On a blustery day in January I joined a group of 11 of us on a guided walk at Hinkley Point. The walk was led by Ben Bryant, Hinkley Point B Warden employed by Somerset Wildlife Trust. Ben led us down past the perimeter fence of the power station and out onto the sea defences. During the construction of the new power station Hinkley Point C, the England Coast Path has been diverted inland, so we were now on a part of the coast that is off limits to the public for the time being.
The clouds began to roll away and we had magnificent views across Bridgwater Bay to the north Somerset Coast from Burnham on Sea to Brean Down and over to the South Wales coast.
As the morning tide started to recede Ben pointed out some of the sea birds congregating on the shingle below us and further out on the sea. We were fortunate to see a large number of Brent Geese that over winter on our coast before returning to Canada via Iceland and Greenland in the spring. Another winter visitor were Widgeon, a ‘dabbling’ duck from Iceland, Scandinavia and Russia. All in all we saw ten different species of birds out on the water and on the foreshore including Oyster Catchers, Curlews and Rock Pipits and one little Turnstone, which as their name suggests turn over stones and small rocks with their beaks looking for food.
We then headed back inland through the Hinkley Point Nature Reserve where Ben explained how Somerset Wildlife Trust with co-operation from EDF Energy are trying to manage the habitat to bring back as much diversity as possible. He recommended visiting in spring and summer when not only would we see different birds on the coast, but also lots of wild flowers and butterflies in the nature reserve.
As we left the nature reserve we passed through Pixies Field and the 5,000 year old Neolithic and Bronze-age round cairn called the Pixies’ Mound or Wick Barrow. Local people used to say that the pixies danced at night here in their red caps. Remains from an early 20th century excavation of the site can be seen at the Museum of Somerset in Taunton.
Somerset Wildlife Trust hold regular walks at Hinkley Point and their other sites around Somerset. For further information see their website: www.somersetwildlife.org
The Story of the Pixies' Mound