YACWAG, supported by a membership appeal, bought two fields off Stowey Road in Yatton in 2006.  These fields form part of a Regional Wildlife Site. Stowey Reserve is very good for grass snakes and to help them breed two green compost bins have been put in a sunny spot. These hay meadows are exceptional for their scarce wild flowers, which include marsh marigold, ragged robin and yellow loosestrife.  One of the fields contains a superb mixed species hedgerow, which is ideal for teaching purposes, and a great variety of grasses and sedges.  Meadow pipits and snipe are found here as well as brown hare, fox and roe deer.

The fields are a refuge for wildlife, but can be visited by arrangement (email us) or on special events and open days.  As the reserve is a short walk from Yatton Infant and Junior Schools, it is hoped to arrange educational visits for the children.

 flickr photos of this reserve

News bulletins for Stowey are listed below.

Stowey Reserve news – 21 February 2015

This is the first of our Warre hives, made and installed in our Stowey Reserve thanks to Terry Long. We are grateful to the Natural Beekeepers Group based in Yatton, led by Sal Pearson, who have given us help and support. We are hoping to provide additional homes for honey bees in Warre hives on three of our reserves. We will not take honey from the hives but will allow the bees to keep it to sustain them naturally through the winters. For more details on Warre hives click here. For details about Yabeep click here.

Snowdrops planted by the previous owners of Stowey Reserve are now showing well- end February 2015.

Stowey molehills

Molehills in Westmead, the larger of our two fields off Stowey Road. It is generally feared that moles are suffering decline at present, but they seem to be working hard in our nature reserve.

Stowey Small Mammal Survey April 2014.

On the evening of  Thursday 3rd April we set out 40 Longworth Traps and 10 Tube Traps in Stowey reserve, Yatton.  The 40 Longworths were placed along the field boundaries of both fields and the 10 Tube Traps were placed across the middle of Westmead.  

The traps were checked on Friday 4th and Saturday 5th AM and PM. They were checked and taken in on Sunday morning. On the Saturday and Sunday members were invited to join us. We had a good turnout including our youngest ‘trapper’ so far, Noah aged 8.  We had a total of 53 live captures. Using fur clipping to mark the animals we were able to be certain that we caught 40 different individuals. We caught 25 Common Shrews, 11 Woodmice, 3 Bank Voles and 1 Water Shrew. This was the first Water Shrew caught during our group sessions but there is one previous record of a Water Shrew in the same area of Stowey reserve.  This was the first time that we weighed each animal. The average weights were Common Shrews  9g,  Woodmice 21g and Bank Voles 24.5g.  The Water Shrew weighed 11g which is at the lower end of the weight expected.

Significantly we were still catching new animals on the final morning which indicates that we had not caught all that were there and that we could have gained more information if we had continued for a longer period. Surprisingly we caught no Field Voles although there are plenty of field signs such as Vole runs and food stores.

The number of animals caught were 4 times greater than in April 2013 which is very encouraging news for our Barn Owls and Kestrels and we did find new Owl pellets under the Owl box.

Richard Croucher

Small Mammal Survey at Stowey Reserve 13-14 September 2013

From 13th to 15th of September we returned to Stowey reserve for a second Small Mammal survey this year. We returned to Stowey to get an idea of the effect of the grazing pattern and to see how well the populations were recovering from last years extreme weather.
Since the last survey the centres of the fields have been grazed but the field boundaries were protected with electric fencing. We placed the traps in 4 transects, along the NW and NE edges of Middlemead and along the SW and NW edges of Westmead. As usual we used 40 Longworth traps and as in our recent 10 acre survey we placed 1 new tube trap next to each Longworth. We checked the traps 5 times from Friday morning to Sunday morning. On Saturday evening we moved the 10 tube traps to a line through the middle of Middlemead having found some evidence of vole runs there.
We had a total of 20 catches from 250 trap checks. After taking into account recaptures we had a total of 13 mammals. We caught 7 Pygmy Shrews, 4 Field Voles, 3 Woodmice and 1 Bank Vole. This compares with 10 mammals from 160 trap checks in the spring.
Once again the NW of Westmead was where we had the most catches. We caught all of the Voles along the NE of Middlemead and the SW of Westmead, either side of the ditch dividing the fields. These 2 transects have more rough grass and less sedge and scrub. When we moved the tube traps to the middle of Middlemead we caught no mammals.
4 of our catches were in the new 10 new Tube traps, 16 catches were in the Longworths. This is exactly the same ratio leading me towards the assumption that the mammals have no preference. On one occasion we caught 2 Shrews in the 2 side by side traps. This shows that single lines of 10 traps give an indication of presence but not an accurate population count.
Overall it was encouraging to find both Field and Bank Voles which have been absent in some surveys this year. Also worth noting is the success that we are starting to have using the trail camera with the bait station, those using the YACWAG facebook page will have seen this and on our last visit to Stowey we did find spraint of some kind on one of the cattle drinking points. No firm opinion yet on whether it is Otter.

