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Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Plantlife and our local meadow

I get the Plantlife news letter every month and this is an extract from the latest copy.I recommend it. Here is their web site:

Plantlife logo

Welcome to our September e-news

Road verge campaign
Great news! Over 15,000 people have now signed to support better verge management for nature!

If you haven't already, please sign our road verge petition today.
Also in the newsletter they highlight wildflower gardens .
Wildflower gardens can be unkempt and a bit scruffy, right? Well, they don’t have to be. There’s a place for wild flowers in modern contemporary gardens, too.
If you prefer a clean-cut, well-designed and contemporary garden, native plants can be used to great effect in providing both the structure and the ever-changing palette of colour. In fact, many are already tried-and-tested stalwarts of the designer's repertoire, while others can be put to great effect if you’re willing to be a bit more adventurous...

Click here to read this full feature by Plantlife's botanical specialist,  Dr Trevor Dines.
In another item they highlight a flower we have in our local meadow  and here is my photo taken earlier in June in 2014 and just starting to flower

Out and about
Watch out for...
Agrimony (Agrimonia eupatoria)
This spiky, yellow plant grows in single stems to 60cm in size. The small yellow petals reveal themselves in stages from the bottom upwards and the leaves have jagged edges with whitish undersides. 

Agrimony is widespread except for in Scotland where it can only be found in some southern parts. It can also be found on hedge banks, road verges and in other grassy places. 

Some people use agrimony to represent thankfulness.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Batty Piece, Ladies Bedstraw and Humming-bird Hawk Moth

Since my last blog we have been away on holiday to Italy and seen some interesting wildflowers and butterflies , now back home I can add the latest news from our local meadow.

In my absence a friend visited our field and sent me these three photographs. His email comment was
 "I found three Humming-bird Hawk-moth larvae on the Lady's Bedstraw in Batty
Piece this morning. There was also a Scorched Carpet moth by the gate. "   Not being a trained observer myself I find it hard to see such detail.
John Bebbington is the photographer and has publish a book you might find interesting and useful. Its title is  "Insect Photography -  Art and Techniques "   ISBN 978 1 84979 378 8.  Published in 2012 by The Crowood Press Ltd. 

I was very pleased to see today, in our garden around 200 m from the field, a very busy Hummingbird Hawk Moth feeding on some flowers. I've photographed them before but not virtually at the same time as seeing the larvae ( or caterpillars as I would say! )
The field itself I visited today and it is still full of pyramidal orchid in flower , knapweed, ladies bedstraw, field scabious and numerous butterflies including the marbled white.. I did however find again the seed capsule of the Bee orchid which finished flowering in June. Back in july I found several locations with Bee orchids including one small area with around 20 plants which I hadn't seen before. It was a delight to see the meadow looking so good in the bright sunshine.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Common Broomrape or Orobanche minor

Part 2 ( see my previous post for part 1)

At the other end of our garden is a small wild patch  where I try to encourage native plants and control strong growing grasses. Teasels are growing well there and whilst trying to help by removing some grasses at the base of a teasel plant I unfortunately found myself holding the flowering stem of a broomrape which I believe is the common species. Trying to identify it I cut in half one of the flowers and found the two purple stigmas joined on a single style and with 4 stamen which I think show up quite well in the photos. So I am fairly confident with the identification and will look to see if other specimens have survived my "weeding" ! These plants can be seen out in the fields nearby if the management allows! There is an obvious message in this post and the previous about the conflict between humans and plant life

Pyramidal Orchid and Common Broomrape OR Anacamptis pyramidalis and Orobanche minor

This is a tale about these two plants which have appeared in our garden this year. The orchid appeared last year also but not in the same spot in our front lawn. At times it's not so much a lawn as a nursery for plants that happen to choose to appear!
Earlier this year I cut the grass probably in March or April and kept my eyes open for anything that looked like an interesting plant. Then it was left to grow on until I gave it another cut and this time suddenly spotted a Pyramidal orchid plant just inches in front of the mower! I went round it and left a small path of grass and the orchid to grow on. A bit later as the orchid plant began to send up a flower spike I took a photo and took another just now. The first was on 28th May when the plant was about 19 cm high. You can see that the tips of the leaf has been clipped which I believe was made during the first mowing

The next two were taken today 24th June and the flower is nearly fully open and has grown to 32 cm.
The photos of the Broomrape I'll put in another post!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Eastfield and Batty Piece

Just posted this on our local community web site Facebook page and it might be of wider interest!
Eastfield is a 4 acre field alongside our Batty Piece private nature reserve. I added the photos I have added to my previous Blog post.

