Routes to the River Tone

Wildlife is there to see in Taunton

Wildlife is there to see in Taunton - Credit: sub

Towns are often thought of as barren places and wildlife thought of as something only to be found ‘out there’, in our countryside.

But, if that is true, then the wildlife that calls Taunton home has simply not read the rule book!

Even a short walk around the town reveals just how wildlife-rich a place Taunton is and a new partnership project, The Routes to the River Tone, funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, and run by Somerset Wildlife Trust, is working to make it even richer.

Routes to the River Tone Project Manager Nick Tomlinson, from Somerset Wildlife Trust, highlights some of the town’s wilder sights and sounds:

Take a walk along the river, which gives the town its name, and you can see some wonderful wildlife. Otters can be seen playing in the river in broad daylight and water voles, which have been lost across huge areas of our countryside, have set up home.

Listen for the comic ‘plop’ as they dive into the water.

Visit one of the still, calm stretches of water and you’ll find male banded demoiselle damselflies, resplendent in their iridescent bottle green colours, fluttering around in little groups. The delicate nature of their helicopter-like flight gives little hint of the vicious battle that is going on, as the males vie for the attention of the paler, apple-green females, who are sat on the surrounding vegetation, watching the dance.

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As you walk along the river bank you may be treated to the electric blue flash of a kingfisher, busy carrying food to their nearby youngsters. As dusk falls, swifts, whose species has lost its home elsewhere, streak across the sky, like tiny jet fighters. Visiting us from Africa for only a few weeks each year, their excited screams that echo over our urban landscape are an iconic sign of summer.

As the sun settles below the horizon, the show does not stop; the nightshift simply takes over.

Along the town’s many pathways, under the street lights, the tiny pipistrelle bat can be seen. It darts along the hedgerows that line many of the paths.

Where there are larger spaces, such as Longrun Meadow, on the west side of town, noctule bats, around half the size of a starling, dip and dive across the sky, hunting moths. The night time equivalent of the swift, they fly incredibly fast before swooping down, almost to the ground, to catch their supper.

If we are to keep this amazingly rich wildlife tapestry, we need to ensure that it is valued and supported by everyone who lives in Taunton and that is what the Routes to The River Tone project seeks to do. It will work with people and communities to ensure Taunton remains rich in wildlife, with a network of vibrant green spaces, teeming with wildlife, and enjoyed by people, where nature is not a luxury add on, but is central to every decision taken. So, if that sounds like your sort of town, why not help make it happen? n