QUAN­TOX­HEAD

Var­ied ter­rain with some great birds and views

Bird Watching (UK) - - Go Birding - SI­MONE STAN­BROOK-BYRNE

IN 1956, THE di­verse and beau­ti­ful Quan­tock Hills were the first area of Eng­land to be des­ig­nated an Area of Out­stand­ing Nat­u­ral Beauty. The word ‘Quan­tocks’ prob­a­bly means “set­tle­ment by a cir­cle of hills” and de­rives from the Celtic word ‘can­tuc’ mean­ing ‘rim’ or ‘cir­cle’. The hills have been oc­cu­pied since pre­his­toric times, ar­chae­o­log­i­cal finds such as Mesolithic flints, Bronze-age bar­rows and Ro­man coins, in­di­cat­ing suc­ces­sive pop­u­la­tions. Quan­tocks coun­try is var­ied, so hosts a good va­ri­ety of species. High, tus­socky moor­land, rich in gorse and heather, af­fords dis­tant coastal views and plum­mets steeply into wooded combes with fast-flow­ing streams. This walk en­com­passes th­ese con­trasts. It is a fab­u­lous route in an area that isn’t par­tic­u­larly well-known for bird­watch­ing but may pro­duce some treats. In the wooded combes there is a chance of Great Spot­ted and Green Wood­peck­ers – and, if you’re very lucky, Lesser Spot­ted Wood­pecker may put in an ap­pear­ance, which would be a de­light to see. In sum­mer, Night­jar may be found across the moor­land of Bea­con Hill, near the start/end of the walk. There is also a good chance of see­ing Red Deer – our largest wild land mam­mal. And, al­though not quite as at­trac­tive, on a very clear day, the far-dis­tant hulk of Hink­ley Point nu­clear power sta­tion can be seen!

Green Wood­pecker

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