A winter stroll from Dunster Beach to Blue Anchor
Perfect for winter time, we’ll walk from Dunster Beach to Blue Anchor. At this time of year expect to see Canada geese, swans, a variety of waders like turnstones, dunlin, curlew, plovers and sometimes lapwings. At high tide there’s a wonderful range of sea bids like sand pipers and other rarer birds. 2 hours, £40. You can stop for lunch at the Blue Anchor Driftwood Café.
Steart Marshes for serious birdwatchers
Make a day of it and venture out to Steart Marshes between Hinkley Point and Bridgwater. There’s a wide variety of waders, wildfowl, coastal birds and river birds on the nearby River Parret. To experience the best of the gorgeous avifauna we will take advantage of the hides at the wildlife and wetlands trust. We aim to arrive at the site at 10am and depart at 4pm. £160 for the day. We recommend you bring a packed lunch, snacks and drinks. Note this is approx. 45 min drive on A39.
All these tours can be booked in advance, or sometimes John can accommodate walkers at short notice – just ask him (or Lucy and Paul). Guests will be able to speak to John to firm up arrangements nearer the time. John will be as flexible as possible around the weather and tides to ensure you get the best opportunity to see birds. Please note where lunch/refreshment breaks are mentioned, these are at your own cost and not included in the prices quoted for the tours.
You can contact John direct on 07759 967741 – please mention you’re staying at an Exmoor Character Cottage and would like to book a trip. Sorry no dogs. Happy birdspotting!
Please let the organiser know you are staying with us when booking. You will need to book with and pay the organiser direct as your service is supplied by them. All of these activities are provided by the third-party supplier, not by us, and where relevant you are covered by the supplier’s insurance.