Wildlife at Clatworthy

Wildlife at Clatworthy


Discover the rich variety of wildlife living in the ancient woodland

Clatworthy is surrounded by steep bracken banks and ancient woodland, perfect habitat for the coch-y-bonddu, hawthorn, wood beetle and red ant which hatch through the season. The site is home to bats, more than 1,000 species of invertebrate and a wide range of bird species which use the ancient woodland and species-rich grassland habitats. To find out more download our visitor guide.


There are various woods around the reservoir and they can all be seen by attempting the Clatworthy Round. The route takes you through Clatworthy, Northern, Syndercombe and Stolford woods, and past Waysdown woods. They are classed as ancient woodland as they have existed for more than 400 years and each wood is unique with different varieties of wildlife living within them. Clatworthy and Northern Woods are upland oak woodlands, with tall mature sessile oaks and beech, patches of coppiced hazel, sycamore and an understorey of downy birch, rowan and holly.

In spring, you may see carpets of bluebells on the woodland floor, which give way to expanses of great woodrush alongside wood anemone and wood sorrel later in the year. Frequently occurring herbs include greater stitchwort and the broad buckler-fern. You may also catch a glimpse of hairy woodrush, wood sage, bilberry, hard fern, soft shield fern, lady fern and foxglove. Syndercombe and Stolford Woods are also mainly oak habitat, but Waysdown Wood has a very different character, being broadly an ash woodland. Although there are some planted larch, sweet chestnut and sycamore, ash and beech are the dominant trees.

The ground flora at Waysdwon Wood is more diverse than in the other woods and includes old woodland indicator plants such as moschatel, sanicle, enchanter’s nightshade and yellow archangel. Mosses can be found across the trees in these woods, with the site supporting one nationally scarce species and eight which are regionally important. The site also supports 14 notable species of lichen. We are managing our woodland and scrub habitats in a number of different ways to protect the wildlife that lives there. To do this, we have been eradicating invasive rhododendron, carrying out small scale thinning, maintaining glades and maintaining and creating dead wood habitats.

Clatworthy woodland Path


There are some areas of species-rich grassland around the reservoir. Creeping soft-grass, red fescue, false oat-grass and purple moor-grass are the dominant grasses, and flowers such as tormentil, pignut and greater bird’s foot trefoil are quite common.

We are working hard to conserve these species-rich areas of acid grassland. It is estimated that fewer than 30,000 hectares of lowland acid grassland now remain in the UK, of which 10 hectares can be found here. Characteristic species of this habitat found out the site include heath bedstraw, common and sheep’s sorrels, dog violets, devil’s-bit scabious, common knapweed, meadow vetchling and heath wood-rush. You can find out more about the woods and grasslands on information boards along the Woodland Trail and Clatworthy Round at the site.


The various habitats across the site makes it home to a range of bird species. From the collection of waders and waterfowl that reside on the water to birds that can be found living in the woods, the site is a fantastic location for bird watching.

Pied Flycatcher at Clatworthy
Photo by Russel Harris ©
You may even wish to take a journey into the woods, which have a much larger and more diverse bird population, to see if you can spot any of the following:
  • great tit
  • blackbird
  • song thrush
  • marsh tit
  • pied flycatcher
  • bullfinch
  • common redstart
Look out over the water and see if you can spot any of the following birds which have been seen by visitors in the past:
  • great crested grebe
  • mallard
  • little grebe
  • Canada goose
  • tufted duck
  • heron
  • cormorant
Butterfly On Clatworthy Forna


The grassland around the reservoir is home to several butterfly species, which tend to come out more during the summer months. Come along and see if you can spot any of the following butterfly species which can be found throughout Clatworthy:

  • small heath,
  • small skipper,
  • common blue,
  • meadow brown,
  • speckled wood,
  • dark green fritillary,
  • marbled white,
  • orange tip,
  • ringlet,
  • silver-washed fritillary.

The rare and nationally declining small pearl-bordered fritillary can sometimes be seen between May and July. The adult butterflies feed on nectar rich plants such as thistle and bramble and lay their eggs on or near violets. The violets then become the main food source for their larvae. Interestingly, the larvae overwinter in dead leaves and bracken before emerging in spring to start feeding again.


As dusk falls during spring and summer, bats begin to emerge on site. In total, ten species of bat use the reservoir, woods and surrounding land. At Clatworthy, we’ve found the following bats species patrolling the site during the night time:

  • common pipistrelle
  • soprano pipistrelle
  • brown long-eared
  • Daubentons
  • serotine
  • Natterers
  • Noctule
  • greater horseshoe
  • lesser horseshoe
  • Whiskered/Brandt

Daubenton’s bats feed on insects that they take close to the water’s surface using either their feet or tail membrane as a scoop. The waters of the reservoir are therefore an obvious attraction for these bats, which are also known as the ‘water bat’. They form colonies in holes of trees near water before moving to underground sites in October for winter hibernation. The edges of our woodland are a key feeding area for bats. The mix of woodland and scrub, bordered by wide grass strips, provides a home to the insects which the bats feed on.


There are countless rare species of invertebrate at Clatworthy. In fact, more than 1,000 invertebrate species have been identified at the reservoir. Along the water’s edge you may see common blue and azure damselflies in summer. You may even see large red-tailed and white-tailed bumblebee and common carder bee, mix with hundreds of flies, grasshoppers, beetle, ant and spider species.

As you walk along the paths through the grassland around the reservoir, keep an eye out for the violet oil beetle from March to May. They come out during these months and often amble across the path, so watch your feet and do your best to not squash them. The rarest species known on site is the cheese fly, which has only been recorded once before in England – do you think you would be able to spot it?

daytime bat at clatworthy

Elusive visitors

When the sun sets and the sky turn’s dark, several elusive visitors tend to make an appearance. Our cameras have captured footage of otters at the water’s edge and observed the hazel dormouse in one of the woods. These are both endangered species that we do our best to protect.

At least two types of deer live here and if you are walking quietly you may see roe deer prowling through the woods. The larger red deer is a lot shier, but you could see signs that they have passed, such as footprints in the mud.