A couple of days ago I walked round the edge of Eastfield looking at the narrow strip of uncut vegetation that the Council has excluded from the fortnightly mowing regime it introduced last summer. I was very delighted to find that the long established wild Pyramidal orchids are still surviving and are now in flower. I counted at least 50 specimens spread around all four sides. Obviously there are many other native plants that can be seen and it shows how the meadow could look if a larger are could be spared. It's not just plants that are benefiting, butterflies are there in large numbers, Meadow Browns and the Marbled White making use of the long grass. Insects of many types, food for the Swifts which we see now and so on to make up a rich biodiversity which even the Pope recognises as being our responsibility to protect. Please visit Eastfield and see for yourself.

Here are a few more photos from our meadow.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Batty Piece

Our 4 acre wildlife meadow is at its best in June. Bee Orchids and Pyramidal Orchids are now well into the flowering season. I found around 30 or 40 Bee Orchids this week and the Pyramidal are too numerous to count. Grass Vetchling is spread around the field as is Yellow Rattle. Patches of Ladies Bedstraw are nearly in flower and I found a few Broomrape. Knapweed is coming into flower and Field Scabious. Butterflies are common including Marbled White.
I'll add a few photographs soon.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Climate Heroes

The latest email from Avaaz!

Dear Avaazers, 

“TheOur appeals followed G7 Chair Angela Merkel everywhere for 6 weeks.
Many told us it was a pipe dream, but the G7 Summit of leading world powers just committed to getting the global economy off fossil fuels forever!!!

Even the normally cynical media is raving that this is a huge deal.

And it's one giant step closer to a huge win at the Paris summit in December -- where the entire world could unite behind the same goal of a world without fossil fuels -- the only way to save us all from catastrophic climate change.

For 2 years our community has led global public mobilisation for this goal, including:
  • spearheading the gigantic, momentum-changing, 700,000 strong climate march last year
  • a 2.7 million person petition for 100% clean/0 carbon delivered to dozens of key leaders
  • scores of rallies, high-level lobbying meetings, opinion polls, and ad campaigns, all funded by our community
  • a 3 month all-out push for the G7 summit leadership, especially German Chancellor Angela Merkel, to put this on the agenda and agree to this goal

Our work is far from done, but it's a day to celebrate -- click here to read more and say congratulations to everyone else in this incredibly wonderful community!!

Friday, June 05, 2015

Day three of the Wildlife Trusts #30DaysWild Challenge

this evening about an hour or so ago I went for a jog and a walk round our local nature reserve 4 acre wildflower meadow, I'm pleased to say that I spotted two  very new Bee Orchids to add to the one I spotted two days ago and a freshly flowering Pyramidal Orchid. That is quite an achievement because we rarely see more that say a dozen bee orchids but hundreds of pyramidal and they may well be a bit later than the bee orchid. Also almost in flower is Ladies Bedstraw and Yellow rattle is flowering over much of the 4 acres. Knapweed is coming along but not in flower in our field but I noticed in an adjoining farmed field margin.Grass vetchling with its small brightly coloured purple flow is visible every where. Grasses are flowering so would make a very good identification exercise. We have found 15 different species of meadow grass and I saw tonight a patch of quaking grass.
So that is my contribution to the 30 day challenge and I'll have to keep looking for the rest of the month.

Here is a link to a blog written by Jane who has been blogging on wildlife for quite a time. She is also following the Wildlife Trust national challenge to record some contact with wildlife for 30 days and this is her 3rd dray post

Day 3: Running, owls and butterflies

Day three of the Wildlife Trusts #30DaysWild Challenge

Try this link to the Wildlife Trust web site:

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

Barcroft Hall, South Somerset

One of the items covered in this blog was the Field of Dreams. It was a big attraction in 2011 and 12 and then I recall it was closed in 2013 be3cause of bad weather and reopened again in 2014. Mixed reactions were reported by visitors. The web site shows that it is not open in 2015 with no other explanation. I thought I should add this note to bring the situation up to date.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Local wildlife news, wild orchids

We haven't heard from our nightingale for a couple of weeks now. and we don't know what has happened to it.

Early this morning about 5am noticed a fox out in the nearby field. Looked as if he was trying to find some food, even chasing after birds on the ground but unsuccessful. The usual group of rabbits was nowhere to be seen.

Mowing our front lawn I was looking out for signs of wild orchids and just in time I spotted one. See photo below. We found one last year also but in a different location. You can see in the photo that its leaves have been cut a little. That must have happened when I did an early cut on the lawn. The flower spike is intact and should be opening as a pyramidal orchid soon.