Stowey Reserve report 26 June 2013

Just back from a walk in Stowey. Pleased to see that the Marsh Marigolds are starting to drop seed. Another week without the Dexters and probably plenty will have dropped.
Interesting to see that the drinking points which have been put in (for the Dexter cattle which will graze the reserve soon) have been lined with slabs. I should think they will make great Otter spraint points.
Finally I saw lots of Large Skippers.   Richard Croucher

Marsh Marigolds at Stowey Reserve – May 2013





Propagation of our own Marsh Marigold seeds collected at Stowey has been highly successful.  Richard Croucher has raised the plants, lovingly cared for them for two years and then we planted them out. They are doing really well, thanks to the very wet weather. When we acquired the fields at Stowey there were only 13-17 plants but now the grips (the field drains) are really quite full of them.

Cattle drinking points have been put in so that the fields can be grazed because it has not been possible due to the weather to cut hay for the past two years –  the Dexter cattle will nicely take off the thatch and recondition the grass. 

Small mammal surveys have shown that we have harvest mice and lots of small mammals benefiting from the longer grass, so we will be careful not to graze it too much. 





Small Mammal Survey at Stowey Reserve April 2013

On 12th April we set out four transects, three of which had been surveyed in November 2011 and one again in June 2012. In Middlemead one transect ran along the NW ditch, the other ran in parallel about 20 metres away in the field. In Westmead another repeat transect was set out along the NW ditch and a new transect was placed out in the field.

In total 10 animals were caught over five checks; 4 Common Shrews, 3 Field Voles and 4 Wood Mice. Captured animals were marked by fur clipping, so we know we only recaptured 1 vole. However, we probably did recapture one of the shrews but it managed to escape unseen from the trap. The low number of recaptures and the fact we were still capturing new animals on the final check indicate that we are only managing to catch a small proportion of the population.

As in 2011, the majority of the catches were in Westmead alongside the NW ditch; where there is good cover provided tall sedges, trees and shrubs. We caught 3 Common shrews, 1 Field Vole and 1 Wood Mouse. However, no Bank Voles were found, whereas in 2011 we caught 10 there.

The two transects placed out in the fields also had catches; 1 Common and 2 Wood Mice in Middlemead, and 2 Field Voles in Westmead. When the Middlemead transect was surveyed in 2011 two Field Voles were caught. There is plenty of evidence of Field Voles throughout the long tussocky grass in both fields and so it’s certain they are there even though the catch rate is low. In fact when we set the traps we spotted one running through the long grass in Westmead.

The transect along the NW ditch of Middlemead has proved a bit disappointing, despite the good vegetation cover, with no animals caught this year and last year. Although in 2011 we caught 1 Bank Vole and 3 Wood Mice there. We had a faint hope of catching Harvest Mice, whose nests were found there in December. Although they don’t usually enter longworth traps that are placed on the ground.

Many thanks to everyone who braved the rain to join us.

Emma Koblizek

Small Mammal Survey Stowey Reserve June 2012

40 traps were put in Stowey Reserve, 10 each on the SE & NW sides of the 1st field, 10 on the SE side of the 2nd field and 10 along the hedgerow on the NE side of the 2nd field. The traps were checked 6 times between 9 AM on Monday 25th June and 7.30 PM on Wednesday 27th June. We also put a Hedgehog Tunnel in the copse of trees at the entrance to the reserve.
We had a total of 13 catches made up of 7 Common Shrews, 3 Pygmy Shrews and 2 Woodmice. Allowing for recaptures we have a minimum of 2 Common Shrews, 2 Woodmice & 1 Pygmy Shrew. Once again the importance of hedgerows has been confirmed as 12 out of 13 catches occurred in the line of traps in the 2nd field along the hedgerow.
The question has to be asked – Why no Voles? This could be because the grass growth is so strong across the whole field that they have spread out from the field margins and are harder to find. There are definitely Voles present as their runs can be found.
The hedgehog tunnel did have footprints each morning,but not Hedgehog. We are going to get some help to identify them.  Richard Croucher

Stowey Update 6 June 2012

A four spotted chaser was roosting in the grass at Stowey Reserve. This is a first record for this site.


We also saw our first meadow brown of the season there, but goodness knows how butterflies will survive this weather.  Faith Moulin